Jump to content


Photo

9 Weeks to go...struggling with plan


18 replies to this topic

#1 Outlaw44

Outlaw44

    Project Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 92 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Missouri
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 12 February 2012 - 07:49 PM

Hello all...about 9 weeks to go until the April exam (I'm taking the T/F Depth) and I'm mentally struggling with how I'm preparing/how to finish out my preparation in the coming weeks. I have the MERM (with practice problems and practice test), NCEES practice tests (2010 and 2001), and a Kaplan practice exam.

My original plan (starting about 12 weeks out from the exam) was to quickly breeze through the MERM to recall topics and get into practice tests/problems ASAP. However, over the last 3 weeks, I have only perused the Fluids and Thermo sections in the MERM and reviewed the accompanying practice probs (worked a few, but mostly read through the probs and their solutions). I'm starting to get nervous because I feel like I'm moving too slow...like maybe I'm spending too much time reviewing the sections and I need to move quicker to get to the problems (although a lot of the MERM problems take a long time to work) and practice tests. I think I'm identifying things I recall from college (5 yrs ago) and telling myself, "Oh yeah, I remember that...I should probably re-learn it." This turns into an in-depth experience that makes me question what I'm doing.

So, based on your guys' test experience, what should I do from now on? Should I continue to breeze the chapters, just quicker and for tabbing purposes? I know, from looking around on the board, that tabbing and doing lots of problems will be key, so should I basically stop "page turning" and just take the practice exams and go back and review where I have problems? A lot of my coworkers, who have passed the exam, have recommended this approach (they claim the MERM is too overwhelming and will make you feel unconfident). I saw on another thread that Trev skimmed the sections not in the topic of T/F, worked easier problems on HVAC/MD, and worked in-depth thermo, fluids, power, etc. I think this might be a good plan. My fear is spending too much time reading/skimming the chapters and then not having enough time to get really good at the practice tests. But I also don't want to just start taking the practice tests and feel like I'm having to take 1/2 hr per problem to figure it out. Maybe that's not bad the first time through???

I'm averaging about 8 hrs a week so far (hard to put in more than a couple hrs a few weeknights and 2-4 hrs on the weekend), but I'm going to ramp that up, as I know I need to.

Thanks for the help everyone.

#2 chemicalpe

chemicalpe

    Project Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 55 posts
  • Discipline:Chemical

Posted 12 February 2012 - 09:21 PM

I think the key is to compare the topics on the test, review the material, tab them, and prepare practise problems accordingly. There is no point in getting nervous because I am sure none of us prepare 100% for the test but give our best shot at knowing where stuff is. Having known where the stuff is, the next step is to work on practise problems again and again. No point in wasting time on problems which take 15 minutes or more but make sure you review them properly because there might be an easier way to solve these lengthy problems. For example, in heat transfer, there are standard formulas which you can use to calculate NTUs which otherwise would take more than an hour to solve. Sometimes, you have to make few assumptions which will be key in solving problems faster. My suggestion to you is to go through as many problems as you can and if you cannot solve it the first time, look at the solution and spend some quality time understanding it. No point in rushing at this point because the key is understanding what you do and getting it right. Once you understand, there is no going back. One thing I realized after I took the test is how simple some of the problems are but the key is if you miss the basic understanding, you are out of the line to solve it.

Good luck.

#3 aneesu786

aneesu786

    Mechanical Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 109 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 12 February 2012 - 10:29 PM

HI,

9 weeks is still sufficient time left to complete your review. But don't delay too much. I took the Mechanical MD PE last October, graduated from college in 2005.

Here are some tips:

1. Study each weeknight 2-3 hours, aim to get through at least one chapter in the MERM per night, and do the practice MERM problems the following weeknight for that chapter.

2. Weekends study a total of 12-16 hours.

3. Use the study schedule given in the Preface or Introduction of the MERM text book. Hit those key chapters in the schedule table.

4. Top goal: finish the MERM book 1.5 week before the exam.
.
5. Take the practice NCEES exam the Sunday before the exam.

6. Don't skip the MD chapters in MERM, you will have at least 10-12 questions from it in the morning section.

7. Don't slow down your pace of studying but take breaks necessary to give your mind a break. Skipping a day or so during the week can be okay.

8. In my opinion the NCEES sample exams are a little easier than the actual test i took. So rely a little bit more on the MERM practice problems.

9. Don't read the problem/solution in the MERM practice book, you have to do at least a handful of problems from each section to get the basic idea of each section.

Good Luck!!

Edited by aneesu786, 12 February 2012 - 10:31 PM.


#4 Outlaw44

Outlaw44

    Project Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 92 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Missouri
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 12 February 2012 - 10:42 PM

HI,

9 weeks is still sufficient time left to complete your review. But don't delay too much. I took the Mechanical MD PE last October, graduated from college in 2005.

Here are some tips:

1. Study each weeknight 2-3 hours, aim to get through at least one chapter in the MERM per night, and do the practice MERM problems the following weeknight for that chapter.

2. Weekends study a total of 12-16 hours.

3. Use the study schedule given in the Preface or Introduction of the MERM text book. Hit those key chapters in the schedule table.

4. Top goal: finish the MERM book 1.5 week before the exam.
.
5. Take the practice NCEES exam the Sunday before the exam.

6. Don't skip the MD chapters in MERM, you will have at least 10-12 questions from it in the morning section.

7. Don't slow down your pace of studying but take breaks necessary to give your mind a break. Skipping a day or so during the week can be okay.

8. In my opinion the NCEES sample exams are a little easier than the actual test i took. So rely a little bit more on the MERM practice problems.

9. Don't read the problem/solution in the MERM practice book, you have to do at least a handful of problems from each section to get the basic idea of each section.

Good Luck!!


Thanks aneesu786 and chemicalpe. I really appreciate it. I started studying about 3 weeks ago, thought I had a good plan going in, but after a few weeks, I think I need to reorganize my thoughts. You outline some very good pointers. By "aim to get through at least one chapter per night," do you mean one topic (i.e. Fluids, Power Cycles) or do you mean one chapter within a topic (i.e. Chapter 14)? I have been looking at the % breakdown for the exam and the rough schedule in the front of the MERM. This has been the main reason I started with Fluids and Thermo.

To clarify, you solely reviewed the MERM sections and practice problems until 1.5 weeks before the exam? Then you took the NCEES exam for the first time on the Sunday before the real exam? Did that allow you much time to review after and retake? My interpretation of most people's advice was to take the practice exams a few times before the actual test day. With a couple (well, at least one, I guess) simulated test days to condition yourself for the real thing.

#5 Outlaw44

Outlaw44

    Project Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 92 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Missouri
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 12 February 2012 - 10:53 PM

Also, I don't want to down play the practice problems...I haven't been just reading them and the solution. I have been thinking about them and coming up with what I would do in my head before I look through the solution. I just haven't been working every single one out on paper to an answer before looking at the solution. As the weeks get closer to the exam, I will prob go back and work through the biggest % sections of the T/F test this way.

I've already found there are some ways to do the prob differently/easier than the MERM solution. If I come up with a different path to an answer in my head, I'll do the actual work to see if I come up with the same answer to verify if I had been thinking about it correctly.

#6 chemicalpe

chemicalpe

    Project Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 55 posts
  • Discipline:Chemical

Posted 13 February 2012 - 01:58 AM

The only way you will have good handle on doing a problem in multiple ways is if you practise enough and understand it thorougly which you will figure out once you start working out. good luck.

#7 Krakosky

Krakosky

    Tank Ass

  • Supporting Member
  • 2,030 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Michigan
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:26 PM

I can relate to how you're feeling. I spent Sept-Dec reading chapters 14-59 of MERM. Then in Jan I began working the MERM practice problems. My original plan was to work thru ch 14-59 and 69 before my PE review class started. Well my review class started this past Sat and I am only on ch 28 of the practice practice problems. I spent a lot of time on the fluids chapters and have been doing the same with thermo and power cycles bc these are areas that I feel I needed more review in. I'll be taking the MD depth. My new plan is to try and get thru ch 59 of the practice problems within the next month. I'd like to spend the month before the exam concentrating on my depth section and working practice exams in a timed setting. I've been trying to work thru 1 ch per night but it's been difficult. To really understand the material and approach to solving the problems takes time.

#8 tmacier

tmacier

    Project Manager

  • Senior Member
  • 148 posts
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 13 February 2012 - 10:18 PM

Purchase SMS and work those problems too.
As mentioned above most need to devote more time than you currently are.
Eight hours during the weekdays is good but a solid 8 hours each weekend might make the differance, even go to the library if things at home are distracting.
The key is to work a ton of problems and learn your referances like the back of hand.
If you run into a problem that you dont understand because you dont remember that is the time to brush up.
You need to develope the skill of working these problems quickly and efficiently.
You should be dreaming about units and conversions - know them off the top of head and you just use the index in the front of the merm for confirmation.
Sit down in four clips and practice taking the tests - you can take the same MERM tests, SMS test and NCEES over and over.
Good luck!
Tim

#9 aneesu786

aneesu786

    Mechanical Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 109 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 13 February 2012 - 10:27 PM

Outlaw44-

1. I studied 1 chapter (i.e. chapter 14) per night, which roughly took me 2-3 hours to read it. Then the following night I would do the practice problems for chapter 14.

2. Personally (no offense) I think you are still taking the easy way out on the practice problems. You have to physically do it, work out the problem with a pencil/paper/calculator before heading to the solutions. force yourself to do at least a handful of these problems in each chapter. This will seriously built your confidence level. It will highlight how easily one makes silly mistakes and trains you to understand and work the problem. No pain no gain!

3. I did the T/F sections in MERM initially in my review. Then went through the MD chapters. Then came back to review the T/F and then finally reviewed the MD problems once more in the MERM. I could do the second iteration of review, because I had grasped the ideas very well in my first iteration.

4. You can't just read chapters without doing problems. Get this mantra down.... read, do problems, read, do problems.... this is not like cramming for the finals in college.

5. I reviewed MERM and Shigley up till a week before the exam. Plus I had some other MD review material from a course i had taken 3 years ago.

6. I felt confident with taking the NCEES practice exam once under time constraint. Remember, my confidence level was very high since my review was going so well. The night before the exam I felt really really good about the exam, again great review helped. I admit i didn't ace the exam, but I felt like I passed it when I left the exam site.

Your confidence needs to be at its highest. Pump yourself up every night or else you will get drained and burned out.

The exam is just as much of a psychological test as it is a skill test. You got to push yourself to the max, anything less and you are likely to fail

Only downside of studying this much is that even after the exam is done, I have an itch to study and do problems, I am in withdrawal, believe it or not. So I have started to study for the GMATs, which is a completely different kind of beast.

#10 Outlaw44

Outlaw44

    Project Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 92 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Missouri
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 13 February 2012 - 11:12 PM

Thanks aneesu and Tim.

Couple of quick clarity questions...Tim, you said in "four clips" to take the practice exam. Do you mean sit down and take it in 4 weeks, with about 4 weeks until exam day? Or did you mean, over the course of 4 days take the practice test (as in, untimed)?

aneesu, no worries...no offense taken. I completely agree with you that I'm not putting in the time that I need to be. Further, the time I am putting in isn't very efficient. After 8-10 hrs of work, I'm basically cross eyed trying to review the material. So, I'll admit, I'm really not absorbing much as I'm going through the material. I need to buck up and really focus as I'm going through it to learn.

So...I think my plan (for the next couple weeks anyway) is to keep reviewing the sections and doing practice problems. Then step into the practice tests in a couple weeks hopefully....use that as an indicator of what I need to focus more on and go back and redo practice problems on.

#11 Outlaw44

Outlaw44

    Project Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 92 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Missouri
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 14 February 2012 - 04:07 AM

aneesu, how long did you prepare for? I did the quick math (after 3 hrs of MERM practice problems, I might add :) ) based on what you've said so far and if you skipped the math and a few random sections, you covered roughly 45 sections in the MERM. If you did, chapter one night and problems the next, that's at least 90 total days of reading and problems. Now, some sections, ch 22 for example have 19 problems; 5 of those being limited to an hour. So that's 5 hrs just in those 5 problems. I'm just curios if you were able to complete all of this in 3 or 4 months or if you maybe skipped sections or problems that weren't in your depth??? Trying to get an idea of how fast I should be moving and how realistic it is to do this for the whole MERM book.

#12 Kephart P.E.

Kephart P.E.

    Vice President

  • Veterans
  • 691 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Portland, OR
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 14 February 2012 - 05:42 PM

Work the major sections of the Exam each week. Plan on spending 20 hours a week studing. Do the review problems in the Merm. for each section

You need to finish about 2-3 weeks early and then plan on just working practice problems, lots and lots of practice problems. While working the problems this is when I really started tabbing my reference materials heavily.

My suggestion, get fast on the problems, to the point where you can work some of them in less than a couple of minutes.

#13 tmacier

tmacier

    Project Manager

  • Senior Member
  • 148 posts
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 14 February 2012 - 06:51 PM

I am sorry for the confusion - take the practice exams in four hour clips. Dont just study for an hour or two.

This will help you adjust your approach to this exam and get you used to taking the exam under timed constraints!

My first attempt I burned thru the morning in 3.5 hours, but found myself so slow in the afternoon. After three hours I had only around 10 solved.

My second time taking the test I was able to breeze thru the morning in 2 hours and the afternoon in 3.

As mentioned above it is partially mental! I remember feeling like someone kicked me in gut when I had no clue how to approach the first few problems on the afternoon section!

Keep your head up and good luck

Tim

#14 Outlaw44

Outlaw44

    Project Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 92 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Missouri
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 14 February 2012 - 09:33 PM

Thanks Kephart and Tim. Good feedback. I am planning on at least 20 hrs/week from here on out. With the intention of finishing the MERM sections and problems with 3 or 4 weeks left. Then hit those practice tests and redo practice problems as many times as I can. Not even sure if I can get through the MERM in 4 or 5 weeks from now though. I need to take a few mins to think about this and prioritize the major topics before I spend a bunch of time on a section that isn't heavily focused on in the exam.

Tim...I gotta ask, what did you do differently to prepare b/t your first and second attempts? Sounds like you killed it the second time around...

#15 aneesu786

aneesu786

    Mechanical Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 109 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 14 February 2012 - 10:41 PM

Outlaw,

I studied for 2.5 to 3 months before the exam, not sure on the total number of hours (200-250 hours). I would take some weeknights off to hang out with friends and family.

As for the 1 hour questions, I really didn't spend 1 hour or more on them. If i couldn't get them within 10 min, then i knew my thought-process was wrong. Be realistic!!!

I bet you are slightly getting burned out right now, by the amount of posts that you have made. But don't worry, i see the tenacity within your words, you will most likely ramp it up pretty soon. The looming deadline will catch up with you.

Skip the math sections, but know how to work your sines and cosines...you will need them!

Some chapters you can knock off in a couple of hours. But all in all, i think i read the whole book, but didn't do all the problems for math section or the project management sections. i remember getting a question on the exam which was very detailed specific and could be answered only if you have read certain chapters in the book. So to be on the safe side read the whole MERM book attentively. To me 95% of the questions on the exam could be answered if you just took the MERM with you, as long as you knew where the information was in it.

The actual exam will have some very specific detail oriented questions, which requires a particular book or reference...e.g Mark's Handbook or Roark book of equation.

#16 Kephart P.E.

Kephart P.E.

    Vice President

  • Veterans
  • 691 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Portland, OR
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 14 February 2012 - 11:26 PM

I have to say, other than the 8 or so weeks I spent reviewing, the most important thing I did in the last month was the NCEES Sample Exam.

I took it in 2, 4 hour blocks, just like the real thing. Then I went back and went over each and every problem until I could do them very easily.

Then I worked the afternoon portions of the other disciplines (Machine Design, HVAC) this paid off big dividends along with problems from Lindeburg Sample Exam (ridiculously hard btw).

Then about a week before the test I retook the Sample Exam, and then I relaxed for a few days.

#17 Outlaw44

Outlaw44

    Project Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 92 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Missouri
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 14 February 2012 - 11:38 PM

I bet you are slightly getting burned out right now, by the amount of posts that you have made. But don't worry, i see the tenacity within your words, you will most likely ramp it up pretty soon. The looming deadline will catch up with you.


Thanks aneesu. I appreciate it. I'm not necessarily "burned out." In fact, I'm pretty damn anxious to get a good habit going. I've been posting a lot because I'm trying to get the best approach in my head, so each time I study, I know I'm not wasting time or questioning my approach. I should have gone through this when I thought about it originally...back in Nov/Dec. But, after trolling the forum, I thought I had a good plan. I think my plan now is similar...just involves more hours and a little more concrete in that I know I should be done with the text/problems by X week, etc. Back in Nov/Dec, I didn't even have a MERM, so I had no gauge on how long it would take to review the sections.

Thanks Kephart; very good info and comforting to hear. I'm now feeling good about reviewing the MERM sections and practice problems until the first week of March (a total of 8 weeks for me), where I'll start taking the practice exams and basically do what you outlined.

I know I've posted a lot and asked a lot of questions, but I feel pretty good about my approach now. Thank you everyone for your feedback. Very helpful. The first few weeks of reviewing the MERM were an eye opener and caught me off guard once I realized how much I wanted to accomplish and what time I had left. The biggest component being that I now realize 8 hrs/week is not enough to accomplish everything to be fully prepared.

#18 tmacier

tmacier

    Project Manager

  • Senior Member
  • 148 posts
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 15 February 2012 - 12:36 AM

I did more and more problems. The first time it came back that I was weak on heat transfer and power cycles so I hit those problems hard.
I actually worked half days three weeks before the exam and spent every afternoon studying with my office door closed.
I am not a smart guy so this material came hard and for me it was just working as many problems as possible over and over and over.
I knew my referances so well that I actually wore the backing off the binder on each!
I had notes written every where on tips on how to solve problems (your allowed to write in the referance material in some states).
All I can say expose yourself to as many problems as possible and get a good feel for how long it will take to solve the problem just by looking at it!
For example, if your doing a power cycle problem and you have to work all around the cycle KNOW it is going to take 20 minutes!
Good luck!

#19 Coastal Engineer

Coastal Engineer

    Project Engineer

  • Senior Member
  • 51 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Charleston, South Carolina
  • Discipline:Mechanical

Posted 15 February 2012 - 01:29 PM

Outlaw44,
I took the test last April which was 17 years after I graduated from school, so for me there were some areas that I needed to refresh myself on. What I found helpful was to take the practice NCEES test under timed conditions to help pinpoint the areas that I knew well and areas that I struggled on. The areas I knew well (mechanical design for instance) I really did not study further. Other areas such as HVAC I had to review again as I had not looked at this since college. I liked the post above about studying a couple hours a night and a good bit more on the weekends as well. I probably put in about 100 hours of studying in total and was able to pass.

Good luck.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

=