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CONSOLIDATED ADVICE THREAD: Env PE Exam


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#51 pleasantliving

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 08:53 PM

All of the previously mentioned reference material generally aligns with what I took to the exam, but I also brought along the FE supplied-reference handbook. I reorganized the FE handbook (some sections removed) and found it to be very useful as a quick reference. But you really have to look through all of the sections as some topics appear in multiple places throughout the handbook. For example, reactor equations are found in both the chemical (126-128) and environmental (176) sections. If NCEES put this handbook together, they're probably fond of the material, equations, coefficients, etc. A majority of the equations in the NCEES practice exams can be found in the FE handbook and it’s free to download from NCEES. Who doesn’t like free reference material? http://www.ncees.org...ce_Handbook.php

Hopefully someone can use what I did to organize material (which worked rather well) and improve on it. I had one very large binder as my go to for the first attempt to answer a question. The binder enabled me to get a lot of problems done quickly without having to open another book. I then went back through the exam and completed the remaining problems with my other references. The binder was tabbed based on the knowledge area and problem content. Each overall knowledge area had a tab color (basic water: solid pink, potable water: striped pink, wastewater: striped red…). Each tabbed section included all of the study material collected (regulations, equations, tables, sample problems…). Around 40 sections were generated based on the content of the NCEES sample problems. Another 10 sections were a result of leftover PPT slides, PPI problems, and other seemingly useful material.

As an example, one of my post-it tabs was blue (which corresponded to air) and read "Stacks." It included pages 170-172 of the FE handbook followed by relevant NC State PPT slides and the NCEES sample questions/answers (3 problems) that had to do with downwind/centerline/ground-level concentrations for exhaust stacks. Some of the figures in the sample exams are identical to the FE handbook figures (FE handbook 171-172 and NCEES 2011 Environmental sample problems 504 & 505).

Another tab was for dissolved oxygen in streams, labeled “DO.” This tab included pages 175-176 of the FE handbook, a copy of A-53 from Lindeburg (saturation values of DO in water), NC State PPT slides, and NCEES sample questions/answers (4 problems).

All of my NCEES problems came from the following sample exams: 2011 & 2004 Environmental, 2011 & 2004 Civil Water Resources and Environmental. I had around 220 NCEES sample questions after removing duplicates and unnecessary civil problems. Yes, it took a very long time to go through the sample problems and reorganize them by question content. I also highlighted what each question was solving for. In the end, it helped me a great deal and I was glad I put forth the effort. While studying I had multiple versions of similar questions to review all in one place. During the exam, two of the questions were extremely similar to sample problems and I located both in my binder within a few seconds. A surprising amount of other sample problems helped out with exam questions.

A second binder was used for material printed out that wasn’t deemed important enough for the main binder, such as the RCRA orientation manual. I included frequently referenced standards/regulations in the main binder (NAAQS, NPDWR). The NC State DVDs were very helpful and a great starting point. It was a nice overview of all of the material. I would recommend starting with the DVDs and then going over all of the NCEES sample problems. Then try the PPI problems. To save some time during the exam, tab the index of frequently used references. I cut post-it tabs into ¼” slices for individual letters: http://www.flickr.co...N08/6326750188/

Well, I think that’s all the advice I have to give.

#52 ipass11

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 09:46 PM

I just passed the Oct, 2011 PE exam and 1st time taker. Just share my experience:

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering

What books you brought with you:
ENVRM by Lindeburg
Hazardous Waste Management by La Grega
Applied Hydrogeology by Fetter
Air Pollution Control by Cooper Alley
Wastewater Engineering by Metcalf & Eddy
NCEES practice test (old version, borrowed from my friend)
ENVRM practice problem, Lindeburg
drinking water standards

What books you actually used: I used first 3 books and drinking water standards but found out only 1st book and drinking water standards are useful to me (I should say probably book 2 and 3 are useful as well. However, I did not read these books ahead of time. So, when I took the exam, I was unable to find information I hoped to find. You probably want to spend some time read Hydrogeology. Manual does not cover this very well (but quite a few problems are covering this). I wished I could read this ahead of time.

What books did you wish you brought: none

General impression about exam and format: Format was just like the NCEES practice exam. ENVRM practice problem, Lindeburg is too difficult. Exam itself is okay. Morning sections are most water, waste water and hydrology. Afternoon section are air, remediation, exposure, etc. To myself, morning section is much harder. Afternoon section is easy.

Advice for future test takers: get familiar with units. Maybe list all the common ones in a seperate sheet. Read Remediation and hydrogelogy in addition to the manual. Another important thing is to manage your exam time wisely! skip those questions you have no clue how to answer and finish the whole exam before you start to search your books (it is easy to say but hard to follow in reality). I wasted a lot of time in the morning section because I tried to solve one problem. I was unable to finish all 50 questions due to that stupid question (& the other 3 or 4 in the same subject). I leaned the lesson and did very well in the afternoon. I think afternoon section helped me to pass the exam.

Hope it helps.

#53 pleasantliving

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 05:19 PM

I passed the October 2011 exam (first attempt).... so the binder method worked for me!

#54 pleasantliving

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 04:14 PM

I have received a few messages asking for the list of sections tabbed, so here they are. I've also listed the FE Handbook pages included with each section.

http://www.flickr.co...N08/7113039797/
http://www.flickr.co...N08/7113039835/

#55 CU07

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 05:59 PM

I passed the April 2012 exam on my first try. Here's my experience:

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering

What books you brought with you:
  • EnvERM by Lindeburg with separate bound index
  • NCEES practice test (current version)
  • Environmental Engineering by Salvato (older edition, one volume)
  • Hazardous Waste Management by LaGrega
  • Wastewater Engineering by Metcalf & Eddy (3rd edition)
  • Basic Environmental Technology by Nathanson
  • Environmental Engineering Dictionary by Lee (2nd edition)
  • NC State PDFs
  • Drinking water standards (summary tables and specifics on things like lead but I didn't need the specifics)
  • A binder with the Plain Text Clean Air Act, EPA injection well classes, an EPCRA summary, radon info, NAPL info, landfill gas generation curve, DO sag curves, Activated Sludge Study Guide, etc.
  • 2008 Emergency Response Guidebook
  • RCRA and CERCLA Orientation Manuals
  • 10 State Standards
  • 101 Solved Problems by Schneiter
  • EnvERM practice problems by Lindeburg
  • NIOSH pocket guide
  • A binder of review class notes
  • Introduction to Environmental Engineering by Masters
  • An engineering economics text
What books you actually used: I used everything on the list through the 10 State Standards at least once. I used the first 8 books multiple times and was glad to have all of them. My binder of random fact sheets and guides was helpful although I think I only used the NAPL info and DO sag curves from it. Nathanson was useful for several qualitative questions, and Metcalf & Eddy helped me answer a handful of wastewater questions I wouldn't have known otherwise. I found some remediation, risk assessment, and radiation information in Salvato and LaGrega. Two questions were direct variations on problems from the latest NCEES practice exam. I had to look up chemical compatibility in the Emergency Response Guidebook, so it was worth the $4 from Amazon.

What books did you wish you brought: An air pollution controls book - I didn't have anything that covered this nearly well enough. I needed something that covered how to select appropriate devices, specific properties of devices, definitions, etc.

General impression about exam and format: The morning covered all the water topics and solid waste. The afternoon was air, remediation, health and safety, and general engineering principles (economics, statistics, project management, general math questions on logs/kinetics). I thought the morning was straight-forward; the water problems were generally pretty clear and similar to practice problems and I had references that covered almost all of the qualitative questions. Solid waste was okay, since a lot of the problems were basic math problems for a solid waste situation, like recycling or garbage trucks for example. Most of the hazardous and medical waste questions were qualitative and I thought were common-sense, although I deal with that at work. Air was a killer. I was okay on the basic principles portion like regulations, fate and transport, and emissions sources, but the air controls section was hard. Some of the questions were just definitions for air control components and I didn't have a good reference. A couple radiation and cancer problems, some EH&S regulation questions too.

Advice for future test takers: I spent five minutes going through the exam at the start and ranking the problems that I knew or could do really quickly, ones I thought I could solve, and ones I knew I wouldn't get, would need a lot of time, or didn't understand at first glance. Then I started going through all the easy ones (I actually started at the end and worked forward since I was at the back of the booklet anyways). I marked everything on the answer sheet as I answered. Anything I had to come back to, I circled the number. Then I worked my way though all the middle-tier problems, then had about 45 minutes at the end to address the handful I had ranked the hardest. I attempted all of them and made educated guesses. This worked out really well for me.

I really liked the NC State review course. I didn't have time to go through the air section and I wish I had, although the air questions on the exam that I didn't know seemed too obscure to have been included in the class anyways. My main studying was NC State; a sort-of-helpful local review course that covered water, wastewater, air, and economics; 101 Solved Problems; and the NCEES practice exam.

#56 VT-Matt

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 05:13 PM

Passed on first attempt April 2012 Environmental PE. Below is a summary of my experiences.

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering

What books you brought with you:
  • EnvERM by Lindeburg
  • Metcalf and Eddy WW Treatment
  • Air Pollution Control Cooper and Alley
  • Haz Waste Lagrega
  • Environmental Engineering Salvato 6th edition
  • CDC NIOSH pocket guide (free)
  • DOT Emergency Response book (little book)
  • Univ. of Del notes
  • A consolidated binder broken into ww, wt, wr, air, HW, and EH&S (In this book I had a copy of the indexes for the top 5 books, key eqns pulled from doing problems and from the FE eqn sheet, class notes, and organized example problems from Schneiter, NCEES practice exam, and some problems from the course.
  • I also had separate binders for any regulation, fact sheet, handout, etc that I came across as useful information during the course of solving hundreds of problems.
  • Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene
  • Introduction to Environmental Engineering Davis and Cromwell
What books you actually used: I probably used everything on this list but I would say I mostly used the top 5. I was able to use my main binder for solving 60-70% of the problems. Having that binder well organized saved me a ton of time. If given more time to prepare I would have refined this binder even more by breaking out problems more specifically. For example it would have been nice to have all my Dissolved Oxygen problems together, softening problems, combustion problems, etc. By using the ref book so much for my preparation I was able to remember where a lot of those specific problems were.

What books did you wish you brought: I think everything I needed was in my reference books, however, that doesn’t mean I was always able to find it. Knowing your references well is so important. No joke, but reading salvato during bathroom breaks, before bed, etc helped me answer some qualitative problems that I don’t think I would have found in time by searching through the indexes. If your having trouble sleeping just read a chapter from any of those books above.

General impression about exam and format: I thought the morning was reasonable. Mostly water treatment, waste water, solid waste, some remediation, etc. The afternoon was a completely different story. I wanted to pull my hair out anytime I saw a combustion type problem, etc. The EH&S and Engineering ECON were reasonable but the air…mostly the qualitative type problems were crazy.

Advice for future test takers: Don’t waste your time on a review course if you are disciplined. I honestly thought the Univ. of Del course wasted some valuable time that I could have spent elsewhere. If you still believe a review course is what’s needed…then I would recommend the NC State course. The outline for their course seemed to match up better with the 100 question Environmental Exam. I think some of these other courses are regurgitated versions of chemical/mechanical/civil and not geared towards the pure Environmental Exam…just my thoughts.

The Environmental Exam is just so freaking broad that there is no way you will ever know everything. With that said I think the absolute best way to prepare for this exam is to do hundreds if not thousands of problems and as your doing these problems organize the heck out of your references. Time management is so important on this exam.

The last and most important thing is to read every bit of advice you can on this forum. The help and guidance I received from folks on this forum was the greatest asset to passing this test on my first try. The PPI forum is worthless compared to Engineer boards. Hope this rambling helps future test takers some. Best of luck!

#57 engfriend

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 08:35 PM

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering, Passed October 2012 (3rd Attempt)

What books you brought with you:
  • Introduction to Environmental Engineering by Mackenzie Davis and David Cornwell - Found this book very useful during preparation and also in the exam this was very helpful.
  • Practical Design Calculations for Groundwater and Soil Remediation, Jeff Kuo- Covered this book from beginning to end during my third attempt preparation and in my opinion this book is absolutely must for any Environ test takers.
  • Environmental Engineering and Sanitation, J.A. Salvato (older edition, one volume) - Was useful in the exam, was able to answer couple of questions with the help of this book.
  • Hazardous Waste Management, M.D. LeGrega -Was useful in the exam, was able to answer couple of questions with the help of this book.
  • Wastewater Engineering: Treatment, Disposal, and Reuse (Metcalf & Eddy) - MUST for Wastewater
  • Air Pollution Control: A Design Approach, C.D. Cooper and F.C. Alley - Covered front to end page during preparation, wasn't that useful in the exam. Still I would have it.
  • EERM - Covered well during my first and second attempt, didn't use much during preparation but was useful in the exam. Finally in my 3rd attempt I was able to find information out of it, probably saved me.
  • NCEES Problems, and other problem books available at PPI - NCEES Problems is a MUST and I did all the problems couple of times before exam. Schneiter books are good especially for preparing for Environmental Health and Safety questions.
  • NCSU Review DVD Course - found this very useful for Air and Solid/Haz waste section. Covers the exam problems on these topics very well. Didn't use much for other topics.
  • FE Reference Manual -another useful book to have during the exam.
  • Two binders with notes for morning and afternoon sessions. These included materials that I downloaded from net regarding various topics, test masters material for hydrology, groundwater, waste water that I borrowed from a colleague, and other personal notes that I kept during preparation time, important unit conversions (especially for air topics, remediation topics; I took 4-5 copies of these and kept in each binder so I didn't have to spend too much time looking for units)
  • Environmental dictionary. Purchased this time, as in April there were 2-3 questions which I had no idea what they were about and later found out had I known the meaning the answers were pretty straight forward. But had no use this time in the exam.

What books you actually used: Mentioned earlier, everything except the dictionary.

What books did you wish you brought: Now that I passed nothing. Thanks to other members in this forum whose suggestions worked for me especially with the books needed during the exam.

General impression about exam and format: Previous posters covered this topic well.

Advice for future test takers: I started the exam from the end and it helped as the questions were easier I felt at the end than at the beginning. First two times, I spent so much time on the first questions and still couldn't do it that it completely disheartened me and I screwed up the exam. Also I didn't spend much time if I knew I will have to search for the solution (rather than knowing exactly where to look and in which book) in my references, I would just circle the number and move forward and then come back at the end. This helped me a lot this time as my confident was building from question to question and didn't loose heart. I think I had about 10 questions circled in the both the sessions and I had about 40-45 minutes left to do them which was as it turns out sufficient.

I would go through these forums there are some very good advises for the test takers.

All the best to future PE’s.

#58 depolarization

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 03:12 PM

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering, Passed October 2012 (1st Attempt)

What books you brought with you:.
  • Practical Design Calculations for Groundwater and Soil Remediation, Jeff Kuo- Did not use it much as LaGrega contained most of the answers I needed. Kuo's book is awesome in my field of remediation though
  • Environmental Engineering and Sanitation, J.A. Salvato (3 volume edition) - I didn't like it very much...as it seemed redundant with Metcalf & Eddy, as well as LaGrega
  • Hazardous Waste Management, M.D. LeGrega - My greatest resource outside of a binder of notes and the FE manual. So many of the qualitative and quantitative problems are answered efficiently in here. Even Lindberg's EVRM
  • Wastewater Engineering: Treatment, Disposal, and Reuse (Metcalf & Eddy) - Best Wastewater treatment book there is. Didn't really open it as most of the questions weren't that in depth. But I do like this book a lot!
  • Water Supply and Pollution Control 8th Ed. (Viessman et al) - When in a pinch, this book is wonderful for the water-treatment side of things as well as drainage basin modelling. I only thought to bring this because the guy from NC State review course kept referencing it.
  • Air Pollution Control: A Design Approach, C.D. Cooper and F.C. Alley - A great resource. But like Metcalf & Eddy, the questions didn't need in depth control tech, most Gaussian plume modeling references and design questions were covered enough by the NC State Review.
  • EVRM, Lindberg - Great resource, and if you can focus and read through the tome, you're about 90% done with what you need. However, most of us that work and have families don't have the time required. I recommend a review course.
  • NCEES Problems - is easily the most accurate practice problem set. I also brought lindberg and schneiter's review. Warning, the Schneiter questions are really in depth and way harder than anything on the PE exam. Lindberg's book is good enough for more practice. Although if you can master Schneiter's problems, you will probably win the engineering game.
  • NCSU Review Online Course - I bought the online course. It was good...but I wish it drilled more and that the lecture notes were better organized. The binder I made out of the notes helped a lot during the exam. Make sure you use pen to make notes. The transformations of the Hazen-Williams Equations save A LOT of time when solving hydraulics questions...just a pro tip.
  • FE Reference Manual -another useful book to have during the exam.

What books you actually used: I used most everthing except the solved problems...it took too long to look them up for me...but it was reassuring to have them there. Nearly have the exam was look-up and qualitative so the references really help to cover the broad basis. Note that all the references to regulations can be found in the textbooks and are better digested than looking at the regulations themselves, verbatim.

What books did you wish you brought: Since I passed, I guess I am fine. I didn't feel like I was deficient in an area.

General impression about exam and format: It is SUPER BROAD. Make sure you know your references well. You cannot really neglect any of the subject-matter areas...fortunate many of the chemical, hydraulic, air-pollution, health & safety, and remediation questions tie in together, as is the case with anything interdisciplinary.

Advice for future test takers: Try your best to manage your time. There are questions that seem vague but can actually be solved quickly with a look-up. If it's the last hour and you have 30 questions left, get efficient and use your intuition based on the best available information. Try to look at every questions and nail those quickly answered look-up questions, then tackle those tricky vague-quantitative ones last. You'll notice the hardest questions make the least % of the exam. It's about passing, not getting 100%!

#59 DavidPE

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 04:23 PM

I was going to wait and post here after my results came, but I better post now while it's fresh. So keep in mind that this advice comes from someone who may or may not have passed!

 

Test you took:

PE Environmental Engineering, April 2013.

 

Where you took it:

Syracuse, NY.

 

The exam was held in the Driver's Village Conference Center, which is a really nice facility. (Much better than the basement of the War Memorial, under the ice arena!) It's very easy to get to, right off of 81 & 481, and there's lots of free parking.

 

The test was held in a single room, 18 or 20 long tables, with 4 test takers at each table. I got an end spot, which was awesome, but even in the middle there was plenty of room to have your test plus two or three open references. The chairs were lightly padded and comfortable. There was no clock in the room, and food and drink was not allowed. Despite the cold weather outside, I was comfortable (slightly warm) in just a short-sleeve t-shirt.

 

There's a place to eat right in Driver's Village, and there is fast food and a grocery store within a very short distance of the facility. Since Driver's Village is an old mall, there is lots of room inside to walk around during lunch, which I thought was really nice after sitting for 4 hours.

 

What books you brought with you:

1. Environmental Engineering Reference Manual, Lindeburg*

2. Wastewater Engineering, Metcalf & Eddy*

3. Hydrology & Hydraulic Systems, Gupta*

4. Hazardous Waste Management, LaGrega*

5. Air Pollution Control, Cooper & Alley*

6. McCoy's RCRA Unraveled

7. Practical Design Calculations for Groundwater and Soil Remediation, Kuo

8. Environmental Engineering, Davis & Cornwell*

9. Emergency Response Handbook*

10. NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards

11. TLVs and BEIs, ACGIH

12. Practice Problems for the Environmental Engineering PE Exam, Lindeburg

13. Environmental Engineering Solved Problems, Schneiter

14. Environmental Engineering Practice PE Exams, Schneiter

15. Environmental Sample Questions & Solutions, NCEES

16. Homemade Binder #1* - NC State review notes, copies of all tables/charts I used while studying, summaries of various regulatory items, and selected chapters of the NCEES FE formula book.

17. Homemade Binder #2* - copies of the indices from each of the above references.

18. Homemade Quick Reference Booklet* - This was something I made to save time on the exam. The cover page is a list of conversions, units, factors, etc. I included a lot of things I know off the top of my head, just in case I drew a blank due to stress or whatever.

 

Next were summary pages for stormwater, groundwater, open channel, pipes/pumps, water treatment, wastewater, air, solid/hazardous waste, remediation, toxicology, and health & safety. Each topic was one side of one page or less. I included simple formulas, more complex formulas that I thought were high probability or that I could use without further reference, definitions (including formula variables), reminders, etc. A big part of it was simply listing my preferred reference for each topic (for example, I liked the air stripping section of the FE formula book better than the EERM).

 

After that I included my favorite tables: the periodic table, an awesome table with every possible variation of the universal gas constant, properties of air, and properties of water.

 

Finally I included 8 or 10 soved problems. These were problems that I struggle with (chemistry) or tend to make mistakes on (river/wastewater mixing) or that require a lot of steps (Hardy Cross).

 

What books you actually used:

Everything with an asterisk. I used the EERM, binder #1, and my quick reference booklet for the majority of the test. The other references were used for between 1 and 3 questions each. I knew I wouldn't use the practice problem books, but I couldn't bring myself to leave them at home.

 

My homemade quick reference was SUPER valueable. I bet I answered 30+ questions with that alone, and I looked at it while solving probably 70 or 80 questions. The binder of indices was also real handy for those questions that weren't in my main references.

 

What books did you wish you brought:

I don't have any suggestions for other references.

 

General impression about exam and format:

If you want to know about the format, get the NCEES practice exam. I would say the real test was identical in terms of format/layout/complexity.

 

I did all of the problems in the Lindeburg, both Schneiter, and NCEES books, and there were still a good number of questions that I had never seen before. I was able to come up with an answer that matched one of the choices on most of them, so hopefully I got a bunch right.

 

I think it could go either way for me. Right now, I'm just happy it's over and that I didn't totally bomb.

 

Advice for future test takers:

1. Starting to study is the hardest part. I've been out of school for more than 10 years and was pretty discouraged. I tried jumping right in to the EERM, and that only made me more discouraged. I ended up taking the NC State DVD course. There's a lot (A LOT!!) that the course doesn't cover, but I think it's a good starting point. The water and wastewater lectures are pretty good, and there's a bunch of really good stuff in the notes that aren't in the EERM. If you take it, pay attention to what the instructors say, because I wrote down a few things not in the notes that came in handy on the test.

2. I started studying in January. I tried to study during lunch at work, two hours a night after work, and 6-8 hours each day every weekend. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it still REALLY sucked. I have a full time job and two young kids (2 and 3-years old), so if I can put in the time, so can you. You have to make it a priority.

3. Do a lot of problems.

4. After you've done a lot of problems, do them all again. This time, do them without looking at the solutions.

5. You will need to work fast on the test, so you really need to know where to find things in your references. The EERM should be your main resource, and you should know it especially well. Learning your references should be among your highest priorities while studying.

6. Tab your resources well. I probably went a little overboard (I bet I spent $30 just on tabs), but it really did save me time.

7. Don't be afraid to write in your reference materials. Circle important things. Write yourself reminders. Cross-reference other material.

8. Buy used references if you can. A lot of the notes other people made in my books were very helpful. (True story: there was one question on the exam that said to use a particular equation that I've never heard of before. I found the equation in one of my used textbooks, and someone had written in a simplified form of the equation and made some notes on its use. It saved me a bunch of time.)

9. Know how to work in both english and metric units. A lot of the practice problmes are in metric, but much of the test in in english.

10. Take the NCEES practice exam under test conditions, twice if you can. I barely broke 50% the first time I took it because I wasted so much time. The second time was much better, and the real exam was even better than that. I wouldn't have stood a chance if I hadn't practiced this way.

11. Get lots of sleep the night before the test. (If your wife is snoring, don't be afraid to move to the sofa if it means getting more sleep.)

12. Bring a lunch. A friend of mine took the test in Vermont a few years ago, and the proctor showed up really late. To make up the time, he only gave everyone 15 minutes between the morning and afternoon sessions.

13. If you wear contact lenses, bring your glasses just in case. By 11am, my contacts and eyes were so dry that I could barely read the exam. I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have my glasses for the afternoon.

14. Bring some ibuprofen.

15. During the test, keep track of the time.

16. Read each question very carefully. In fact, read each question very carefully again. Understand what the question is asking. Cross-out the information you don't need (there will be lots of it). Circle key words.

17. There will be questions that you will expect to be one thing (based on a diagram or chart or something), but actually ask you something different. Don't pass on a question because you THINK you know what it's asking. Take the time to read it first.

18. Keep track of the time.

19. Don't be sloppy. Write out your formulas and your units. Cancel your units.

20. Relax, don't get discouraged, and keep working. Skip questions that you're not sure about or that are taking you too long to solve. You'll be surprised how many of them you'll be able to answer when you come back later.

21. Keep track of the time.

22. If you have time left at the end, check your answers. I found three mistakes, including one where I marked the wrong answer on the scantron sheet.

 


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#60 Dleg

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 10:11 PM

Excellent summary, David!  Actually brought back memories of when I took the exam..... ugh...  But I saw several strategies of yours that matched mine - mostly along the lines of assuring you truly understand the basic principles.  I'll bet you passed!



#61 DavidPE

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 02:27 PM

I was going to wait and post here after my results came, but I better post now while it's fresh. So keep in mind that this advice comes from someone who may or may not have passed!

 

I am thrilled to say that I passed!



#62 Dleg

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 11:44 PM

Congratulations!  Yet another testament to the power of understanding the basic principles.



#63 smckeon pe

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 03:26 PM

Hi All - finally ready to post here - Good Luck to all those planning to take the test in October!  I took the test twice - first in April 2012, and again in April 2013.  Failed the first time, I think mostly to lack of appropriate time dedicated to studying.  I spent much more time studying for the second go-round, and, although I didn't walk out of the test SUPER confident that I'd passed, I did feel that I performed much better than on my first attempt - which lead me to 1.5 months of second guessing everything I had done.  Thankfully, I got my passing notice about two weeks ago, so I don't have to go through those very daunting 8-hours again.  Anyway - here goes:

 

Test you took:

PE Environmental Engineering, April 2013 (2nd attempt)

 

Where you took it:

Newark, NJ

 

Exam was administered in a large student center room - lots of long tables with 2 people sitting at each table.  The room is pretty quiet relative to some other people's experiences, but I still made use of ear plugs.  Chairs are decently comfortable - they have thinly padded seats and the backs of them are flexible while still being supportive.  The temperatures were pretty warm in the room both times I was there, so I was glad to have layers that I could put on/take off as needed.  *The test admins made people tuck in their hoods if they were wearing hooded sweatshirts or jackets - best to just avoid wearing anything with a hood for the test.  You can bring snacks and water into the room with you, but they can't sit on the table - I placed a water bottle on the floor beside me, but honestly, didn't have time to think about drinking anything during the exam.

 

Free parking in the student parking lot, which is nice given the location.  Short outdoor walk from the garage to the student center - if the weather is icky, have an umbrella or rain jacket to avoid having to sit in wet clothing all day.  The student center has food available for purchase, but I brought lunch with me in a cooler and walked to my car to eat.  If it's a nice day outside, there's a campus green adjacent to the building where the test is administered, it's nice to sit outside to get some fresh air and to calm yourself down between the morning and afternoon sessions.  Don't bring cell phones into the testing room - they will ask you to turn them in if you do - and you won't be able to collect them before the end of the day.

 

 

What books you brought with you:

1. Environmental Engineering Reference Manual, Lindeburg*

2. Wastewater Engineering, Metcalf & Eddy

3. Air Pollution Control, Cooper & Alley

4. Practical Design Calculations for Groundwater and Soil Remediation, Kuo

5. Practice Problems for the Environmental Engineering PE Exam, Lindeburg

6. Environmental Sample Questions & Solutions, NCEES*

7. Environmental Law Handbook, 21st Edition, Steinway, Ewing, Case, Nardi, and Brownell*

8. 3 Binders of notes from School of PE online class with sample problems and solutions included*

9. 1 Binder of RCRA rules and regs (based on recommendations from School of PE instructors), plus some other EPA regulation printouts.

 

 

What books you actually used:

Everything with an asterisk. I used the EERM and the three binders from School of PE for the majority of the test. The other references were used much less, but I was VERY glad I had the Enviromental Law book because I know, for certain, that I would have answered at least 3 questions incorrectly without that one.  I didn't have that book when I took the test the first time, only got it based on a recommendation from a co-worker, and was glad I did.

 

What books did you wish you brought:

Nothing

 

General impression about exam and format:

If you want to know about the format, get the NCEES practice exam. The actual layout of the test is very similar to the sample tests, and sometimes they use similar problems on the exam, which makes the sample exams pretty good references.

 

I did all of the problems in the NCEES sample exams, and all of the samples that were provided by School of PE.  I actually did all of the School of PE sample questions twice - once when we were going through each topic as part of class, and again after the classes ended, when I still had two weeks to test time, keep the problems and concepts fresh in my brain. 

 

Advice for future test takers:

1. If you don't know where to start studying, I recommend the School of PE review course.  I initially signed up for it only because they offered a free repeat if you fail the test the first time around.  I did have to take advantage of it and was glad that I was able to make it work. 

2. If you do take the School of PE ONLINE classes, I recommend taking the weeknight course as opposed to the weekend one.  I took weekend classes for my first attempt, but found that I was lacking ambition to study at night after work.  When I took the online classes during the week, it forced me to focus after work on whatever subject we were reviewing, and I used all of my weekend free time to study and go over whatever we had done the week before.

3.  Get to the testing site early and use the restroom BEFORE you go into the testing room.  The first time I took the test, I made the mistake of thinking I could drop my stuff off at my seat THEN go to the bathroom - but the proctors wouldn't let me leave the room before the exam started even though we had at least 15 minutes before the official start of the test. 

4.  If you do take a review course, going over the material on your own AFTER you've gone through it in class helps to solidify the concepts - I highly recommend this approach for feeling more comfortable with the material.

5. If you fail at first, take some time to be disappointed, but then get back on the horse, and study again - there is no shame in having to take the test more than once, and the feeling of accomplishment you have after finding out you pass is well worth the aggravation, time, and frustration you have getting to that point.

6. Tell your family/friends/innocent bystanders that you will let them know when you know the results, and kindly request that they not ask you for updates while you're waiting on results.  It's annoying enough to have to wait for your state to release results, it's even worse when your Mom calls you every other day to find out if you're in or out...especially when your mom/aunt/friend doesn't fully understand what getting a PE actually means.

7. As others have mentioned, take your time and read each question carefully - you can save a TON of time by understanding what they're asking for and crossing out the info in the problem that doesn't pertain to the question being asked. 



#64 ENVEguy

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 03:37 AM

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering

What books you brought with you: 
ENVRM by Lindeburg
Hazardous Waste Management by La Grega
Air Pollution Control by Cooper Alley
Wastewater Engineering by Metcalf & Eddy
Water chemistry by Benjamin
Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Science by Masters
Introduction to Environmental Engineering by Davis Cornwell

What books you actually used: Actually used them all for at least one question.  Heavy use of the ENVRM, and LaGrega

What books did you wish you brought: Drinking water references

General impression about exam and format: NCEES practice exam was about what it was format wise.   ENVRM questions were much harder than actual questions.  Morning was much harder for me than afternoon.

Advice for future test takers: Make sure to have a reference that has shortcut unit conversions.  Skip questions that are time consuming and come back.  The best thing to do is tab your references and get use to the sections in your books.  Do as many practice problems as possible and actually understand the theory behind the problems and not just how to solve the individual problem.  



#65 Env_eng_grrl

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 02:51 PM

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering in April 2013

Where you took it: Macomb, Michigan

What books you brought with you:

Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering by James R. Mihelcic

Water Resources Engineering by Ralph A. Wurbs and Wesley P. James

Air Pollution Control Engineering by Noel de Nevers

Environmental Engineering Reference Manual by Michael R. Lindeburg

Wastewater Engineering by Metcalf & Eddy

Unit Operations and Processes in Environmental Engineering by Reynolds/Richards

Surface Water-Quality Modeling by Steven C. Chapra

Aquatic Chemistry by James N. Jensen

Geotechnical Engineering by Donald P. Coduto

The Complete Guide to the Hazardous Waste Regulations by Travis P. Wagner

Applied Hydrogeology by C.W. Fetter

Design, Operation, and Closure of Municipal Solid Waste Landfills by EPA

Emergency Response Guidebook by DOT

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards by CDC

Risk Assessment Equations from NCEES 2011 Sample Questions and Solutions


What books you actually used:

Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering by James R. Mihelcic

Water Resources Engineering by Ralph A. Wurbs and Wesley P. James

Air Pollution Control Engineering by Noel de Nevers

Environmental Engineering Reference Manual by Michael R. Lindeburg

Wastewater Engineering by Metcalf & Eddy

Unit Operations and Processes in Environmental Engineering by Reynolds/Richards


What books did you wish you brought: I did not bring my drinking water text.. probably should have

General impression about exam and format: Format is just like NCEES practice exam. My impression is that the exam was easier than the practice exam, which makes it a good standard to set your sights.

Advice for future test takers: I took a review course offered by the local engineering society. My thoughts were that the course would help me stay focused on studying and necessitate time spent reviewing the material. The people that taught the courses were excellent and I ended up learning quite a bit. There were people that had been in consulting or regulatory agencies 20-30 years and there were some who had just passed the PE exam who had excellent grasp of the material and preparation strategies. I would recommend a review course - in terms of your career advancement, its probably the best money spent.

 

Most of the textbooks I brought were those that were assigned for courses during my undergraduate in environmental engineering.  Once I learned that you could bring material into the PE exam, I started saving my books.  Some I even bought back after the fact. I think this was an immense help because I was familiar with each of these particular textbooks.  In addition, if you are a practicing engineer, having access to reference is necessary.



#66 garfield2481

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:05 PM

I should give a little background about me. I have a bachelors in chemical engineering and a masters in environmental engineering and have been working on industrial wastewater projects for the past 5-6 years/

 

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering

Where you took it: Philadelphia, PA

What books you brought with you:

Environmental Engineering Reference Manual by Michael R. Lindeburg

Wastewater Engineering by Metcalf & Eddy

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards by CDC

Hazardous Waste Management by La Grega
Air Pollution Control by Cooper Alley

Practice Problems for the Environmental Engineering PE Exam, Lindeburg

Binders of notes from NC State class (VERY USEFUL)

Environmental Law Handbook

Rest of the PE practice problem books by PPI

What books you actually used:

Heavy use of the NC State notes and air pollution control

Barely used Lagrega and environmental law handbook

What books did you wish you brought:

None

General impression about exam and format:

 

Format similar to the NCEES sample book. I found water/wastewater problems easy, but that's what I have been working on the last few years.

Advice for future test takers:

Most important advice I can think of is that if you buy a book or take a book to the exam, make sure you read it or go through it properly. You don't need to memorize stuff, but have to make sure you know where things are. I never really used LaGrega or environmental law handbook much and had I known where things were (i.e. tagged or highlighted) things would have been very different. You really dont have time during the exam to read paragraphs looking for that one answer.

 

The NC state notes are great. Really good shortcuts and you should carry it if you can and add notes or stuff in it if you can. I tagged the crap out of it and it came in handy. Have colored tabs for air, water, haz. waste etc.

 

You HAVE to buy an engineering unit conversions book. Will save you precious time during the exam.

 

If you are weak in a certain area (like air or hazardous waste etc.), that's where you need to start practicing problems and work on them till you are proficient. The exam really doesn't let you look through books to understand how to solve a problem.

 

Work as many problems as you can and when you are done, go over them 1-2 more times. That way it will get ingrained in your head!!! The only books I used were the PPI practice problem books (Wayne S books are helpful, companion to PE book not so much), NCEES sample book and the air pollution control appendix problems for PE.

 

Carry lunch to your test center unless you are certain there are places to eat nearby. They expect you to be at the exam center 45 minutes before the exam, so you might need to find a breakfast spot too!

 

Best of luck to you all! I hope I pass :)

 

 



#67 OR Duck

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 05:22 AM

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering

Where you took it:  Salem, OR

What books you brought with you:

EERM - Lindeburg

Intro to Environmental Engineering - Masters

Hydrology and Hydraulic Systems - Gupta

Haz Waste Management - LaGrega

Environmental Engineering PE Exam Guide & Handbook - King

Wastewater Engineering - Metcalf & Eddy

Air Pollution Control - Cooper & Alley

Environmental Law Handbook - Bell et al

Practice Problems for the Environmental Engineering Exam - Lindeburg

NCEES Problems 

Environmmental Engineering Practice PE Problems - Schneiter

2012 Emergency Response Guidebook

NIOSH Reference Handbook

Binder with references, EERM index/appendices, solved problems 


What books you actually used:

First seven listed in addition to the binder.  Mostly relied on the EERM.

What books did you wish you brought:

A text on drinking water

General impression about exam and format:

Similar to what others have listed.  The most similar from a prep standpoint were the NCEES practice problems, but I don't recommend relying on these practice problems exclusively in preparation.  Overall, the quantitative problems were relatively straightforward and I found that I rarely had to use my references for these problems with the exception of a quick look up for an equation.  This was mainly due to the prep time I put in: I could recall conversions, etc. simply due to repetition during my studying.  Qualitative problems were a different animal.  This is where I used my references the most.   Many of the qualitative problems I knew based on experience or I knew where to look in my references.  For quite a few others I had to rely on process of elimination.  Overall, I feel the exam questions were fair, but the content of the exam is very broad, so it's nearly impossible to know everything.  There were a few subject areas not covered on the exam that I studied extensively because I was sure they would be covered, but weren't.  I used up all of the time in the morning and afternoon sessions, and felt the level of difficulty was pretty similar in each session.  My background is water, so I was feeling a little more pressed for time in the afternoon section.  

Advice for future test takers:

Begin preparing yourself well in advance of the exam.  There is no substitute for preparation.  Cramming will not work for this exam.  I started studying June 1 and ramped up my studying as I progressed, particularly the final two months.  I'm fairly certain I studied at least 300 hours for the exam.  As many others have said, know your references well.  You don't have time on the exam to navigate references you are not familiar with. I think a good strategy is to spend about 60% of your time solving practice problems, and about 40% reading/getting to know your reference materials. During the exam, I found myself going to the references I was most familiar with.  The EERM is the most handy reference as it was written for this exam.  It's not perfect, but it has most of the content you will need to know for the exam.  During my studies, the areas of the EERM I largely skipped included the background info and the much of the HVAC/Thermo sections in the middle of the book.  This didn't seem to be an issue on the exam. There are some topics, such as groundwater, water treatment, and wastewater treatment that are not sufficiently covered by the EERM in my opinion. Many people have listed the Fetter Groundwater Hydrology book as a good reference for groundwater.  I have this book, but didn't bring it to the exam.  Instead, I relied on the Hydrology and Hydraulic Systems book by Gupta which sufficiently covers groundwater in addition to many other relevant topics including open channel flow, stormwater, hydraulics, etc.  

 

I also prepared a binder as suggested by many on this post.  It included conversions, EERM index, EERM appendices, problems I solved by hand, and other miscellaneous references and regulations.  I mostly used it for the EERM index.  I don't think I looked at the solved problems in my binder at all (or the NCEES problems or any other solved problems for that matter).  There simply isn't enough time on the exam.  The biggest benefit of the binder for me was the process of putting it together during my preparation.  It helped me get organized in preparing for the exam.  I also used a reference on drinking water MCLs I had in my binder a couple of times.   

 

I used the strategy (listed by others) of taking a few minutes at the beginning of each session to look through all the problems first, then marking them in the exam booklet as 1, 2 or 3 depending on the perceived level of difficulty.  This is a good strategy as it allows you to answer the easier problems first, and not waste a lot of your time early in the exam on the more difficult problems.  Time management is key.  

 

Lastly, I found this thread was very helpful in strategizing and organizing my thoughts and materials for the exam.   



#68 VTEnviro

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 04:40 PM

What books did you wish you brought: A text on drinking water

 

Unit Ops by Reynolds and Richards is pretty technical, but good for process stuff.  I relied on this one s lot.

 

Envl Chem by Bunce is good for theory and concepts - alkalinity, hardness, etc.



#69 Dleg

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 10:44 PM

Excellent advice, OR Duck.  Thanks for posting.



#70 ex nihilo

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 04:17 PM

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering


Where you took it:  Orlando, FL

What books you brought with you:

EERM - Lindeburg

FE Supplied-Reference Handbook

Environmental Engineering Dictionary - Lee

Basic Environmental Technology - Nathanson

Chemistry for Environmental Engineering and Science - Sawyer, McCarty, Parkin

Environmental Engineering - Salvato

Applied Hydrogeology - Fetter

Hazardous Waste Management - LaGrega

Wastewater Engineering - Metcalf & Eddy

Air Pollution Control - Cooper & Alley

Environmental Law Handbook - Bell et al

Practice Problems for the Environmental Engineering Exam - Lindeburg

NCEES PE Environmental Sample Questions & Solutions 

Environmmental Engineering Practice PE Problems - Schneiter

RCRA manual

Binder with quick references: property tables, conversion factors, engineering data and constants, indices/appendices, solved problems 


What books you actually used:

Used all of them but the majority of questions were fielded using the first four books and the binder with quick references.  Having the Lindeburg text is a no-brainer, obviously.  The FE (yes, Fundamentals!) Handbook was absolutely indispensible--I did many calculations very quickly using it.  The Dictionary is a must-have for handling esoteric qualitative questions--it's well worth the money, you can find used older editions (still relevant) online for under $30.

What books did you wish you brought:

None

General impression about exam and format:

As others have already mentioned, the format is most similar to the NCEES practice problems.

 

There seemed to be an even split of quantitative and qualitative questions.  The quantitative ones were straightforward, no tricks involved; the qualitative ones were more challenging in my opinion because they required specific experience with a particular scenario or subject matter--this may be subjective on my part since I mainly focused on working problems during studying.

  

Advice for future test takers:

Start studying at least 4 months in advance.  Don't waste time reading EERM cover to cover (what I did) before you start working problems.  Start doing problems as soon as possible so you can assess your strengths/ weaknesses and well as reinforce an efficient problem solving methodology; also, take the NCEES practice test early on (don't wait until the week before like I did).  

 

Prepare a quick reference binder.  Do this at the same time you are working practice problems since you will learn which properties, conversions and equations keep coming up.

 

Be intimately familiar with a few of your references but bring them all (just in case).  It's better to have them and not need them then to miss a relatively easy question because you were missing a reference.  For me many books were only good for one question but since the test is so broad you will need every single point you can get.

 

Time is of the essence so answer the easiest test questions first.  Don't fall into the trap of spending too much time on a few questions early on--this will only increase your stress and make even easy questions difficult when you see time running out.  Go through the test first and answer any questions that you can solve in 2-3 minutes; answer the more difficult questions after you've solved the easiest; save at least 10-15 minutes at the end for guessing on questions you have absolutely no idea of the answer or to check that you've filled out your Scantron correctly.



#71 Hariiyer

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 08:14 PM

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering

Where you took it: Worcester, MA

What books you brought with you:

  • ENVRM - Lindeburg
  • NCSU DVD notes
  • Metcalf & Eddy
  • Environmental Engineering Dictionary – Lee
  • Hazardous Waste Management,  by  LaGrega
  • Air Pollution Control - Cooper & Alley
  • Environmental Law Handbook – Sullivan
  • Engineering Units Conversion - Lindeburg
  • Surface Water Quality Modeling– Chapra
  • Applied Hydrogeology by C.W. Fetter
  • Water Chemistry – Benjamin
  • Water Treatment: Principles and Design – MWH
  • NCEES Environmental Sample Questions and Solutions
  • Environmental Engineering Solved Problems by R. Wane Schneiter
  • Environmental Engineering Practice PE Exams by R. Wane Schneiter
  • Practice Problems for the Environmental Engineering PE Exam (Companion), Lindeburg

What books you actually used:

Heavy use of ENVRM, NCSU notes. Used M&E, Lagrega, Cooper & Alley, dictionary a few times. Law handbook helped with one question. The unit conversion book saved me some valuable time.   

What books did you wish you brought:
None

General impression about exam and format:
Follows the NCEES sample questions book. I found the PM section easier than AM.

Advice for future test takers:

A lot of good advices are found in this blog. Thanks a lot for previous bloggers. I thought, I was underprepared for the exam but luckily passed it. I would have prepared for ~270 hr. My advice is to focus on quantitative problem solving. There are a good amount of qualitative questions in the exam but it is difficult to fully prepare for it. NCSU DVDs helped me a lot. Cooper and Alley book on Air quality is also a good reference. The sample questions at the back of Cooper text were similar to exam questions. Lindeburg guide is a must have. Focus on important chapters. Schneiter’s book of solved problems were difficult than actual questions on the exam, but I thought it was good for preparation.

There were many questions on Hydrology and Hydraulics in the AM section. I had issues with time management at the exam. For AM section, I completed only 5 questions after hour 1. So, I had to play catch-up rest of the exam. Finally, I completed all but 2 questions. I did not do mock exams as preparation before the PE exam. Hindsight, I think it would have helped.

I am selling the study material including most listed above. Kindly email me at hariiyer21@yahoo.com if interested.



#72 VTEnviro

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 08:46 PM

Excellent post! Welcome to the club.  I thought qualitative was harder than quantititative since you can't just work the problem and cancel out units.

 

I used to live in that neck of the woods, so I know how to pronounce Wistuh.



#73 Hariiyer

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 09:40 PM

Thank You VTEnviro..

 

Qualitative Qs - I was not absolutely sure of the answers. I was able to narrow down to two choices for most questions. I guess the probability should have worked in my favor as I passed.



#74 VTEnviro

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 10:12 PM

According to 40 CFR XXX,  the definition of hazardous slop is most likely...

 

I hated those.






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