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Helpful tips for the Electrical PE exam


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#1 superme

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:03 AM

The Electrical PE Exam (4-part series)

That's the first part (of four) of what I have to recommend and say about the PE exam. It's mostly geared towards the Electrical Power exam, but it can be helpful for all the disciplines. Much of the content is from what I wrote here on the boards a long time. But it's organized better, it has pictures, and it's presented on my website in a much easier to read manner (which makes a big difference I think). Please check it out. I discuss strategies, mindsets, book recommendations, philosophies, etc.

I'm pretty opinionated about this stuff and I remember that it rubbed some people the wrong way a while back. That's not my intention, but sometimes I say things a little more forcefully to drive in the point. I just want it to help.

Forgive me for the shameless advertising. I don't have any ads on my site so I don't make a cent from visitors or anything like that.

#2 mudpuppy

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:18 AM


If you care enough about our opinoins to post this here, why not put a blurb about Engineerboards in your 4-part article? Many people have found this forum to be helpful in passing the exam.


#3 benbo

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:45 AM

This guy basically recommends one book by Chelapati that is tough to find. I think that book has two volumes but I'm not sure.
I had one volume that is great for people taking the power exam, but not sufficient for the other disciplines, in my opinion. I actually gave it away to somebody who used it almost exclusively to pass after failing one time. He thinks almost every other book is crap, except the NCEES test which he basically says is good but too little.

I have my own opinions about this guy, but I'll keep them to myself. But he is right that this is a good book. My main beef is that I don't think everyone can pass just using this book, for only one month, with only one year experience (like he says he has - I'm not sure how this qualified him to take the test but that's another issue). Especially since he only took one EE class in school. So take his advice at your own risk. Maybe we have another super genius on the board, but I don't think this advice is wise for most people.

#4 wilheldp_PE

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 01:15 AM

I pretty much stopped reading after this section...
QUOTE
The book that everyone and their mama use, the Electrical Engineering Manual for the PE Exam by Yarbrough, is pretty much worthless in my opinion. It doesnít really help you pass the exam at all. Let me give you my background. My college degree was in Bioengineering, and I only took one introductory EE class. Fortunately, like I said, Iím a good test-taker and I recognize good study material when I see it. You see, study material is like a teacher; a bad teacher makes learning a subject very hard, and a good teacher is able to take something complex and make it seem easy to the student. I worked as an electrical engineering for about one year, and I passed the EE PE on my first shot, after studying for a little over a month.


There are two glaring warning signs in this short paragraph.

1. The book that "everybody and their mama" uses is the EERM by Camara. I don't know what the referenced Yarbrough book is, but I don't think it is the most popular reference for the Electrical PE.

2. We have a Bioengineer with 1 introductory EE course and 1 year of experience claiming to be a valuable source of data on how to pass the EE PE. I think he could have stopped his article at "I am a very good test-taker" and it would have been equally useful.

#5 mudpuppy

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 01:46 AM

Yarborough was the predecessor to Camara at "the other board", so that one can be overlooked as a legimate error. But the rest. . .

#6 wilheldp_PE

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 02:18 AM

QUOTE (mudpuppy @ Sep 9 2008, 09:46 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yarborough was the predecessor to Camara at "the other board", so that one can be overlooked as a legimate error. But the rest. . .

The article was written in July 2008, but I guess he could have taken the PE several years prior.

#7 superme

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 04:04 AM

I knew I would rub people the wrong way with this. Sorry. I know I can be an arrogant prick, but that doesn't mean what I said isn't true.

mudpuppy, I didn't mention EngineerBoards because I simply don't use it that much. I just remembered that I initially wrote all that stuff here and I knew that people studying for the test come here. What's the big deal?

benbo, I remember talking with you before. Yeah, the book had two volumes, but even Chelapati himself doesn't have the other volume anymore (I think I mention that in my series). As for the other books, yes I think most of them are crap generally speaking. Not because they don't have good content in them, but because even if they have good content, they also have tons more of irrelevant content. So, it's a lot of work to find the good content. I can't recommend spending a lot of time reading 100 pages of material to get 5 pages of helpful material. That is frustrating. It's like bad engineering when you use way too much safety factor. Sure, your design is solid but way too much overkill. Instead of spending the time to organize an efficient study manual, these books just throw everything about basic electrical engineering into their pages and say, "here, study this, it's all in here".

As for myself, there was nothing wrong with what I did. I do have to apologize for making myself seem smarter than I am and gloating a little bit. The truth is this, when I took the test, I was BY TITLE an electrical engineer for just a year. But I had 3 years of experience already as a mechanical engineer which also included 50% of electrical design. It's just my title was mechanical. So, it is legitimate and my sponsors thought so also (I know, anyone signs those things, but still). Also, about studying for a month, I don't recommend that AT ALL. I happen to be a very good test taker. So what. That doesn't mean I recommend people in general to study one month. In fact, I planned to study for 3-4 months, but I spent 2 months wasting time studying poor material and I realized it wasn't helping me. So, yes, sorry about bragging, but I also wanted to show that good study material means less time studying. Also, about my coursework, all that matters is that you have a degree in engineering. It doesn't have to be in the exact major you are taking the exam in.

I never recommended for people to study a month. I did address problems people have when studying so that you are aware of it and perhaps you can address it.

Sorry about the Yarborough/Camara confusion. I'll go back and correct that. I think I was getting the Mechanical/Electrical confused maybe. You know what I meant...those "the other board" books.

Look everyone, I'm sorry for being an arrogant bastard, I guess I can't help it. But when I say I'm a good test taker, there's more to that than just the gloating. And that's what I tried to flesh out in the articles. Being a good test taker is not this mysterious skill that some people are gifted. It really boils down to discipline and knowing what you have to know...maybe a little bit of it has to do with being calm vs being nervous, but I think that's a little overblown. I think people who know their stuff are calm because they know their stuff, not because of some weird personality syndrome. And the test isn't a high pressure test anyway, at least not as far as the time goes.

And about that book. The reason why it's so good is because it's very efficient...there isn't much irrelevant content in there and it's not that long of a book. Sure, you can take other afternoon portions besides Power, but let's face it, most of the people taking this exam are power people and are most likely taking the power portion. That's why I say this book is so helpful. Yeah, if you take another afternoon subject, this book is not nearly as helpful. Given that most of the exam takers have EE degrees, I am very confident that studying and mastering this book alone can make you pass the exam. You just have to be really good at power and just get a few right of the other questions. That's reality. Don't make this test harder than it has to be.

I'm constantly emphasizing the cynical attitude. Resist that urge to study all things electrical. We all have that urge because we don't want to miss anything and it's natural to think that studying and mastering everything will help us pass. But it can be much easier. That's what I'm saying. Study ONLY what you have to, don't spend time with the rest. Pass the exam and go enjoy life. You get no extra points for passing with a higher score. Heck, you don't even know what you get. If NCEES doesn't care, why should you? Bare minimum. That's all you need.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't do my job bare minimum. But this isn't a job, this is a test. Just pass.

I can't apologize enough for my attitude, sorry. I don't mean any disrespect to anyone, except maybe th authors and publishers of the books, and only constructive criticism at that. Hey, if I do a bad job, people let me know about it, so i can do the same for others. I don't take any offense, unless it's unnecessarily personal.

OK. I should add this somewhere on my website I guess.

#8 benbo

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 04:24 AM

THe important thing is that the book is a good one for power, and if you can get your hands on it you should And many of your points are valid about extraneous info. I actually don't think you were bragging excessively. THe truth is that you may well be smarter than the average person, or a much more efficient test taker. My main point is just that most people cannot pass without a good deal of studying, and they need to consider their own abilities carefully when they read your advice. And you at least need to know a modicum of "breadth" topics for the morning, and I honestly can't remember if they were in the Chelapati book. It is possible you picked them up somewhere along the line without realizing it. Because if you don't learn somethin about op-amps, there's no way you can figure it out on the test. That's really my point.

#9 superme

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 06:52 AM

I forgot to mention, if anyone wants a copy of the book, contact me and I'll tell you how to get it. I didn't want to advertise it excessively because I don't know what the deal is with the copyrights.

benbo, that's exactly the point of my strategy. Why take another afternoon section when Power is the easiest? It's the same mistake some people make on the EIT where they take the subject specific afternoon module instead of the general one. It doesn't matter if you're a Civil Engineering major, the general is still easier for most people. I've seen several people fail the EIT because of this. I tell them, forget about your major, just take general because its easier.

Same with the PE. The power is the easiest to study and most probably is emphasized more than the other disciplines in the general section. As for the rest (this is probably where we disagree) I don't think you have to know all that much about it. Actually, this is the only thing that Camara book is good for: if there's a problem, just go to the index and look for the answer, if you can find it in a couple of minutes, great! If not, guess and move on.

Op-amps...I don't know anything about op-amps. I guessed on every op-amp question or I did what I just described above. Bare minimum baby.

In other words, this is what I'm NOT saying:
"Do the Power section if you feel that it's your strongest discipline. But if not, then do what you know best."
Because that's just basically saying, do whatever you think you know the most.

What I am saying is this:
"Do Power because it's the easiest to prepare for."

I still think that if you know Power plus super basic familiarity with the other stuff, you can pass. Honestly, I don't didley squat about the other stuff...next to nothing. I am sure of it. I still think I barely passed the PE, but I'll never know.

#10 mudpuppy

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 01:02 AM


Hey dude I wasn't trying to make a big deal, but it seems Engineerboards was involved in your studying in some way (perhaps I am wrong) and we can always use some publicity. I didn't intend any offense.



#11 wilheldp_PE

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 01:24 AM

QUOTE (superme @ Sep 10 2008, 02:52 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
In other words, this is what I'm NOT saying:
"Do the Power section if you feel that it's your strongest discipline. But if not, then do what you know best."
Because that's just basically saying, do whatever you think you know the most.

What I am saying is this:
"Do Power because it's the easiest to prepare for."

I disagree with this. If you work on/with computers or electronics every day, then you likely won't have to study much at all for the computer or ECC afternoon sections. I know that I hardly studied at all for the computer section, took it, and passed. Sure, I could have studied my ass of and possibly passed the Power section, but there was really no reason for me to do that.

#12 superme

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 06:04 PM

QUOTE (wilheldp_PE @ Sep 10 2008, 06:24 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I disagree with this. If you work on/with computers or electronics every day, then you likely won't have to study much at all for the computer or ECC afternoon sections. I know that I hardly studied at all for the computer section, took it, and passed. Sure, I could have studied my ass of and possibly passed the Power section, but there was really no reason for me to do that.

Well, yes, in your case that is true. But generally speaking, most people taking the exam are power people. Also, in those cases where you are not sure what your strength is, then I would recommend power by default.

By the way, why do you need a PE anyway? Most computer/electronic engineers don't need PE licenses. That's another point also. A lot of books about computer/electronics won't be geared for the PE because there are so few people who take the exam. So it's a crap shoot whether those books will be good or not. Actually, if I am to be consistent with what I say, even the specifically PE electrical books are not that good even though they are supposedly geared for the PE exam. I think all most of the authors do is take regular electrical engineering content and just put "PE" in the title of the book.

In your case, it sounds like you already have a comprehensive knowledge, so yes, it's better that you took the electronics section. But you are the rare case. In fact, even if you're job is in electronics doesn't always mean you know the subject on a theoretical basis, just ask all those experienced engineers who fail the PE.

I appreciate the comments guys. I don't take offense because I knew that what I said was a bit abrasive.

#13 wilheldp_PE

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 06:53 PM

QUOTE (superme @ Sep 11 2008, 02:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Well, yes, in your case that is true. But generally speaking, most people taking the exam are power people. Also, in those cases where you are not sure what your strength is, then I would recommend power by default.

By the way, why do you need a PE anyway? Most computer/electronic engineers don't need PE licenses. That's another point also. A lot of books about computer/electronics won't be geared for the PE because there are so few people who take the exam. So it's a crap shoot whether those books will be good or not. Actually, if I am to be consistent with what I say, even the specifically PE electrical books are not that good even though they are supposedly geared for the PE exam. I think all most of the authors do is take regular electrical engineering content and just put "PE" in the title of the book.

In your case, it sounds like you already have a comprehensive knowledge, so yes, it's better that you took the electronics section. But you are the rare case. In fact, even if you're job is in electronics doesn't always mean you know the subject on a theoretical basis, just ask all those experienced engineers who fail the PE.

I appreciate the comments guys. I don't take offense because I knew that what I said was a bit abrasive.

My degree was in computer engineering and I have always been very good at digital electronics. All of my experience has been in Electrical and Controls Engineering. Quite honestly, I didn't need my PE at the time that I got it, but it did open a door for me, so now I'm switching professions to one that requires a PE. I will refuse to stamp any drawings until I am satisfied that I understand what I am doing in the new job well enough to know that the drawing is up to code and safe for public consumption.

#14 NVRSTOP

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 05:29 PM

For anyone who is interested in the "PE (Electrical) License Review Manual" by C.V. Chelapati, it is available from the Irvine Institute of Technology for $94.95 (including shipping).

See the link below:

PE (Electrical) License Review Manual - Chelapati

Good Luck to All!

#15 NVRSTOP

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Posted 21 September 2008 - 06:23 PM

The PE (Electrical) License Review Manual, Volume 2 by C.V. Chelapati is no longer available from the Irvine Institute of Technology.

Dr. Chelapati responded to an email I sent to him and the Irvine Institute of Technology in which I asked how I could obtain a copy of Volume 2. He said that they did not print as many copies as Volume 1, and do not reproduce either manual anymore since they no longer offer the electrical review class.

Volume 1 is only available because they printed an abundance of them, back when they offered the electrical review course.

I'm sure there are some used copies of Volume 2 out there somewhere, but it would probably be difficult to find them.

If anyone has a copy of Volume 2 or knows where one could be obtained, I would be interested in that information.

Best Regards




#16 k2keylargo

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 03:56 PM

I've been studying for months for the EE PE (power) and I'm constantly running into confusing statements, and getting tired of sifting thru the theoretical crap in Camara's EERM. With only 11 days 20 hrs to go, I'm considering trying to get the Chelipati book, get it tabbed and highlighted to suit me. Anyone think I'm nuts? I just ran across another confusing thing of Camara's -

on page 16-17, magnetic flux is defined by some double intergral (holy s--t, just what I need - or hope I don't need on the exam), the symbol is the Greek letter capital PSI with a subscript m. The next line down, it states "It is also useful to define the flux, (Greek letter lowercase PHI), as the magnetic lines of force in a region. In this case, the flux is given by Eq. 16.60 ...." It goes on to give the formula PHI = (Greek MU)NIl =BA

In the footnote, it says "The symbology for the flux, (PHI subscript m), does not necessarily have to change. It is shown here as commonly used, (PHI)."

Am I stupid, or can anyone think of a more confusing way to present this topic? I'm just really stressed out and frustrated. But I wouldn't recommend Camara's book to anyone.

Should I switch books at this late in the game? brickwall.gif

#17 jregieng

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 05:13 PM

QUOTE (k2keylargo @ Oct 12 2008, 11:56 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Should I switch books at this late in the game? brickwall.gif

From a practical perspective, I would say no .. but then you are saying this book has you all twisted around.

My recommendation: take a quick breather and try to calm down. Stress is a test killer. A larger part of successful exam taking is positive attitude. With less than two weeks to go, I would work on coagulating your fecal matter and putting together your OWN notes that help prevent you from getting confused.

Best of luck!

JR

#18 benbo

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 06:36 PM

QUOTE (k2keylargo @ Oct 10 2008, 01:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I've been studying for months for the EE PE (power) and I'm constantly running into confusing statements, and getting tired of sifting thru the theoretical crap in Camara's EERM. With only 11 days 20 hrs to go, I'm considering trying to get the Chelipati book, get it tabbed and highlighted to suit me. Anyone think I'm nuts? I just ran across another confusing thing of Camara's -

on page 16-17, magnetic flux is defined by some double intergral (holy s--t, just what I need - or hope I don't need on the exam), the symbol is the Greek letter capital PSI with a subscript m. The next line down, it states "It is also useful to define the flux, (Greek letter lowercase PHI), as the magnetic lines of force in a region. In this case, the flux is given by Eq. 16.60 ...." It goes on to give the formula PHI = (Greek MU)NIl =BA

In the footnote, it says "The symbology for the flux, (PHI subscript m), does not necessarily have to change. It is shown here as commonly used, (PHI)."

Am I stupid, or can anyone think of a more confusing way to present this topic? I'm just really stressed out and frustrated. But I wouldn't recommend Camara's book to anyone.

Should I switch books at this late in the game? brickwall.gif
The wisest thing to do, aside from what JR said, is to evaulate yourself based on problems - primarily the NCEES practice problems, then any other problems you can find.

I don't know if you have actually seen the Chelapti book. Despite what this poster says, the Chelapati book is not some magic bullet. IMO, It is only of value if you actually use it to study and work through it methodically. It is not the type of book that is going to help you immensely as a tabbed reference. It is only of value for the Power PM, so I gave it away since I took ECC. It has very little on anything from the AM section other than power, maybe a little circuit theory.

You probably (almost certainly) don't need to know that integral crap. But this - "PHI = (Greek MU)NIl =BA" - may come in handy, in cases they give you a few parameters and ask you to solve for the reamaining one.

I would summarize that the Chelapti book is good as a study or learning tool, the Camara book is more useful as a reference book. If you bought Chelapti it, I would work through it dilligently in the remaining time, and then tab and bring the Camara book also.

#19 wilheldp_PE

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 10:41 PM

QUOTE (jregieng @ Oct 12 2008, 01:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
...coagulating your fecal matter...

Fantastic!

#20 k2keylargo

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 03:57 PM

Thanks for the advice... I am stressing out. I appreciate everyone's help. I took the FE last April and passed, after being out of school since 1978.

I have taken off work until the test, so I am only studying, and trying to take a few breaks to keep my sanity.

The best part, for me, is that this will all be over in 11 days. p10940623.gif I think I'll pass - I've been studying a lot and I used to be a smart guy.... hope my brain cells hold out for 11 more days!

Thanks again everyone. And this board is really great - thanks to those who keep it going!

#21 mudpuppy

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 12:45 AM


Don't fret too much over the electromagnetics stuff. There may be a little bit of it on the exam, but the exam questions aren't too esoteric.



#22 mikec

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 04:06 AM

I am very interested in buying the chilapati book. How can I get it in time to study for the October exam?




QUOTE (superme @ Sep 10 2008, 12:52 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I forgot to mention, if anyone wants a copy of the book, contact me and I'll tell you how to get it. I didn't want to advertise it excessively because I don't know what the deal is with the copyrights.

benbo, that's exactly the point of my strategy. Why take another afternoon section when Power is the easiest? It's the same mistake some people make on the EIT where they take the subject specific afternoon module instead of the general one. It doesn't matter if you're a Civil Engineering major, the general is still easier for most people. I've seen several people fail the EIT because of this. I tell them, forget about your major, just take general because its easier.

Same with the PE. The power is the easiest to study and most probably is emphasized more than the other disciplines in the general section. As for the rest (this is probably where we disagree) I don't think you have to know all that much about it. Actually, this is the only thing that Camara book is good for: if there's a problem, just go to the index and look for the answer, if you can find it in a couple of minutes, great! If not, guess and move on.

Op-amps...I don't know anything about op-amps. I guessed on every op-amp question or I did what I just described above. Bare minimum baby.

In other words, this is what I'm NOT saying:
"Do the Power section if you feel that it's your strongest discipline. But if not, then do what you know best."
Because that's just basically saying, do whatever you think you know the most.

What I am saying is this:
"Do Power because it's the easiest to prepare for."

I still think that if you know Power plus super basic familiarity with the other stuff, you can pass. Honestly, I don't didley squat about the other stuff...next to nothing. I am sure of it. I still think I barely passed the PE, but I'll never know.






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