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  1. The question has been revised in the third edition of the PPI practice exam to reflect the changes to the Seismic Design Manual. Vp is calculated in the solution and not looked up in a table. Alw is taken as (d-2tf)tw , but the value is now given in the problem statement to avoid any ambiguity.
  2. Thanks for the feedback. Good catch on the lateral steel depth question. The illustration has been updated for the next edition (due out in about a month) to show d=18” as the depth to the rebar and not the full footing thickness. You are correct that the punching shear strength would be the smallest value from equations (11-31), (11-32), and (11-33). Equation (11-31) will not control for square columns, and Equation (11-32) will only control for condition where d/b0 is very small, so the solution only checks equation (11-33). But certainly not wrong to check all three if you have time. Good luck to everyone taking the exam!
  3. Thanks for the feedback. Agostage, I have tried to incorporate your suggested into the revision for the next edition. Unfortunately, PPI is telling me that the new edition won't be published until around May, so not in time for the April exam. I think the current edition should still be helpful to those preparing for the exam. I can tell you from going through all the questions that most of the code-related changes are minor and primarily organizational. That said, here are some of the key changes you should be aware of: -The wind provisions in ASCE 7-10 have been completely reorganized. Table C26.1-1 in ASCE 7-10 provides a handy cross-reference of the applicable sections between ASCE 7-05 and ASCE 7-10. -The wind speeds in ASCE 7-10 are now calibrated to provide strength-based wind pressures. Calculated wind pressures typically get a load factor of 1.0 for LRFD and 0.6 for ASD. -Also in ASCE 7-10, the risk categories and importance factors have been consolidated for the different load types. For wind loads, importance factors have been removed and there are different wind speeds for higher risk category structures. -Tables for determining shear capacities of wood shear walls and wood diaphragms are no longer in the IBC. You have to use the tables in the SDPWS. -The steel seismic design manual, and in particular AISC 341, has been reorganized. See the preface of ASCE 341 (page 9.1-iii) for a list of (mostly minor) changes. -In TMS 402-11, the section on shear resistance for allowable stress design of reinforced masonry (Section 2.3.6) has been revised. Feel free to add to my list if you come across other changes that you think are important.
  4. Author of PPI’s 16-hour SE Practice Exam for Buildings here. I’m working on writing an update to the book. I’d love to get feedback from those that have taken the exam and used the book as part of their preparation. Primarily I’m updating the questions and solutions for the new reference design standards that go into effect for the April 2015 exam, but if anyone has other suggestions for how to make the book more useful, I’m all ears. Without going into specifics about exam questions you saw, any thoughts on the following are greatly appreciated: -Were the types of question in the practice exam consistent with what you saw on the exam? -Was the overall difficulty and length of the practice exam consistent with the actual exam? -Any questions you thought were bad (misleading, unfair, inaccurate) that should be rewritten or replaced? -Any major topic areas that weren’t covered in the practice exam that should have been? Thanks, Joe
  5. I think it’s probably fair to imply from this that NCEES is at least tentatively planning to update the design standards beginning with the April 2015 exam. Of course nothing is official until NCEES makes the announcement. But if I were studying to take the SE exam in April 2015 or later, I would consider using the following codes: AASHTO 6th Edition (same as now) IBC 2012 ASCE 7 2010 ACI 318 2011 AISC Steel Construction Manual 14th Edition (maroon book), including AISC 360 2010. AISC Seismic Design Manual, 2nd Edition (maroon book), including AISC 341 2010. AISI Cold-Formed Steel Specification, 2010 Edition NDS (National Design Specification) for Wood Construction, 2012 Edition Special Design Provision for Wind and Seismic (wood) 2008 (same as now) PCI Design Handbook 7th Edition TMS 402/ACI 530 2011
  6. Deepali, Unfortunately NCEES is not very forthcoming when it comes to scheduled code updates. They claim that they do not want to cause confusion by having more than one published list of design standards, so they never announce code changes more than six months in advance. This is a big problem for people like you trying to prepare a year in advance. For reference, NCEES adopted IBC 2009 (and the associated reference standards including ACI 318-08, ACI 530-08, etc.) starting with the April 2012 exam. They announced this change immediately following the October 2011 exam. If they are to maintain the same 3 year lag, we might expect that NCEES will adopt IBC 2012 beginning with the April 2015 exam. This is just a guess though, and it could be another year before they actually get around to updating the exam design standards. NCEES won’t make any official announcements until after his year’s October exam. Regarding buying the Structural Engineering Reference Manual (SERM), I’d say go ahead and buy it now (or whenever you plan to begin studying). Even if the codes are changed for the April 2015 exam, it will take PPI several months, maybe a year, to update their books following NCEES’s announcement, so it’s unlikely that there will be an updated SERM for you to use prior to April 2015. In general the codes don’t change much year-to-year (especially the sections that are most likely to appear on the SE exam) so the book will still be very useful, even if it is technically out of date. One big exception is that the wind provisions for ASCE 7 have undergone major changes between the 05 and 10 versions, but I don’t think this renders SERM worthless--wind load calculations are only a very small part of this book. When studying from the SERM, I recommend following along with the relevant code sections anyway. This way you’ll be able to pick up on anything that might have changed. I would however recommend waiting to buy the design standards. You’ll definitely want to have the up-to-date versions for the exam, so best to wait for NCEES to publish the list after the October exam. The NCEES practice exam book has extensive code references and is very representative of what you can expect to see on the actual exam. But NCEES hasn’t even gotten around to updating this book for IBC 2009 yet. So don’t expect a timely update to this book once new changes to the design standards are announced. It’s still a worthwhile purchase in my opinion though—just make sure to check their solutions against the up-to-date design codes as some solutions may be affected. Other references I recommend reviewing (beyond the NCEES list design standards, SERM, and the NCEES practice exam) are: 2009 SEAOC IBC Structural/Seismic Design Manual, Volume 1 A Structural Analysis Textbook (such as Structural Analysis by R.C. Hibbeler) 16-Hour Structural Engineering (SE) Practice Exam for Buildings (full disclosure: I wrote this one, so my opinion is totally biased) NCSEA also publishes a detailed list of available study materials here: This is way more than anyone would need, but you can pick and choose references from this list based on what you think you need more help with. If you’re looking for more general information about the exam and how to prepare, the introduction to my book is available for free online here: Good luck with your studies!
  7. The NCMA publishes a document titled "Section Properties of Concrete Masonry Walls" TEK 14-1B. You can find it online for free with a quick google search. The document provides net and average cross-sectional properties for grouted and partially grouted CMU walls. I believe that this is where NCEES is getting the value of 2.66" for r. I would recommend printing out this document are bringing it with you to the exam in a binder (unless you're taking the exam in Illinois in which case you're out of luck). That way, you won't need to calculate any masonry section properties by hand during the exam. Make sure you understand how to read the tables--use the average cross-section properties for deflection and stability calculations and use the net cross-section properties for determining stress and strain. Note that the NCMA table gives a net area for the wall in this question of 40.7 in^2/ft (very close to what the NCEES solution calculates by hand). On a related note, I think NCEES may be incorrect to include the contribution from the steel reinforcing when calculating the axial capacity of the wall. Per ACI 530 Sec., "The compressive resistance of steel reinforcement shall be neglected unless lateral reinforcement is provided in compliance with the requirements of Section" The question statement does not mention lateral ties, and typically they are not provided in a masonry wall, so I would have ignored the contribution from the steel. Hope this helps!
  8. In addition to the IBC tables, make sure you also know how to read the tables from the NDS "Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic." Be sure to divide the tabulated value by 2 for ASD and check the applicability of the footnotes, especially the Specific Gravity Adjustment Factor. You'll also want to have a basic understanding of how loads are transferred to shear walls through collector elements (though this topic is not specific to wood shear walls). If you're looking for more information, Chapter 10 of "Design of Wood Structures" by Breyer gives a good overview of wood shear wall design. (Chapters 9, 15, and 16 and also very worthwhile for anyone studying for the lateral exam). Generally though, I don't think you need to spend too much time on this topic. Wood accounts for only 7.5% of the lateral breadth exam, so you probably won't get more than one multiple-choice question on wood shear walls. Might get something more for the afternoon, but a basic understanding should be all you need.
  9. The book is available as of today:
  10. I wanted to let everyone know that I’ve written a new book of practice questions to help you prepare for the SE exam. The book is being printed now and can be pre-ordered here: The book includes a full-length practice exam: 80 multiple choice questions and 8 buildings essay questions. (Sorry, no bridges essay questions in this edition, but the multiple choice questions are still applicable). I’ve tried very hard to mimic what you can expect to see on the actual exam in terms of topics, difficulty, and formatting. The book’s introduction is available for free here: The intro includes a brief background on SE licensure and the 16-hour exam, recommendations on how to prepare, and test-taking tips. I hope you find it useful regardless of whether or not you purchase the book. Below, I’ve also created a list of references that can help you prepare for the exam. Feel free to post any additional references I may have missed—I’m sure those preparing to take the exam would appreciate it. Thanks and good luck to everyone that is studying! Joseph S. Schuster, P.E. (NY, NJ, CT), S.E. (IL) Recommended References for the 16-Hour Structural Engineer (SE) Exam I’ve broken down the recommended references into three categories: required, highly recommended, and further reading. The required references are the design standards listed on the NCEES exam specification. You may be able to get away with not bringing the AISI Spec. and the PCI Design Handbook, but otherwise these books should be considered mandatory. Make sure you have the correct edition of the code. The “highly recommended” references are additional books that will help you prepare for the exam and may help you answer a few questions on exam day. If you’re looking for more guidance on a specific topic, the “further reading” references may be useful, but you can certainly get by without them. Note that some states do not allow books written expressly to help you pass the exam (e.g. books published by PPI), or binders with compilations of notes and photocopies. Check with your state's requirements before deciding what to bring on exam day. Required: AASHTO 5th Edition IBC 2009 ASCE 7-05 ACI 318 2008 ACI 530/530.1 2008 (also known as TMS 402/602) AISC Steel Construction Manual 13th Edition (Includes Specification AISC 360) AISC Seismic Design Manual (Includes AISC 341 and AISC 358) NDS 2005 (Specification and Supplement) NDS Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic 2008 AISI Cold-Formed Steel Specification 2007 PCI Design Handbook 2004 Highly Recommended: Structural Engineering Reference Manual 2009 SEAOC IBC Structural/Seismic Design Manual, Volume 1 Structural Analysis Textbook (such as Structural Analysis by R.C. Hibbeler) PCA Notes on ACI 318-08 NCEES, Structural Sample Questions and Solutions 16-Hour Structural Engineering (SE) Practice Exam for Buildings Further Reading: ACI Design Handbook (SP-17) Steel Textbook (such as Steel Structures by Salmon and Johnson) AISC Design Examples. Version 13.1. Available as a free download from AISI Cold-Formed Steel Design Manual 2008 Foundation Engineering Textbook (such as Foundation Engineering by Braja M. Das) Wood Textbook (such as Design of Wood Structures by Breyer, Fridley, Pollock Jr, and Cobeen) Structural Wood Design Solved Example Problems Masonry Textbook such as Reinforced Masonry Engineering Handbook by James E. Amrehein NCMA TEK14-1A (masonry section properties, available free online) 2009 SEAOC IBC Structural/Seismic Design Manual, Volume 2 2009 SEAOC IBC Structural/Seismic Design Manual, Volume 3 Seismic Design of Building Structures by Michael Lindeburg and Kurt McMullin. 345 Solved Seismic Design Problems by Majid Baradar FEMA 451 Available as a free download CodeMaster (laminated code summary sheets): Seismic Design (2009 IBC/ASCE 7-05) and Wind Design Overview (2009 IBC/ASCE 7-05)
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