We're a week before the October PE Exam, so I figured I should share some advice on the Maryland exam site. I'm assuming that it is being held at the State Fairgrounds again this year. It's located at 2200 York Road, Lutherville-Timonium, MD 21903.
Unless you are local to the area, I would recommend staying at a nearby hotel the night before. We all know how bad traffic can get here. So you can either leave very early to beat it or take your chances. If you've never been there before I would also recommend driving to the test site before the day of the test just to understand where it is and what the narrow busy road is like. You should try to get their early that morning regardless.
There is ample parking on site. You will almost certainly enter through the York Road entrance and park in the larger lot. There is a hidden entrance on Timonium Rd, more on this later.
The test takes place in the main fairground building. It's essentially a large warehouse/barn/hangar. There will be about 300 test takers. Two at a table, and as many tables as needed. The chairs aren't awful, but they aren't luxurious either. The tables are old folding wood tables. I don't remember any issues with HVAC or noise. There is no clock in the room. Bring a mechanical watch that doesn't make noises. You can ask the proctors during the exam about how much time is renaming.
There are bathrooms on site, but only one person of each sex may go to the bathroom at a time during the exam. They get very crowded immediately after the test adjourns for the morning and afternoon sessions. You can't use the bathrooms 15 min before the end of a session.
You may leave early during either session. Except during the 15 minutes prior to the end of the session.
The rules are very specific about what kind of containers (to carry references) may be brought into the exam site. In previous exams they have been relaxed about this rule with a caveat. People will bring suitcases of books to the exam site, but the proctors will make you put your suitcase against one of the walls after you've removed your books. The allowable containers (milk crates, clear plastic boxes, etc) may be kept under the side of your desk.
You should read and re-read the NCESS and Maryland specific exam rules before leaving for the exam. As a nuclear engineer, I think you should be disqualified from being a PE if you don't follow procedures, but maybe that's a disciple specific culture; it's astounding how many people don't know the rules before coming to the exam. Even if you've taken the test before new rules get added from session to session, so you don't want to be surprised on exam day.
The proctors aren't "out to get you". They are friendly and fair. Do not give them a hard time, do not take out your emotions on them. They will read the rules out loud before the exam and give you time to ask clarifying questions. They know people will accidentally bring forbidden items into the exam site and specifically give you a chance turn them in before the test. If you accidentally are in violation of the rules this is your chance to make it right. You can recover those items at the end of the day. They go around before every session with graphical print outs of approved calculators and disapproved digital watches/items. If something isn't right they will let you know before the test even starts, this is to let you surrender the item to them during the test session but recover it later. It is all perfectly reasonable and fair.
With that in mind, during the test they will enforce the rules as written. They are not engineers, so don't expect them to understand certain subtleties, and don't ask them for help on the exam. They are paid to administer the test per procedures and they do it appropriately. To them, the rules are the rules.
Maryland was the main site of the infamous Fitbit rule last April. It happened elsewhere, but it was most prolific here. Leave your Fitbits at home/in the car. Just to be safe, one should avoid bringing any electronic into the exam site that doesn't fit into these categories:
NCEES approved Calculator
Carkey Fob, one which doesn't make any noises (unless forbidden in the new rules)
A medical device that is actually required to live/function
You can always buy a cheap mechanical watch. You don't want to risk an ignorant proctor confusing a digital watch for a smart watch, calculator, fitbit, etc. It has happened before, it will happen again. It's not worth the risk. Leave all other electronics at home or in the car. Double check before entering the exam site.
Lunch is supposed to be an hour, but it practice it they will give you more time. There are plenty of fast food options near by. With a few hundred other test takers they can get busy quickly. You'll probably be okay to eat offsite, but I recommend packing a lunch and eating it on site.
I also HIGHLY recommend moving your car during lunch to the parking lot on the other side of the test building. This lot has access to the "hidden" exit to Timonium Road. When the test is over most people (read: 150+ cars) will try to exit onto York Road at the same time. The light is very short and it's a few minutes between cycles. Maybe 3-4 cars will get out per green light. By comparison it's an easy stop-sign right turn onto Timonium Road. However I wouldn't recommend this if you must make a left turn onto Timonium Rd.
For whatever reason the exams tend to run late. An end time of 5:30 or later is likely.
Good luck next week!