I passed the FE and the PE in under a year. I work full time. I have a husband and a two year old. I am not naturally very smart.
I want to go into detail for how I prepared in case someone finds it helpful. But first some background.
I went to college in 2010. I finished the entire thing (from 0 credits to 125 in less than four years) which I only bring up to mention that school was a blur. I’m not sure I picked up a whole lot in the first place, retention was tragically low because I blew through it all. So when I got to my first job, I didn’t remember the basics. But I worked at that first job (in defense) for about 6 years. At which point I decided that I need a change and I started looking for something else. Since I have a family, I wanted something stable, and since I have a family, I didn’t want to be married to my job. Utilities seemed like the perfect choice. So I went out and got myself a job in utilities.
In my interview both parties talked about getting a license. Having worked under the “industry exemption” this wasn’t something I knew a whole lot about, but I thought it was something I could get behind. So, I get to my new job, and get started on my FE less than two weeks later. I didn’t want to travel for a review course (none local) but I knew nothing from school, so I decided an on-demand solution would be good. I took Testmasters mostly because it’s what all of my colleagues took (although they did the live version) and I got started. Now, On-Demand really requires that you have a plan for completing the course that is regular and intentional. Because I didn’t want it to take away too much time from my family, (whom I like and generally enjoy spending time with) I decided that I didn’t want to give up my family time which is generally afternoon, evenings, and weekends. But the time must come from somewhere right? Right, so I gave up sleep time and gym time. I tried staying awake after the kiddo went to sleep, but would find myself drooling in my books by 20 minutes in. So, I decided the best time would be early morning when I could drink some coffee and the kid was still asleep. That meant setting the alarm for 4:00 am. Yup, that sucks. It sucks so badly, most days waking up was physically painful, but I did it anyways. And I kept doing it until I completed the Testmasters Course and passed the FE on the first try. About 100 hours I think.
I rolled right into studying for the PE. But first I had to decide what test to take. Now, remember, I was new to the power industry, I thought maybe studying for the Power PE would be helpful to learn stuff about my job, but I kept feeling a tug from the Electrical and Electronics exam. Many of the subjects covered in that exam were also covered in the FE for Electrical which I had JUST taken. I talked to some of my colleagues about this decision, and they assured me that I would learn what I needed to know about my job from doing my job. That made a ton of sense to me, and so I landed on the PE Electrical and Electronics exam. The problem with this exam is that there really isn’t a ton of study material available. I really only found School of PE and PPI when I was trying to find a course and someone on these boards asked the question “SofPE or PPI?” And the answer was SofPE, so that’s what I did. Again, on demand. Again, alarm at 4am. Adding my lunch hour. I started studying earnestly in January and I took the April exam. This time I kept track of my hours and I got to about 175. I passed on my first try.
Studying and learning new things are a little painful and it’s easy to get discouraged when you get the wrong answer, but I found this method pretty helpful...When I arrived at an incorrect answer, I tried to figure out where I went wrong. Not like “oh I entered it into my calculator wrong” more like “I didn’t account for current flowing in the opposite direction”. Keep track of those mistakes. I literally have sheets of paper labeled “MISTAKES.” Study those mistakes. This has two effects 1) it reduces the likelihood that you will make the same mistake 2) (more importantly) if you can find the root cause of why you answered incorrectly, you really understand the problem you were trying to solve.
I thought SofPE did a great job at covering the subjects that were on the test. The materials they provided were helpful during the exam.
TL:DR? My feelings are hurt, but here’s the highlights anyway…
1) Consider the on-demand options. You can start them right away and spend whatever time you have left after you complete the course to practice problems.
2) Wake up early before you find an excuse not to study.
3) Electrical Engineers: consider the Electrical and Electronics exam. Give it some real thought. Don’t just assume that because you are in the power industry you should take the power exam. Mechanical engineers who work in the power industry don’t take the power exam (at least in my office). Look at the pass rates, it’s easier.
4) Have regular study time. Like really, regular.
5) Have a goal for study hours (my goal was 200 and I only got to 175 but I think it was still helpful to have a goal in mind)
6) I have a family. I have a job. I am not that smart. If I can do it, you can too.