This forum was astronomically helpful for me when it came to figuring out how to study for this goliath of an exam. I just found out I passed the exam on my 1st attempt and I wanted to share my study methods for future test takers in case it’s of any value, like previous posts were to me.
My Background: Graduated with a ME degree in 2011, but technically work as an environmental engineer in the municipal drinking water industry. I considered taking the Civil Water Resources exam, but was scared off by the civil breadth section. I decided to go back to my mechanical roots and chose thermal/fluids because of the overlap with fluids and my current work.
MERM (13th ED): Get this, it’s worth it. I found the most value came from the appendices. You DO NOT need other steam tables – the MERM tables were more than efficient for the exam. Yes, you may need to interpolate. No, the extra 30 seconds spent interpolating for 1 or 2 problems is not going to make or break your test taking experience.
Lindeburg’s Quick Reference for ME PE Exam (5th ED): Take it or leave it… could be useful but I didn’t really utilize it. I ended up writing my own “quick reference” that I found much more valuable.
Lindeburg’s Engineering Unit Conversions (4th ED): Super helpful, especially for studying. There were some conversions on the exam, but not nearly as bad as the practice tests.
Lindeburg’s Practice Problems for ME PE Exam (13th ED): Don’t waste your time or money on this. The problems are way more complex than the actual exam. I did about 30 of the 1000 problems and then never touched it again.
NCEES Practice Exam (2016 ED): Hands down most representative of actual exam. Do it over and over.
Engineering ProGuides Practice Exam: Second most representative after NCEES Practice Exam. Questions may be a little on the easier side. Save this test for towards the ends of your studies it will be a good confidence booster after sloughing through the below.
SlaythePE Practice Exam: Some questions are a bit harder than what you’d find on the actual exam, but so, so, so helpful. I think studying off of this exam was the difference between passing and failing for me. The power plant problems look scary and overwhelming, but reviewing these solutions taught me how simple they are when you break it down.
Deckler’s Thermal and Fluid Systems Six-Minute Problems (2nd ED): Will take you way longer than 6-mins a problem to start, but keep at it. Problems are a bit harder than the actual test, but good practice. Skip “Codes and Standards” question at the end. You are not expected to have copies of codes at the exam and these can’t be solved without them.
Lindeburg’s PE Mechanical Thermal and Fluids Systems Practice Exam (1st ED): Way harder than the actual test. Will kill your confidence. Worth struggling through once or twice for practice.
Dr. Tom’s Classroom: Great resource for catching up on all the basics after years out of school. Most importantly, this course gave me structure and steered me towards what was important to study and what was not. Be prepared to spend a couple extra hundred dollars on ink and printer paper as you amass all of Dr. Tom’s handouts. Videos are on-demand, and surprisingly engaging. There is forum where you can ask Dr. Tom questions directly and he is very prompt with responses.
I started studying on January 2nd for the April 13th exam. I started with the Dr. Tom’s Classroom Course. He has a 20 week plan, but I averaged about 3 weeks of lessons per actual week. During this time, I was only doing DTC lessons and his assigned problems, which came from Deckler’s Six Minutes Problems (referred to by old name Six Minute Solutions), the NCEES 2016 practice exam, and Dr. Tom’s personal bank of questions. I was finished the entire course by the 1st week of March.
I then started working through practice test. I ran through the above mentioned tests over and over and over again. First/second time through I often had to look up solutions and runs took WAY longer than 8 hours (more like 16-20). Keep at it. Things will start to click eventually. When you are feeling confident with one test, put it aside and start working on the next. I dedicated at least 4 hours a day to working on problems, 7 days a week. It sucks, but it pays off. While working on these problems, I made of list of equations/notes so I didn’t have to look through the MERM every time – more on this below.
About three weeks out from the exam, I wrote out the question and solutions to every single problem from every single test neatly on its own piece of paper, hole punched it, and put it in a categorized binder. This is huge take-away of the DTC method. I had 5 binders: Thermo, Fluids, Heat Transfer, HVAC, Engineering Basics. These binders were each tabbed for different categories of problems, for example: the Heat Transfer binder had tabs for conduction, convection, radiation, heat exchangers, and so on. Each tab also included corresponding notes/problems from DTC. The theory is if while taking the exam a heat exchanger question comes up that you aren’t sure of the solution path, you take out your heat transfer binder, flip to hex section, and there you have 10-12 different hex questions to compare against to jog your memory.
At the same time I was working on my own equation/reference binder. I got a lot of this information from DTC notes, the MERM, and equations/notes recorded while doing practice tests. I organized it carefully by topic and highlighted important reminders. It ended up being about 40 well-spaced out pages which I put in plastic sleeves for easily flipping through during the exam.
A week or so before the real test I did a timed dry run of the ENGPRO Guides exam. I ended up getting 80% correct, and took me about 7 hours start to finish. Afterwards I also re-wrote and sorted all these questions into my problem binders mentioned above.
The Actual Test:
Most important bit of advice I got off this form: If you don’t know the solution path to a problem immediately, SKIP IT. Morning section, I knew how to do 28 problems on the first run and had skipped 12. At this point, I had about 90 minutes left to work on the ones I didn’t know immediately. I wasn’t panicking because I was feeling confident about those 28 and I still had plenty of time left. And believe it or not, I was able to figure out several of those I skipped during this time (or I at least got a corresponding answer in the multiple choice). By the end of the 4 hours, I only had 2-3 that really were straight up guesses. Same thing happened in the afternoon, first run through I felt confident in 34 questions. I then had a little under an hour to work on the 6 I had skipped, with a lot less pressure. I figured a couple more out and guessed on the remaining 2-3. I never felt pressed for time at any point during the test.
For the test itself, I really only used my personal equation/reference binder, the MERM appendix, and the unit conversion book. I barely touched the problem/solution binders I had made – but I think at this point their content was engrained in my brain that I didn’t need to.
I left feeling cautiously optimistic. As the weeks of waiting ticked by, that optimism dwindled and I was certain I had fallen for all the tricks or skipped a bubble somewhere and all my answers were off by one question. When I got the email notification my heart was racing. When I saw the “PASS” I literally “Yahoo!-ed”.
Best of luck to all those preparing!