I was a regular consumer of this forum and despite the TROLLS, I thank all the participants for the good information posted here, that helped me pass the PE exam last April 2019
In contribution, I would like to give my own impressions of the PE exam and give you my advices as far as how to get prepared for this task.
First and foremost, passing the PE exam is a tough process and requires LOTS of study time and sacrifice. If you really want this, I recommend you well establish your priorities and whatever can deviate your attention and focus from the exam, should be temporally removed from your life style.
NO COURSE, NO BOOK, NOTHING WILL GUARANTEE YOU PASS THE EXAM. IT DEPENDS ON YOU!!!
If you don’t give it all and put enough effort on it, failing the exam is MOST LIKELY to occur.
Even though, don’t feel discourage if you fail, this exam is like no other, and lots of people don’t have the same luck of passing on the first try. The winning strategy here to not give up.
** With that being said, see below my advices, sorted by importance level:
1) Establish your strategy from the very beginning. Define what are your strongest areas and plan your study time accordingly to tackle the areas you are most likely to fail. I suggest you plan yourself to finish everything 2-4 weeks before the exam, so you have plenty of time to recap and review your weak areas, difficult questions, etc.
2) Organization is KEY, and the PE exam is sometimes more about TIME MANAGEMENT than knowledge. So, during your preparation, be consequent with the materials you use. Don’t buy or print materials to have them on the corner and rather use them. Make sure all your materials are tabbed and highlighted. Group them by category, use tabs, index or any method that can help you locate each section the fastest possible; Cross-Reference is key. Every minute you save during the exam is glory. In my case, I created a MAIN INDEX, where I referenced all the materials I had. That was my best friend during the exam. I placed that index at the back of my cheat sheet.
3) Have all the formulas grouped by topic, in one binder so you can easily find them without opening multiples books. I SUGGEST YOU PREPARE YOUR CHEAT-SHEET AHEAD OF TIME so you can edit it and add more stuff
4) Make sure you find the right materials for YOU. There are different books out there for each topic, but it depends on your personal taste. Do your research and try to find the book that better fit your necessities.
5) MASTER your calculator. Don’t make the mistake of bringing a calculator to the exam that you didn’t use before or you are not familiar with. Consider that the back of the calculator will be taken away from you, so I will suggest you write that info somewhere else. UNIT CONVERSIONS are often used during the exam.
6) Don’t spend time solving easy questions, unless there is nothing else available. I remember solving questions from books like Spin up, which are far from the exam type of questions. Write down the questions you found challenging and remember to review them multiple times the last two weeks.
7) Practice here is fundamental, so the more problems you solve, the more likely you are to pass the exam. Try to sole as many DIFFERENT QUESTIONS as possible. The people who prepare the exam are MASTERS on presenting questions in a way you never saw before.
😎 DON’T spend yoo much time on areas that are not the MEAT of the exam. Remember that there are areas like Protection and Code that have the higher number of questions. This means don’t go beyond the limits on areas like VFDs, ladder logic etc… Use wisely your time to reinforce the strongest areas. One thing that helped me A LOT was mastering the NEC.
9) However, remember all questions are graded the same, so there is no point on being a beast in "Protection" or "Rotating Machines" and then being an ignorant in other areas. I found out that typically, the questions from the easiest areas are the weirdest and trickiest.
10) Last, during the exam day, follow your strategy, this was mine but again, define yours:
a) First round: only solve the questions that are familiar to you, and then flag the questions you want to leave for either the second or third round. In my case, I left all code questions, and all problems that required me to review my materials for the 2nd round.
b) Second round: Solve all code questions at the same time, including NESC, NEC, ANSI, whatever…Remember to use the index and your tabs rather than randomly passing pages. Then try to solve the questions that requires more of your analysis but are not completely odd to you. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME WITH WEIRD QUESTIONS AT THIS MOMENT. Also, leave the questions for later if you find yourself stuck. REMEMBER…Time Management!!
c) Third round: At this moment, you should have done at least 50% of the questions, but it should be more than that, so now is the time to review your work quickly before moving ON. I didn't review my work the first time I took the PE and that caused me the FAIL NOTICE. To facilitate the review process, make sure you leave some clues on how you solved each question in first place, so you don’t have to double-analyze each question. Another mistake of mine the first time was solving questions without leaving clear notes.
d) Fourth round: Now is the time to attack the weird questions, usually the tricky questions require reading more than once, so careful with the reading. Also try to solve any question you were not able to solve in the rounds before. Don’t make the mistake of finishing earlier, spend all the time you have trying to find the answer to the questions you have left. If you got lucky and solved all questions, then start reviewing over and over. IS NEVER ENOUGH.
** Now, I will give you the list of materials I used the most on the exam day, SORTED BY IMPORTANCE LEVEL:
1) Personal Cheat Sheet with all formulas, and Index with cross-references (NEXT TO ME DURING THE ENTIRE EXAM, USED IT 100%)
2) NEC (I don’t list the others because most of the questions are from the NEC except a few of them from the NESC and other code books)
3) Printed notes from the course I took, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (https://www.electricalpereview.com/)
4) Electrical Engineer's Guide to Passing the Power PE Exam - Graffeo (GREAT BOOK, ONE OF MY FAVORITES. HOWEVER, IT CANNOT BE USED AS THE ONLY REFERENCE; SOME AREAS ARE POORLY COVERED i.e. Power Electronics, Protective Relays…)
5) Electrical Machines, Drives and Power Systems - Theodore Wildi (GREAT FOR ELECTRICAL MACHINES SECTION, a MUST have)
6) Printed Materials (WELL ORGANIZED/TABBED BINDERS WITH USEFUL INFO IS A LIFE SAVER)
7) Power System Analysis and Design - Duncan Glover (ESPECIALLY GOOD FOR TRANSFORMERS AND PROTECTION SECTION)
😎 Protective Relaying by Blackburn (GREAT IN-DEEP MATERIAL for PROTECTION TOPIC)
9) Power Electronics Devices, Circuits, and Applications - Muhammad H. Rashid (VERY EXTENSIVE BOOK FOR POWER ELECTRONICS) ONLY USE IT AS REQUIRED, THERE IS NO NEED OF READING THE ENTIRE BOOK.
I hope this can help future exam takers on their way to success. And remember, work hard and you will see the results. GOOD LUCK!