Good Day all,
As I read my post from 6 months ago, I can still feel the disappointment and sadness I felt while writing it. This time, I am happy to say that I passed my PE in the same depth (Construction). It was an exhausting couple of months leading up-to the test, but I took everyone's advice and changed the way I studied. For everyone who passed, I am happy for you. But I also feel for the people who did not pass. I wish you the best, and I am certain with the right approach, you guys will nail it next time! Here are some "lessons learned" type of points I would like to provide:
1. My significant other always said - "you'd retain so much if you just studied in the morning". As I prepared for my first attempt, it was winter, and I had the hardest time getting up early to study. So I did all my studying in the evenings, after dinner, with a belly full of food, lethargic as ever. Needless to say my attention span was poor. In addition, the evenings always had SOMETHING come up, like a friend inviting us over for dinner, or wanting to catch a movie, etc. My suggestion is, wake up early, study, and get it out of the way. I studied every morning, and if I didn't have anything else going on, would study another hour in the evenings. I DID NOT study on Fridays and Saturdays, except for the 9 days leading up to the test.
2. I did not start studying on a rigid schedule until August of this year of the October test. I felt like I needed to take a mental break and collect myself before jumping back in.
3. I took SoPE. It definitely gave me resources, and gave me a structure to follow in my preparations. However, here are some warnings about SoPE or any other review courses for that matter:
a. If you are doing the on-demand version, make sure you understand that these videos are geared towards the previous exam. Specifications might be different for your upcoming test. I made the mistake of relying on the old on-demand videos, and unluckily, the exam specifications changed from October '17 to April '18 (I was watching videos geared for the October 2017 test takers). This caused me to not have any material/knowledge of the new specifications (besides what I could find in the CERM). It was completely my fault, I take the blame.
b. Watching videos are deceiving - you think you are "learning" by watching videos, and feel good about it. However, it is very easy to be distracted while the videos are playing. Make sure you sit down and read your notes, and practice the problems without following the problems being solved on the video. This is just not good. I did not do this, but can see someone easily being sucked into thinking they are solving problems and gaining knowledge.
c. In my second attempt, I DID NOT WATCH A SINGLE SoPE VIDEO. I printed out the update notes, and just studied it at my own pace, without any videos.
4. PRACTICE PROBLEMS - PRACTICE PROBLEMS - PRACTICE PROBLEMS: Cannot stress enough about doing as many practice problems as possible. My first attempt, just did the SoPE problems, and the latest NCEES practice test. This time, I did multiple tests - Indranil Goswami - Civil Engineering PE Practice Exams Breadth and Depth + Indranil Goswami - Civil Engineering All-In-One PE Exam Guide Breadth and Depth + NCEES 2011 Practice Exam + NCEES 2008 Practice Exam + NCEES 2000 Practice Exam + Six Minute Solution + Few Test I found online. In addition to doing the problems, I made an index of problems. It was basically a two column table, one titled "FIND", second one "GIVEN". So if I knew I saw a problem somewhere, but was not sure, I would go to my index and look under "FIND" to get to the problem faster. I think I was able to find 3 problems easily doing this.
5. I made a formula sheet - Basically every formula I used, I would write it down, and would also write down where the formula is in the SoPE notes (page number). This helped me save time on flipping through SoPE notes helplessly. Instead I just had to flip through 4-5 pages per subject (Water, Geo, Structure, Construction, engineering eco, etc), find the formula, and turn to the necessary page. Also, in the past test I had individual binders each subject area (Water, Geo, Structure, Construction, engineering eco, etc) all in 1" 3 ring binders. This time, I had all of these consolidated into one 5" 3 ring binder. It just sat on the table throughout, and I didn't have to bend over to my banker box full of resources every time I wanted refer to something. Also, I had one binder for the PM portion too. This helped me save a lot of time.
6. BUY ALL REFERENCES: I did not buy all my references in my first attempt. I missed a lot of problems in the PM portion, which were basic look up questions. I probably would have passed my first attempt if I had the SP4 manual. Please do buy them. Its a lot of money, but it will save you from having to do it all over again. And you can sell if after (like I am doing right now).
7. Number your problems based on difficulty. You have probably heard this so many times, your ears are aching. It worked for me though. I modified the numbering system though. My scale was 1 (easy) , 2 (know how to do, don't know where to start or how long it will take), 2L (look up question, not sure where to find it), 3 (don't know how to do, but might be able to start it some how), 3G (take an educated guess). I started with 1s, then 2Ls, then 2s, 3s, and ultimately 3Gs. I must say the "3Gs" were added later, after knowing that I could never solve this problem without running out of time, and had to guess them.
That was pretty much the major changes I made to for my second attempt. I am sure you guys will have your own methods and ways. Feel free to pick and choose what works for you, as everyone is different.
I thank EB, and everyone here so very much. You guys played a huge part in me passing the PE this time. I will forever be grateful to everyone here, my coworkers, my family, and most importantly my significant other who sacrificed so much for me in the past year, including my early morning annoying alarms!