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  1. Hello friends, 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 ( 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!
  2. matt267 PE


    Today's the day. Congrats to those that passed. If you failed, good luck next time.
  3. Good morning, my name is Chris and I live in the pacific northwest, specifically in Tacoma Washington. I am currently working on the engineer in training long form application with the intention of eventually taking the test for the control system engineer PE. I have had over twelve years of control system experience with increasing responsibility that includes creating and maintaining standards, programming, designing control systems, leading design teams, and eventually project management. Additionally, I have experience as an electrician. As I am filling out the work experience section of long form application, I get the sense that what experience I provide is just as important as how I explain it. Could any of the veterans give me any clues as to what the board is looking for when reviewing these answers? Thank you all! Chris Roberts
  4. Hi all! Just a quick hello and maybe some advise. I am 7 years out of undergrad and have been studying from Lindeburg's FE Civil Review Manual. I did not pass the first attempt, or second or third and I am back at it again now. My job it is on the line and I have to pass the test by July of 2018. I plan to take the test again in January 2018. I cannot take it before due to NCEES restrictions. Does anyone have an online course they recommend? I took the test back on July and the test has change again, 10% of the test is NOT a multiple-choice questions. It has alternative item types, like: Multiple correct—allows examinees to select multiple answers Point and click—requires examinees to click on part of a graphic to answer Drag and drop—requires examinees to click on and drag items to match, sort, rank, or label Fill in the blank—provides a space for examinees to enter a response to the question I am not sure which online course has updated their study guide since July of 2017. Any recommendations? Diana
  5. Good morning all. I received the green "Pass" for my Power PE exam this morning, so I'm ready to release the write-up of my experience. I will reply to this with an attached PDF for those who want a simple 2-page print-out (the site isn't letting me attach it here). Hoping this is a help to you future test-takers! As a side note, I took (for the first time) and passed the FE exam earlier this year. I have a write-up for that in the FE forum. My Therapist Said I Should Do This for Closure (Joking) I did a lot of research before prepping for the Power PE exam, and many of my resource choices came from input of others in this forum. Thanks everyone! For you future Power PE exam takers prepping, here is an overview of my resources, study plans, and experience (don’t worry – no prohibited exam info in here): Resources Custom 4” binder (had this out and used for ~70% of questions on the exam) Printouts from all sections in Electrical PE Review premium course. Handwritten and typed additional notes and formulas Random articles I expected to be useful (including FE Handbook sections) GRAFFEO’s book (out a few times during the exam) 2014 NEC (whichever version applies to your exam is a must-have) PRM (Camara) (used a few times on the exam) 2017 NESC (no brainer, even though it makes up a small percentage of the exam) Electrical Machines and Drives (Wildi) (fantastic book – out a few times during the exam) Power System Analysis and Design (Glover) (may not be the best book, but I used it in school and it has some helpful sequence network, 3-phase analysis, and transmission model information) (out a few times during the exam) Power System Analysis (Grainger) (usually my go-to for power flow and sometimes transmission) NCEES Practice Exam (was helpful for exam prep) CI volumes 2-4 (was helpful for improving exam-style question speed – does not cover all topics) Spin-Up (was somewhat helpful for exam prep – very simplified questions) I took some extra references with me to the exam, but did not include them on the list since I didn’t use them or see them as worthwhile. Study Plans 6 Months Out: Started researching resources and other engineers’ experiences with study prep. I mostly did this on forums and with engineers at work. 4 Months Out Avoided any practice exams. Purchased and went through Graffeo’s book (except exam). Started typing out custom notes/formulas pages broken down by the NCEES “Power Exam Specifications.” I used Graffeo and PRM as my primary sources for this. Hit rotating machinery and realized a class might be a good idea. Previewed some rotating machinery notes from Electrical PE Review (EPR)…decided to go with that as my class. Signed up for the premium class at the end of the month. 3 Months Out Created binder tabs for each section in the EPR course. Pre-printed everything so I could highlight and take notes as I went through the course and videos. This was a good move…by the end of the course, I generally knew right where to go in my custom book for common formulas and question types. I probably made it through the course in ~100 hours (others would be much faster/slower depending on what they intend to get out of it). There are 100’s of pertinent quiz questions and many helpful videos. I feel like I saved weeks of my life by not having to create more formula sheets and not having to run through tons of questions that would not have been pertinent to the exam. 2.5 Months Out Started taking one practice exam per weekend: Complex Imaginary (CI) Graffeo 2 Months Out Took the NCEES Practice Exam…didn’t cry (high 80’s) Fell into a big project at work that consumed most of the rest of the next two weeks Worked Spin-Up problems here-and-there. Tabbed the heck out of my references. 1.5 Months Out Through Test Day Breezed through all the EPR courses again. Started over on the ‘1-practice exam per-weekend’ cycle. Watched and/or participated in the EPR live classes. Printed articles and just tried to patch holes in my knowledge. Test Day Experience Got a hotel room the night before for fear of a flat tire keeping me from making it on time. Packed a lunch the morning of the exam and packed in coffee and a couple of CLIF bars. Got to the exam site 30 minutes before doors opened (I was not the first there). Took the morning section and found it played to my weaknesses. Had most questions done in 3-hours. Spent the remaining time on a few of the harder questions and checking answers. I use the multi-pass testing approach. For me, this means: with exception of NEC questions, do all questions requiring minimal or no look-ups on first time through (~60%); do all NEC questions on second time through (~20%); do hardest questions 3rd/4th time through (~20%). Felt pretty confident on 30/40. I’m guessing I got 75-85% on the morning. Side Note - I recommend not going in dehydrated – plan for one restroom break. It cost me less than 5 minutes. Had lunch in my car and just hung out until the doors opened for the afternoon section. Took the afternoon section and found it played to my strengths. Had most questions done in 3-hours. Spent the remaining time on a couple of harder questions and checking answers. Felt pretty confident on 35/40. I’m guessing I got 80-90% on the afternoon. As I write this, that experience was yesterday…I won’t know if I passed for several weeks. I will say I felt fairly well prepared. For what it is worth, I feel like a better engineer for the study and experience; now I am ready to move on! Hope not to see any of you in six months…then this really is closure! Good luck in the future, everyone.
  6. I've had people PM asking what my strategy was for passing the SE, so I figured I'd post what I did and a few key books I used to pass both the Vertical Building and Lateral Building tests on my first try. First, I would like to point out I found this test extremely difficult. I was already planning my next attempt at the exam because I left the exam feeling very discouraged. So, don't count yourself out if you leave the exam not feeling confident. Anyways my strategy was as follows: 1. I decided to take the Structural PE first. I think this may have been unnecessary, but it helped me ease into how the NCEES tests operate. I found it to be much easier and less tricky than the SE. If nothing else it was a good confidence booster. 2. Since I decided to take both Vertical and Lateral at the same I felt like I needed structure to help keep me on track, so I ended up taking a class. I choose EET, but I had some friends who also did well using both School of PE and PPI. Really, I think any class would have worked since for me it was more about keeping myself accountable and managing my schedule. I also choose the on-demand option as it was a bit more flexible than the live classes. 3. I started studying in late July. This consisted of a mixture of watching the class lectures and working problems. I tried to do at least 2 hours after work every day and 4 each Saturday and Sunday. This didn't always happen as I got married and spent two weeks in Alaska, but I tried to stick to as much as I could. Towards the end I was doing closer to 3 each weekday and 5 or 6 each Saturday and Sunday. The best advice I can give about studying is be completely done reviewing and learning material about a month before the exam. I spent that last month doing nothing but problems. In that last month I worked 4 different full practice exams that included both vertical and lateral. When I worked these exams, I timed myself and tried to simulate the actual exam conditions as close as possible. I think this really helped me fine tune my testing strategy and pin point the areas I was weak. 4. For the AM portions I used your standard test strategy where I answered the easiest problems first and worked my way up in difficulty since they are all weighted the same. For the AM portion on both days I barely finished with enough time and had to make educated guesses on probably 5 or 6 questions on both days. These questions were tricky, and the answer choices frequently had common mistakes as well as intermediate step answers as options. I found the PM portion to be much more straightforward. For the PM portion I used a little different strategy. I did not seek out the easier problems first. I worked them in the order they came. When I began I set my timer for 45 minutes (would be different if you were doing bridges). No matter how far I was in a problem when I hit the 45-minute mark I stopped trying to work the problem and I used the remaining 15 minutes to complete the rest of the questions by writing theory and code references. This strategy worked so well that I finished with about 45 extra minutes. I used that remaining time to go back and work sections of problems I had only put theory, back check problems, and add additional code references. I did this because based on conversations with co-workers you can pass problems with almost just theory and code references alone, but leaving a problem blank or unfinished is almost certain to get you an unacceptable. My understanding is one unacceptable on the afternoon portion will cause you to fail the exam. 5. Absolutely GET ALL the codes NCEES references and make sure they are the correct edition. I was told by a friend they will intentionally ask questions about sections that have changed between editions not to mention your code references will be wrong for the PM portion. Also, I found the following additional books to be helpful: 2012 Design of Reinforced Masonry Structures (7th Edition) Design of Wood Structures-ASD/LRFD / Edition 7 Bridge Problems for the Structural Engineering (SE) Exam SEAOC Seismic Design Manual Series Both PPI's SE Practice Exams and Their Structural Engineering Reference Manual The NCEES Practice Exam I used other books and references as well, but those really stood out to me. I hope this information helps others out there tackle this exam. It's a beast so don't get discouraged. Good luck everyone!
  7. I've decided to take the EET Review Course for the Breadth and Depth (Construction). For those of you who have or are taking both breadth and depth review course for EET how are you going about studying? Are you reviewing the Breadth course first followed by the Depth or are you combining the two at the same time?
  8. I have about two years before I complete the experience requirement and plan to apply to test. When should I start studying? Studying for the FE took me about 9 months and I didn't feel comfortable at that pace, and only some of my day-to-day job is relevant to the exam material. I intend to take civil - transportation (I work in railroad engineering). Thanks!
  9. Spring 2018 Prep Courses by Dr. Shahin Mansour Celebrating our 21st Anniversary Dear PE/FE Candidate: We at Professional Engineering Services and Education (PESE), Inc., have been working very hard for the last twenty-one years (21-years) to provide high quality review courses, review books, and DVDs at reasonable and affordable prices. We’re still providing free repeats (same course within ONE year of initial purchase date) with differential cost for the courses and books (if applicable). Try Before You Buy and FREE Office Hours (up to 40 meetings, 80 hours) Webinars To introduce our live & on-demand courses, books, DVDs, the NCEES Standard References & Codes, and California Board Exams Specifications for April 2018 Exams, you’re invited to attend any of our FREE WEBINARS. To enroll go to: and then enter ID: 602-189-923 (one ID for ALL free office hours and try before you buy sessions). You only need to enroll once for all sessions. A direct link to register: Try Before You Buy: a) Seismic and Surveying: December 9 and 16, 2017 from 12:00-3:00 PM (PST) b) Civil AM, Transp. Depth, Const. Depth, & FE Civil: December 10 & 17, 2017 from 12:00-3:00 PM (PST) The main objective of these free webinars is to give my fellow engineers a true picture of: a) What will you get from the course? b) What are the study materials you will receive from PESE? c) What is the quality and the quantity you will get from the review courses? d) How will you communicate with me during the live classes/live webinars? Items to be Discussed 1- Go over the schedule of our review courses offered for Spring 2018. 2- To present the way that our live classes and live webinars will be presented 3- What is required to attend live webinars? 4- Archived versus unarchived webinars 5- Our refund policy 6- Our repeat policy 7- Certificate of completion requirements and receipts 8- Computerized exams (Seismic & Surveying) versus paper (regular) exam (Civil PE) If you have any questions, please email us at or call me at 559-289-6412. Always check our website for updates of our books and services. Sincerely Yours, Dr. Shahin Mansour, PE, Director Instructor for Seismic and Surveying Seminars Instructor for PE-Civil
  10. Hi all! Just a quick hello and maybe some advise. I am 7 years out of undergrad and have been studying from Lindeburg's FE Civil Review Manual. I did not pass the first attempt, or second or third and I am back at it again now. My job it is on the line and I have to pass the test by July of 2018. I plan to take the test again in January 2018. I cannot take it before due to NCEES restrictions. Does anyone have an online course they recommend? I took the test back on July and the test has change again, 10% of the test is NOT a multiple-choice questions. It has alternative item types, like: Multiple correct—allows examinees to select multiple answers Point and click—requires examinees to click on part of a graphic to answer Drag and drop—requires examinees to click on and drag items to match, sort, rank, or label Fill in the blank—provides a space for examinees to enter a response to the question I am not sure which online course has updated their study guide since July of 2017. Any recommendations? Diana
  11. I'm just starting out on my journey to pass the PE exam. I have a BSCE and MBA and I'm a project manager with a construction management firm and I've already acquired my PMP. I'm working on getting my Certified Construction Manager (CCM) credential this year and at the end of the summer, start to seriously study for the PE exam. I've been fortunate enough over the past two days to buy the CE Construction Bundle from someone who just passed the April exam and inherit some great breadth practice exams. I'm shooting for October 2018 due to balancing career priorities with my husband.
  12. One of the questions I get asked the most from students is: “Zach, how many Months do I need to study to pass the PE exam?” Each and every person has their own individual needs based on industry experience, math background, and test taking skills. This means that it is close to impossible to say exactly how many months you, in particular, would need to study to pass. But, what I can tell you, is what the successful engineers that DO pass have in common with their studying habits and how long they prepared for. We polled our April 2017 students and asked: “How many Months did you Study for the Electrical PE Exam?” Want to see how the successful engineers that passed the PE exam answered? Take a look at the pie graph below and see if you can guess how many months correspond to each percentage and slice. You can click on the pie graph when you are ready to see the answer or you can just click on the following link: Electrical PE Review - What do Successful Engineers that Pass the PE Exam have in Common? Knowledge is power. That's why it's so important to identify what is working as a whole so that we can adopt the study habits that passing engineers share in common to greatly improve our probability of passing the PE exam. Your goal should be to sign up for the PE exam, put in your time studying, pass the exam, and then move on with both your professional and personal life. Of course, the number of months leading up to the exam doesn’t really matter if you aren’t putting in the hours each week. So to compare, next week we will be diving deeper and looking at the results of how the total number of hours spent studying per week also affects success rate. See you next week! Zach Stone, P.E.
  13. We have a little over a month left until the April PE exam. I've chosen to do the structures depth, but I am starting to really worry because I do not know enough. Here's a bit about me, I have a general Civil background but I do utility engineer design. There isn't a depth that really fits what I do, maybe construction? However, I took a few structural courses in college and structures is the most interesting topic for me, so I went ahead with structures. However, I've been hearing that structures is the hardest depth and it's still is difficult even for those who do it for work every day to pass the exam. I'm starting to really worry now that I chose the wrong depth. Can anyone assure me I didn't make a mistake? Or if there's anyone in my shoes where what you do for work is not at all similar to any of the depths? It'll also be good to get someone who is a structural engineer, their perspective on someone who isn't a structures guy at all but taking the structures depth. Any help will be greatly appreciated!
  14. I have the following for sale: -NCEES PE Electrical and Computer Engineering: Power Practice Exam (Printed Nov 2014) - Like New. Soft Cover for $30. -PPI Power Reference Manual for the Electrical and Computer PE Exam by John A. Camara (Copyright 2010) - Some Highlights, but like new condition. Hard cover for $150. Or $160 for both. All prices include shipping. Photo's available upon request for proof of version or condition. Feel free to shoot me an email at Happy studying!
  15. Hello, I am currently studying to take the NCEES PE Test in April 2017. I was wondering if anyone had any sample study schedules or guides that helped them organize their study approach. Thank you in advance.
  16. Long-time lurker, first-time poster. I am selling my PE exam prep materials for the Mechanical HVAC exam. These are the only materials I studied with and the only references I brought with me to the exam. Using only these, I passed the October 2016 exam on my first try! Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam, 13th edition by Lindeburg ($250) Practice Problems for the Mechanical Engineering PE Exam, 13th edition by Lindeburg ($85) PE Mechanical Engineering: HVAC and Refrigeration Practice Exam by NCEES ($30) Six-Minute Solutions for Mechanical PE Exam HVAC and Refrigeration Problems, 2nd edition by Elder ($65) I bought these materials new and did not write in any of them - so they are in "like new" condition. I have photos ready to send, if interested. I will sell individually for prices listed (add $10 for shipping each) - or will sell as a set for $400, including shipping. Prices are firm and I prefer to use PayPal. I almost don't want to sell these because they remind me of my triumph over the behemoth that is the PE exam :-) but I know they could be helping someone else. Thanks, Ryan
  17. Hello All: I am a new member. I would love some advise as to how I can tackle this monster (PE). A little background, this is my second attempt at the PE. The first time I took it, due to unforeseen events I was not able to study or get a refund so I showed up with the Camara PE Reference Manual, NCEES Sample Exam, Complex Imaginary Vol 3, Stevenson Power System Analysis, NEC. I failed. This time around I put in 100+ hours of studying, and got a similar score. I don't know where to start, I stare at my diagnostic in shock. 45/80. Thank you.
  18. I searched and didn't see a topic like this that was comprehensive- sorry if I missed it. I am 10 years out of undergrad and have been studying from Lindeburg's FE Civil Review Manual. I did not pass the first attempt, and I am back at it again now. I plan to take it again at the end of August. Does anyone have a crash course resource they recommend? I think I would benefit from videos as opposed to reading through more books. Thanks!
  19. School of PE has been in the field of educational services since 2004. We have been offering review courses for engineering exams in FE Other Disciplines, FE Civil, FE Electrical, FE Mechanical, PE Civil, PE Electrical, PE Environmental, PE Mechanical, PE Chemical, SE Vertical, SELateral and CA Seismic/Survey disciplines which lead to NCEES Certification. We offer FE, PE and SE Refresher classes in various delivery methods to meet the diverse requirements of our learners. Our wide network of instructors allows us to provide these review classes in several states across the country. We will begin accepting registrations for fall classes on Wednesday, April 15th. These classses will help prepare you for exams taken in October and November. Register early to qualify for up to $300 in discounts!! Our courses consists of Refresher Classes and Workshops: Refresher Classes - Prepare students by reviewing high probability topics that are likely to appear on the exam. This class will allow students to experience some theory and high probability problems. Workshops - Allows our students to practice and solve several problems which are standalone and require numerical solutions. The workshops will consist exclusively of solving problems which is very critical for the engineering exam. Our review course is taught by several instructors. We believe in lectures given by the instructors who specialize in their fields and therefore, we provide multiple instructors for each review course. For the most up to date information on School of PE or to find out more about our review courses please visit
  20. Anyone interested in a group study in the King of Prussia/Philadelphia area? Please message me if interested. Thanks - Molly
  21. If you live in Orlando and want to study for the Oct14 PE Power exam send me a message.
  22. Civil PE Exam Help (aka “Giving back to Civil Transpo folks”) Alright, here’s the scoop: I passed the PE exam April (2013) on my first attempt. Am I the smartest person on EB? No. Do I have some amazing memory? I don’t think so. I think I am average amongst this cross section of folks. Why am I telling you this? Because too often we read about somebody’s approach to the exam without knowing if it’s a child prodigy who doesn’t really need advice or support or a plain ‘ol nut. Therefore reading this may turn out to be time wasted for some of you, but for others, this was written in the spirit of EB; a networking opportunity where occasional good tips are derived by folks willing to share their experiences. So how did I approach the exam? I knew that I could not relearn, or learn, every morsel. I understood that having the ability to bring resources was a blessing and a potential curse. Most of all I knew I had to develop a strategy and test it here at home. What I bought or borrowed in the way of books to prepare; Being a Transportation candidate I had the AASHTO suite of manuals: 6th Ed GDHS, 4th Ed. RDG, 2009 MUTCD. I had access to the full 2010 HCM but took only select chapters to the exam. To explain, there is so much of the new HCM that is absolutely meant for the class room or for the propeller heads of TRB to elucidate how a 57 character equation can be reduced to a statistically reliable predictor when crunched by some cosmic software system, that you won’t have access to during the exam, you don’t need it all. You need to understand that what can reasonable be asked an answered from within the application of the two volume behemoth in about 6 minutes may be on the exam. I decided, rightly or wrongly, to bring the example portions of the pedestrian, freeway and intersection chapters into my strategy. I did have access to the MEPDG mindbender too, but it falls into the same impractical category of resources to leave at home. I also had the following staples at my disposal; 12th Ed of the CERM* Lindeburg’s 4th Ed. Sample exams Goswami’s All In One (2nd Ed.) and his practice exams Dictionaries: Penguin’s Civil, McGraw Hill’s Dictionary of Engineering and Dr. Friebel’s Civil/Enviro. PCA’s Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures – 14th Ed Voigt’s Transpo Depth (1st Ed) * NCEES’ 2008 copyright Sample Questions & Solutions (its old but multi discipline AM) NCEES’ 2011 copyright Civil Tranpo “ “ “ “ Mike’s Civil PE Exam Guide Rajapakse’s Four Sample Exams for the Civil PE Exam PE-Exam.Com (2nd Ed.) Breadth Practice Exam for the Civil PE (PPI bought them up so get it there) Kim & Spriggs’ (3rd Ed) Civil Discipline-Specific Review for the FE/EIT exam Chelapati’s (9th Ed.) Section 8.1, 8.2 Highway Geometric Design, Highway Traffic * Roess, Prassas, McShane’s (3rd Ed) Traffic Engineering MY SECRET WEAPON – Mannering, Washburn (5th Ed) Highway Engineering and Traffic Analysis** (unfortunately I know where some of you are at. By that I mean its February, you’re getting anxious, you’re looking for insurance, or you’re just plain freaked so I won’t exaggerate but will honestly say this book is vital.) *What’s up with the asterisks? These books do not have the current AASHTO or HCM specs in them and that really bites because they are truly valuable otherwise. It’s either a time consuming fix of correcting them yourself or flagging the #@%& out of them to remind you what not to use and what to use. Choose the later. This is not a one book fits all exam anyway. **As you deserve, some things just work in your favor and you catch a lucky break. This sweet little gem of a reference is current through HCM2010 (with example questions seemingly able to be asked on a national exam), the 6th Ed of the GDHS, the 2009 MUTCD, even the insanely irrelevant MEPDG. BUY THIS BOOK. Do it now. Thank these fine Purdue Profs. when you pass. Seriously, minimize or logout and get to Amazon and buy this right now. Okay now that you have the bound equivalent refined wood pulp of a small forest you’re guaranteed… absolutely nothing. (WTH?) Here’s where strategy comes in. You need to work with these books night and day to know what book has what and where. To tab or not to tab, that is the question. Tab. Period. Tab what? Hmm, that’s difficult to say. I actually had an iterative process whereby some things I was sure I needed to tab, only to later determine I could pull them off the books. Wait, I am a Gigantic DoucheBag First there’s an art to tabbing. Establish a color code system, i.e., blue equals water resources, hydro, etc. so in that category it’s only a blue tab. Red equals structures… be consistent across your resources that a biggie. You said iterative! If there is a constant to prepping for this exam it is this – YOU MUST SOLVE PROBLEMS AND PROBLEMS UPON PROBLEMS to prepare. I found this was wildly easy to embrace, hence the many practice exams. I used most of them to prep and not as timed exams (more on that later). As I did more problems I found what I tabbed in fear didn’t need to be tabbed. It’s subjective, but you absolutely can have too many tabs and misplace their value by thinking, “oh I have that tabbed and its plug and chug so I am all set”. Here come the tips. If you want to work by topic area, fine. If you want to rapidly expand your breadth, grab a practice exam and go at it. One caution, traditional “studying” is not prepping. Sure there are passages to read and breakdown into your lingo, but there are problems to solve with pen paper and a Casio fx-115ES too. Problems that call upon tables found in governing design manuals that you may not use everyday (think tabs). Unless you will be taking the exam in a place that does not allow you to write in your books…, write in them. Be extra geeky like me and use a colored pencil. Why? To be ready to show the overzealous do-gooder proctor that I was given one graphite pencil (which I will keep thank you) and what is in the book was written in red and says “see pg xyz of GDHS. Remember the left graph is for two lane roads”. Define the units otherwise unlabeled in the variables. There’s no reason to literally risk it all, so make sure this is not going to be an issue and ask somebody what’s acceptable in your State as far as books, writing already in them, etc. (I read something crazy once about books not being allowed to have writing in them…) We’re going to stick with “prepping” When you are prepping, leave the clock, stopwatch, hourglass and sundial alone. Come home, eat something and head to the proverbial woodshed. (this is a good time to say prepping in an area that replicates the exam is reasonable. Don’t go overboard, remain comfortable, but try to cut the distractions out of view or listening range, and be organized. You simply won’t be able to have 6 books open at once across a 6’ table standing up swaying to and fro as you try to decide whether you need to floc the wastewater during the exam) Maybe you’ve got a handle on all this already and you prep by doing a problem in under 6 minutes and do only 10 a night. Good, fine, but I want to discourage you from being a clock-watcher right now. If you go to bed at 9PM or 1AM while pursuing this, so be it. I can’t tell you how much time to set aside. I found that I needed to first understand conceptually what was being tested and then narrowly what it was I had to solve for. Remember, we want to be licensed to accept the risk of our design or decisions and for that I want to know why I did something. That is to say, if in December January or February I take 15 to 30 minutes to look in three books to see if can figure out what the heck they are after in a question I am okay with that. By mid-March I will have seen enough problems to have a working knowledge of breadth concepts and can pop to the tables, graphs, equations I need quickly. I found Goswami’s book instructive in ways the CERM was not but both are invaluable to prepping fro the exam. When to give up on a problem while prepping. Not sure how to tackle this, but let’s face it, you’re not getting a 100 on the exam. There I said it. Don’t be insulted, be practical and admit the breadth section covers crap you don’t, won’t and can’t do. So I will answer a bit politically, make your own mind up, but do so knowing that as civil engineer you should have a working knowledge of all areas tested in the AM. Maybe a bit comforting to you should be that for this reason arcane, one off, gotcha problems are not coming your way in the AM. Being critical of the master. Ah yes Belmont, CA home of that publishing goliath that has been trusted by wannabe engineers since… oh who cares! The CERM? YES! The corresponding practice problems? NO!!! I was fortunate to get a copy of an incredibly old leather bound book originally written in 1872 by John C. Trautwine. He rips on the other available manuals and references of his contemporaries in his “The Civil Engineer’s Pocket-Book” because they have written their books for, in his words, “savants”. My friends, I sat for the exam and am sitting here this Sunday morning pouring out my thoughts for the express purpose to encourage and help you achieve your goal so when I say look at what I didn’t refer to in my list of books, please know I bought many others that I can’t recommend in good conscience. Aside from NCEES, and hey they write the exam so we’d be foolish not to use what they offer when prepping, the others, excluding Goswami’s at times, are so realistically comparable that I suspect in time they will be passed around offices to future examinees like baby wipes at the nursery. I will make one exception; Voigt’s 6 minutes Transpo and AM related Geotechnical are worth plodding through for two reasons. These books are at times waaaay harder than exam questions, but they get to the “why” and drill concepts very effectively. Sorry, its hard work for a reason. Besides anytime a book explains an answer, and does not just show the derived calculations, you’re getting some value. What else can you do to prepare? I highly recommend taking a refresher course. I took the School of PE course. A couple of the sections where too fast and undersold but WRE and Transpo were spot on. If you can swing the $$$, do it. If you can only swing $, I recommend the Irvine Institute of Technology’s online offering. (If they updated to the current GDHS and HCM2010 that is.) I took it prematurely thinking I could sit for the exam when my State chose to smite me with a rejection letter. The high value of being organized I did build two binders to accompany my purchased books. A fair amount came from the School of PE, but I went a bit further. So as I prepped I found from my 15 to 30 minute “what in the world is this” puzzle solving endeavors that I could condense and summarize a lot and sometimes sketch the path of how to solve what I previously did not know how to do (think water treatment jive). One binder (monster 4” so that the papers could be moved in the rings) that had the containing breadth topics and one for depth (smaller 2” binder). In either case I built them with this in mind, there are items that without a doubt I have to refer to that I don’t want to shuffle books for, so I copied those items from the other books CERM, GDHS, etc and put them together in my three ring binder as my toolkit. For example, for transpo I had a tabbed section in the binder that was for horizontal curves. In that section I had the “go to” tables of the GDHS, the common equations, and sample problems. I mean hey, there are only so many ways you can ask about the darn things. What I geeked out on that I was later so proud of was taking equations across the entire breadth and depth of the PE exam and solving them for each variable. Take the Darcy Weisbach or Hazen Williams equations for example wherein you have 3 or 4 variables; I would solve for each variable to be on the left side of the equation and plaster that crap onto a piece of paper so that if I was given the headloss and needed to know the diameter of a pipe in a hypothetical scenario I wasn’t spending valuable time crunching the old Casio just to get my variable isolated. Besides, do you want to find out in the middle of the PE exam that you don’t remember how to complete the square? Some of these variations are tabulated and some are not so assembling a master list may be a day well spent. If I get a chance I will dig mine out, scan them and post them. You’ve heard they monkey with units on the exam and you’ve probably said “No biggie, I can handle that”. And true enough, you can handle it, but do you know which ones are most common to mess with and where to go to get the multiplier? Are you ready to see 10, otherwise straightforward, problems suck up your exam time? The CERM is hands down an amazing reference. It goes well beyond unit conversions, we all know that, but because it is so comprehensive it can be unwieldy. Its not a bad idea to copy them from the covers of the CERM and place them in the front of each section in your binder. Same with the index, bind it separately. How about beam deflections and shear and moment diagrams? Yea the CERM has them neatly tabulated too but in the appendix… somewhere…. Throw that sucker on the copier and put them front and center in your binder at the structures section. Better yet, crank out the possibilities of solving for the variables of conjugate depth at a hydraulic jump and put that at the front of your WRE section. You get the idea. Put the time in now to sharpen your axe. (Paraphrasing Abe Lincoln – If you give me 8 hours for an exam, I will take 252 hours putting my binders together.) If you’re a transpo guy or gal, you know your tools. Or do you? If you do not work with the GDHS or RDG, you will find that they are written for daily practitioners, thus the GDHS index is not friendly when wanting to find skewed intersection design considerations. You will invariably have what I call “seek and find” problems on the exam where you just look up the value. Go through these manuals and make the personal decision of what to tab passed the most common tables and graphs. There are very few moments during the exam in which your confidence grows quicker than using just 26.8 seconds of the theoretical “6 minutes” getting an answer right. It’s nice to have time to play with that one problem you don’t want to give up on just because you know you’ve got the time to do so before the proctor advises “pencils down”. I think I am ready for the exam. Two weeks before the exam I used Lindeburg’s sample exams to gauge my readiness. I did it under a timer in exam-like conditions. It sucked. I scored like a 62. I was smoked. But I also expected to fail. Why? Because like I am doing here, friends told me that the Belmont, CA stuff was worse than the real thing. Nonetheless, I tore apart my mistakes and doubled down. The next weekend I took the NCEES practice exams (AM and PM using the old book). I scored an 84! Hot d@mn I was indeed ready. In conclusion I am not saying these ideas are original or that they guarantee you anything if you follow them. I can just say am living up to my commitment to share my experience and approach with future exam takers. I compiled the best advice I got from colleagues who got there before me, or that I read or that I paid for and put it here for others to consider. Take the exam as seriously as the profession. When you get a stamp/seal you are bestowed with a bit of a slight and a lot more responsibility. The slight comes in from you will have been found “minimally qualified to practice engineering” in your State. The increased responsibility comes in that when you affix your hard earned stamp or seal you have bought at least a high level of personally responsibility if not sole responsibility. When you pass, go to the new PE dinner that your NSPE Chapter will host. Join the Order of the Engineer. Be proud. You will deserve it. I was 46 when I did but felt pretty young that night. Good luck. Work hard and know that it will happen for you.
  23. Please post if you are interested in joinging a study group in the Orlanda area for the OCT 14 Power Exam.
  24. Looking for a Study Group in the Tampa area for the April 2014 Civil Exam - Depth (Water Resources) Please msg me if you would like to study and are in the area (Cleawater-St.Pete)
  25. HVAC & Refrigeration Technical Study Guide for the Mechanical PE Exam [$65] Learn the key skills and concepts for each of the topics covered in the PE Exam Practice your skills with over 75 Practice Problems Test your skills with a 40 Question Practice Exam See Engineering Pro Guides for more information.
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