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As I have said it in my other posts, I still can't believe I have passed my Civil Transportation PE first time. I would like to thank everyone here for making the otherwise miserable PE exam experience actually a lot of fun and engagement. Without the trolling and info sharing I think I would have given up just looking at the PE exam specifications. So here I am to share my study journey with pictures and actual link to my Google Sheet (edited for public viewing). Note that each one of us has different methods of study, below is just what I have done that worked for myself. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1IKiRuyXLC9LwfqalY6FywyjEEm7O52uuHNdCmf3k5bY/ Week 0-1 - Planning + Untimed Diagnostic Exam I started off a few days before Feburary 18 creating this spreadsheet myself, which I also had a similar spreadsheet back in 2017 when I planned for my first ever half-marathon that I practiced for 3 months and finished 2:18:10. Anyways. The reason I started this late was waiting for my company to confirm that I could be reimbursed for study materials, which turned out that they couldn't. Our local Minnesota NSPE chapter offered a virtual PPI course (live webinar + recorded access) with local engineering legends that began mid-January. When I subscribed to their course in early-February, I didn't even know about EngineerBoards. In my opinion, PPI course refreshed my mind for general concepts, but a lot of details would still need to be discovered through CERM and actually doing practice problems. The PPI course had a schedule with suggested pre-webinar homework. I didn't really do a lot but mainly focusing on the problems I got wrong on my "diagnostic" practice exam (see spreadsheet's "Practice exam 1 NCEES AM". Week 2-5 - PPI Course As you can see my weaknesses are on Means & Methods, Soil Mechanics, Materials, and Structural, I spent my efforts trying to bring those up to at least get a few more correct and less guesses. But after around a month of studying, my second AM practice exam on Week 6 (Civil Pe Practice AM Version B), I only improved from 24 to 26. On my 2A pivot table, factoring in improving from my silly mistakes, I predicted I will get 28 on AM. After 2 weeks, I quickly recognized my AM wasn't going to get any better, but I would have more chances on PM. I did not do any diagnostics and go right into the PPI webinars and notes. At that point I still did not have any official manual references yet so I stuck with the course and work on problems on CERM and CETR. Week 6 - Doing Practice Problems + Timed 8-hour Practice Exam I was able to borrow 4 main references from the library finally on Week 6, and went right to the 6-minute transpo book doing every single problem with the references (Green Book, HCM 6th ed, Roadside Design Guide, MUTCD, HSM draft version found online). By the end of week 6, I did a 8-hour timed practice exam (Civil Pe Practice AM Version B + NCEES Practice Exam PM only) and scored 26/29 = 54. Week 7 - Reviewing Wrong Problems + Setting Exam Strategy So my focus last week was to only brushing up my points of failure and try to improve them. Another I did was to really breaking up the Exam Specifications NCEES provided to us. I figured the official NCEES practice exam problems were in order of the Specifications, but the other practice exams were not. Since I am taking it first-time I didn't know what to expect. I decided that I would use the first few minutes of both AM and PM to flip through the entire exam and mark all questions with order numbers according to my pivot table 2A for AM (I also have a similar table for PM but I actually marked it on the actual specifications I printed out beforehand). On the actual exam, I roughly spent 3:30 on 30 AM problems and 3:15 on 25 PM problems according to my order. The remaining 15-30 minutes for the rest of the problems I struggled with, I gussed around 5 questions for each AM/PM with elimination, and the remaining ones (5 AM, 10 PM) putting all bets on a single letter choice (as the correct ABCD answers are equal = 10 each). I also used the same guessing strategy for my FE paper exam and it also worked. Reflection Looking back, if I would have done it differently, I would have started a month earlier and allow myself more time to work on practice problems and take one more practice exam to be sure. But in the end, it's all about the combination of exam strategy (plan) with actual tactics (action) that worked out. As Sun Tzu said in book The Art of War, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” The local MnSPE board also offered "power" snacks during lunch. Kudos to them and their sponsors.
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