Change my PM or stick with it? - Civil Engineering PE Exam - Engineer Boards
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upstatemike

Change my PM or stick with it?

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I've taken this dam test three times now, all three taking the construction. I cannot break the 24 questions right in the afternoon.

This past time i figure I missed it by one point or so. I try to study the afternoon construction using the Ruwan books - which are horrible - and struggle with the non quantitative questions.

I am thinking about going with trans now instead. My discipline in college was Civil with an emphasis in transportation, I work mostly doing project management now though. Problem being I'll have to buy another $500+ in books and relearn the afternoon.

Am i better off doing this or trying to struggle through construction again? I see they make a 6-min solutions construction book now. My scores are decent because of the morning, not the afternoon. My morning construction has always been the lowest (all three times).

Somebody please give me some advice.

At this point I am humiliated. My co-worker has taken it with me three times and he never studied once - he just passed, I am beyond embarrassed and humiliated at this point.

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Mike,

I took Construction my first attempt (Oct 2011) and got a 52/80 with a 28 in the AM and a 24 in the PM. Construction afternoon took me the whole time and after leaving that exam, I felt like i may have gotten 20/40 right if I was lucky...naturally i got 24 right. I did not feel good about it at all. I can say that I studied a pretty good amount for the exam too. I do mainly project management and I felt like eventhough I had experience with construction, schedules, etc., the topic was so broad for someone like me only being out of school for 4 years. It is still a fairly new topic, therefore I would imagine it will be a broad exam for a little while.

My second attempt (April 2012), I took transportation and passed. We do not receive number scores in our state so I am not sure how much I passed by, but I can tell you I left that exam feeling very good about it...especially in the afternoon. You would need the HCM, MUTCD, AASHTO Green Book, and Roadside Design Guide, but the test is so much more straightforward if you know the references. I finished the Transportation afternoon with almost an hour and half spare to check and double check my work.

In a nutshell, i wouldn't quite say that the Trans PM is much easier topics wise, but if you study and know your references it really is just a more straightforward exam with no surprises. There were no curveballs with the PM Trans. Out of the 10 "Other Topics" questions, I would say at least half are morning type difficulty problems. I also spent time making and organizing a binder with every type of problem that could appear on the test. I divided each topic up by tabs (hor. curves, vert. curves, superelevation, intersections, two lane highways, etc. and put every single problem i had from NCESS sample exams, Lindeberg sample exams, Lindeberg workbooks, etc. in the binder. It may have been overkill, but I definitely found go-bys and sometimes close to the same exact problem very quickly like this. There is only so much variation in what they can ask in transportation, just have to do the math accurately and quickly.

I would recommend giving Transportation a whirl if you have the money to drop on the books

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Thanks, that's the perfect response. I feel as if I own every single construction book - have read them all cover to cover - and nothing contained in any of them I feel is learnable (if that makes sense).

You having a very similar experience to me makes it feel more like the right idea. Any books you can recommend that work really well for studying the non curve questions? That's my biggest fear is not being able to learn the stuff that isn't curve or sight distance related (traffic analysis, etc.), it's been more than 7 years now since I graduated.

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I used transportation testmasters material, six minute solutions, NCEES practice test, Lindeberg practice test, and Lindeberg practice problems. All of the non curve problems were way less in depth than I thought they would be and a number of them were even theoretical. Also, Goswani's All In One book has the Transportation depth broken down pretty good and has the HCM tables in the book.

I would say the transportation NCEES practice test was very identical to the actual exam where as the construction NCEES practice exam was way easier than the real thing. Again, I believe if I would have had 10+ years experience in construction, I may have felt more comfortable with the exam. Construction is absolutely an experience needed field.

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I didn't think the Construction had any "curveball" questions on it, but then again it was VERY experience based. If you don't work as a construction engineer, I could see how it would be very difficult. My challenge when I took the exam was 2-fold: It was the first time the construction depth was offered (April '08) which means there was NOTHING for study guides available, and at the time I was doing land development design. Because I spent my first 2 years out of school working for a general contractor, I decided to go for construction, but I could have easily gone for transportation too. The part that would have helped me with transportation was the fact that I had several coworkers willing to help teach me the ins and outs of transportation engineering, but I felt there was just as much unfamiliarity with the guidelines and texts that I could be facing more "curveballs" with that.

From a study/prep standpoint, I would always advocate that you take the exam that more closely relates to your experience as opposed to just buying a few books and teaching yourself a new subject. If you feel like you can learn a new sub-field of Civil engineering in 4 months, I say go for it, but I would still recommend sticking with the exam you know what to expect with.

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After taking the construction three times I honestly have yet to see an exam very similar, if at all similar, to the NCEES practice one. I really feel I have a substantial amount of construction experience, including everything from bridges to retaining walls, lately i've been doing a ton of buildings. A co-worker passed his construction and has zero experence - the real reason why I took. I thought if he could pass it than hell i should be able too.

There have been serveral questions that could not be answered with any of the books recommended, this was what really drove me nuts about the exam.

I've ordered the NCEES practice exam for the transportation. I guess i'll look through that and see what i think. I really hate the thought of relearning another topic, but also hate the fact that I can't do any better in something that i've got 100s of hours into, then I think exactly what Dexman said, I know what to expect - sorta. Every exam has been different, and operations and methods blows me out of the water every time.

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