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peacock321

Practice Problems - which ones?

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Hello Everyone,

Congratulations to all who have passed and thank you for all your advice and encouragement! I’m a long time member, first time poster.

Quick intro, I have an Ag & Bio Engr background and took the Civil PE twice. Not sure what I was thinking, seeing how I had never even had classes in some of those subjects. Anyway, I was wanting some direction on practice problems. Looking at what is available is overwhelming.

It seems as if there are at least 4 major sources of practice problems. There is (A) the EERM itself with example problems, (B) the accompanying Practice Problem set (more than 370 problems), ( C ) Environmental Solved Problems by R. W. Schneiter (500 problems), and (D) 101 Environmental Solved Problems by R. W. Schneiter.

(I understand that all the NCEES practice exams are very important and there are other books I need to become familiar with.)

1. From my previous experience, it seemed as if the Lindeburg manual example problems and accompanying problem set (A & B) were tougher than anything that would appear on the actual exam. Is this true for the Environmental PE? Should we spend a lot of time on those problems? It seems as if some successful test takers didn’t really touch those problems at all.

2. What is the difference between source C & D? Are they the same?

3. I plan to get a copy of the NC State DVDs (if anyone is selling, please let me know), do they come with their own set of practice problems?

I just would like to know what problems I should focus on… Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

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As I understand, D: 101 Solved Problems is an older edition of C: Environmental Solved Problems.

Focus on all problems and you wont have a problem with unexpected problems during the exam. Repeat as often as necessary. I repeated until I almost memorized them. The EERM practice problems were tough but good to see the depth of understanding required for the Env PE. I didn't make it through all of them but its imperative to understand how they derived the solutions.

Lindberg exams are good for preparing for the unexpected. The NCEES exams help too so don't neglect. The style of questions are similar.

Air seems to escape a lot of test takers. I focused on waste water but I'm glad I spent time on air after my practice exam showed I needed polishing.

Learn it. Learn it all. The breadth of the environmental exam requires an intimate understanding of all media to come out of the exam confident.

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Thank you for your advice! Any tips on how to incorporate studying the other texts along with EERM?

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Use them all as necessary for reference when you try to solve ALL the problems. If you have problems in certain areas, research and study the specifics with the references. Search the board for recommended texts (I must have searched every Env topic on this board prior to the exam). I used Cooper and Alley for air when I needed them. Metcalff and Eddy for waste water was was helpful too. The text that helped me most during the exam was Salvato. Very broad with lots of detail. The single edition is what I used. A good text on environmental law helps. I was a CHMM before I took the exam and it helped with technical and legal qualitative problems. And don't forget a good environmental dictionary like the one by Lee.

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Use them all as necessary for reference when you try to solve ALL the problems. If you have problems in certain areas, research and study the specifics with the references. Search the board for recommended texts (I must have searched every Env topic on this board prior to the exam). I used Cooper and Alley for air when I needed them. Metcalff and Eddy for waste water was was helpful too. The text that helped me most during the exam was Salvato. Very broad with lots of detail. The single edition is what I used. A good text on environmental law helps. I was a CHMM before I took the exam and it helped with technical and legal qualitative problems. And don't forget a good environmental dictionary like the one by Lee.

I strongly agree with all of this advice. I would have done more problems if I hadn't run out of time studying, and I really wish I had Cooper and Alley for the exam.

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The breadth of this exam is the killer. You will be expected to know something a little about a whole lot.

The way I did went about studying was to go through 101 Solved Problems (which is more like 400 problems) as a guide. This is an activated sludge question, ok, let's get my wtr/ww book out, and so on.

Once I made it through that book, I used the PPI practice exam book to gain repetition and speed.

It's a tough test. My biggest struggle was just how much it covered that I needed to be aware of.

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Do the practice problems in your references as well. If you have a general enviromental engineering text with problems in it, do those. Find as many problems as you can that cover the entire breadth. I'm not saying that you shouldn't work all the problems in the EERM too, but I found the problems outside of the EERM to be equally as helpful for studying for the exam.

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^I sort of disagree. I thought that doing all the practice problems in all the available exam review books was enough. Reading the references listed by others above was the other part of that - so much of the exam is qualitative, only reading (with good comprehension) can prepare you for that; not more problem solving.

Good advice from everyone above - get all the practice problem books you listed, and read up the references every time you run into something you don't know as much about.

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Just my opinion but these would be my top choices for problems:

1. NCESS Environmental Practice Problems (if you can also get a hold of the older exam that would be good...but there is a lot of overlap). Most realistic problems.

2. Sovled problems by Schneiter. Already incorporates alot of the 101 problems from his older edition. In fact i believe he just published a new book 500 questions that prob incorportes the same problems from his other books. I would prob just buy his latest publication.

3. Envrm practice problems. Still very good problems to go through to understand concepts. Just try not to get too discourged on some of the problems that take an hour or longer to solve.

4. Practice PE exam problems (shneiter). I did not use but would have if i had the time.

5. Cooper and Alley Air problems (in back of book)

I chose to go through the Univ. of del course which had lots of practice problems also...some were pretty good...but overall the course was not worth the money or time. I would probably have been more effective going through the NCESS problems or schneiter first as a diagnostic and then doing as many problems as possible in my weaker areas to improve. As i went through and did problem after problem i would find my self going on a wild goose chase leading me to additional sections of regulations/tables/etc to print out for my ref manual binder. Good luck with your studies.

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Thanks for all the guidance, and especially all the specific advice. It really helps when we have to deal with so many resources. Speaking of which, I've read through the various threads as well and have come up with this list:

1. Air Pollution Control, by Cooper

2. Practical Design Calculations for Groundwater and Soil Remediation, by Kuo

3. Environmental Engineering, by Salvato (5th edition is one book, 6th edition is a set of three books)

4. Environmental Engineering Dictionary, by Lee

5. Wastewater Engineering: Treatment and Reuse, by Metcalf & Eddy

6. Environmental Law Handbook, Sullivan

7. Introduction to Environmental Engineering, Davis & Cornwell

8. Hazardous Waste Management, by La Grega

9. Environmental Engineering PE Examination Guide & Handbook, King

10. Sources and Control of Air Pollution by Heinsohn/Kabel

11. Applied Hydrogeology by Fetter

12. Hazardous Waste Site Soil Remediation by Wilson/Clarke

13. Basic Environmental Technology by Nathanson

I think that I've seen books 1 through 8 mentioned the most. It's unfortunate that the 5th edition of Salvato is so hard to find. (Anyone willing to part with theirs? :) )

I really admire the members that continue to share, long after they've passed the exam. The rest of us EITs really appreciate your generosity and time. It would be so easy to just pass and never bother with coming back.

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I borrowed the 4th edition of Salvato from my local library. It's available used on Amazon for a reasonable price ($80) right now. Obviously newer versions are better, but I still found it helpful. I found older versions of the Nathanson text on Amazon too; I borrowed my copy from a former coworker and was going to purchase a used copy if I had to retake the exam.

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I bit the bullet on the 6th edition of Salvato and glad i did because i feel it may have pushed me over just enough to pass. The Salvato book is fantastic for those odd qualitative or sampling type problems. If you can find the 5th edition great, but the 6th isnt too bad w/ it broken up into three smaller books...but damn is it expensive!

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Peacock, think you have an excellent list of reference books. I agree with VT that older editions of NCEES practice exams is good to get a hold of.

FYI I found a PDF copy of the 5th edition Salvato online by doing a Google Sucks search when I was studying for the exam. I don't have the link I originally used but here is one I just found from a quick search: http://ebookee.org/Environmental-Engineering-5th-edition-by-Joseph-A-Salvato-Nelson-L-Nemerow-Franklin-J-Agardy_240030.html

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Air Quality by Godish is another one I'd add to the list. It's good for dispersion plumes, NAAQS, car emissions, etc.

My general envl eng text was Introduction to Environmental Engineering by Masters. Probably similar to those listed above, but good for a problem or two.

I'm with DLeg, the breadth of the exam is the killer. There are a lot of problems that can be solved in a minute or two if you simply know where to look.

Also, know your first order kinetics. There are problems you've never seen before that you can easily solve if you plug and chug C=C0e^-kt

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Also, know your first order kinetics. There are problems you've never seen before that you can easily solve if you plug and chug C=C0e^-kt

Very true! I had several.

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There are a lot of problems that can be solved in a minute or two if you simply know where to look.

That's why you should work lots of problems...it helps to be able to get to the answers quickly, or to just know them because you've worked so many problems.

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Perhaps we should agree to disagree. I didn't work loads of problems, spent most of my time going through references and studying.

There's more than one way to skin a cat though.

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I agree VT, you don't need to do all the problems if you understand the concepts. I only did a handful of the EERM practice problems but I did all the Environmental Solved Problems. Some chapters where I found I was weak, I did multiple times until I fully understood the concepts and subtleties behind the questions. From there when I reviewed the practice problems. Some I did and some I could conceptualize how I would solve the problems in my head. I took all the practice tests under test conditions at regular intervals to gauge my progress. and reviewed each answer afterwards. I think a conceptual understanding of the equations is key to the dynamic and broad nature of the test questions. If you got it there is no need to study further. I still say that getting ready for the exam is like practice in sports. Going through the motions builds memory so it becomes automatic on game day. Practice makes perfect.

Some people studied hard in school, have had a better education, and some are simply smarter at engineering than others. More or less studying would be required depending on these factors. The key I think is to be true and honest to yourself. I have seen many engineering graduates that felt they have a degree so they should easily pass and failed multiple time at both the EIT and PE exams. I know a few that simply gave up. I have an env. technology degree so I humbled myself to the fact I was not exposed to the range of problems found in the exam so I meticulously studied all aspects and passed both back to back the first time.

For me it was a year of hermitage-study but it was worth it. I knew I was smart enough but those first practice tests were a slap in the face that I needed serious work. Self honesty, humility and discipline were my strength. Be honest with yourself and polish up where you know you need it. Don't gamble on probability that the topic wont be covered. Familiarize and know it all and you will be sure of yourself. The confidence helps on test day.

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