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CONSOLIDATED ADVICE THREAD: Env PE Exam

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On 12/30/2017 at 2:50 PM, Dleg said:

I think you get the edit ability after you surpass a certain number of posts

Yup, I just got the edit ability. 

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LOL. I think I got it after 250 posts?  But that was a long time ago - Board rules may have changed.

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I just wanted to pop in here and give everyone who has posted in this thread a heartfelt THANK YOU!  I finally took this exam  10 years after passing the FE, and I had no idea how it would go.   I used a ton of advice from this thread and studied my booty off every morning at 4:30AM with a 1-year old at home.  I had to get this done in one shot.  And I did.  So thankful it's over.  

 

To add to the thread:

Test you took: PE Environmental Engineering

Where you took it: Baton Rouge, LA

What books you brought with you: 

  • Environmental Engineering Reference Manual (bulk of the problems/questions)
  • Intro to Environmental Engineering (Davis & Cornwell)--used extensively in studying.  Secondary to the EERM in the exam.
  • A Dictionary of Civil, Water Resources & Environmental Engineering- Friebel (somewhat useful?)
  • My personal binders of solved problems (mostly NCEES Practice Problems and PPI Environmental Engineering Solved Problems and Environmental Engineering Practice PE Exams )
  • Personal binder with soil remediation information (have no remediation experience, so it was a last-minute hail-mary reference from a co-worker. . . didn't use it)
  • Engineering Unit Conversions by Lindeberg
  • Hazardous Waste Management, Lagrega (found this nearly useless, despite having a ton of recommendations in this thread)
  • Air Pollution Control, Cooper (also found this nearly useless despite the recommendations)
  • Practical Design Calculations for Groundwater and Soil Remediation (didn't use)
  • Environmental Sampling and Analysis: A Practical Guide by Lawrence Keith (found this to be COMPLETELY useless in studying and during the exam, despite multiple recommendations)
  • RCRA Training handbook from training courses I've taken.  (Didn't use during exam).
  • DOT Emergency Response Guidebook (didn't use during exam)
  • NCEES Environmental Reference (didn't use)
  • FE Environmental Reference (didn't use)

What books you actually used:

  • Environmental Engineering Reference Manual--this was the bulk of use in studying and during the exam.  I thought it was extremely valuable; let's just say required.
  • Intro to Environmental Engineering (Davis Cornwell)
  • Engineering Unit Conversions by Lindeberg


What books did you wish you brought:  I was a nut and bought nearly every book (within reason) that was recommended in this thread.  But I found only a few useful.  Some were highly recommended and I couldn't find a use for them during studying, but brought them to the exam anyway.  When I had time left at the end, I flipped through each of them again and tried like hell to find answers to the unknown trivia questions and STILL couldn't find them useful.  To answer the question, I don't know what books would have helped on those types of questions.  Luckily I passed and don't have to stress about it.

General impression about exam and format: The NCEES practice exams prepared me pretty well.  But like I mentioned above, it was the trivia questions that were impossible to prepare for.  The calculations were way easier than anything I practiced--in fact, I kept second guessing myself and wondering if I just completely bombed it. With the change to 80 questions, I felt there was PLENTY of time to answer the questions.  I left each session early (to beat the rush) after spending plenty of time on every question.  I still wonder how some of these trivia questions are to be answered accurately without reading every reference completely and having a photographic memory.  Some of the indices in the reference materials are better/worse than others so searching through can sometimes point you in the right direction, but other times it's futile.

Advice for future test takers:  Like others mentioned, you have to spend a ton of time getting to know your references to know what to use each one for.  I found some equations were solving for the same thing were easier to use from one reference vs. another.  I made sure to tab the easier one for use during the exam.  I also found differences in the way the units worked, etc. which were easier for ME.  Find what works for you and stick with it.   For instance, I hate converting units of concentration for air problems (ppm to micrograms/liter); I found a straightforward equation that just clicked with me and I used that for every problem that required this calculation. 

During the exam, I went through and solved the questions I knew how to do immediately.  Then I kept going back/forth through the exam working the rest.  You'll find plenty that you know right away, then you'll find those that after a couple of looks the solution becomes clear.  Don't get flustered by the ones that will take a long time to solve, just mark it for later and move on.

 

Good luck future test takers!

Edited by kmill23

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Thanks @radash33 for the up to date exam advice!  Very interesting, especially for your comments on the usefulness/uselessness of the new NCEES Enviro PE Reference Manual. I wonder what will happen when the test goes fully CBT and that's all you are allowed to have....

Congratulations from another PE who did not use study courses to pass! 

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I have a question for everyone who has taken some kind of review course and brought their notes to the exam!

how did you organize your class notes for the exam? I'm in PPI right now and theere are soooo many handouts/slides, and while they're useful, I'm trying to figure out how to best organize them. At first I was thinking a binder for each subject would be overkill but now I'm thinking maybe not? Thinking a binder for all water (that will be a big one), another for air, combining EH&S and site remediation, + one misc... is that crazy? anyone else have a good method? 

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"I still wonder how some of these trivia questions are to be answered accurately without reading every reference completely and having a photographic memory."

I agree.  I'm doing the NCEES practice exam and some of the word questions are just so far out it's insane.  Did you know that alfalfa and clover are legumes, and therefore should never receive nitrogen under nitrogen loading conditions?  What am I, a farmer or an engineer?

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On 9/11/2018 at 7:41 AM, vee043324 said:

I have a question for everyone who has taken some kind of review course and brought their notes to the exam!

how did you organize your class notes for the exam? I'm in PPI right now and theere are soooo many handouts/slides, and while they're useful, I'm trying to figure out how to best organize them. At first I was thinking a binder for each subject would be overkill but now I'm thinking maybe not? Thinking a binder for all water (that will be a big one), another for air, combining EH&S and site remediation, + one misc... is that crazy? anyone else have a good method? 

I did SoPE, I'm taking my notes arranged by class, i.e. Remediation, Waste water, Water Treatment, Air/Solid Waste, and PM (although I'm not doing the PM review, ran out of time and there will likely only be 2-3 questions max on the exam I'm thinking, so I'll take my chances on being able to find the answer in EERM or the notes).

Really I think whatever is most familiar for you and will allow you to find what you need to find the quickest.  If I started re-arranging things now I'd probably just confuse myself even more.  Keep it simple.

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19 hours ago, Hockey Eng said:

"I still wonder how some of these trivia questions are to be answered accurately without reading every reference completely and having a photographic memory."

I agree.  I'm doing the NCEES practice exam and some of the word questions are just so far out it's insane.  Did you know that alfalfa and clover are legumes, and therefore should never receive nitrogen under nitrogen loading conditions?  What am I, a farmer or an engineer?

Oh god, I shouldn't have gotten so excited about that clover question.  As some who lives in farming country/grew up listening to crop cycles and other gardeners I was like, "Clover!  That's a cover crop/rejuvenating crop!  That adds nitrogen!"  I think some of these questions are definitely put on the exam just to throw you off your groove!

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On 9/11/2018 at 9:41 AM, vee043324 said:

I have a question for everyone who has taken some kind of review course and brought their notes to the exam!

how did you organize your class notes for the exam? I'm in PPI right now and theere are soooo many handouts/slides, and while they're useful, I'm trying to figure out how to best organize them. At first I was thinking a binder for each subject would be overkill but now I'm thinking maybe not? Thinking a binder for all water (that will be a big one), another for air, combining EH&S and site remediation, + one misc... is that crazy? anyone else have a good method? 

I put all of my photocopied fully-worked example problems in a binder.  This was the most useful tool that I had...

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If you've ever worked with groundwater resources or constructed wetland design,  you might have known the alfalfa question,  maybe even more so if the term legume was used in the question.  😁 

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Of course I never posted the actual question...;) (wasn't related to groundwater resources or wetland construction - neither term used in the question).

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On 10/10/2018 at 7:08 PM, Hockey Eng said:

"I still wonder how some of these trivia questions are to be answered accurately without reading every reference completely and having a photographic memory."

I agree.  I'm doing the NCEES practice exam and some of the word questions are just so far out it's insane.  Did you know that alfalfa and clover are legumes, and therefore should never receive nitrogen under nitrogen loading conditions?  What am I, a farmer or an engineer?

Spotted, while flipping through Davis and Cornwell..

8B4855D3-3C87-439B-8B1D-5C7ADB8112F5.jpeg

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LOL OK everyone calm down ;) it was a sludge question (#138 of the NCEES Practice Exam AM if you really wanna look it up).

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