How I Passed the Thermal / Fluid PE exam - Mechanical - Engineer Boards
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Ramnares P.E.

How I Passed the Thermal / Fluid PE exam

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Having just received the good news that I've passed the PE exam, it's only fair for me to pass along the knowledge, tips, advice that I've used that ultimately proved successful. I've been a lurker on the board for a few years now and gathered a lot of information before I decided to take the exam.

I'm not saying that my approach is correct for everyone. Others have passed using different approaches and methods. I started studying for the October exam in the spring and got burnt out. I started back seriously studying (every day) at the beginning of July.

Here's what worked for me:

1. Based on the work I've done daily, as well as the subjects I've studied in Grad school, I knew in advance that I would be taking the Thermal/Fluids. Decide what afternoon session you want to take and focus on that. Do not waste time trying to master all three major disciplines.

2. Once I applied and got my letter of approval, I purchased the MERM, Thermal/Fluids Six Minute Solutions, NCEES 2008 practice exam, and NCEES 2001 practice exam. The 2008 exam was updated in 2011. The actual content is the same. The 2008 exam contained all three disciplines. The 2011 book simply split them apart and sold them individually. The NCEES 2001 exam is very difficult to get hold of but well worth the effort and money.

3. I prepped for this exam with the attitude that it was a one-or-none deal. I was only going to take this exam once. At the time I started prepping for the exam I had a one-year old son to deal with AND I was pursuing a second MS degree. Why am I telling you this? You need buy-in from your spouse/significant other. My wife and parents spent countless hours while I studied late into the night and all day on weekends.

4. I did not read the MERM. I skimmed through the MERM to get a general idea where the sections were located and what information was in the Appendix.

5. Copy the MERM appendix and have it bound separately. It will save you a lot of time during the exam and make it much easier during practice. It will also save the life-time of your MERM binding. Print and bind the Index also.

6. I began by working the Six Minute Solutions book. Do not be afraid to look at the answers if you get stuck the first time through. As I was working the SMS, I would find the formulas in the MERM and highlight them AND record them in my notes. If I didn't have a clue how to work the question, I would read the solution, find all the equations, and work through it using the solution. Highlight your equations in the MERM and in your notes for easy reference.
I worked through the SMS 7 times before I got 100% correct under 8 hours. In fact, by the time I was at the end of my preparation, I was working through the SMS in about 4 hours and getting 100%. A lot of it at that point will seem like rote memorization, don't be scared of it. As you're working through the problems, read and understand the methodology. Work the problems over and over again.

7. Once I completed the SMS, I moved on to the NCEES 2008/2011 exam. Again, I worked this using the same methodology as above. I got 100% correct, under 8 hours after my 5th attempt or so. Use the same method of writing down the equations you did not know and reading the methodology.

8. Worked the NCEES 2001 exam using the same approach described in (6) and (7) above. You'll see a lot of posters saying keep an exam to test yourself the last week or so. I found that working as many problems as possible with as much time left to prep was the best strategy.

9. Now I moved on to the MERM. I worked all the main sections noted on the NCEES breakdown. Skip the math, project management, plant engineering, statics etc. I worked the Fluids, Heat Transfer, Thermo, HVAC, Machine Design sections. I did NOT work any of the 1-hour time limit problems. I was able to work all the problems in those sections twice. Do not be afraid if you get stuck and need to read through the solutions.

10. By this time, I had approximately 10 days left before the exam. I worked the SMS and each of the NCEES exams the first three days. I re-worked the MERM problems in the Fluid, Heat Transfer, and Thermo sections.

11. I went through the MERM, using the notes that I made as I studied (here's where the highlighting comes in handy) and tabbed what I felt was important. At this point I knew the MERM and the bound appendix intimately so I didn't feel the need to tab that much. I certainly tabbed the major sections of the MERM and a few diagrams. Follow the now famous Shaggy tabbing method on this site.

12. I took Thursday (the day before the exam) off. I was up early (normal time I leave for work 0500) and did one run through of the SMS, NCEES 2008, and NCEES 2011. I drove to the exam site and ensured I knew where the building was. Then I drove home and packed my bag. I took a back-pack. I took the MERM, the MERM appendix I bound, Steam Tables, Lindeburg conversion book, sample exams, 2 calculators, and ear-plugs. I put my money, approval letter, and ID cards in a zip lock bag. Then I did absolutely nothing exam related the rest of the day. I took my son to play-time, watched a few movies etc.

13. Exam day I was up early and went to the site. I finished both sections (AM and PM) with over an hour to spare. I did NOT go through and rate questions etc. I simply worked the questions in order. If I didn't feel satisfied with an answer, or if I had to guess, I put a mark next to it and moved on. At the end, I came back and re-worked the questions I had doubts on. I still left the exam room very early both sessions. I felt that leaving the AM session early and giving myself extra time for lunch allowed me to clear my head and prep for the PM session.

14. Went through the now well known process of self-doubt and anger at the lack of timely results.

15. Got my results today. Wrote this up as a thank you EB for your help and support. Thanked EB financially on getting the good news.

Feel free to ask any questions and best of luck prepping for April 2015.

Edited by Ramnares P.E.
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I hated the TFS Six Min Solutions. I read the merm and worked most of the practice problems. That worked for me. All good stuff Ram.

The fate of my SMS book TBA.

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Thanks P-E. I saw mixed reviews on the SMS prior to purchasing it. A few people had issues with the type of problems and solutions presented in the Thermal/Fluids SMS. Overall I thought it was good preparation for the exam, particularly when combined with the NCEES practice exams. I don't think the SMS, by itself, would be adequate preparation.


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Congrats Ram! Now go celebrate by getting into santa arguments :P


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I think Ramnares' method is solid - it's pretty similar to they way I did it (my approach was mostly based on advice from this forum).



I agree that the NCEES practice exams and SMS were closest to the actual exam. I felt the actual afternoon section was a little more difficult than the NCEES practice exam, but that may have just been due to test anxiety.



The MERM companion practice problems are somewhat demoralizing, but I do think they are useful. To echo what people have said in the past, do the MERM practice problems (in the MERM itself and the separate practice problem book), but keep in mind they are generally more complex than the actual exam. I used the 2007 (I think) editions of these books (except SMS, I bought the new one) and they worked for me on the 2014 exam.



In my opinion, aside from the MERM, my most valuable reference was a ring binder where I compiled the most commonly used unit conversions and equations I came across while preparing for the exam. I made these sheets after studying for a couple of months, and they were a huge time saver on the exam.


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It is not too late. If you follow a schedule rigidly starting January you should be able to do everything I did during my preparation. The key is consistency. Some days will be harder than others. Don't get discouraged if you don't cover much the first few days. Once you get the ball rolling you'll be fine.

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Great post! An idea where I could get a copy of the 2001 HVAC exam or other Mechanical guides? I am willing to fork over the cash.....



Thanks for sharing your story. Very much appreciated.


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The 2001 is pretty difficult to find. I have already been contacted by someone looking to purchase my copy. If they aren't interested, I'll let you know.



The current mechanical material is available on the 'other' board here.

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I used about 11 weeks to prepare and passed the exam.



Doing the sample exam questions is the most important.



During the exam, i answered about 60 questions and guessed about 20.



A bit surprised there're quite a bit mechanical system design questions(beam, gear, weld...).



I used the following 4 books:



Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam 13th Edition, Lindeburg



http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mechanical-Engineering-Reference-Manual-for-the-PE-Exam-13th-Edition-Lindeburg-/251762137267?pt=US_Texbook_Education&hash=item3a9e3158b3



Mechanical-PE-Sample-Examination-by-Michael-R-Lindeburg-2004-Paperback



http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mechanical-PE-Sample-Examination-by-Michael-R-Lindeburg-2004-Paperback-/251763247549?pt=US_Texbook_Education&hash=item3a9e4249bd



PE-Mechanical-Thermal-and-Fluids-Systems-Sample-Questions-and-Solutions



http://www.ebay.com/itm/PE-Mechanical-Thermal-and-Fluids-Systems-Sample-Questions-and-Solutions-/251763244123?pt=US_Texbook_Education&hash=item3a9e423c5b



Six-Minute-Solutions-For-Mechanical-PE-Exam-Thermal-And-Fluids-Systems-Problems



http://www.ebay.com/itm/Six-Minute-Solutions-For-Mechanical-PE-Exam-Thermal-And-Fluids-Systems-Problems2-/251762151272?pt=US_Texbook_Education&hash=item3a9e318f68



Good luck!


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I learned one tip in my study course that I thought made the entire course payment worthwhile. I could have skipped every class, just paid for that one piece of information and been satisfied that my money was well spent. If you want to know what it is just let me know.


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I learned one tip in my study course that I thought made the entire course payment worthwhile. I could have skipped every class, just paid for that one piece of information and been satisfied that my money was well spent. If you want to know what it is just let me know.

Does it involve Viagra?

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I learned one tip in my study course that I thought made the entire course payment worthwhile. I could have skipped every class, just paid for that one piece of information and been satisfied that my money was well spent. If you want to know what it is just let me know.

Does it involve Viagra?

Haha nope, just how to exponentially increase your odds of guessing correctly if you don't know the answer.

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I learned one tip in my study course that I thought made the entire course payment worthwhile. I could have skipped every class, just paid for that one piece of information and been satisfied that my money was well spent. If you want to know what it is just let me know.

Does it include a plane and a treadmill?

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I learned one tip in my study course that I thought made the entire course payment worthwhile. I could have skipped every class, just paid for that one piece of information and been satisfied that my money was well spent. If you want to know what it is just let me know.

Does it involve Viagra?

Haha nope, just how to exponentially increase your odds of guessing correctly if you don't know the answer.

I see.

post-28302-0-07507600-1420067350.jpg

Edited by power-engineer

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I learned one tip in my study course that I thought made the entire course payment worthwhile. I could have skipped every class, just paid for that one piece of information and been satisfied that my money was well spent. If you want to know what it is just let me know.

Does it involve Viagra?

Haha nope, just how to exponentially increase your odds of guessing correctly if you don't know the answer.

Exponentially. That is a tall claim.

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Does anybody who passed the Thermal/fluids test form April mind sharing what they did to pass? I'm trying not to get burned out from study with about a month left to go


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Can't imagine what folks did to prep for April '15 was much different than my write up above. Don't get discouraged now. You're just three weeks or so away from the exam. Hit the books hard now and relax later. You do NOT want to take this exam again. Best of luck.

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If you've studied well, then you need to relax and get organized. Then refresh on problem areas once more and pass it!

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Does anyone have a copy (perhaps in PDF format) of the Appendix for MERM 13? I have the index.


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That would be nice. Let me know if you found one.

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