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Ramnares P.E.

How I Passed the Thermal / Fluid PE exam

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On 10/11/2015 at 11:15 PM, Audi driver, P.E. said:

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


Can you please give me the index. Thanks in advance

email: monir097@yahoodot.com

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5 hours ago, Monir said:

So question will be like attached image. One unit will be in bracket [ ].


Questions will not be like that. They will not provide the equivalent units in SI in parenthesis for English units problems or vice-versa. What you show here is actually two problems in one. So, you solve the problem with the given English units and then solve it again with the SI units for additional practice with a different system of units.

Mixed units (SI and English) in the same problem would be very rare. Please look at the official NCEES practice questions book for the most accurate representation of question format.

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This ^  

It has been my experience that for any one given question, the unit system will be consistent throughout.  The exam itself may have different unit systems used throughout in different problems, but no single question uses multiple unit systems (typically).

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On 9/6/2018 at 3:09 PM, Monir said:

Can you please give me the index. Thanks in advance

email: monir097@yahoodot.com


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On 9/6/2018 at 5:05 PM, Monir said:

Thank you emmajuwa for your response.

Yes I will be involved :)

So question will be like attached image. One unit will be in bracket [ ].


@Monir just a heads up, I don't think they would be asking questions like this. You gonna have to sweat a little bit with the real exam problems.

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Just wanted to thank the contributors to this thread very sincerely for guiding my test prep approach. I have been out of college since 1995 with an ME fluid and thermal sciences focus, and spent many years in combustion engineering on-site combined heat and power. This year I have changed career tracks to energy efficiency to follow a passion that I've always had to contribute to well designed buildings, so I decided to take the PE exam in HVAC/R rather than fluid and thermal. Just found out I passed. What a relief!

Never would have made it without Ramnares's original guidance and also the many subsequent posters who shared their methods.

Best wishes to all and thank you again

Ben Toby

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i got the result notice , i passed OCT 2018 TFS

thanks for the contributors to this thread, some points that may be beneficial to the exam takers:

- i started by a quick review reading through the MERM . to refresh my mind i solved the problems (examples) of the basic concepts of fluid , thermodynamics....etc, i tried not to miss any topic listed in the exam specs , in some areas i made further readings in my text books (fluid mech, thermo and heat transfer)

- SMS and lindeburg practice exam was  useful made me find the concepts and study the important topics but many of the problems is far difficult. and in my opinion is not PE exam problems, anyway i did them. (try to solve the problem , see the solution , study the concept in MERM, highlight the equation, mark the page)

- NCEES 2016 practice exam is extremely important, i left it  to the end and try to do it in the same exam environment (time and references).

- slay the PE has some interesting problems, i used it the same way i did with SMS and lindeburg  , i didn't buy the solutions.

- i made my own folder/sheet of the important formulas and concepts, that was the most useful and most used reference helped me a lot especially as a time saver

- the MERM, my own folder/sheets, ASME steam tables was almost all i have  used

- unit conversion table available free on engproguides was enough for me, some minor units are missed and i added them while studying 3 or 4 ones as far as i remember

almost 4 months of preparation, may be two to three hours daily after work and weekends around 8 hrs/day

my advice, it is not useful to bring a lot of reference materials unless you already used them during your preparation and know particularly how to use them and why you are bringing them , you will not find a lot of time to search and read during the exam.

one important thing is the  concentration and how to stay focused for 4 hrs morning and the most exhausting is the 4 hrs after noon so be prepared and take one day at least before the exam as a rest , sleep well........etc





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Big thanks to all contributors and advisors in this group. I passed the TFS exam, 88 percentile. For engineers who are planning, this forum is a very good resource of getting advice. My quick tips for those who are planning to appear in next exam -

  • Concentrate on getting your concepts clear. Exam is not hard if your concepts are clear.
  • Once your concepts are clear next thing is practice. As time is limited, you need speed to solve problems in time.
  • Take your personal notes throughout your study. Organize them in a binder. It was a life saver for me.

I carried only four books to the exam -

  1. MERM
  2. Personal Notes Binder
  3. Unit Conversion Book by Lindeburg
  4. Steam Table by Keenan
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I will add my experience as well. I hesitated to take the exam for years because my degree doesn't like up exactly with my work experience, so I didn't feel confident I would be able to be successful in either subject. I have a Chemical Engineering degree but my job has always been mechanical engineer. Fast forward 14 years and I'm now a wife and mom  to elementary aged kids. When I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for the exam, I knew I had to use my time effectively. I also refused to sequester myself away from my family. So I studied amid all of the noise and distraction. I think this actually helped me tune everything and everyone else out on exam day and keep my focus.

I started studying in April. I bought a copy of MERM, 13th edition. I didn't spend any time simply reading through. I knew I wouldn't really absorb the information that way. I bought the NCEES Practice Exam and started working my way through the problems without looking at the solutions unless I was completely stumped. The first time through took me a long time (a month or more), and I was discouraged, but I kept going. After I made it all the way through the NCEES practice exam, I started on the Slay the PE practice exam. I did purchase the solutions, which were well explained. The Slay the PE exam was more difficult than the NCEES practice exam, and I am glad I did it second (otherwise I may have given up). I did the same thing with this one - I took my time working the problems. After I finished Slay the PE, I worked through NCEES again and it went much more quickly the second time. Then Slay the PE again. After that, I bought the Engineering Pro Guides practice exam. The difficulty of it was in line with the NCEES practice exam, and it was a confidence booster for me. By the time I finished EngProGuides, I was about 4 weeks out from the exam. At this point, I started over and worked through NCEES again (in pen) and EngProGuides again (also in pen). I didn't have time to work through Slay the PE again, so I photocopied my previous work on those.

Through all of this, I used MERM as my only reference. I tabbed every relevant chapter and wrote the chapter number and title on the tabs, both front and back so I could flip to it easily no matter the page to which I had the book already open. Each section got a different color. I also tabbed the appendices I found myself using frequently. I bought alphabet tabs and tabbed the index at the start of each section. I used this book so much that I had to reinforce the spine with clear packing tape to keep it from falling apart. I now know it backwards and forwards. During the exam, this and the Engineering Unit Conversion book were the only two that I used.

If I had to do it over again, I would have purchased more practice problems instead of repeating the same ones over and over again. The more you work problems stated in different ways, the faster you will be able to recognize the method you need to use during the exam.

I'm also very glad that I studied using the calculator that I used on exam day. I have used a TI-89 since high school and of course it is not allowed during the PE exam. The TI-30x that I used had a very different feel to the keys and I couldn't type on it the way I do my regular calculator. I made a lot of errors in the beginning of my studying simply because I had to get used to the differences. It would have been a major issue if I hadn't gotten that worked out before exam day.

The references I took with me were:

MERM 13th edition

Engineering Unit Conversions

Crane Technical Paper 410

Cameron Hydraulic Data

Steam Generation and Use

NCEES Practice Exam

Slay the PE Practice Exam

Engineering Pro Guides Practice Exam

11x17 psychrometric charts

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My path has been long and winding, and it's been a long time goal to secure the P.E. registration. Now that it's done, here is the method I used:

I graduated BSME in 1993 and MS Civil Engr in 1995. Worked about six years as a combustion engineer for a gas turbine manufacturer. About 18 years as a Sales Engineer and Sales Manager since then, in distributed energy and cogeneration.

This year I switched career paths into high efficiency building systems, so I decided to take the HVAC/R exam (in which I have basic knowledge but very little hands on practical experience) rather than the Thermal and Fluids exam, which would have been much more relevant to what I've done in my career. But I really wanted this to be a learning experience for my new career direction hence the HVAC/R decision.

So, I had a lot of cobwebs to dust off. To prepare for the FE exam I first completed "Calculus Refresher for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam" (Peter Schiavone 2000), in its entirety including all practice problems, took about three months. I then worked through FE Mechanical Review Manual (Lindeburg) again in its entirety including all practice problems. Did not do any practice exam repetition or timed practice tests. Felt comfortable passing the FE exam in April 2018.

Came upon Ramnares's post in May of 2018, just after completing the FE. Having just completed the FE my technical mind felt sharpened by the prep leading up to that exam. I followed the Ramnares method as follows:

* HVAC and Refrigeration Six Minute Problems (Keith Elder 2017) - five times in a row. Took my time and used the MERM a lot for reference the first one or two times. After the fifth time my speed was not blazing (about 4 hours total), but sufficient to be confident that I could handle this number of questions on the actual exam in the time allowed. Two hours per day, 6 days a week, 3 weeks

* NCEES PE Mechanical HVAC/R Practice Exam (NCEES 2016) - five times in a row. Again, the first time through I referenced the MERM a lot, second time less so, and so on. On the fifth time through I completed the full exam in about four hours. Two hours per day, 6 days a week, 3 weeks

* MERM companion practice problems - Chapter 38 (Psychrometrics), Chapter 39 (Cooling Towers and Fluid Coolers), Chapter 40 (Ventilation), Chapter 41 (Fans, Ductwork, and Terminal Devices), Chapter 42 (Heating Load), Chapter 43 (Cooling Load), Chapter 44 (AC Systems and Controls). Treated these chapters like an exam, in that I completed all of the problems in these chapters with a five minute time limit per problem. Two hours per day, 6 days a week, 3 weeks

Total post-FE prep time was approximately 120 hours. I know others have done much more, but for me this was the right balance. My youngest has just left for college, so my wife and I have a quiet home. I've always been a morning person, so my study time was 6 to 8 am every day, before beginning my work day. Sundays off to decompress and rest.

I will say that the ASHRAE books were crucial to my prep, and also on the day of the test. I'm not sure if it's unique to HVAC/R, but the MERM did not contain all the information needed to answer either the practice exam problems or the actual exam problems. Having to dig into the ASHRAE books during my sample exam prep was good practice for me, because it sure was necessary on the day of the exam!

References I brought with me to the exam:

Purchased resources:


Engineering Unit Conversions, Lindeburg 4th edition

ASHRAE 62.1 Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality

ASHRAE 90.01 2016 Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings

ASHRAE Fundamentals 2001

ASHRAE HVAC Applications 1995

ASHRAE HVAC Systems and Equipment 2012

ASHRAE Refrigeration 2006

11 x 17 psychrometric charts

Hand made resources, all in a single medium-sized binder:

Tabbed the MERM - no special method, just nice and organized in a way that worked for me

Photocopied the MERM index and the ASHRAE master index (the index in the back of all four of the ASHRAE references is the same)

Practice problems - wrote out about 70% of my practice problems in my own handwriting and made and index by type of problem, where I could find the solution, etc.

Notes on the references:

* Just bite the bullet and buy the full set of psych charts from ASHRAE early in your test prep. Make copies and mark them up as you go. They have the protractor and dual units for moisture content on the right side vertical axis, both of which are useful/crucial.

* I would love to have had the most current version of all of the ASHRAE books, but come on, they're super expensive. The reason I bought the 1995, 2001, and 2006 versions is they are available online used for $20 and I simply couldn't afford $200 each for new editions.

Well that's about it! Now I'm wondering what to do with myself next! 

Best wishes to all




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