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Retaking the Civil PE exam, how could NCEES help us better?

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Hi All. I've retaken the Civil PE Exam with the Geotech depth 3 times now. Every time I change my preparation and, after this last time, my test score did not improve. This leads me to believe I am making a common mistake I can't figure out. I have never been a great test taker, but I study hard, have multiple binders of problems, and never feel stressed on the exam (until my results come). In college, we could review exams to see where we are messing up. NCEES won't let anyone review their exam and, if you live in a certain seven states like me, you can't even have your exam manually re-scored. I was in an email correspondence with a member of the NCEES organization concerning changing policies to better assist those retaking the exam. They basically said I'm out of luck and closed the matter on me without addressing my concerns. 

Here's how I see it.

1. The diagnostics do little good at showing areas of improvement. I switch on doing good and bad on the same subjects with every exam. Also, I do not know if I am doing worse on computation problems or theory-based problems. That is important to me because one is solved through more problems and the other is solved with experience. What if NCEES provided a better break down of computation and theory-based problems on the diagnostics?

2. There needs to be a general civil option for the in-depth section. I worked as a Geotech for a year and a general civil for almost 3 years now. My firm is a land development firm and, thus, provides an overview of every civil discipline. I, therefore, am not obtaining the necessary in-depth professionalism the NCEES organizations says I should because my civil career is not one set discipline. When I asked why NCEES does not offer a general civil discipline, they refused to answer my question. What do you all think? I've taken the Geotech depth and even if I had stayed at my first firm, I would not be at the level of most of those questions that are asked. I think an extension of the morning exam should be offered for the afternoon as well to support all civil disciplines. The EIT exam offers a general option, why not the same for the PE exam?

3. By not reviewing the exam, I feel like I am going in blind with every test, hoping my new study preparation works better. I was told the questions are intellectual property. What about signing a document stating we won't share the questions with anyone else? All three exams I have taken have been completely different. I was told people who continue to fail are not making a change to their "material preparation." I strongly believe most people are like me and continue making significant changes each time they study for the exam, but are making mistakes they have no idea about. I need to see my mistakes to be able to adjust them. Reviewing the exam I guarantee would lead to me passing it.

I am not sure if anyone has taken their concerns to NCEES or questioned about reviewing their exam. I know there are ranges of people from passing the first time to taking 5 tries to pass. I'm tired of spending the money and dealing with the headache and frustration wit re-taking this exam, especially when it seems like NCEES could assist better at providing us with the keys to success.

Thoughts?

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I am sorry to hear about your predicament but from what I understand that NCEES does not allow reviews to protect the integrity of the tests. I don't know the mechanics but I am assuming that they are telling us the truth. Now, instead of fighting the system, when don't we come up with a way to prepare so that you can pass the exams. The PE exams are to prove minimum proficiency and hundreds of engineers pass the exams. You should be able to pass the exam if you stop seeing it as adversary and instead see it as an opportunity to step into the next level of your professional career.

As you stated, You do land development. Even though it encompasses almost every Civil Engineering subject taught in school, which area do you work in most... geometrics... traffic... water resources? Or maybe just choose a subject that you were good in college and decide that it will be depth topic. I know of a number of engineers who have PEs in Civil and Electrical Engineering and and for some of them, their undegrad engineering degree was neither of those two subjects. So, it is all about what you can learn on the job and how you can use the opportunity to take the exams to move your career forward.

If you haven't taken a course, it is time to bite the bullet and enroll for a course. My recommendation is to go with EET. I was their student, and recently took the CA Civil Special exams successfully. They will help you prepare for the exam, and also teach you test taking strategies. As much cliche as it sounds, test taking strategy needs to be learned and mastered for particular tests. The PE is no college exam, so the strategy is different. Go ahead and take some time off. Then start preparing with the help of a course. You will see that you will be able to add that PE moniker after your name soon after you take the test next time.

Best of luck.

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Very good response Maji.

megs19 - With all due respect, NCEES is not in the business of teaching you what your strengths and weaknesses are with respect to whether you are ready to practice engineering...on your own...to protect the public.

The exams are based entirely on the test plan specifications which are available to anyone on the NCEES web site.  Those specifications are determined by the an analysis of the results of an occupational study (NCEES refers to these as PAKS studies) of currently practicing professionals.  Those specifications not only inform the test taker what to expect on the exam in terms of content and how much, but it also dictates to NCEES the content that must be included when compiling and publishing the exam.  NCEES is bound by those specifications just as much as the test takers are so it is fair and appropriate for everyone and they cannot simply change policy on this.

One suggestion which I have found works very well for people overcoming their deficiencies...obtain a copy of the test plan specifications and have two highlighters ready.  It works best to use a blue one and a yellow one.

1. Using the blue highlighter, go through each test plan category and highlight every topic that you ONLY have obtained education (i.e., class, seminar, self reading, etc.) on.

2. Using the yellow highlight, go through each test plan category again and highlight every topic that you have ACTUAL experience in doing at work.

It's in your best interest to be truthful to yourself on these.  Anything highlighted by both, essentially now green, is your strength and most likely requires less of your attention than other topics.  Anything highlighted only Blue indicates that you may have the basic concepts down but have not had the opportunity to actually apply it in practice.  This may had worked out fine for the FE exam, but the PE exam is venturing into the practice-based and having actual experience greatly increases your chances of being ready for the material.  Anything highlighted only Yellow represents your actual experience which can be good, but you should brush up on understanding the why you do things the way you are supposed to.  Anything not highlighted any color represents your weakest areas and which require your utmost attention in being fully prepared for the PE exam.  That may be more experience, more education, or both.  This helps you address your strengths and weaknesses and adjust accordingly just like you will need to do when you are practicing.

 

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Megs19,

I'm in the same boat as you are.  I've taken it 3 times already for Civil Construction and haven't passed yet.  I'm just like you, who like to see what I did wrong to know what area I need to improve in.  It was great in college but definitely doesn't help with this exam.  I'm not a good standardized test taker either so even with SAT I was never good at.  I've taken it April '14, October '14, and April '15 and decided to take a break from it.  I was trying to take April '16 but I ended up missing the enrollment dead line for the state not NCEES so I wasn't able to take it.  I'm all signed up for April '17 and I'm planning on taking in Civil Transportation this time.  After speaking with other people, they convinced me on switching and starting over.  Anyways, as much as I want to blame and ask NCEES to change it, I don't think it'll change.  We'll just have to find a different approach to it. 

For me, I want to hear more from the repeaters who's taken the test more than once.  I thank all the advices we get, but I really don't want to hear it from the people who passed it first time.  So is there any repeaters who passed that can give us some pointers on what you changed and did?  Thanks!

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12 hours ago, Tangelo said:

Megs19,

I'm in the same boat as you are.  I've taken it 3 times already for Civil Construction and haven't passed yet.  I'm just like you, who like to see what I did wrong to know what area I need to improve in.  It was great in college but definitely doesn't help with this exam.  I'm not a good standardized test taker either so even with SAT I was never good at.  I've taken it April '14, October '14, and April '15 and decided to take a break from it.  I was trying to take April '16 but I ended up missing the enrollment dead line for the state not NCEES so I wasn't able to take it.  I'm all signed up for April '17 and I'm planning on taking in Civil Transportation this time.  After speaking with other people, they convinced me on switching and starting over.  Anyways, as much as I want to blame and ask NCEES to change it, I don't think it'll change.  We'll just have to find a different approach to it. 

For me, I want to hear more from the repeaters who's taken the test more than once.  I thank all the advices we get, but I really don't want to hear it from the people who passed it first time.  So is there any repeaters who passed that can give us some pointers on what you changed and did?  Thanks!

But yet we all managed to limp across the finish line on our 4 years of college which have countless of exams and quizzes. I used to look at the PE is just another standardized exam but after I took it, it's slightly different. It has the real life experience type of questions involved

I think the point here is to understand the subject you are learning and learn how to apply and where to find the information when you need it instead of grinding it through.

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I felt like the construction exam I took was basically a more in depth morning session. If you did well on the morning portion each time, it might be something to consider.

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3 hours ago, iwire said:

But yet we all managed to limp across the finish line on our 4 years of college which have countless of exams and quizzes. I used to look at the PE is just another standardized exam but after I took it, it's slightly different. It has the real life experience type of questions involved

I think the point here is to understand the subject you are learning and learn how to apply and where to find the information when you need it instead of grinding it through.

All the tests and quizzes you took in college were knowledge-based which is similar to the FE.  The PE exam is practice-based.  Definitely NOT the same rationale.

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I thank you all for the responses. I want to address and clarify some points.

Maji, I have not (or did not) look at the PE Exam as adversary until it has become a hinderance to my advancement in my career. When you are spending months that lead to years of studying for an exam and throwing chunks of money trying to find a study method that finally clicks, you can't help but want to find a different way. No one learns the same and yes 60% of people can pass the PE Exam first try, but that other 40% matters too and they are the 40% that learn different. I have enrolled in a courses for the Seismic exam at EET. Not surveying yet, but I will. The National exam is very different. It is incredibly broad and it's near impossible to practice every problem that could be provided. As for my discipline, I have been doing Geotechnical because it was my best subject in college and I've had a year of work experience in the field. It clearly has not done me any good.

CAPLS, I understand what you are saying and I have studied the NCEES practice book, printed out the analysis pages, and practiced problems until I'm exhausted. I do not take tests like a normal person. It is incredibly hard to explain, but when I take an exam I feel confident and can work out every problem. Yet I get back my exams and see my diagnostics and am always in shock.

Tangelo, you understand this the most. My last attempt is to do what you are doing and switch my in-depth portion. I fear to do this because I'm heavily invested in Geotech, but clearly I am missing something. However, what do I have to lose at this point. I want to hear from repeat test takers too. First-timers don't understand. I read the boards and did what the first-timers said they did to prepare, but it did not work for me.

Honestly, I am at a lost as to what to do because I seem to flip-flop on every exam. Subjects I did poor on before I tend to excel at the next exam, but the areas I excelled at I then fail. The first time taking the exam I admit it was difficult. A wake up call, even though I had spent over 4 months preparing for it. The second exam I felt even more prepared and walked out of the exam confident I passed. You can imagine my surprise with the results. This third exam I had timing down, could work out every problem, and even gave myself time to review all of them. Yet I received only 1 point better than my second exam. I was no longer sad, but livid. The score indicated to me that I am making a common mistake and have no idea what it is. All three exams were very different from the last. I could tell you the layout of each and which types of questions were asked and which weren't. I could probably even tell you how to go about solving most problems as I wrote down what I remembered and showed them to co-workers who said I was on the right path.

Thus my argument of how the NCEES can better help the 40% figure out a way to pass. I'll toss out the idea of reviewing an exam for now, but adjusting the diagnostics to show a separation for theory-based and computation questions and offer a general civil discipline seems easy. Why can't things change to help us more? I'm upwards to $4,000 on this exam trying to pass. I don't want to give up. But I see why many do. You just run out of money, ideas, and overall patience. Another engineer lost. The PE Exam does not indicate a good engineer, just like the SAT does not indicate a smart student. I understand you all want to help figure out why I can't pass. Please continue to indulge me with what I have told you. I am willing to hear all suggestions whether I agree with them or not.

Thank you.

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I don't think this will help you any because I think that at this point the best way NCEES could help is by letting you review the exam you took. I don't see them doing that. I don't see them breaking down the diagnosis any further either. I've only taken it once but I understand your situation. I have friends and co-workers who are in the same boat and I don't think that they are less competent for it. But, in their case, I've noticed a common trend. 1. They were highly specialized in college in one subject matter even in undergrad, 2. They keep taking the test like it's a marathon, 3. They've been pigeon-holed in their career doing one thing heavily and often in a field other than what they're taking the afternoon exam.

From what I read, you've done geotech for 1 year. I can say that this is probably not the best subject for you to focus in the afternoon granted the morning portions seem to be heavily peppered with Geotech over the last few exams. I've been in this field 10 years out of undergrad and I only had real geotech exposure over the last 4-5 years. Had I taken the test then, I think it would have been a struggle because most of what I got on my test required field experience, lab experience and hands-on design experience. I did no serious design work until the last 3 years. I now understand why every co-worker I knew on the East coast took a prep course. There's no way that they knew enough to pass this test because it's so broad and by the time we were working as geotechs, we were doing no geotech regardless of what the sign on the building said. We were mostly environmental and construction.

A lot of geotech is science mixed with a little magic sometimes. I remember being really confused on that test until I could draw on some old case study or personal experience to eliminate the wrong answer. There were always two of them that made complete sense. And the step to the answer might be right but in the end it's the experience that helped with crossing out the wrong answer. We can't discuss exam questions but I remember one in particular that I know I got right only because I ran a bunch of triax tests a long time ago and it wasn't even about the testing procedure itself.

I'm thinking that you might be better off switching to a different topic. That should help with my second thought that you reset your brain. The people I know keep taking this test every cycle. I personally don't think that's enough time for someone to unlearn some habits. When I started studying, I thought I had it all down. There were a bunch of mistakes that I made that were always recurring on my practice tests. I had to make myself a "Do not do" cheat sheet and review it before each practice and on exam day. My thought is... studying every 3 months after one exam, one is bound to build on what they already know or think they know. So if what they know has some fault, they're just building up on faulty base. One co-worker told me it's hard to not keep going. I get it. Personally, I'd just take one cycle off, enjoy life then start over. Taking an exam prep class might be another way to go about it but that might not be in your plans after having spent so much already.

I hope you figure out what works this time. It's easy for the rest of us to give you advice when we're not in your shoes but maybe one, or a combination of those, will resonate.

Good luck!

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As a 3x tester who passed this past October I can offer my  thoughts...

  1. I took electrical, a military buddy of mine told me they taught him in military to write down all the questions you remember as soon as you finish the exam (in your car, at home etc). You will remember types and styles of problems to practice at home and they will be on the exam again.
  2. As a 3 time taker, i can honestly say many of the questions were the same each go around.  Obviously i dont want to get specific here, but they were always similar.  
  3. The diagnostics tells you how you did per section.  You really need to average 70 in each subject or offsett whatever you did poorly in with something you do exceptionally in. i.e you can afford to skip an entire section if you know that time is put to better use acing somingthing you are currently doing mediocre in.
  4. What have been your scores to date?  If you are in the 45+ correct, you are in the ballpark to pass, you need to study more/do more problems.
  5. How long have you been studying per cycle?  I have read 300 hours.  But i have a family with small kids and a full time job, i could only fit in 144-170 hours each time i took it. That is probably one of the reasons it took 3x to pass.
  6. Are you taking a review course?  I took a review course the last two times i took the exam.  First time no course.  2nd time, course i listened to lectures and did problems.  3rd time, very limited time with lectures (just specific topic specific) and ALL PROBLEMS.
  7. Are you reading every problem during the exam, ie not running out of time? if you are blind guessing 10+ problems in each of the am and pm sections you arent going to pass.

 

It sucks i get it.  But if you are in 45+ right, you are close. I wouldnt give up.

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10 hours ago, megs19 said:

I thank you all for the responses. I want to address and clarify some points.

CAPLS, I understand what you are saying and I have studied the NCEES practice book, printed out the analysis pages, and practiced problems until I'm exhausted. I do not take tests like a normal person. It is incredibly hard to explain, but when I take an exam I feel confident and can work out every problem. Yet I get back my exams and see my diagnostics and am always in shock.

Just to clarify...I wasn't referring to the practice books.  I was referring to the test plan specifications that NCEES publishes on their web site.

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As a 3x tester who passed this past October I can offer my  thoughts...

  1. I took electrical, a military buddy of mine told me they taught him in military to write down all the questions you remember as soon as you finish the exam (in your car, at home etc). You will remember types and styles of problems to practice at home and they will be on the exam again.
  2. As a 3 time taker, i can honestly say many of the questions were the same each go around.  Obviously i dont want to get specific here, but they were always similar.  
  3. The diagnostics tells you how you did per section.  You really need to average 70 in each subject or offsett whatever you did poorly in with something you do exceptionally in. i.e you can afford to skip an entire section if you know that time is put to better use acing somingthing you are currently doing mediocre in.
  4. What have been your scores to date?  If you are in the 45+ correct, you are in the ballpark to pass, you need to study more/do more problems.
  5. How long have you been studying per cycle?  I have read 300 hours.  But i have a family with small kids and a full time job, i could only fit in 144-170 hours each time i took it. That is probably one of the reasons it took 3x to pass.
  6. Are you taking a review course?  I took a review course the last two times i took the exam.  First time no course.  2nd time, course i listened to lectures and did problems.  3rd time, very limited time with lectures (just specific topic specific) and ALL PROBLEMS.
  7. Are you reading every problem during the exam, ie not running out of time? if you are blind guessing 10+ problems in each of the am and pm sections you arent going to pass.
 

It sucks i get it.  But if you are in 45+ right, you are close. I wouldnt give up.

I also finally pass this October after taking the test 3 times prior. I took Civil Transportation all four times. This time honestly the only thing different I did was study with other coworkers. I also focus more on the morning questions then afternoon in my preparation. I never looked at my prior diagnostic test results cause that didn't help me last time. I focus preparing for the theory type questions.

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There are some excellent answers/responses in here, especially Maji and CAPLS.  But I disagree with the emphasis on "real life" practice/experience needed to pass the PE exam.  Perhaps sad, but it is true that the exams are very book/text based.  You can learn all you need to know to pass the 5 civil depth modules from books and practice problems.  This has been demonstrated time and again by examinees choosing depth modules partial or fully outside of their conventional fields of practice and still passing.  With the proper preparation, I'm convinced that any of us could take any of the five modules and pass.  Don't dwell on your experience or lack thereof, just pick a module, jump in, and give it your all, and you will pass. 

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There are some excellent answers/responses in here, especially Maji and CAPLS.  But I disagree with the emphasis on "real life" practice/experience needed to pass the PE exam.  Perhaps sad, but it is true that the exams are very book based.  You can learn all you need to know to pass the 5 depth modules from books and practice problems.  This has been demonstrated time and again by examinees successfully choosing depth modules partial or fully outside of their conventional fields of practice and still passing.  With the proper preparation, I'm convinced that any of us could take any of the five modules and pass.  Don't dwell on your experience or lack thereof, just pick a module, jump in, and give it your all, and you will pass. 

Sadly this so true. The test really is book base. The Transportation Afternoon does have questions on a lot of reference manual we use on projects like the MUTCD, Green Book, Roadside Guide, etc. But most state have there own MUTCD and reference design manual that we use. So yeah the test is mostly on thing you learn in college not in the real world.

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So you're trying to study for Seismic and the PE at the same time? Did I read that right?

One at a time, especially in your case...and just take EET for the Breadth and Depth as well. You will pass....I'm pretty sure those dudes write the exam. Just learn what they tell you to focus on, focus on nothing else. They know what you need to study, and what you can most likely skip or just glance over once.

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On 1/13/2017 at 1:19 AM, megs19 said:

Honestly, I am at a lost as to what to do because I seem to flip-flop on every exam. Subjects I did poor on before I tend to excel at the next exam, but the areas I excelled at I then fail. The first time taking the exam I admit it was difficult. A wake up call, even though I had spent over 4 months preparing for it. The second exam I felt even more prepared and walked out of the exam confident I passed. You can imagine my surprise with the results. This third exam I had timing down, could work out every problem, and even gave myself time to review all of them. Yet I received only 1 point better than my second exam. I was no longer sad, but livid. The score indicated to me that I am making a common mistake and have no idea what it is.

I think you might be making mistakes while solving.  NCEES does not try to intentionally trap you, but they do try to have a rationale for each answer choice rather than random numbers.  So if you make a mistake converting units, you will likely get an answer choice and think you got the problem correct.  I would advise you to take your time reading the problem, note what units are given, and circle what units you are solving for, and then solve the problem while carrying units out the whole way.

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Just an observation from reading your experience.  You've said that you tend to do very well in certain areas on one exam and then very poorly in those areas in the subsequent exam.  Are you sacrificing materials you feel you've 'mastered' in your preparation for the next exam?  Due to the length of time between exams, you can forget material that you did very well on before. 

NCEES will not change their method because of a population not passing so you need to determine what will work for you.  

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19 hours ago, Ramnares P.E. said:

Just an observation from reading your experience.  You've said that you tend to do very well in certain areas on one exam and then very poorly in those areas in the subsequent exam.  Are you sacrificing materials you feel you've 'mastered' in your preparation for the next exam?  Due to the length of time between exams, you can forget material that you did very well on before. 

NCEES will not change their method because of a population not passing so you need to determine what will work for you.  

This is a good point.  I have never cared much for the advice of concentrating on your weakest subjects.  Continually studying your strong subjects is just as, if not more, important!  No one should assume they will test well on a subject they did well on in a practice exam, in college, or even on a previous exam.  Study everything.

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1 hour ago, ptatohed said:

This is a good point.  I have never cared much for the advice of concentrating on your weakest subjects.  Continually studying your strong subjects is just as, if not more, important!  No one should assume they will test well on a subject they did well on in a practice exam, in college, or even on a previous exam.  Study everything.

That is so true, especially if you don't know how you got the score on the individual section. You could have successfully worked the problems to get the correct answers, or those could have been problems you had no clue about and/or ran out of time so you guessed randomly. You could potentially skip studying on areas that you appear to know, but really don't.

NCEES is limited in how much information they can provide because if they told everyone exactly what was going to be on the test, everyone would pass on the first time and the Professional Engineer license would hold little value. During your practice exams, try to see if there are any specific test taking areas that you need to focus on as opposed to focusing just on subject material.  Are you getting the most out of your calculator (use the power of the calculator functions as opposed to everything by hand), are you constantly running into problems with unit conversions that cause you to get the wrong answer.  As CU07 stated, one of the possible answers will most likely follow the correct procedure but without a unit conversion, or multiplying/dividing with the decimal in the wrong location. If you notice a pattern of making similar mistakes, then you can try to focus on ways to reduce those common mistakes(i.e if you constantly have issue with units, carry the units throughout the entire problem to make sure you have all the conversion factors needed, as opposed to just writing the numbers and keeping the units in your head). If you need to, make notes as to why you used each conversion factor and what each factor acheives so that when you go back to review your notes, you know exactly why you did it.

If you have time, think about the information given, and what they are asking to see if the numerical answer you choose makes sense based on your practical knowledge of the topic. This may help you spot a unit conversion or math error in your work. 

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1 hour ago, youngmotivatedengineer said:

That is so true, especially if you don't know how you got the score on the individual section. You could have successfully worked the problems to get the correct answers, or those could have been problems you had no clue about and/or ran out of time so you guessed randomly. You could potentially skip studying on areas that you appear to know, but really don't.

NCEES is limited in how much information they can provide because if they told everyone exactly what was going to be on the test, everyone would pass on the first time and the Professional Engineer license would hold little value. During your practice exams, try to see if there are any specific test taking areas that you need to focus on as opposed to focusing just on subject material.  Are you getting the most out of your calculator (use the power of the calculator functions as opposed to everything by hand), are you constantly running into problems with unit conversions that cause you to get the wrong answer.  As CU07 stated, one of the possible answers will most likely follow the correct procedure but without a unit conversion, or multiplying/dividing with the decimal in the wrong location. If you notice a pattern of making similar mistakes, then you can try to focus on ways to reduce those common mistakes(i.e if you constantly have issue with units, carry the units throughout the entire problem to make sure you have all the conversion factors needed, as opposed to just writing the numbers and keeping the units in your head). If you need to, make notes as to why you used each conversion factor and what each factor acheives so that when you go back to review your notes, you know exactly why you did it.

If you have time, think about the information given, and what they are asking to see if the numerical answer you choose makes sense based on your practical knowledge of the topic. This may help you spot a unit conversion or math error in your work. 

Isn't this a valid approach in the real world working on your engineering projects?  Maybe that's why this approach works well for the exam.  Just saying...

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Thank you all very much for the support and suggestions.

I hate conceding on this topic, but it seems like you all agree that there's no point in pestering NCEES to adjust their process. I find that disheartening when many like me suffer and I don't think helping us out more would devalue the PE license as youngmotivatedengineer stated. The test requires a lot of studying and preparation and I don't think helping those who fail better prepare for a retake would make the PE license an easier venture...it'd honestly just save many people a lot of money and stress and depression.

Anyways, since my hopes for that seem to be but me alone. I am taking in all the suggestions you all have made for my next attempt. I will take April off and go on a much needed vacation. I will attempt the October exam, but with a new in-depth subject. I will let go of Geotech and take an exam prep course for a new subject. My second best subject was water resources and it's the in-depth exam that many of my co-workers have taken. Thoughts on the water resources in-depth for someone who has little experience outside college courses?

I agree with many of you who said that anyone could really take any in-depth exam if they study hard enough. NCEES was trying to convince me that I'm failing due to my lack of work experience. Although that may help, it doesn't explain why many students right out of college can pass no problem. I think those that pass out of college just excel on all the computation-based questions, which compensates for the few problems that require more experience.

As for how I test/prepare to take an exam. I already give myself a cheat sheet of common mistakes I make while doing practice problems. Unit conversions have never been an issue (that I know of) as I have that bold on my cheat sheet and make sure to note what the units are in every problem. This last exam I gave myself enough time to re-do many problems to make sure I did them correctly (in my mind) and took the time to look at units and significant figures. I know it's hard to explain. Believe me, I frustrated my teachers in school because they saw my work and study materials and still couldn't figure out why I made the mistakes I did on an exam. Many chalked it up to test anxiety, but yet I rarely feel anxious during an exam. I feel weirdly calm and confident. Especially this last exam I worked fast, but thought through each question. I finished going through the exam once with an hour to spare, so I went back through and re-worked the problems I felt I worked too fast on and worked on the problems I skipped.

I also study every subject. After the first exam, I learned that I was better off studying everything than trying to only focus on my strengths/weaknesses because you never know what problems will be thrown at you. My first exam was heavily embedded with settlement and consolidation questions, but the second had next to none. I was thankful I chose to study up on settlement and consolidation so I could be prepared, but I didn't focus solely on them. So I never sacrifice subjects I feel confident in. For each exam, I review from the beginning and just look for new practice problems to learn from.

I did take the Seismic and PE at the same time during my second attempt at the PE. I felt confident I could pass both, but that failed. I took EET for the Seismic depth and loved it. My teacher made it so easy and I passed all his practice exams with more than enough room to spare. I practiced his written and computer based practice exams, improving each time. He was confident in me. It was the first exam I took during that exam cycle and I broke down. For the second time that I've been aware of, I did suffer test anxiety where I felt anxious and "in my head." I hoped my continual passing of practice exams would pull me through, but it didn't. I failed and my teacher, like I've stated above, was in shock. He told me to take a break from the specialty exams until I pass the National, then he would help me study free of charge. I know I can pass the Seismic. I was so close, but I broke down stressing about failing both exams, which is exactly what happened. However, when I took the National during that time, I was slightly worried in the morning, but after working through the problems, I became confident again. By the time I left the exam, I felt I had for sure passed that time.

I'm sorry if I didn't address everyone's responses. I read them all. I truly appreciate all of them. I really do. I needed this, even if it wasn't the direction I wanted, it still helps. Thank you.

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megs, it sounds like your mind is in the right place now.  You know what needs to be done.  I would pick either CA-Seismic or the 8-hr, but not both, and hit it hard.  You might consider knocking out Seismic real quickly (sounds like you were really close - and the material is fresh to you - and EET is there for you), and then get back on the 8-hr?  Have you already passed the CA-Survey?  For the 8-hr, pick a depth module and stick with it.  It's very counter productive to keep switching modules.  In fact my advice would be to continue with Geo but if you feel you must switch, then try to make it your last switch.  Good luck.   

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On 1/12/2017 at 5:07 PM, CAPLS said:

All the tests and quizzes you took in college were knowledge-based which is similar to the FE.  The PE exam is practice-based.  Definitely NOT the same rationale.

If that the case, the person in question, should look why he failed the test but using the excuse "I am bad in taking exam"

I think you need to examine why you did not passed. Look at the materials and understanding it

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When I took the exam, the construction portion very much felt like the morning session. I have heard this from others who took the construction portion as well. It was a bit more in depth, but still had more variety. This is as close to the "general civil" afternoon section as you'll probably get.

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If you sign up for the Construction depth portion, DO NOT TAKE IT LIGHTLY!!!!  I took it in October and passed, but this test historically has one of the lowest passing rates because everyone thinks it will be easier than the other Civil options.  I can tell you, it certainly is not.  I, like most everyone else that passed, put a massive amount of hours into studying and preparing.

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