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TNSparky

What To Do Exam Week

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Hello everyone,

I had a write-up this AM to a member. I wanted to share with everyone. By now you all are getting down to crunch time and the final days of studying. Hang in there. You're almost there. That being said, here's some good things to do exam week:

I would highly recommend working the actual NCEES practice exam probably a week before the actual thing and simulate it like it's a real test. What I mean by that is have all of your references there and practice using them to answer the questions. On the Sunday-Wednesday before the exam, I would put the last-minute touches on the hard spots you're still struggling with.

Now is also a good time to double check your tabs and references and make sure it's all ready to go and you can find stuff....FAST. That is really the key to passing this thing: knowing where to find the correct information and how to find it quickly.

Wednesday evening/Thursday of exam week, put everything down (don't study anymore) and make sure it's all ready to go in a container that's fairly portable. I don't know where you're taking the exam, but you'll see people come in wheeling 2-wheelers with several HUGE storage containers of reference material.....this is absolutely useless in my opinion. I had everything I needed, including snacks/drinks (check your test site policy on this) in a single milk crate. It'll look similar to this: https://www.walmart.com/ip/ORBIS-DA1000-Black-Dairy-Crate-Vented-13x13x11-Black/40892240?action=product_interest&action_type=title&beacon_version=1.0.2&bucket_id=irsbucketdefault&client_guid=2a370910-f9c0-4df3-85fa-aa423ebde216&config_id=105&customer_id_enc&findingMethod=p13n&guid=2a370910-f9c0-4df3-85fa-aa423ebde216&item_id=40892240&parent_anchor_item_id=17355910&parent_item_id=17355910&placement_id=irs-105-t1&reporter=recommendations&source=new_site&strategy=PWVUB&visitor_id=S1n5tJf8nzU9cDgG_9jmNc

Sterilite also makes one: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-Large-File-Crate-Available-in-Multiple-Colors/17355910

Either should have plenty of room for you. I had two 2" binders of notes, the Camara reference book, the CI book, a book on protective relaying, the NEC handbook, the NESC, the NCEES practice exam, both my main and backup calculators (both fx-115 ES Plus models) and my snacks/drinks...in 1 crate. It can be done.

When you get to the test center if arriving the day before, walk the area down like any good engineer does in practice. Identify where the registration table is, where the door to the exam room is, where to park, how you will enter and exit the building carrying your reference material (they can be kind of heavy for a long haul). The point of this is that you do not want to start your exam day panicked, flustered and with your blood pressure too high. This is one of the many elements of this exam: they will try and fatigue you early on and try and make difficult conditions getting into the exam room. Don't give them that opportunity. Walk the exam site down the day before. Also remember: TURN OFF YOUR CELLPHONE. You would think something like this is trivial, but I heard at least 2-3 of them go off while I was testing. I took my own earplugs in with me. If you're the type that likes absolute silence, then this will be the way to go for you. Also, I've heard of someone getting booted from the exam for having a fitbit/fitness watch. Don't do that. Go to Walmart and get a cheap Timex or Casio digital watch that you like and use it for timing, and turn the chime off. Another good thing to do if you're arriving the day before: have multiple clothing options. By this, I mean have clothing you can wear to keep you warmer in the event that it's colder or have lighter clothing that will not get as hot if the conditions are warmer. I wore shorts and a t-shirt to mine with my most comfy pair of tennis shoes I had.

Around 2pm-3pm in the afternoon, you're going to feel really drained and may want to give up....this is a good time to have a Coca-Cola and/or a piece of candy. I have done endurance races like the Ironman before, and the same principle applied. Have a sweet piece of candy or something as a small reward for yourself. You've made it this far, you're almost there. You can do it. Just keep going.

Lastly, when the exam is over at 5pm, have a "lay-down" plan ready. You're going to be really tired, if you have someone coming to pick you up, that's good. If not, have a Red Bull for the ride home. I drove my cousin and I home which was an hour and a half away. We both took exams that day (he was civil and I was electrical). When you get home, thank your wife/husband/fiancé/girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other/support team/whoever helped you. Studying for this thing is a commitment and taking it requires both knowledge and courage and a great support team. If you're like me, at this point after the exam, the worry part of the studying is through and it's time for one's favorite adult beverage of choice.

Good luck my friend. You will do well. Cheers! :winko:

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Although I haven't taken the exam yet, I can note that cellphones are absolutely prohibited in the exam room. And if you are found with a phone on your person, on or off, you can be dismissed from the exam.

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18 minutes ago, gpoli111 said:

Although I haven't taken the exam yet, I can note that cellphones are absolutely prohibited in the exam room. And if you are found with a phone on your person, on or off, you can be dismissed from the exam.

At my test center, they gave everyone the free pass of turning off their cell phones and putting them in a baggie up front with a claim number. The rule of it being found on you (on or off) as grounds for dismissal was still strictly enforced. They just understood that not everyone wants to leave their $600 iPhone in their car in a parking lot all day, asking for the common thief to break a window and take it. Additionally, they like to have the ability to check messages at lunch. Each test center is different though. They may have a strict "no cellphones in the building whatsoever, no exceptions." Know before you go, look on here to find out what has historically happened at the test site you're going to. If you're worried at all, of course leave it in your car, locked in the glovebox.

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Just now, TNSparky said:

At my test center, they gave everyone the free pass of turning off their cell phones and putting them in a baggie up front with a claim number. The rule of it being found on you (on or off) as grounds for dismissal was still strictly enforced. They just understood that not everyone wants to leave their $600 iPhone in their car in a parking lot all day, asking for the common thief to break a window and take it. Additionally, they like to have the ability to check messages at lunch. Each test center is different though. They may have a strict "no cellphones in the building whatsoever, no exceptions." Know before you go, look on here to find out what has historically happened at the test site you're going to. If you're worried at all, of course leave it in your car, locked in the glovebox.

The "free pass" occurred before the test began and they gave everyone multiple opportunities and reminders before the exam began. If you got found with one and booted, it was your own fault. That being said, I didn't see anyone get booted in October when I took it.

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In addition to cell phones, don't forget to remove any sort of advanced fitness tracking device you might wear. In this day and age, it's relatively common for some to wear those all the time such that it would be something easy to over-look come exam day. Don't take any chances, leave all smart/communication devices in your car or at home. Everyone can manage to be without these things for the better part of (1) day. The only acceptable item might be a digital/analog wrist watch (without comm. features) to keep track of your exam time. Otherwise, definitely some sound advice from others in posts above. Good luck to all exam takers! Stay focused, stay determined! :thumbs:

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I say this every time these threads come up and people say "don't bring anything besides x, y, and z!" so sorry for that...

The quantity of references you need varies wildly by exam.  For the Environmental exam, I highly recommend you bring every book you used while studying, which was at least two crates' worth for me.  The exam is so broad that you will almost definitely see topics you are unfamiliar with and if you have enough time at the end, you might get a few more questions correct that you might have missed otherwise.  I know I got several by searching indices and reading through sections of textbooks because I had an hour left on each portion.  Friends that took the same exam weren't able to find some of them in the EnvERM or the few books they brought.  Having a suitcase or a couple crates does not hurt you and can only help, so long as you rely primarily on a few references you are very familiar and use the rest as backup.

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28 minutes ago, CU07 said:

I say this every time these threads come up and people say "don't bring anything besides x, y, and z!" so sorry for that...

The quantity of references you need varies wildly by exam.  For the Environmental exam, I highly recommend you bring every book you used while studying, which was at least two crates' worth for me.  The exam is so broad that you will almost definitely see topics you are unfamiliar with and if you have enough time at the end, you might get a few more questions correct that you might have missed otherwise.  I know I got several by searching indices and reading through sections of textbooks because I had an hour left on each portion.  Friends that took the same exam weren't able to find some of them in the EnvERM or the few books they brought.  Having a suitcase or a couple crates does not hurt you and can only help, so long as you rely primarily on a few references you are very familiar and use the rest as backup.

I understand where you're coming from. I'm certainly not telling people to leave some references at home, despite the possible need. I just know I saw some people carrying so many references, they looked like they should have been wheeling in a pallet jack or forklift and using a freight elevator, but were somehow carefully balancing a 2-wheel dolly. I'm sorry. I just fail to see how that is practical and it can be dangerous if it tips over and injures the person carrying it or someone else or the person carrying it strains their back or something while trying to get into the test...an injury is DEFINITELY not something you want to deal with on the day of the exam if you can avoid it. That was the only thing I meant by saying don't bring in 4 huge storage bins carefully balanced on a 2-wheeler. Anytime someone can do something to better improve their mobility and portability (without sacrificing valuable references), I strongly encourage it.

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Structural is a discipline where you need a boat load of references and there's no getting around it. There are 10 required reference codes alone, then you may bring the CERM, a foundations book, and so on. I plan on using a carry on type suitcase :reading:

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On 3/28/2017 at 10:34 AM, TNSparky said:

I don't know where you're taking the exam, but you'll see people come in wheeling 2-wheelers with several HUGE storage containers of reference material.....this is absolutely useless in my opinion. I had everything I needed, including snacks/drinks (check your test site policy on this) in a single milk crate. It'll look similar to this: https://www.walmart.com/ip/ORBIS-DA1000-Black-Dairy-Crate-Vented-13x13x11-Black/40892240?action=product_interest&action_type=title&beacon_version=1.0.2&bucket_id=irsbucketdefault&client_guid=2a370910-f9c0-4df3-85fa-aa423ebde216&config_id=105&customer_id_enc&findingMethod=p13n&guid=2a370910-f9c0-4df3-85fa-aa423ebde216&item_id=40892240&parent_anchor_item_id=17355910&parent_item_id=17355910&placement_id=irs-105-t1&reporter=recommendations&source=new_site&strategy=PWVUB&visitor_id=S1n5tJf8nzU9cDgG_9jmNc

Sterilite also makes one: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Sterilite-Large-File-Crate-Available-in-Multiple-Colors/17355910

Either should have plenty of room for you. I had two 2" binders of notes, the Camara reference book, the CI book, a book on protective relaying, the NEC handbook, the NESC, the NCEES practice exam, both my main and backup calculators (both fx-115 ES Plus models) and my snacks/drinks...in 1 crate. It can be done.

 

This is exactly what I brought but I wish I would have bought something on wheels. Everything fit into the single milk crate but it really sucked to carry it around with the weight of all my material (which was only the testmasters binder broken out into subjects, goswami reference manual, and Lindberg reference manual). The plastic handles like to dig into your hands with the weight and the cheaper the crate the less they care about removing those pokey edges. Additionally there was no space to put it down due to how crowded the reception area was, and it was a really long walk from the car in a parking garage to the desk. Its so much easier to have your hands empty while giving your ID and test approval paperwork to the reception staff too.

I passed so I don't have to worry about doing it again :bananalama: but if I had to I would definitely spend the $25 for one that rolls instead of $10 on one you have to carry.

JM2C

Good luck everyone!

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3 hours ago, gpoli111 said:

Structural is a discipline where you need a boat load of references and there's no getting around it. There are 10 required reference codes alone, then you may bring the CERM, a foundations book, and so on. I plan on using a carry on type suitcase :reading:

I used a suitcase.  I was going to use a carry-on size but I decided to print off some extra references in binders and went to the next size up suitcase so I wouldn't have to worry about fitting it all.

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9 minutes ago, CU07 said:

I used a suitcase.  I was going to use a carry-on size but I decided to print off some extra references in binders and went to the next size up suitcase so I wouldn't have to worry about fitting it all.

I was too lazy to bring all my references for the PE thinking I wouldn't need some of them.  I literally laughed at some people who brought in carts filled with multiple boxes of references.  When the test came I realized there were several questions (that were straight table look-ups) from references I had decided not to bring out of laziness.  Literally table looks up of a value, not designed to test someone's knowledge but with the explicit intent of testing whether someone brought the references outlined by NCEES.

Doh!!!  I passed so oh well, but I decided when it came time to take the SE that I probably should bring every reference.

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Make sure you sleep the week of because you will run a mental marathon. Make sure you are familiar with any references so you don't waste time looking up anything. Also don't freak if you don't have every reference book. I took 2 binders to each exam and passed. No need to give yourself a hernia trying to haul around every book you can get ahold of. If you are familiar with the concepts then the problems are halfway solved. Just pay attention to little details that affect the answer because NCEES loves to throw curve balls to weed out people who can get someone killed.

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I'm going to put in my plug for getting to the exam site or your hotel, or wherever PLENTY early.  I live in a rural state (Montana) and I left the afternoon before the exam for my 3hr drive to get to the exam town/site.  I got out of my town later than anticipated.  1.5hrs in I blew a tire as I was about 5 miles away from essentially the only town between my home city and the test site city.  It was 4:57pm.  The town I was driving through was a small town and had 1-tire shop.  I called the shop in a panic as I had no interest in trying to drive 100 miles from where I was to the test site on my spare donut.  The guy said he'd only be there till 5pm, and if I didn't show up by then, tough.  I asked if he'd give me time to throw my donut on in order to get there, he said no, he was leaving at 5... I tried to drive about a mile on my flat... stupid idea.  I called the guy back at 4:59 and begged him to stick around for 15 minutes so I could throw on my donut and get into his shop.  He finally relented.  I did, made it, he swapped out for a used tire he had... made it to the test site.  But that was way more nerve wracking than the actual test.  My only options if I didn't make it and have that guy throw on a new tired were pretty crappy options.

Long story short... get to your test area plenty early.

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A lot of people say to not study the day or two before the exam but I would like to recommend doing what YOU know works best for YOU.  All of us have been through college and have plenty of experience studying for big tests and should have a good grasp as to what works best for you.  Me personally for the PE a few years ago and my plan for the SE in a couple weeks is to take off and spend the day before the exam reviewing all material.  I definitely agree it's not a time to be trying to learn new content and don't stay up late cramming but a little review may be good for you.  I plan on reviewing my answers from the practice tests I've taken and reviewing the different codes the day before.  There is going to be a lot of code lookup and the more familiar you are with the code, the quicker you can answer the question and move on to the next one.  As the evening approaches, put the books away and get you something good to eat and put your feet up for a little while and rest before getting a good nights sleep.  This time two weeks from now we will all either be finished with the exam or finishing the exam! I'm starting to get that excited/anxious feeling in my stomach but that usually just makes me focus and perform better.  Good luck everyone!

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