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bwin12

Why does Construction have a low pass rate?

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Any theories?

59% Pass Rate for first time takers, I think only Mining and Mineral Processing at 57% was lower.

 

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Biggest Reason:
They don't teach you Construction in school. I took several Transportation, Water, Geotech and Structural classes but my college didn't offer any construction related ones.

Secondary Reason:

In the contractor world (Construction) you are typically expected to work 50-60 hours a week. Due to this, and how tiring the job can be, people really don't want to study when they get home.

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15 hours ago, bwin12 said:

Any theories?

59% Pass Rate for first time takers, I think only Mining and Mineral Processing at 57% was lower.

 

if you do the math and combine the volume of first time test takers and repeat test takers for this cycle the pass rate is 49% overall.

My theory is that some people who decide to take Construction don't have much construction related experience and assume maybe "its construction how hard can it be" you also have contractors that have their EITs and Civil Degrees that don't do too much design. Construction is broad in that you have to have knowledge of structures, materials, geotech, scheduling, economics, scheduling and water (especially for pumps). And there aren't a whole lot of equations that you can just plug and chug. My take on the test is that there are a lot of problems that were experience based like "like how would you adjust a concrete mix if you know this"...what causes this....with that said the if you haven't dealt with this or that before or if you don't know the conceptually how this or that behaves...do you really know Construction? But I agree construction engineering should  be a course or subject matter they teach in school.

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I would be curious to know how many people take Civil: Construction because they think it will be easier than the other exams.  

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On 12/8/2017 at 7:39 AM, cuatona1 said:

if you do the math and combine the volume of first time test takers and repeat test takers for this cycle the pass rate is 49% overall.

My theory is that some people who decide to take Construction don't have much construction related experience and assume maybe "its construction how hard can it be" you also have contractors that have their EITs and Civil Degrees that don't do too much design. Construction is broad in that you have to have knowledge of structures, materials, geotech, scheduling, economics, scheduling and water (especially for pumps). And there aren't a whole lot of equations that you can just plug and chug. My take on the test is that there are a lot of problems that were experience based like "like how would you adjust a concrete mix if you know this"...what causes this....with that said the if you haven't dealt with this or that before or if you don't know the conceptually how this or that behaves...do you really know Construction? But I agree construction engineering should  be a course or subject matter they teach in school.

My degree is in Construction Engineering and I had a lot of construction courses in my course work (Estimating, Scheduling, Labor Relations, Construction Law, Systems and Processes i.e.- Equipment Effiency, Crane Placement, Etc.  That and lots of practical experience made that Depth section a no brainer for me.  IMHO, the Construction Depth Section have less equations based questions and more qualitative concept type questions that you cannot find in the CERM and have to think through.

Also, you are screwed if you don't bring all your required resources and miss easy code look up questions (MUTCD, SP-4, OSHA).       

Edited by ruggercsc

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I would say after taking the construction emphasis and failing twice now, this depth is truly more about field experience than any other civil emphasis. As I am in project controls and felt like I would ace the scheduling portion, that wasn't enough to make me pass the test. Concepts such as estimating, site construction layout, material control, crane placement, etc. are more found when you are actually in that field and can't be studied. I also find this depth much more tricky due to less equations and more observation/hands on experience. I plan not to take construction again and will be considering either Water Resources or Transportation for the 3rd attempt. Of all the civil depth emphases, I've determined it doesn't matter how long you study construction for, it's more about how many hours are you in the actual field more than anything else. Water and Transportation are mostly equations or finding references from a design manual.

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1 hour ago, ruggercsc said:

My degree is in Construction Engineering and I had a lot of construction courses in my course work (Estimating, Scheduling, Labor Relations, Construction Law, Systems and Processes i.e.- Equipment Effiency, Crane Placement, Etc.  That and lots of practical experience made that Depth section a no brainer for me.  IMHO, the Construction Depth Section has less equations based questions and more qualitative concept type questions that you cannot find in the CERM and have to think through.

Also, you are screwed if you don't bring all your required resources and miss easy code look up questions (MUTCD, SP-4, OSHA).       

Agreed...Just curious you have Bachelors in Construction Engineering or is that a Masters? and Where'd you go to school

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As alluded to above, I do think the Construction module, for whatever reason, has the reputation for being the easiest of the five modules.  So I think you get a lot of the "non-studiers" taking a chance with Construction only to fail. 

 

 

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I agree with all points, and I'd like to hear more. The biggest to me is:

- thought that it's "easy", but really you have to know a decent amount from lots of subsections- cranes, schedule, safety, mix designs, estimating and about 40 more

- it sucks a lot to drop $900 on reference materials (if you already have the Steel Manual) but in the last 5 minutes of the test I found 2 lookup questions and changed answers that I had wrong

- the amount of study time available and importance placed on this license in a typical construction setting is not advantageous. It's easy to sign up (well easier than taking the test) but studying and devoting enough time is brutal, and I am currently on a 10 hour day routine, not my previous 14 hour a day deal that is more typical, IMO. I think by default older (out of school longer) professionals take this test too, which doesn't help.

 

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2 hours ago, cuatona1 said:

Agreed...Just curious you have Bachelors in Construction Engineering or is that a Masters? and Where'd you go to school

B.S., Purdue

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I've worked in vertical construction (large $50M projects built out of the ground) and I thought I knew enough back then to sit for the PE if I was qualified. But now I'm on several different kinds of projects: civil repair (airfields, roads and pedestrian bridges), MEP, and architectural renovations (with BAS integration), sports arenas, and structural (retaining walls) and geotechnical (erosion control). I've gained so much practical experience in the last 2 years on these more concentrated areas than I did when I worked in vertical construction for 6 years.

I still plan to study my behind off but at least I've seen this stuff.  I'm involved in constructability reviews for crane placement, haul roads, estimation of time for activities, labor rates and accounting, etc.  I have a Civil Engineering degree and the only construction courses I had were in Project Management and Construction Law. Thanks to my MBA, PMP, and CCM, I've been tested on scheduling, cost and accounting 3-4 times over but I never take it for granted. I plan to study that as much as possible too.

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The other aspect of it is that most large construction companies do not provide any support for their engineers to become licensed. Some don't want their engineers to be licensed at all.  To them, the risk is higher than the cost and they actually think that letting their engineers get licensed leads them to find work elsewhere (with consultants).

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One thing that dawned on me that I remember from studying and came up over and over again going through the SoPE class. The way I do stuff in the field, estimating in the office, etc. is not by the book and definitely not academic. I vehemently disagreed with a lot of the "means and methods" SoPE taught, but I realized it didn't matter; if I wanted to pass the test I'd have to figure out their way, also know as the NCEES way.

If you came in fresh with tons of good experience from the field the "academic" nature of the test would be borderline impossible to overcome, IMO.

Examples:

- When to apply reduction factors, it could be the difference between A or B, differing by a small amount, but it is still a wrong answer.

- Interpretation of a problem statement, where we would look at a different drawing, ask someone, write an RFI, etc. you have 6 minutes to interpret it the NCEES way.

- Utilizing shortcuts.

- Something as simple as a crane problem. In the field I could flip the page and get the radius diagram and know how far away I need to be from the building. On the test I needed to do trig and Pythagorean Theorem.    

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On 12/8/2017 at 8:39 AM, cuatona1 said:

My theory is that some people who decide to take Construction don't have much construction related experience and assume maybe "its construction how hard can it be" you also have contractors that have their EITs and Civil Degrees that don't do too much design. Construction is broad in that you have to have knowledge of structures, materials, geotech, scheduling, economics, scheduling and water (especially for pumps). And there aren't a whole lot of equations that you can just plug and chug. My take on the test is that there are a lot of problems that were experience based like "like how would you adjust a concrete mix if you know this"...what causes this....with that said the if you haven't dealt with this or that before or if you don't know the conceptually how this or that behaves...do you really know Construction? But I agree construction engineering should  be a course or subject matter they teach in school.

who thinks this way? an engineering test is an engineering test. It is all conceptual and theoretical questions (with numbers). 

this isn't a contractor test, so there shouldn't be a question about methods in concrete mixture

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9 hours ago, sayed said:

who thinks this way? an engineering test is an engineering test. It is all conceptual and theoretical questions (with numbers). 

this isn't a contractor test, so there shouldn't be a question about methods in concrete mixture

I think this way and I passed so...not sure what to make of your statement..I have experience from both working for a contractor, design and construction inspection...concrete mixtures conceptual play a key role in design, durability and service life of a structure. You can't fake construction experience...I'd do some research if I were you man.

Best of luck

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I have heard of several people taking the Civil Construction exam because they believed it would be easier.  I was debating between taking the Civil: Structural and Civil: Construction test.  I had an emphasis on Civil Structural in college, and I use both at work doing structural engineering for a construction company.  I ended up taking the Civil: Structural even though it would be more difficult for me because I felt I would be more qualified to do more design work in the future if needed and I think the pass/fail rates prove that the construction exam is certainly no cake walk.

I couldn't disagree more with construction PEs not needing to understand mix design and means and methods.  That could be a major factor in a project affecting placement method, speed of schedule, cost, and finish.  Also, if a construction manager doesn't understand constructability and construction processes, how are they going to be efficient and effective?

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3 hours ago, Wade_TX said:

I have heard of several people taking the Civil Construction exam because they believed it would be easier.  I was debating between taking the Civil: Structural and Civil: Construction test.  I had an emphasis on Civil Structural in college, and I use both at work doing structural engineering for a construction company.  I ended up taking the Civil: Structural even though it would be more difficult for me because I felt I would be more qualified to do more design work in the future if needed and I think the pass/fail rates prove that the construction exam is certainly no cake walk.

I couldn't disagree more with construction PEs not needing to understand mix design and means and methods.  That could be a major factor in a project affecting placement method, speed of schedule, cost, and finish.  Also, if a construction manager doesn't understand constructability and construction processes, how are they going to be efficient and effective?

Yes! Thank you Wade 100% agree! I was in a similar boat I was contemplating going Geotech and Construction. I'd did really well with Geotech in College and my first job out of school was working for Geotech, but I felt more comfortable with Construction and I knew more about codes, materials, and project management so I went with that even though I knew Geotech had a higher pass rate. This past October I think experienced played a huge role. They used terminology I feel that if you weren't around construction you'd be confused or could mislead you to the wrong answer.

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13 hours ago, cuatona1 said:

I think this way and I passed so...not sure what to make of your statement..I have experience from both working for a contractor, design and construction inspection...concrete mixtures conceptual play a key role in design, durability and service life of a structure. You can't fake construction experience...I'd do some research if I were you man.

Best of luck

i have multiple contractor licenses. none of those exams tested in engineering concepts

i have passed multiple engineering exams in various disciplines. none of those exams tested in construction concepts.

 

construction experience has nothing to do with engineering or examinations, in case you were confused... you need to do your research on what NCEES tests prospective licensees

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12 hours ago, Wade_TX said:

I couldn't disagree more with construction PEs not needing to understand mix design and means and methods.  That could be a major factor in a project affecting placement method, speed of schedule, cost, and finish.  Also, if a construction manager doesn't understand constructability and construction processes, how are they going to be efficient and effective?

a construction PE also needs to know what a hammer and power drill is. Yet this knowledge isn't engineering and not tested on NCEES examinations.

NCEES exams test you on engineering concepts, not minor details on what you do at work. I'm not sure how this is hard for some people to understand

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32 minutes ago, sayed said:

i have multiple contractor licenses. none of those exams tested in engineering concepts

i have passed multiple engineering exams in various disciplines. none of those exams tested in construction concepts.

 

construction experience has nothing to do with engineering or examinations, in case you were confused... you need to do your research on what NCEES tests prospective licensees

lol 😂 

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Sayed, I couldn't disagree more with your various posts above. If you are not familiar with some of the famous civil engineering failures, you should look them up, especially the hotel walkway. Many failures are due to field changes that don't get proper engineering review. Not sure what kind of jobs you work on, but when doing major civil engineering projects, concrete mix is important to the success of the project. The concrete company and/or engineer can not just change the concrete mix on their own, it has to go through the engineer to make sure the concrete will have the required strength. 

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On 12/7/2017 at 5:08 PM, bwin12 said:

Any theories?

59% Pass Rate for first time takers, I think only Mining and Mineral Processing at 57% was lower.

 

I think construction is also the go-to for people who don't fit well into the other categories,  which is kind of how I ended up in the Construction depth. 

I have about 5 years of hands on construction management experience not working under a PE. Afterwards I got back into engineering design and spend most of my time on residential and smaller commercial site plans, and light structural design for footings, foundations and beams/girders. 

Based on this, I felt the construction was closest to my experience and work I do on a regular basis. I looked into the water resources depth, but I felt there were more topics on there beyond my experience and beyond what I see myself doing in the future. 

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On 12/15/2017 at 10:51 PM, sayed said:

a construction PE also needs to know what a hammer and power drill is. Yet this knowledge isn't engineering and not tested on NCEES examinations.

NCEES exams test you on engineering concepts, not minor details on what you do at work. I'm not sure how this is hard for some people to understand

NCEES has"Means and Methods" as an entire subject matter in the breadth section.

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I, along with most engineers, would consider concrete mix design a major engineering concept, especially considering there are several civil engineering courses specifically devoted to it. Out of all of the Civil PE test, I would hope that the Civil Construction test would contain construction methods.  Study what you want sayed, but with all of your contractor licenses and various experiences in other disciplines, it sounds like you don't need to.

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On 2017/12/8 at 11:38 PM, Wade_TX said:

I would be curious to know how many people take Civil: Construction because they think it will be easier than the other exams.  

 

On 2017/12/16 at 1:21 PM, cuatona1 said:

lol 😂 

I am a female engineer with MS in Structural Specialty, and yes, I NEVER passed PM (Afternoon Session) for the PE despite the fact that I've worked for Caltran's Construction Division for almost 3 years (built Rte-57/60 Interchange, Rte-105/605) and I knew exactly which part of the concrete "form-work" layout on my shop-drawing. The thing is, on the NCEES PM-test (Construction Specialty), most of the contents were neither taught at school nor from any existing Textbook. I presume we all need to attend some sort of the "Prep Class" or "Review Class" which help you to "summarize" certain calculation procedure and concept of those CPM (Critical Path Method), Geotech foundation design (probably occupied 15% of the 100% exam content). Just my second opinion after working in the real world for many years yet never give-up :-)

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