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mnguy88

Failed Structural Depth AGAIN. 3x's the Charm?

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Unfortunately, I failed the PE structural depth exam again.  I will be attempting it for the 3rd time this coming April 2018.  I am very frustrated and worried I will not be able to pass.  I did not graduate with civil engineering and do not practice structural engineering in my profession.  However, I did take a number of structural analysis courses and have a higher interest in learning structural than the other Civil depths.  But, the structural depth is kicking my ass right now.  I am in the utility design industry so many have suggested doing construction depth.  I feel that I am already deep into structural and spent a lot of money on it already that I am going to just keep going.

My first attempt, I got 42/80.  My second attempt, I got 41/80.  It's an embarrassing score.  I took a PPI course both times. The course was good for breadth and okay for depth.  I just signed up for EET's Structural Depth on-demand course. Looking at my diagnostics, I have issues in similar areas throughout the two times I've taken the exam.  Do any of you have other suggestions or pointers I should take in order to pass this third time?  I am really feeling like I cannot pass.  Who goes from a 41/42 score to a passing score?  I feel really defeated right now.  A passing score means a promotion and much higher pay for me, so I am trying to keep my eye on the prize, but it is so hard to do after two fails. I will admit, my second time, I did not study as much.  I had so much going on, I think I studied around 100 hours only.  I did not feel confident before or after the exam.

Please help with any suggestions or words of wisdom.

Thanks EB.

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hello

I am sorry for this result, however if your score is 41/ 42 that means it is not a structural problem only, you have a breadth issue as well, as you can score around 30/32 in morning session and 24/ 26 in afternoon and you will pass.

So as an advice you have to do more practice problems in both session, knowing your references well and tap it, read as much as you can Codes and specification, and the most important to keep time for a problem under the 6 minutes limit.

try the six minutes solution for structural, Structural Depth Practice Exam, Indranil Goswami-Civil Engineering PE Practice Exams.

good luck

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Hi @mnguy88!

I was a 3x civil structural PE taker myself, and got a lot of good advice from the board here:

And here:

There is a lot of valuable advice in those threads.

As for your scores? Don't get too hung up on it. It is ENTIRELY possible to go from a 41 or 42 score to a passing score. Could you perhaps post your diagnostics, or at least give us the breakdown of am vs. pm scores in both exams? Sometimes this information helps when it comes to giving more specific advice.

Most importantly, I would stress not to give up, or feel defeated. The PE exam is not easy, and is not meant to be. Sure, some people have a harder time passing it than others, but that really has little to do with who is the better engineer.

You can and you WILL pass this exam. Trust me, it will happen!

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15 hours ago, leggo PE said:

Hi @mnguy88!

I was a 3x civil structural PE taker myself, and got a lot of good advice from the board here:

And here:

There is a lot of valuable advice in those threads.

As for your scores? Don't get too hung up on it. It is ENTIRELY possible to go from a 41 or 42 score to a passing score. Could you perhaps post your diagnostics, or at least give us the breakdown of am vs. pm scores in both exams? Sometimes this information helps when it comes to giving more specific advice.

Most importantly, I would stress not to give up, or feel defeated. The PE exam is not easy, and is not meant to be. Sure, some people have a harder time passing it than others, but that really has little to do with who is the better engineer.

You can and you WILL pass this exam. Trust me, it will happen!

Thank you for all the encouragement.  I really need it.  It feels hopeless at times.  Below are my diagnostics from my April and Oct 2017 results for Civil - Structural.  Any feedback will be nice.

 

A17.JPG

O17.JPG

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So on your first attempt you scored 26/40 in the morning and 16/40 in the afternoon

On your second attempt you scored 21/40 in the morning and 20/40 in the afternoon

Based on these scores i think you need to focus on both the breadth and depth. Signing up for the EET depth course is a good start for the depth as there are many success stories from folks taking that course.

If you can improve your morning scores coupled with the EET course I am confident you will pass. I work strictly in bridge structures and some of the morning topics on the NCEES syllabus I hadn't seen since I was an undergrad. So what helped me get comfortable  was doing lots of practice problems using the CERM. Get a hold of as many problems as you can and solve them until you are comfortable with the topic. So in a nutshell don't give up and continue to improve your knowledge and test taking and you will get past this test.

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I hope the next four months is enough time to do EET depth and build on breadth. I have to pass this time around or it’ll be very difficult to get up again and try. I’m not the best test taker and questions easily trip me up. I found the last exam was difficult for me as there were more questions that I could not understand or even know where to begin.

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You will get it, @mnguy88! The exam is certainly challenging, but not impossible.

I agree with @jp11282014 (or should I call him Kramer?). It seems that improving your morning score and using the EET depth module to increase your afternoon score will get you the pass you are looking for.

I would also look very carefully at how you study. Are you utilizing your studying time as best as possible? Personally, by the time I got to studying for my third time taking the PE exam, I was fairly certain I wasn't doing the best studying I could be. For me, that meant that when I was doing practice problems, I would not look at the answers until I was done with the set of problems I had set out to do. For example, I would set a goal to either do x hours of problems or x number of problems. I would go straight through, skipping problems I didn't understand for the end. Then, I would go back either afterwards, or sometimes the next day, to review and correct my answers. I would really, really try to understand what was going on in the problems I missed or had skipped. This was key!

Additionally, it's highly important that you read the questions correctly. I would make sure I knew what was being asked before I read the rest of the problem statement. One thing I knew tripped me up in past PE exams was whether, in the afternoon section, the given problem was asking for design vs allowable whatever it was (strength, shear, bending capacity, etc). I would underline this and write immediately whatever was applicable.

Good luck! You've got this!

 

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I will have to change my study habits because it obviously isn’t working. I will take your advice since I have not been utilizing and studying as well as I should be. 

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On 12/20/2017 at 11:37 AM, leggo PE said:

You will get it, @mnguy88! The exam is certainly challenging, but not impossible.

I agree with @jp11282014 (or should I call him Kramer?). It seems that improving your morning score and using the EET depth module to increase your afternoon score will get you the pass you are looking for.

I would also look very carefully at how you study. Are you utilizing your studying time as best as possible? Personally, by the time I got to studying for my third time taking the PE exam, I was fairly certain I wasn't doing the best studying I could be. For me, that meant that when I was doing practice problems, I would not look at the answers until I was done with the set of problems I had set out to do. For example, I would set a goal to either do x hours of problems or x number of problems. I would go straight through, skipping problems I didn't understand for the end. Then, I would go back either afterwards, or sometimes the next day, to review and correct my answers. I would really, really try to understand what was going on in the problems I missed or had skipped. This was key!

Additionally, it's highly important that you read the questions correctly. I would make sure I knew what was being asked before I read the rest of the problem statement. One thing I knew tripped me up in past PE exams was whether, in the afternoon section, the given problem was asking for design vs allowable whatever it was (strength, shear, bending capacity, etc). I would underline this and write immediately whatever was applicable.

Good luck! You've got this!

 

@leggo PE: by "design vs allowable", do you mean LRFD vs. ASD? Please clarify!

 

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1 hour ago, Stardust said:

@leggo PE: by "design vs allowable", do you mean LRFD vs. ASD? Please clarify!

 

Hi Stardust!

Yes, what I wrote there is actually LRFD vs. ASD, as you suspected. What i probably should have written would be something more like "design vs. nominal", since as far as I know, the P..E. exam gives you the option to calculate using ASD or LRFD in problems where it is applicable.

Good catch!

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I see, identify what's being asked between design (factored) and nominal (unfactored) is a great tip, thanks!

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Considering you have no civil engineering background (let alone structural) and do not work in the profession, I think you've done pretty well for yourself so far. Structural Engineering is not an easy subject and I don't think it's the easiest available option for this exam. 

My undergrad had a heavy emphasis on structural analysis and design. I have been a structural engineer for the last year at my company, with the remaining time (3 years) spent designing roadways. Most of my colleagues suggested I take the Civil Transportation PE rather than the Structural. I even know some full time structural engineers who have skirted the Structural PE for an easier pass. Personally, I still took the Structural PE. In hindsight, it might not have been the smartest decision on my part. At the end of the day, a PE is a PE. There is no distinction once you've passed, at least from what I can tell; someone please correct me if I am wrong. I'm pretty sure I worked harder than I had to and there are undoubtedly more references for the Structural Depth than any of the other Civil disciplines. In the end it worked out for me but it served no purpose other than to prove a point to myself. 

It's great that you are interested in the subject. But on the other hand, I personally think that unless you plan on working in that field in the future, you may be doing yourself a disservice. The calculations are inherently more complicated compared to the other disciples and there are many more codes & references. You also have to recognize there are many ways you can go through a whole question thinking you are right and still wind up with a trap answer. As noted in the post above, the distinction between ASD and LRFD is a good example of this. You can spend a whole 6 minutes on a problem, then forget a reduction factor and you would have been better off guessing from the get go. 

If you plan on taking the structural exam again, make sure you have all the references. As you saw, the most recent PM section was very code oriented. The morning is also crucial because the type of problems that will be asked are much more predictable and less demanding. The more points you can get in the AM, the more slack you have for the PM.

Good luck!

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15 hours ago, Lep said:

Considering you have no civil engineering background (let alone structural) and do not work in the profession, I think you've done pretty well for yourself so far. Structural Engineering is not an easy subject and I don't think it's the easiest available option for this exam. 

My undergrad had a heavy emphasis on structural analysis and design. I have been a structural engineer for the last year at my company, with the remaining time (3 years) spent designing roadways. Most of my colleagues suggested I take the Civil Transportation PE rather than the Structural. I even know some full time structural engineers who have skirted the Structural PE for an easier pass. Personally, I still took the Structural PE. In hindsight, it might not have been the smartest decision on my part. At the end of the day, a PE is a PE. There is no distinction once you've passed, at least from what I can tell; someone please correct me if I am wrong. I'm pretty sure I worked harder than I had to and there are undoubtedly more references for the Structural Depth than any of the other Civil disciplines. In the end it worked out for me but it served no purpose other than to prove a point to myself. 

It's great that you are interested in the subject. But on the other hand, I personally think that unless you plan on working in that field in the future, you may be doing yourself a disservice. The calculations are inherently more complicated compared to the other disciples and there are many more codes & references. You also have to recognize there are many ways you can go through a whole question thinking you are right and still wind up with a trap answer. As noted in the post above, the distinction between ASD and LRFD is a good example of this. You can spend a whole 6 minutes on a problem, then forget a reduction factor and you would have been better off guessing from the get go. 

If you plan on taking the structural exam again, make sure you have all the references. As you saw, the most recent PM section was very code oriented. The morning is also crucial because the type of problems that will be asked are much more predictable and less demanding. The more points you can get in the AM, the more slack you have for the PM.

Good luck!

I failed again for the 3x. I'll be choosing a different discipline this time.

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8 hours ago, mnguy88 said:

I failed again for the 3x. I'll be choosing a different discipline this time.

I don't mean to discourage you but if all you need it for is a pay bump, there's clearly a more direct route. Just wanted to point out that you chose a tough(er) row to hoe. 

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1 hour ago, Lep said:

 

I don't mean to discourage you but if all you need it for is a pay bump, there's clearly a more direct route. Just wanted to point out that you chose a tough(er) row to hoe. 

Wouldnt you say that for the morning section of Civil PE has some questions that are from the Depth section of other disciplines just not requiring references? At one point i took the PE exam there were some economics questions that i could not relate to. I am taking it in October but im focusing on the afternoon portion more this time. Ive been doing structural for years and still had problems but at least now i have expanded my reach, especially in seismic, and i feel more confident. I dont think any course is the solution, as i have taken many, but i will say their outline helps. However, im focusing more on doing practice exams even as homeworks as opposed to practice test on a weekend. I know what it is to sit for 8hrs for the test. I need to get extremely familiar with the type of problems. This is my approach this time around. Of course i will study for the AM as well.  Regarding changing disciplines just make sure you dont need the roster to show a specific one. Where im from they look you up and dont hand you structural work unless the roster classifies you as structural. There aré exceptions of course but in the government work thats how it is.  

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For me, the notes I had from School of PE and the CERM was more than enough for the AM.

Economics is a topic for all Civil disciplines, the problem context might be different but the procedures are all the same whether the question is about money or population growth. You should be familiar with how to use interest tables in any case. 

I'm not a great test taker myself but I really do believe a 32+/40 score in the AM is attainable for anyone hoping to pass this exam (if you are putting in the study time).

If you did enough practice problems, there's a good chance you've seen the problem before, or at least one similar to it. Time is the currency for this exam, any time you save on one problem is time you can spend solving another one. Whatever your depth is, the morning questions in that area should be free points (and free time!) I don't think that's debatable, these questions are designed so that they are solvable by someone taking any civil discipline. If you can handle the depth section of a subject, the breadth should absolutely be painless. 

It's definitely worth your while to get familiar with the problems. The last thing you want to have to do is have to figure out something new during this exam. If it comes to that, you'll be glad you have all that precious time saved up from earlier. Obviously, it's paramount to solve what you know first. Do not dwell on questions that you are unsure of until you've gotten everything else out of the way. 

Based on what @mnguy88 said, it seems like any PE license would be the same for him. It's great how encouraging this board seems to be, but I personally could not imagine taking the structural depth without the undergrad foundation that I have. Everyone's situation is different however I think it's incredibly unrealistic to squeeze that much schooling into say ~250 hours of exam prep with no prior knowledge.

 

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