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Maine PE PLS

For Those Who Didn't Pass

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I just joined this community yesterday, but I know that there are a lot of people out there that are currently getting some really awful news.

While I am by no means an expert in test taking, I feel like I am somewhat qualified to offer some advice.  I've taken four different NCEES exams, failing three of them - (FS Fail, FS Pass, FE Pass, PS Fail, PS Pass, PE Fail, PE Pass).  If NCEES ever goes public, I'll buy stock.

So for those who failed:

1)  Take a Deep Breath:  You're currently feeling a lot of emotions right now, and they're likely all negative.  You poured countless hours and hundreds of dollars into this exam, and are feeling like it was all for nothing.  It wasn't for nothing.  You're now closer to passing the exam than you ever have been.  This might feel like a huge set back, but it's a necessary step forward toward your license.  Some people get there in one big step, while others take many small steps to get to their destination.

2)  Prepare for Returning to Work:  For me, this was the worst part of failing the exams.  Having to explain my failure to co-workers, many of whom had already passed the PE or PS exam, was really difficult.  In your mind, you likely think that colleagues are judging you more than they really are.  The reality is that they are almost always sympathetic and feel badly for you.  I've read some horror stories in the past where co-workers will verbally put down or make fun of someone who has failed - if this happens to you, I am so very sorry.  That is truly a bad situation for so many reasons. But, 99% of the time, your co-workers will be sympathetic.  

3)  Take a Break:  Every time I failed, my gut instinct was to jump right back on the horse and immediately start studying again.  This is a positive mentality to have, but it might not be the most productive for passing this exam.  Your first reaction might be, "But I've had a break for the past 6-8 weeks since I took my test".  In reality, you haven't had a break.  You've been stressing over the results, possibly losing sleep.  Now that you know that you've failed and that you will have the opportunity to take the exam again, it's time to rest and clear your mind.  You know what lies in your future, but for the next month, try to rest and make a plan.

4)  Plan Your Move:  One of the few benefits to failing is that you are presented with a report showing your weaknesses.  Depending on how the exam went and what you know about yourself, this may or may not help you.  For instance, my first PE fail showed that I was basically below average on everything except surveying.  For me, it was completely back to the drawing board, but if you know that you're extremely strong in certain categories, terribly weak in others, and your results show this, then use it to your advantage when you start studying again.

5)  Hop Back On the Horse:  After a month of rest, pull out the crate of books that you last touched back in April, and slowly start studying again.  If you took a prep class like EET or SoPE, look into if they offer a free 2nd attempt, or discounted classes for attempts beyond the 2nd attempt.  If there were things that you didn't like about the class the first time, look into changing the school or instructor this time around (I had a difficult time following my geotech instructor the first time, and found that changing the instructor the 2nd time made all the difference).  If you took a live class the first time and know where your weaknesses are this time, consider switching to on-demand if that's an option.  This will allow you to spend more time on weak areas and less time on your strengths.

6) Pace Yourself:  October is five months away.  I won't lie - when taking a 2nd attempt and focusing on studying, those 5 months flew by.  If you take a one month break, you have four months to study, and that is plenty of time.  It's also plenty of time to completely burn yourself out.  It's important to constantly study, but to also give your mind breaks.  If your work is physically draining, plan on minimal studying on work days.  If you must have weekends free, study 1-2 hrs a night, but give yourself a couple of nights off every week.  Cramming and turning your brain to mush will do you no good in October - slow and steady wins the race.

7)  When October Arrives, Relax:  Stress is as much a factor in failing an exam as not being knowledgeable in your exam material.  You will stress more going into this exam simply out of fear of failing again.  Practice suppressing this fear, and know that you have an upper hand this time.  You know what the test looks like.  You know what the AM/PM time frame feels like.  You've been here before.  Reduce panic, skip questions that you are lost on, focus on what you know.   (I realize all of this is easier said than done)

But for now - just breathe.  Looking back, this moment will blend with all others.  You will no longer look upon it as a negative experience, but rather a building block that was necessary to get where you are bound to go.

Best of luck!

 

 

 

Edited by Maine PE PLS
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Guest Sam

You don't know how much I needed to read through that. Just failed my first PE exam, and I did NOT expect to. Thank you so much for your insight! 

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7 minutes ago, bellalshaaban said:

How long after results are released does it take for NCEES to post pass rates?

Looking historically it's about 2-3 days after they release.

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55 minutes ago, gates1412 said:

Thank you man, that is helpful.

I just failed my first PE exam.

I will prepare for the second one.

 

46 minutes ago, Guest Sam said:

You don't know how much I needed to read through that. Just failed my first PE exam, and I did NOT expect to. Thank you so much for your insight! 

You're very welcome - When I failed the PE back in Oct 2016, I remember someone writing something similar.  At the time, I was pretty hopeless and the only thing I felt like doing was giving up the exam all together. 

It helps knowing that you're definitely not alone in what you're going through.

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I will also add that I found that the people I work with were super supportive of my unsuccessful attempt.  People fail this test all the time, and it does not make you any less of an engineer to take it 2-3, or even 10 times.  Just be what an engineer is - a problem solver. Keep on trying, working through your weak areas, and solve this problem guys!

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I feel your pain. It took me lots of attempts to pass!! We only Fail if we stop trying!!!

You WILL get it!!!

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My heart goes out to those who did not pass. I failed the October 2017 PE exam, but I passed the April 2018 PE exam. I was hesitant about taking it again after my first unsuccessful attempt. Because the material was still fresh in my mind, I decided to give it another try. I used EET prep class the first time and used the free repeat for the second. My advice would be to take the EET prep course, do a lot of practice exams, and study 20 hours a week for at least 5 months. I understand that you feel awful, but know that this is just a test and in no way a reflection of who you are as a person. You are wonderful and smart and no test can measure how invaluable you are.

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1 hour ago, marnold said:

My heart goes out to those who did not pass. I failed the October 2017 PE exam, but I passed the April 2018 PE exam. I was hesitant about taking it again after my first unsuccessful attempt. Because the material was still fresh in my mind, I decided to give it another try. I used EET prep class the first time and used the free repeat for the second. My advice would be to take the EET prep course, do a lot of practice exams, and study 20 hours a week for at least 5 months. I understand that you feel awful, but know that this is just a test and in no way a reflection of who you are as a person. You are wonderful and smart and no test can measure how invaluable you are.

Good post here. I took EET Civil: Structural prep course for April and failed with 50/80. Wondering what advice you have about how to best use EET the second time around? Also- Do they send new materials to you?

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I did not receive any new materials from EET using the free repeat. I did have access to the videos, practice problems, and practice exams. For the second time around, I went through everything again. I did review my weak areas (structures) a few more times and worked more problems. I did buy the Six-Minute Solutions for my afternoon discipline (transportation) and Goswami's practice exams from Amazon. I also bought more reference materials. Good luck and do not give up.

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Guest Geotech PE in Raleigh

Wondering the PE Geotechnical Exam April 2018. Unsuccessful attempt (failed); I was expecting at least 57 raw score but had 47. Anyone knows the cutoff of Geotechnical PE Exams : North Carolina.

Thanks

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On 5/25/2018 at 8:08 AM, Adam42481 said:

I feel your pain. It took me lots of attempts to pass!! We only Fail if we stop trying!!!

You WILL get it!!!

Right there with you....4 attempts for me which I now call battle scars...well worth the sacrifice though...

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I feel for anyone that didn't get this horrendous test behind them - I was somehow blessed on this one.

I must say thought that it was definitely the most 'grueling' test I've ever taken, and I've taken a lot - some with good results and some not.

My list includes: GRE (good, but I only need a good math score to get into a Computer MS program), GMAT (marginal, qualifying me for a 'low end' business school), CISSP (very good, but it was not that challenging since I had many years in the field as a consultant), PMP (felt unprepared at the last minute so I didn't show up for the tests and never tried again), and recently FE/PE (much more difficult that I would have ever imagined but somehow passed - I should not have waited 25-years to start those). 

I have learned however, by staying focused on my objective that anything is possible.  In addition to my PE and CISSP, I've earned a Masters in Computer Science (with honors), and my MBA.

As the metaphoric song 'I Hope You Dance' (by Lee Ann Womack) speaks the important message that people should always put yourself out there and never hesitate to try for a dream, I focus and push hard.  I will soon go back to the PMP exam just to 'kick it in the ass' . :B

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