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Engineer_562

For folks, who didn’t pass, what changes are you going to make in your preparation next time?

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I was very close to the cut line (52/80) with Civil-Geotech, so I'm going to reinforce what I did well on and continue to take more practice exams during the summer (sigh).  As stated in another thread, I was very happy with School of PE's breadth preparation materials (felt pretty good after the morning session), but felt the depth was severely lacking.  I will be re-taking the SoPE review (it's free if you fail as part of their guarantee), but I will probably also pony up and add the EET Geotech Depth to my preparation.

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Hmm I don't actually know yet. I took EET Breadth and Geotech Depth and I felt pretty prepared, but I still didn't pass. I think I am taking a little time off, and will retake the exam in April. I need to breathe and focus on other things I guess. I think working more problems with a greater variety might be helpful, but I know I have everything I need between books, reference material, and the binders from EET. I guess its a matter of working those problems again and again and trying to find where I can obtain more problems. I would recommend the EET classes for anyone who is looking for additional help. The breadth and depth were both quite good and covered a lot of material.

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EET, it was a great prep course for Civil Transportation. The instructors were enthusiastic, knowledge for test prep and the material for classes and study were great for test day use. Lastly, use lots of tabs on everything.

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Start by thinking about the test day and what issues you came across and what you wish you did different.  Did you have proper references or do you need to add some? Were you able to find information or do you need better indexing and tabbing? If timing was an issue, try working more problems to work on speed. If you find yourself using the same formulas while studying,  make a formula sheet with the most common formulas for each topic. It would be easier to flip through a few pages instead of a 3" binder if all you are doing is finding the formula you need. Focus on areas you gad trouble but also work on areas you did go on. On the next exam, the sections you did good on could ask about a topic you are not that familiar about or have trouble with. 

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If you failed this time, don't give up.  I failed the FE 3 times and passed the Civil - Transportation this cycle on my second attempt almost 8 years out of college with 3 kids at home.  I only put in about 50 hours of study time my first attempt and failed with a 40/80 back in 2015.  This time around, I put in about 100+ hours of studying.  I do recommend taking Testmasters ( is usually offered in Baton Rouge before the April exam and the CERM was included) or at least borrowing notes if you know someone who has taken it.  Also, there were way more look up questions than I expected, but I was lucky enough to have access to just about of all the recommended references from my workplace.  Without those, I probably would have failed.  Make sure you have HCM, Greenbook, MUTCD for sure.  I also recommend having the Roadside Design Guide, Planning Design and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities, and some sort of pavement and geotech book.  If you can get all of the recommended books, go for it.  You never know if that one lookup question may be the deciding factor if you pass or fail.  If you are retaking the exam in the fall, just take a little breather then jump back into studying and take a prep course if you can.  I think anyone can pass this exam, since I did.  Good luck to you all.

Edited by jperry1221
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I think I need a better test taking strategy. Am wondering if I put in too much effort and should have thought the questions were easy. Will be reading through the entire test next time, hoping that will keep the gears turning for the answers to those I skipped. Wondering if I should switch disciplines. But if not, want to be sure and go through 30 questions in depth, twice. Guessing on last 10 if I have to.

Edited by WDWA 2018
Typo

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Thank you all for your wonderful responses. Here is what I have learned about what I need to do different next time.

1) Solve the problems on paper like in exam using the exam pencil and calculator instead of just reading and thinking that i will be able to solve them in exam. l have a bad habit of doing this. 

2) Only solve problems that I  don’t know how to solve and leave the easier ones. I used to think it will be a bonus if I solve the easier ones anyway. I need to focus on the ones that I am having trouble with first and then think about the rest.

3) Beleive it or not! There were problems in the exam that I missed and later I found that they were in the references I took with me. I just didn’t look enough or assume quickly that they are not in references. I need to be more familiar with my references.

4) I need to solve problems that are more related to exams than all problems that I see in the books. In other words, I need to use my energy effectively.

Hope this helps other members who are taking the October exam.  

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It took me three tries, but I felt so much more relaxed during the exam in April.  The April 2018 Civil-WRE exam actually had plenty of new material not covered in all my practice problems, but I kept chugging along.  I found that the exam questions are very similar to the practice problems we all work on.  However, its the small details that throws us off.  For example, I work numerous questions on solving bending moment, but the exam asks for something else instead.  It looks exactly like the same practice problem, but the problem is worked out totally different.  However, I clearly saw the little detail changes this time around.  Just remember the exam problems are really not extremely hard, but they are definitely trying to weed out people who use worked out practice problems as reference without understanding the questions.  The changes actually makes the problems easier to solve versus the practice problems.  I changed my test day routine to work at a pace of about 2 or 3 mins per problem and if I can't solve in 4 minutes then go to the next problem.  At the end I get about 45 mins or an hour to rework problems that I passed up.  In addition, I'd take a break or two during each exam session just so that I can clear my mind and read the problems carefully.  The previous exam attempts I kept thinking about time management and I didn't spend enough time on problems that looked hard but are actually easy.  By the time I start looking at problems I'm rushing and I don't think i was able to solve any problems that I passed up.  Just getting a few of those non gimmee questions during the exam is the difference between passing and failing.  I estimate about 30 problems in the exam are made for almost everyone to get right, but we need to solve about half of the rest of the problems to be a PE.  Good luck to everyone who will be taking the exam soon. 

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On ‎5‎/‎27‎/‎2018 at 2:40 PM, WDWA 2018 said:

I think I need a better test taking strategy. Am wondering if I put in too much effort and should have thought the questions were easy. Will be reading through the entire test next time, hoping that will keep the gears turning for the answers to those I skipped. Wondering if I should switch disciplines. But if not, want to be sure and go through 30 questions in depth, twice. Guessing on last 10 if I have to. 

I second that. However, we have to do that during practice exams all the way through the PE exam itself.

I realize that every little habit during preparation reflects in our performance come exam day

Coming from me:

o. Come to grip with the fact that I give up on summer fun (beers, booze, ..) for a better cause

1. Set a study schedule and stick to it

2. Organize materials in same order as NCEES Exam specifications

3.  Read information on different topics and tab for easy access on exam day

4. Solve (not simulate) problems

5. GO GET IT ON OCTOBER 26

 

 

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On 6/8/2018 at 2:50 PM, Engineer_562 said:

Thank you all for your wonderful responses. Here is what I have learned about what I need to do different next time.

1) Solve the problems on paper like in exam using the exam pencil and calculator instead of just reading and thinking that i will be able to solve them in exam. l have a bad habit of doing this. 

2) Only solve problems that I  don’t know how to solve and leave the easier ones. I used to think it will be a bonus if I solve the easier ones anyway. I need to focus on the ones that I am having trouble with first and then think about the rest.

3) Beleive it or not! There were problems in the exam that I missed and later I found that they were in the references I took with me. I just didn’t look enough or assume quickly that they are not in references. I need to be more familiar with my references.

4) I need to solve problems that are more related to exams than all problems that I see in the books. In other words, I need to use my energy effectively.

Hope this helps other members who are taking the October exam.  

I don't usually respond on here but I felt the need to here.  I fully disagree with your #2.  Solving harder problems first then going back to the easier ones is the exact opposite of what you should do.  You need as many points as possible so saving "easy" ones for the end is risking running out of time to get those points that you would pretty likely get with enough time.  I failed the FE twice and one of my main problems was spending way too much time obsessing over problems i couldn't figure out and by the end had to randomly guess on some that I definitely would have gotten if i had the time to solve them.  I learned my lesson on the PE and passed first time in April.  I even started falling into the same bad habit at the beginning of the PM section, staying on problems for way too long before deciding to move on.  Once I realized how much time had passed already, I had to regroup and went to a different section of problems I knew I'd have a easier/faster time answering.  Then, once I went through as many as I confidently could, I started working through the tougher ones.  I highly recommend you do the same.

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Back in the day I didn't pass the first time - I didn't feel like I put in enough hours (maybe 50)

So round 2 I set a goal of 100 "quality" hours and kept a log and also made sure I hit everything on the ncees "list" of potential problems - checked them off so I made sure I didn't miss anything...

Made sure to really hit the sections I did poorly in - AND make sure you re study the stuff you seemed to do well on because it will be back in a different form - just enough to make you think about them longer than you should..

Also I was civil - transportation and didn't bring a few books that I didn't think I would need - like the ITE planning manual and some others - defin pulled a question or two out of them..

Passed the second go round (2005) so good luck to you all!

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On 6/9/2018 at 6:50 AM, Engineer_562 said:

Thank you all for your wonderful responses. Here is what I have learned about what I need to do different next time.

1) Solve the problems on paper like in exam using the exam pencil and calculator instead of just reading and thinking that i will be able to solve them in exam. l have a bad habit of doing this. -Yes. You cannot assume anything. Do the leg work of actually solving the problems, even if it's "only practice." That's the point of practice problems.

2) Only solve problems that I  don’t know how to solve and leave the easier ones. I used to think it will be a bonus if I solve the easier ones anyway. I need to focus on the ones that I am having trouble with first and then think about the rest. - Wrong. Take the low-hanging fruit anywhere you can, but still be diligent with them and do not skip steps. These in-between steps from the easier problems can provide some insight into solving similar hard ones you skipped. This happened multiple times when I took it.

3) Beleive it or not! There were problems in the exam that I missed and later I found that they were in the references I took with me. I just didn’t look enough or assume quickly that they are not in references. I need to be more familiar with my references. -Yes. The key to passing the exam is not memorizing the steps or the equations, but rather where to find them. Know your resources inside and out. I never memorized an equation or a concept, but I was able to find them quickly within the references I had when I needed to.

4) I need to solve problems that are more related to exams than all problems that I see in the books. In other words, I need to use my energy effectively. - If the "books" you're referring to are things like the CERM/MERM/EERM (depending on your discipline), then those problems ARE related to the exam because that's why the book exists. The only problems that I actually worked through were in the NCEES practice exam. The rest of my studying was spent reviewing my references (see #3 above). I literally read the CERM cover to cover twice (three times if you count the time I tabbed it).

Hope this helps other members who are taking the October exam.  

My comments in Red above.

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