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Critique my Materials

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I'm beginning my studies for my Building exams, vertical & lateral, in April, 2019. 

Please critique my selection of books I'm going in with and studying from.

Note I'm not taking a class, as I learn most effectively from self study / solving problems.


Code Standards I already have

2015 CBC

ASCE 7-10

ACI 318-14

AISC steel manual + seismic manual, 2010


Code Standards I still need to get (How important are these - do I really need?)

AISI S100 & S213 - 2012

TMS 402/602 - 2013

NDS spec & supplement & SDPWS - 2015

AASHTO 7th ( doing Buildings - do I need? )


Reference Material I plan on obtaining (please let me know if you think any of these are not worth it or if there is something else I need. Also, PM me if you would like to sell me any materials)

NCEES SE Practice Exam

PPI STERM, 9th edition

PPI SE Buildings Practice Exam, 5th edition

PPI Solved Problems for the SE exam, 7th edition

6 minute - SE Structural Breadth, 6th edition




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Before buying any codes, wait until after the new exam standards are released.  Typically this will occur after the October exam, around the 1st week of November. 

My guess is that they will stay with IBC 2015 for another year, so you should be OK with ASCE 7-10, but if they go to IBC 2018 you will need to get ASCE 7-16 and AISC 2016 codes. You will be still be OK with ACI 318-14.  So, fingers crossed that they don't go to IBC 2018 yet!

There will be 1 multiple choice question on light gage steel (AISI) for each exam. So, you may be be OK without AISI. Wish they would just remove AISI like they did for PCI. We will see in November.

You will absolutely need the wood and masonry codes. There will be 3-4 multiple choice questions for each, on each exam, along with essay questions in the afternoon. 

AASHTO - They are due to update to the 8th edition, so hold off an getting the 7th edition. However, you will need to get AASHTO for the multiple choice questions. Expect at least 10 bridge multiple choice questions. Can't pass without getting at least a few of those correct. You won't need it for the essay questions though. You can get a greatly reduced price edition for the SE exam from AASHTO. 

Reference materials - These are the reference materials I would get:

1. NCEES SE Practice Exam (easier than the actual exam)

2. PPI SE Practice Exam (more in-line with difficulty of the actual exam) 

3. Bridge Questions for SE Exam by David Connor - I wrote this book specifically for building engineers to practice with bridge questions. Many people have told me it was a great help for them on the SE exam. I am in the process of updating it for AASHTO 8th edition just in case NCEES goes to the 8th edition. So hold off on buying it. 

4. IBC 2015/2018 SEAOC Structural Seismic Design Manuals Vol. 1-4 (absolutely essential for the lateral exam, especially Vol. 1)

5. Guide to Wind Load Provisions for ASCE 7-10 by ASCE.

6. PPI Steel Design for SE Exam by Roland

7. PPI Concrete Design for SE Exam by Buckner

8. 2015 Design of Reinforced Masonry Structures - by Concrete Masonry Association of California and Nevada

9. PPI Timber Design by Kim & Kim - Appears to be discontinued by PPI. Check Amazon. Still a good book to study for wood design, but won't be up-to-date. 

PPI SERM, SE Solved Problems, 6 Minute Solutions - If you get all of the above references, you probably won't need these. Still good books to have though. 

Hope this helps and best of luck on the exam!


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1 hour ago, David Connor, SE said:

Before buying any codes...



Woah, thank you for the very thorough response!


Much appreciated. I'll hold off until November before seriously diving in. Thanks!

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You may want to go ahead and begin studying and acquiring what you can. Especially since you are taking both vertical and lateral at the same time. Since you have the CBC (California) building code, I assume you are in California. So that certainly will help with the lateral exam.

I needed 5-6 months to study for each component. I took lateral first, and vertical the next time around.

Sounds like you may not do much wood or masonry design in your work, so go ahead and start studying those.  I would get that masonry design book (it's less than $30) and start there. Start tabbing your books, etc.   


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That's good advice. I'll go ahead and get started on Wood and Masonry. Thanks David!

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