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PEprepping

Varying difficulty in practice exams/problems

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So I got my hands on a bunch of different practice exams/problems to gauge my abilities on working through the problems. The varying difficulty between sets is really frustrating though. On some of them, I might finish a whole 40 question morning session in under 2 hours. On others, I might answer 10 problems, get 4 wrong and skip 5 in 2 hours and then stop, feeling discouraged and frustrated. Anyone else experience this?

If you have any advice or suggestions on which ones were actually helpful for the actual exam and which one's to avoid, please let me know!

Here are the practice exams I have so far, ranked from easiest to hardest:

  • Civil PE Exam: How to pass on your first try! - It had some simple straight forward problems and the topics were organized/in order. The long introduction text was kind of motivational.
  • NCEES - I heard this was the most close to the actual exam, I took it pretty early in my studies to see test my level and didn't think it was that hard.
  • PE Prepared - Pretty easy straight forward questions.
  • Mike Hansen's Civil PE Exam Guide - Don't really remember taking it, but I think it had some tricky questions.
  • PPI - Took one of the structural depth; was able to finish but skipped quite a few and some tricky questions slipped me up.
  • Goswami - The one that frustrated me. There was a lot of "depth" to some problems that took a while for me to figure out.
  • 6 Minute Solutions - I initially tried to use this for each topic. But the questions took way too long for me to solve.

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18 minutes ago, PEprepping said:

So I got my hands on a bunch of different practice exams/problems to gauge my abilities on working through the problems. The varying difficulty between sets is really frustrating though. On some of them, I might finish a whole 40 question morning session in under 2 hours. On others, I might answer 10 problems, get 4 wrong and skip 5 in 2 hours and then stop, feeling discouraged and frustrated. Anyone else experience this?

If you have any advice or suggestions on which ones were actually helpful for the actual exam and which one's to avoid, please let me know!

Here are the practice exams I have so far, ranked from easiest to hardest:

  • Civil PE Exam: How to pass on your first try! - It had some simple straight forward problems and the topics were organized/in order. The long introduction text was kind of motivational.
  • NCEES - I heard this was the most close to the actual exam, I took it pretty early in my studies to see test my level and didn't think it was that hard.
  • PE Prepared - Pretty easy straight forward questions.
  • Mike Hansen's Civil PE Exam Guide - Don't really remember taking it, but I think it had some tricky questions.
  • PPI - Took one of the structural depth; was able to finish but skipped quite a few and some tricky questions slipped me up.
  • Goswami - The one that frustrated me. There was a lot of "depth" to some problems that took a while for me to figure out.
  • 6 Minute Solutions - I initially tried to use this for each topic. But the questions took way too long for me to solve.

I've heard for the 6MS and Goswami that the problems are more difficult than those you might see on the exam. I know I attempted a few of the 6MS problem sets but didn't end up going all the way through. I don't think you should feel discouraged if they are taking you more time than 6 minutes to solve, because the truth is, sure, there may be a few problems that are long and more in depth like these, but they will be balanced out with easy problems where you don't even have to think about the answers. It sounds like you're doing a lot of practice problems, which is one of the keys to success. One of the other keys is your methods for testing. I highly recommend doing multiple passes thru the exam to ensure you get to every simple and quick question possible before you start diving into the ones that may take up more of your time. 

Keep on truckin', you've got this!

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Don't get discouraged! There are definitely harder practice exams and sets of practice problems as well as easier one. I specifically also remember 6MS having problems that would take me at least twenty minutes to solve, some times much longer. I did not end up using them to study, myself.

The NCEES practice exam is definitely the closest in terms of level of difficulty to the PE exam itself, as the questions in the NCEES practice exam are former PE exam questions. Otherwise, I personally think the PPI practice problems sometimes verged on being longer, or, for instance, have many parts to a problem that made the problem long.

But I agree with @tj_PE. Having lots of practice problems and variety in your practice problems is a great key to studying for this exam.

Keep your head up! You've got this!

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I'll echo the above, and also add that I didn't pay too much attention to time required to answer a question while studying. At least not until the last week or two before the test. I focused more on understanding how to arrive at the correct answer. Speed would come with repetition.

I can't speak for the civil exam, I took nuclear, but six minutes is just an average. I remember having a bunch of questions that college freshman could answer in less than 30 sec, and only a handful that took 20+ min to answer (despite knowing exactly what to do). They key is to triage the test. Answer the fast questions immediately; recognize the slower questions and save them towards later in the session. Each question has equal weight so take the easy points while you can get them.

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On 10/9/2018 at 10:12 AM, PEprepping said:

So I got my hands on a bunch of different practice exams/problems to gauge my abilities on working through the problems. The varying difficulty between sets is really frustrating though. On some of them, I might finish a whole 40 question morning session in under 2 hours. On others, I might answer 10 problems, get 4 wrong and skip 5 in 2 hours and then stop, feeling discouraged and frustrated. Anyone else experience this?

If you have any advice or suggestions on which ones were actually helpful for the actual exam and which one's to avoid, please let me know!

Here are the practice exams I have so far, ranked from easiest to hardest:

  • Civil PE Exam: How to pass on your first try! - It had some simple straight forward problems and the topics were organized/in order. The long introduction text was kind of motivational.
  • NCEES - I heard this was the most close to the actual exam, I took it pretty early in my studies to see test my level and didn't think it was that hard.
  • PE Prepared - Pretty easy straight forward questions.
  • Mike Hansen's Civil PE Exam Guide - Don't really remember taking it, but I think it had some tricky questions.
  • PPI - Took one of the structural depth; was able to finish but skipped quite a few and some tricky questions slipped me up.
  • Goswami - The one that frustrated me. There was a lot of "depth" to some problems that took a while for me to figure out.
  • 6 Minute Solutions - I initially tried to use this for each topic. But the questions took way too long for me to solve.

My thoughts, and to clarify, I have 5 out of 7 of your references. I will comment on the ones I have. Also, it took me 3 times to pass this exam so my comparison from these to the exam is credible! 

Civil PE Exam: How to pass - The problems weren't very difficult compared to the exam IMO. All were pretty simple and the few obscure ones, you will never see on the exam. 

NCEES - Agreed, this was the best exam that closely resembled the exam difficulty. Just a hint though, they could ask you questions that seem similar to the ones in this book, but will be different in minor ways so be careful and read thoroughly. 

Mike's -  A cake walk, maybe the cut/fill problems will assist you, but all the other ones are easy compared to the exam. The "softballs" you encounter in the exam may resemble these problems.

Goswami - A complete waste of time. No exam question will ever be as in depth as the ones in this book. I will use this book as kindling when I start fires. 

As for the 6 minute - I also have this reference but I didn't use it. Those are still set up to represent how the exam used to be formatted (i.e. solve parts A-E) so it could be useful I suppose but the exam will only ask you to solve one of those parts. I'll leave that one up to you.

That's my 2 cents :) Hope it helps.

Edited by CivilGuy00
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On 10/9/2018 at 10:12 AM, PEprepping said:

So I got my hands on a bunch of different practice exams/problems to gauge my abilities on working through the problems. The varying difficulty between sets is really frustrating though. On some of them, I might finish a whole 40 question morning session in under 2 hours. On others, I might answer 10 problems, get 4 wrong and skip 5 in 2 hours and then stop, feeling discouraged and frustrated. Anyone else experience this?

If you have any advice or suggestions on which ones were actually helpful for the actual exam and which one's to avoid, please let me know!

Here are the practice exams I have so far, ranked from easiest to hardest:

  • Civil PE Exam: How to pass on your first try! - It had some simple straight forward problems and the topics were organized/in order. The long introduction text was kind of motivational.
  • NCEES - I heard this was the most close to the actual exam, I took it pretty early in my studies to see test my level and didn't think it was that hard.
  • PE Prepared - Pretty easy straight forward questions.
  • Mike Hansen's Civil PE Exam Guide - Don't really remember taking it, but I think it had some tricky questions.
  • PPI - Took one of the structural depth; was able to finish but skipped quite a few and some tricky questions slipped me up.
  • Goswami - The one that frustrated me. There was a lot of "depth" to some problems that took a while for me to figure out.
  • 6 Minute Solutions - I initially tried to use this for each topic. But the questions took way too long for me to solve.

I used NCEES, PPI (I did exam cafe) And 6min solutions, had Goswami, but didn't get to those.  I also had various other problems that I used.

PPI frustrated me, some of the problems were so long that even if I cold do them, it took 20-30 minutes.  

NCEES I thought was pretty spot on for one of the exams I took (the one I passed) and much easier than the one I failed - maybe it was just a difficult exam for my skill set.

6 minute solutions was probably where I found the most use, although I was working from an older version, so  I had to do a lot of research to determine the up dated code way of working them, so I think  that helped me a lot to get my ducks in a row.

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Comment on Goswami book:

I found this one very useful. I agree that the depth of the problem is not representative of what you see in the exam. However, I found it useful because I broke down each of the example problem as multiple problems. For example, say, the example problem is about finding  power (hp) required to pump water from point A to point B where the pipes have several fittings/bends. 

You actually have three problems there:

1) How to set up Bernoulli's equation between two points when there is a head-changing device (i.e., pump) is present

2) How to calculate head-loss in fittings 

3) How to calculate friction head loss over a length of a pipe. 

 

 Techniques/short-cut equations utilized in the book to solve these were very helpful for me. 

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On 10/11/2018 at 10:37 AM, new_at_this said:

Comment on Goswami book:

I found this one very useful. I agree that the depth of the problem is not representative of what you see in the exam. However, I found it useful because I broke down each of the example problem as multiple problems. For example, say, the example problem is about finding  power (hp) required to pump water from point A to point B where the pipes have several fittings/bends. 

You actually have three problems there:

1) How to set up Bernoulli's equation between two points when there is a head-changing device (i.e., pump) is present

2) How to calculate head-loss in fittings 

3) How to calculate friction head loss over a length of a pipe. 

 

 Techniques/short-cut equations utilized in the book to solve these were very helpful for me. 

I don't have anything to add to this I just wanted to say HELLO as I'm also in Orange County (Irvine).

Howdy.

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On 10/16/2018 at 1:33 PM, Hockey Eng said:

I don't have anything to add to this I just wanted to say HELLO as I'm also in Orange County (Irvine).

Howdy.

Hello. I am your neighbor in Costa Mesa 🙂

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