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StructHOPEful

SE Exam - Lateral Help/Questions

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Hey everyone, long-time reader, first time poster. I just retook the SE lateral portion this past October 27th (passed the vertical portion in October and took the lateral portion for the first time in April) and while the morning went well, the afternoon was pretty tough and I'm not too confident that I'll be able to pass.

To give you a short recap of my stats:

1.) 1st time taking Lateral - 28/40 in the am, 2 acceptable, 1 needs improvement, and 1 unacceptable

2.) 2nd time - I feel pretty confident that I passed the morning (30+) but I just really couldn't get in the rhythm in the afternoon and felt out of sorts with a lot of the questions.

Given that it "seems" like the afternoon is my Achilles heel, I was hoping to get some suggestions on how to improve my afternoon performance. I have a few options listed below that I'm hopeful people can help comment on. I'm also willing to hear out what really worked for everyone to be able to get over the hump. I understand that the afternoon is extremely tough to prepare for but I've kind of ran out of problems to do (2nd time taking the test) and I'm looking for new sources of inspiration/materials.

1a.) Structural Engineering Solved Problems for the SE Exam, 7th Edition. I've heard that it's extremely difficult so I'm not too certain whether it's worth spending time on it but I'm getting a little desperate here.

2a.) SEAONC Design Manuals (I have the 2012 IBC edition Volume 1 but I'm curious to hear people's opinions about the newest edition and the material specific other volumes)

3a.) I could also take a class. I'm leaning towards the EET PE/SE refresher course but I'm curious to hear what kind of problems they go through. I have the NCEES practice exam, PPI practice exam, and PPI six minute solutions so if they use those problems in this class, then it might not be that effective for me. That's also the reason that I'm not looking at PPI's refresher course since I feel as though I've gone through a lot of their material. Given that I've studied quite a bit for the test (twice), this also may not be very effective from a time standpoint (and financial standpoint) as well. I have no doubt that I would be going over material that I have a pretty good grasp on with these classes. But, I haven't been able to pass the test so what do I know?

I apologize for the long post. I'm just extremely frustrated and angry with myself for not being able to pass this exam even with quite intense studying. I'm having a hard time divorcing passing this test from my abilities as a structural engineer.

-Desperate Lateral Weakling

 

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40 minutes ago, StructHOPEful said:

Hey everyone, long-time reader, first time poster. I just retook the SE lateral portion this past October 27th (passed the vertical portion in October and took the lateral portion for the first time in April) and while the morning went well, the afternoon was pretty tough and I'm not too confident that I'll be able to pass.

To give you a short recap of my stats:

1.) 1st time taking Lateral - 28/40 in the am, 2 acceptable, 1 needs improvement, and 1 unacceptable

2.) 2nd time - I feel pretty confident that I passed the morning (30+) but I just really couldn't get in the rhythm in the afternoon and felt out of sorts with a lot of the questions.

Given that it "seems" like the afternoon is my Achilles heel, I was hoping to get some suggestions on how to improve my afternoon performance. I have a few options listed below that I'm hopeful people can help comment on. I'm also willing to hear out what really worked for everyone to be able to get over the hump. I understand that the afternoon is extremely tough to prepare for but I've kind of ran out of problems to do (2nd time taking the test) and I'm looking for new sources of inspiration/materials.

1a.) Structural Engineering Solved Problems for the SE Exam, 7th Edition. I've heard that it's extremely difficult so I'm not too certain whether it's worth spending time on it but I'm getting a little desperate here.

2a.) SEAONC Design Manuals (I have the 2012 IBC edition Volume 1 but I'm curious to hear people's opinions about the newest edition and the material specific other volumes)

3a.) I could also take a class. I'm leaning towards the EET PE/SE refresher course but I'm curious to hear what kind of problems they go through. I have the NCEES practice exam, PPI practice exam, and PPI six minute solutions so if they use those problems in this class, then it might not be that effective for me. That's also the reason that I'm not looking at PPI's refresher course since I feel as though I've gone through a lot of their material. Given that I've studied quite a bit for the test (twice), this also may not be very effective from a time standpoint (and financial standpoint) as well. I have no doubt that I would be going over material that I have a pretty good grasp on with these classes. But, I haven't been able to pass the test so what do I know?

I apologize for the long post. I'm just extremely frustrated and angry with myself for not being able to pass this exam even with quite intense studying. I'm having a hard time divorcing passing this test from my abilities as a structural engineer.

-Desperate Lateral Weakling

 

@onemanwolfpack took EET.. And a couple others if you head to the EET SE Review thread for feedback on the material. I don't think they can use the PPI content or NCEES content in the course since they're getting paid to provide it. The EET review starts around december 8th which will likely be before results are received, so you would probably have to do on demand unless you wanted to take the course regardless of your scores. 

I've heard from an old colleague if you leave the SE exam confident you probably didn't pass....not sure how true that is, but I would recommend taking the winter off and assess what you want to do come spring - hopefully you've received the green pass and you don't even have to worry about it anymore :) 

Edited by tj_PE

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If you don't pass, the first thing you should do is buy the IBC Seismic Design Manuals Vols. 2-4.  Maybe go ahead and get the 2015 edition of Volume 1 if you can find it with a "bulk" deal.  But definitely you should have Vols. 2-4, along with Vol. 1.  

I don't think the Structural Engineering Solved Problems would help all that much.  The problems are just too specific and detailed.  Like the Structural Engineering Reference Manual (SERM), but even more detailed and specific. But you never know, maybe there is a problem or 2 in there that would help. 

 Other resources - PPI's Concrete and Steel Design books.  I like these better than the SERM chapters. 

Seismic Design of Building Structures by PPI is also good.  

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I concur with @David Connor, SE. The seismic design manuals are a must have, though you have to be selective about what you study in detail, as most of the examples in these manuals are just way too detailed. 

IBC Volume 1-General: is a must.

IBC Volume 2-Light frame; tilt up: was way too detailed.

IBC Volume 3-Concrete: you can cherry-pick valuable design information and analyses of design of particular elements of LFRS

IBC Volume 4-Steel (2012 version based on the 2015 IBC): Ditto but for steel.

 

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16 hours ago, tj_PE said:

3a.) I could also take a class. I'm leaning towards the EET PE/SE refresher course but I'm curious to hear what kind of problems they go through. I have the NCEES practice exam, PPI practice exam, and PPI six minute solutions so if they use those problems in this class, then it might not be that effective for me. That's also the reason that I'm not looking at PPI's refresher course since I feel as though I've gone through a lot of their material. Given that I've studied quite a bit for the test (twice), this also may not be very effective from a time standpoint (and financial standpoint) as well. I have no doubt that I would be going over material that I have a pretty good grasp on with these classes. But, I haven't been able to pass the test so what do I know?

I took the EET course, and I found it to be extremely helpful. I took the bridge depth, so I can't exactly tell you how the afternoon review was for buildings. For the bridge depth review, we pretty much just worked a lot of practice problems that the instructors had written themselves, which was really nice since the only published afternoon depth problems for bridge is the NCEES one. Most of the problems we worked were a bit more difficult than the actual exam, and covered a lot of different potential problems we could expect to see on test day.

For me, the most helpful part of the course was all of the morning review we did. Since you seem to be fine with the morning portion, and are pretty close with the afternoon questions, I'm not sure it would be worth it to spend ~$1000 on a review course just to get one afternoon question from a U to an A/IR. I would wait until you get results back, and reevaluate if a class is worth it then (and maybe you passed and we can close this thread!).

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A book I found useful was "Seismic and Wind Forces Structural Design Examples" by Alan Williams. it has an in depth chapter for each structural material for buildings. 

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Seismic and Wind Forces Structural Design Examples by Alan Williams was my most used reference for the lateral exam.  Some people bashed it because it had some typos, but all the code references were good and so were the processes.  If they have updated for the current exam reference codes, it is extremely useful.  It breaks examples up into smaller pieces which are much like the parts of the afternoon questions.  It was my equivalent of the SERM for the lateral exam.  Make sure you get David Connors book for lateral as well.  I know you said you thought the morning went well, but this book could get you another 4-6 confident answers (the rest are anyone's guess).  You seem really close from your Spring results.  I think if you may have just had to get that last afternoon question from an unacceptable to a needs improvement and you may have passed.  I took lateral last Fall and passed.  When I came home I "knew" I had failed.  I complained about one of the afternoon problems to NCEES because there were quite a few issues and others agreed and also complained.  But, my point being, one or two problems I didn't feel like I got a lot of meaty calculations down, but I still wrote out what I would have done, or could have done if there was more time.  I have heard others say the same thing.  Some simply write a paragraph for some parts--showing logic--and still pass.  You want to show the graders that you know what to do by giving correct code references and demonstrating you could answer a problem by outlining next steps and assumptions.  I talked to a fellow test taker after the exam and he gave "the" answer.  He didn't pass.  The problem is the problems could go many ways the way they word them.  You need to show you have the ability make a logical assumption, state your reasons, answer with a calculation and move on.  You can only spend an hour per problem (duh).  If you spend more, you need to make up ground with a narrative or two and get to the next question.  Did you just start with one and go to the next?  Or did you pick your best material and work them out of order.  I found during the practice exams that I spent too much time reading the problems and trying to decide which to do first, it was better just to start from the beginning and try to stay on schedule.  If I got done early, I would go back and work through more of a problem I had narrated.  It worked and 750 hours later, I passed both on the first try.  Again, I think you are super close.  If you didn't pass this time, read and tab up the book by Alan Williams and you will get there.

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