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Will.I.Am

Geotechnical Depth Practice Problems

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I'm beginning to study for the PE and I'm contemplating what my approach should be. I'm thinking that, with my background (MS in geotech), I'd like to spend most of my time focusing on solving practice problems and then diving more into unfamiliar concepts as I encounter them, rather than splitting my time between a prep course and problems. 

The problem that I'm foreseeing in this approach is not having access to enough good-quality practice problems. It seems that, aside from the official NCEES practice exam, almost every set of practice problems comes with significant complaints of problems being much harder than what's generally on the PE, errors/typos in the problems, or both. 

I'm definitely planning to get the following problem sets:

*NCEES Practice Exam (and the previous edition, if I can get my hands on it.)

*Six Minute Solutions, Geotech

*Lindeburg's PE Civil Practice Problems (I've heard these are harder than typical NCEES problems, but they seem like solid practice as long as you know that.)

*PE Prepared Geotech Depth Exam A

*A couple other practice exams for the breadth section

It seems that one of the main benefits of the prep courses is access to (hopefully) good-quality practice problems to work on.  Without one of those databases, I'm not sure particularly where to turn. Are there any other practice exams or problem sets that come highly recommended or that I should definitely get my hands on?

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That list seems sufficient for the depth. For the depth I only had:

  • NCEES practice exam
  • Lundberg 15th ed practice exam
  • 6 minute solutions

I also used civilpepractice.com for breadth, but it also had a few depth questions. I found that nice for picking up a random problem during little breaks at work. It's not a perfect site but it's reasonably priced.

I did a lot of calculation study, which was good, but I was surprised in the Oct 18 exam by the qualitative questions: which field test, which pipe type, how to install geotextile, etc. I'm not sure how to better prepare for those. The Geotechnical Engineers Portable Handbook helped but even that would still tell me multiple valid options but not which is the BEST option.

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I would add the Goswami practice test to your list. In hindsight I think that one was the best, despite a few possible typos/errors that I encountered (I didn’t have time to email them to question the errors). I personally didn’t like the six minute solutions geotech practice problems.

Also, I didn’t think the actual exam was much easier than most of the practice exams you listed. In fact I thought the Oct 18 exam was way harder than the NCEES practice exam, particularly in the breadth section. I was bordering on cocky going into the exam because I scored 75/80 on the practice exam and was quickly panicking on exam day after reading through the first few pages of problems.

I agree with the previous post about the qualitative questions. I walked out of the exam thinking “if I failed that, I’m not sure how to better study for it”. I also relied on the Geotech Portable Handbook for a lot of those questions - I would say that book is a must for the geotech exam.

I took a review course, but that’s only because I just learn best with a little more structure. Practice problems are definitely the most important part.

Good luck with the studying!

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On 12/10/2018 at 8:09 AM, hj_pe said:

I would add the Goswami practice test to your list. In hindsight I think that one was the best, despite a few possible typos/errors that I encountered (I didn’t have time to email them to question the errors). I personally didn’t like the six minute solutions geotech practice problems.

Also, I didn’t think the actual exam was much easier than most of the practice exams you listed. In fact I thought the Oct 18 exam was way harder than the NCEES practice exam, particularly in the breadth section. I was bordering on cocky going into the exam because I scored 75/80 on the practice exam and was quickly panicking on exam day after reading through the first few pages of problems.

I agree with the previous post about the qualitative questions. I walked out of the exam thinking “if I failed that, I’m not sure how to better study for it”. I also relied on the Geotech Portable Handbook for a lot of those questions - I would say that book is a must for the geotech exam.

I took a review course, but that’s only because I just learn best with a little more structure. Practice problems are definitely the most important part.

Good luck with the studying!

I recently found this one very helpful for exam prep:

Practice Tests Kit for PE Civil Exam - Geotechnical: A practice test book to prepare engineers for PE Civil Exam - Geotechnical Depth by Amazon.com
 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/197767545X/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U__zU4mCbFXZJX9Q

Edited by YU99

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