Civil PE Practice Exams that helped - OCT 2018 - Engineer Boards
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E720

Civil PE Practice Exams that helped

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While preparing for the PE Exam I found it extremely difficult to find good practice exams, especially online (ones where I didn't have to go through an expensive review course). Did you find the same thing? What Civil PE practice exams were most helpful?

Edited by E720

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I thought the CERM Practice Manual was not useful at all. Also Aliakbari's practice structural was heavily littered with errors to the point that it was not helpful at all. I thought NCEES obviously was good, PE Prepared LLC was good, CivilPEPractice.com was alright but it seemed like they just copied questions out of the NCEES.

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I only went over NCEES practice book. I found their breadth a lot easier than the actual morning section. This really threw me off. It gave me false assurance that I wouldn't really have to study/read the material and figure questions out at the site. When I took NCEES exam, I solved and reviewed all the questions thoroughly and still had an hour in hand. But, in the actual exam, I only had 10 minutes to review at the end and rushed to mark the final answers.  I think I made rough guesses on 20 questions! 

And I found NCEES depth (structural) a lot harder than the actual exam. I felt like I knew 50% of the practice questions while in the real exam I felt confident with 90~93% of questions.  

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7 minutes ago, indeterminatein said:

I only went over NCEES practice book. I found their breadth a lot easier than the actual morning section. This really threw me off. It gave me false assurance that I wouldn't really have to study/read the material and figure questions out at the site. When I took NCEES exam, I solved and reviewed all the questions thoroughly and still had an hour in hand. But, in the actual exam, I only had 10 minutes to review at the end and rushed to mark the final answers.  I think I made rough guesses on 20 questions! 

And I found NCEES depth (structural) a lot harder than the actual exam. I felt like I knew 50% of the practice questions while in the real exam I felt confident with 90~93% of questions.  

Yeah I felt like some of the AM questions belonged in the PM sections of the various depths. That was frustrating ...

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I used School of PE, was pretty thorough, though the afternoon environmental for WR was a hot mess, but I guess it worked.

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20 minutes ago, Tokka said:

EET Review coarse all the way!!! Professor Samir was the best!

I have seen people ask if they needed to take a review course (this thread on reddit). I don't think so because I just sort of self-studied and that worked for me. In your case do you feel like you could've passed with just self-study?

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3 minutes ago, shepherd90 said:

A hidden gem in reviewing course, IMO, is ASCE's review webinar. Their materials for AM are very comprehensive 

Isn't that really expensive though? My firm is super cheap compared to others, they just gave me $250 + exam fees + the day off. So I was just able to buy practice exams, some reference materials. Luckily I borrowed the CERM from a coworker. It seems like other companies pay for entire $1000 (or $2000+) review courses.

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1st attempt I solely relied on CERM for AM (scored 30/40). For PM , I studied randomly from books, codes and videos (scored 15 and spectacularly failed). 2nd attempt, I enrolled for EET classes and passed.The EET classes were hugely helpful. If you don't want to shell out a lot of money for the classes , I would suggest using CERM to prepare for AM and EET for PM. But if you can afford it , enroll in EET classes for both AM and PM and meticulously understand the concepts. 

My strategy was simple, it would take forever to prepare for all the topics on the test. Instead I prepared perfectly 80% of the topics I was comfortable with.

Don't ignore wood at any costs, EET classes were great on wood and I was able to solve 5/5 on the rest on wood.  Steel manual is the gospel too. Most importantly avoid silly mistakes on the test . Spend time reading carefully the questions. 

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9 minutes ago, PE 2018 said:

Don't ignore wood at any costs, EET classes were great on wood and I was able to solve 5/5 on the rest on wood.  Steel manual is the gospel too. Most importantly avoid silly mistakes on the test . Spend time reading carefully the questions.

Luckily I had a wood class in school and that's what I do almost every single day. I did the same thing as you. Pick one thing that you are bad at and don't worry about it. For me that was masonry. I guessed on every single masonry question.

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Civil Structural Exam Taker here-- I passed, PTL! I did probably at least 1000 practice problems leading up to the exam (no lie-- I almost went insane). Mainly used CERM Practice Problems, Goswami, NCEES practice problems, and School of PE homework problems I got from a friend who took the class before. I found every resource quite helpful.

Some people have dismissed the CERM practice problems as too complicated or difficult, but for me, they made me so over-prepared that when I opened the test booklet for each session I was almost giddy as I looked through all of the problem statements, because I felt confident on how to do just about every problem. I was actually re-reading quite a few problems convinced that I was missing something because they were asking for only part A of a problem that the CERM practice problem book would ask for parts A thru G. If you start studying early enough and know which chapters to skip in the CERM companion, it can be a very helpful tool. Just don't get discouraged by how many you get right because the problems are way more involved than the test and you learn through your failures!!

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1 hour ago, E720 said:

Isn't that really expensive though? My firm is super cheap compared to others, they just gave me $250 + exam fees + the day off. So I was just able to buy practice exams, some reference materials. Luckily I borrowed the CERM from a coworker. It seems like other companies pay for entire $1000 (or $2000+) review courses.

A big firm in my city did a group purchase for the course and a dozen engineers who participated shared the cost. I paid like $150 for the whole thing.

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The NCEES official practice exam is almost laughably easier than the exam, its a damn shame that their official practice is so different from the actual exam. Definitely do not just take only that exam. I think it is still worthwhile to go through, because I think it is equivalent to the easier problems on the actual exam, but you're in for a bad time if you think it will challenge you as much as the exam.

I found the the PPI Six Minute Problems were a fairly good approximation for the bulk of the exam, difficulty-wise. Definitely some curveball questions in there, much like the actual exam, and there's not much you can really do to prepare for the real curveballs, IMO.

I'm indifferent towards the CERM Practice Problems. I think if you worked through a ton of them, it may be useful in preparing you for some real curveballs, but for myself personally, I wasn't going to be able to devote that much time, and retain enough about those problems, to make it worthwhile.

Didn't take any of the mainstream online review courses, just one in-person review offered by the MGEC for the AM session, so I can't comment on any of those. For those of you in MN (mostly twin cities area because it's held there in-person), it's only $50 for non-MGEC members, you meet 7 or 8 Mondays for 3-4 hours, and I felt it did a pretty good job of prepping me for the AM.

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2 hours ago, MNgineer said:

The NCEES official practice exam is almost laughably easier than the exam

Overall I think the NCEES test was the best. There were some questions that didn't belong anywhere near the AM section.

2 hours ago, MNgineer said:

I found the the PPI Six Minute Problems were a fairly good approximation for the bulk of the exam, difficulty-wise

Agree

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School of PE was extremely helpful in my case, passed with first try, strongly recommended. 

I took off from work for about 1 month and literally just spent the time studying over their class notes, it was extremely helpful and detail. I was able to answer most of the questions with that. Felt really good when I'm outta the exam, and passed. 

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1 minute ago, whateverrr said:

took off from work for about 1 month

You took off work for 1 month?!?

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32 minutes ago, E720 said:

You took off work for 1 month?!?

Yes...I guess if you take off that long then it doesn't matter which prep you choose you'll pass lol. I was fortunate to do most of the stuff at home.

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15 hours ago, E720 said:

Overall I think the NCEES test was the best. There were some questions that didn't belong anywhere near the AM section.

I think the NCEES test was still valuable in the sense that the format of the questions were most similar to the actual test, and probably gave me the closest approximation of the pacing I needed on the test. However, I felt that the actual difficulty of the questions, for the most part, was on the lower end compared to the actual exam.

For a general example on a scale of 1-10, for all of the problems that I worked and the actual test, I'd put the NCEES practice exam at a range of 4 to 7 with an average of 5, the actual exam at a 6 to 9 with an average of 7, Six Minute Solutions at around the same as the test, and CERM questions at 6 to 10 with an average of 8.5.

Pretty arbitrary there, but just kinda how I feel; yes there was definitely overlap between the NCEES practice and actual exams, but if the actual exam was like the practice exam, I would have walked out of it confident as hell that I did well. Definitely still recommend everybody uses the official practice test though.

Then again, it's hard to tell. We obviously can't compare them directly, and the actual test has so many more factors playing into it like stress and other people in the room, so they could have been very similar difficulty and I just felt the practice was much easier because I didn't have those extra factors playing into how I performed on each. Because of that though, I would say the Six Minute Solutions are probably the best approximation still, because working those for practice had me feeling like I actually felt during the test overall.

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