April 2019 SE Results Thread - Page 3 - Structural - Engineer Boards
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April 2019 SE Results Thread

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1 minute ago, cal91 said:

So here's what I don't get about NCEES not wanting their secret, reusable, problems to be known. Their reason for doing so (I assume) is so people won't cherry pick and study only problems that they see have been on exams. Okay, this works for new examinees, but then re-testers would have an unfair advantage, because they will likely see problems that they've already been tested on, right?  If you say that the re-testers don't have an unfair advantage, then what's the problem with having new testers see problems that retesters have seen? If you say the re-testers DO have an unfair advantage, then that's, well, unfair. I guess Momma always told me life isn't fair...

Well the whole system is screwed. This exam was meant for high seismic practitioners and designers of large complex structures. Georgia won't allow anyone to be licensed without this exam now. It was never MEANT to be that way. Silly Georgia.

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3 minutes ago, cal91 said:

So here's what I don't get about NCEES not wanting their secret, reusable, problems to be known. Their reason for doing so (I assume) is so people won't cherry pick and study only problems that they see have been on exams. Okay, this works for new examinees, but then re-testers would have an unfair advantage, because they will likely see problems that they've already been tested on, right?  If you say that the re-testers don't have an unfair advantage, then what's the problem with having new testers see problems that retesters have seen? If you say the re-testers DO have an unfair advantage, then that's, well, unfair. I guess Momma always told me life isn't fair...

That may be oversimplifying it a bit.  You may have seen a problem before, but you:

A) Don't know how you did on it the first time, so you may get it wrong again (in this case recognizing a problem may be a downside)

B) Have likely seen many similar problems if you took practice tests and studied books specifically designed for this exam.  I actually had a question on my last test that I had seen the day before on a practice exam.  Almost word for word, with the the only difference being a single dimension.

Additionally, it's unlikely they're going to repeat the same question in back to back tests.  There's probably an algorithm that prevents that from happening.  So at best a question may appear two or three cycles later.  If you can remember specific questions from that far back, then good on you, you probably deserve the bonus point.

Think of it like this, they probably have a few hundred (maybe even a thousand) questions with lots of small variations.  If they started releasing diagnostics with specific questions, that number would whittle away pretty quickly.  They'd likely need to hire way more test makers to keep the pool of fresh questions up, which would increase the cost of the test even more.

Also, the lateral test seems rigged towards specific structures and areas because the ultimate goal was to eliminate the state exams in WA and CA.  So to appease the strictest you needed to screw over the the others requiring the test.  I can imagine a breaking point in the future, where Illinois, and Georgia, and anywhere else that decides to require this exam are forced with either allowing structural design with a PE (or just getting rid of that weird law in GA regarding which test you can take, which is dumb for many reasons), or they push back hard on NCEES and force them to soften the exam, which will likely force CA and WA back to state exams.  The goal to eliminate those exams was to allow easier license comity.  So it really appears like someone will need to make a hard decision, either NCEES, or the state boards.  CA specifically calls this exam a "mastery" exam, so it stands as bizarre that you need it for very simple structures in some non-seismic states, but I guess that's why I'm not an administrator.

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Something else I find fascinating is the pass rate. If 70% of people will fail, even with your standard NCEES/PPI practice tests, that says a lot. That means when you look at a problem, you have to think (especially in the afternoon) "what will 70% of people who study for this material forget to do?" For the test to be that difficult for practicing engineers, you have to assume that every problem has a crucial trick (or three) in it. 

Sun Tzu seems applicable here: "All warfare (or test taking) is based on deception. When we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive. When we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near."

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36 minutes ago, SE_Hopeful said:

It was problem 3 part 2. I believe that I understood what they wanted us to do but I agree that it could have been worded much better.

But the thing is, you "believe" or you "think." You don't know, and if you don't know, it was a guess. I guessed as well. We should not have to guess in engineering. Guesses cause Regency Hyatt level collapses. If you don't KNOW what they are asking for but reasonably understand the topic, the problem is poorly worded.

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17 minutes ago, bigirishman said:

That may be oversimplifying it a bit.  You may have seen a problem before, but you:

A) Don't know how you did on it the first time, so you may get it wrong again (in this case recognizing a problem may be a downside)

B) Have likely seen many similar problems if you took practice tests and studied books specifically designed for this exam.  I actually had a question on my last test that I had seen the day before on a practice exam.  Almost word for word, with the the only difference being a single dimension.

Additionally, it's unlikely they're going to repeat the same question in back to back tests.  There's probably an algorithm that prevents that from happening.  So at best a question may appear two or three cycles later.  If you can remember specific questions from that far back, then good on you, you probably deserve the bonus point.

Think of it like this, they probably have a few hundred (maybe even a thousand) questions with lots of small variations.  If they started releasing diagnostics with specific questions, that number would whittle away pretty quickly.  They'd likely need to hire way more test makers to keep the pool of fresh questions up, which would increase the cost of the test even more.

Also, the lateral test seems rigged towards specific structures and areas because the ultimate goal was to eliminate the state exams in WA and CA.  So to appease the strictest you needed to screw over the the others requiring the test.  I can imagine a breaking point in the future, where Illinois, and Georgia, and anywhere else that decides to require this exam are forced with either allowing structural design with a PE (or just getting rid of that weird law in GA regarding which test you can take, which is dumb for many reasons), or they push back hard on NCEES and force them to soften the exam, which will likely force CA and WA back to state exams.  The goal to eliminate those exams was to allow easier license comity.  So it really appears like someone will need to make a hard decision, either NCEES, or the state boards.  CA specifically calls this exam a "mastery" exam, so it stands as bizarre that you need it for very simple structures in some non-seismic states, but I guess that's why I'm not an administrator.

I'd love to meet an NCEES grader some day. That is basically my life goal. But only after I pass.

"I've been waiting for you, NCEES grader. We meet at last. The circle is now complete. When you last graded my test I was but the learner. Now I am the master."

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17 minutes ago, FutureSE said:

But the thing is, you "believe" or you "think." You don't know, and if you don't know, it was a guess. I guessed as well. We should not have to guess in engineering. Guesses cause Regency Hyatt level collapses. If you don't KNOW what they are asking for but reasonably understand the topic, the problem is poorly worded.

I believe I got that one right as well.  95% sure. There is no question on that exam that I "know" I got right, but maybe I'm 99.9% sure on some of them. In fact, I don't even "know" that life is real. For all I know I'm just a dream in a coma or something. But I'm 99.9% sure that life is real :) So is that guessing?

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3 minutes ago, cal91 said:

I believe I got that one right as well.  95% sure. There is no question on that exam that I "know" I got right, but maybe I'm 99.9% sure on some of them. In fact, I don't even "know" that life is real. For all I know I'm just a dream in a coma or something. But I'm 99.9% sure that life is real :) So is that guessing?

Same - yeah I am never fully 100% on anything. I am ~90-95% sure on that one as well. It wasn't a blind guess.

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54 minutes ago, cal91 said:

I believe I got that one right as well.  95% sure. There is no question on that exam that I "know" I got right, but maybe I'm 99.9% sure on some of them. In fact, I don't even "know" that life is real. For all I know I'm just a dream in a coma or something. But I'm 99.9% sure that life is real :) So is that guessing?

"I think, therefore, I am" ~ René Descartes. I am certain that I exist in some form or fashion due to the fact my senses and interaction with the world tell me to do so. When I feel pain, I am 100% sure that I felt it. I am 100% sure on over 90% of that exam. I know there are questions that I missed, and there may have been something that I misread, but that problem was worded incorrectly if they anticipated scaling. That is not what I got from it when first reading it and you yourself stated that you did not understand until pondering it for some significant amount of time on an exam where time is the enemy. You shouldn't have to solve riddles for this TRASH test. It should be about engineering knowledge. The problem was flawed, and if it took you more time than instant recognition, assuming you have knowledge of the subject (which I believe I do and it sounds like you do too), the problem needs to be rewritten.

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6 hours ago, bigirishman said:

That may be oversimplifying it a bit.  You may have seen a problem before, but you:

A) Don't know how you did on it the first time, so you may get it wrong again (in this case recognizing a problem may be a downside)

B) Have likely seen many similar problems if you took practice tests and studied books specifically designed for this exam.  I actually had a question on my last test that I had seen the day before on a practice exam.  Almost word for word, with the the only difference being a single dimension.

Additionally, it's unlikely they're going to repeat the same question in back to back tests.  There's probably an algorithm that prevents that from happening.  So at best a question may appear two or three cycles later.  If you can remember specific questions from that far back, then good on you, you probably deserve the bonus point.

Think of it like this, they probably have a few hundred (maybe even a thousand) questions with lots of small variations.  If they started releasing diagnostics with specific questions, that number would whittle away pretty quickly.  They'd likely need to hire way more test makers to keep the pool of fresh questions up, which would increase the cost of the test even more.

Also, the lateral test seems rigged towards specific structures and areas because the ultimate goal was to eliminate the state exams in WA and CA.  So to appease the strictest you needed to screw over the the others requiring the test.  I can imagine a breaking point in the future, where Illinois, and Georgia, and anywhere else that decides to require this exam are forced with either allowing structural design with a PE (or just getting rid of that weird law in GA regarding which test you can take, which is dumb for many reasons), or they push back hard on NCEES and force them to soften the exam, which will likely force CA and WA back to state exams.  The goal to eliminate those exams was to allow easier license comity.  So it really appears like someone will need to make a hard decision, either NCEES, or the state boards.  CA specifically calls this exam a "mastery" exam, so it stands as bizarre that you need it for very simple structures in some non-seismic states, but I guess that's why I'm not an administrator.

So then they should allow you to see the physical copy of your grading if you are willing to pay shipping and for the proctor. After all, you’ve already seen the problems anyway. I know if I happened to fail this thing now I would gladly pay to see why but they won’t let you do that. It was something you could do in the past, I’m still putting it up to they don’t want people arguing about how inconsistent their “subject matter experts” are.

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new-understanding-the-stages-of-grief-1.

I am seeing stages 2-3 in this thread so far.

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I think that to have that really reflect what's happening, change that "acceptance" to "acceptable".

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4 minutes ago, Nathan55 said:

I think that to have that really reflect what's happening, change that "acceptance" to "acceptable".

But then I may never reach the final stage of grief 😟

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Also, what if NCEES actually developed this forum as a way to obtain quantifiable data on the psychological trauma their exam and scoring process causes in aspiring engineers?

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8 minutes ago, Civil Dawg said:

But then I may never reach the final stage of grief 😟

It is a daunting prospect, for sure. That being said, the thing to keep in mind is that the test is HARD. 70% fail. 85% of re-takers fail. It requires a preternatural ability to perform quickly, under pressure and with a high amount of accuracy. And you can't miss portions of crucial code/design checks. You have to react reflexively to unique situations. In my honest opinion, just being able to finish both components in the allotted time is an accomplishment in and of itself. I'm relatively confident that a high percentage of engineers, walking in off the street, as it were, would not be able to complete everything...let alone achieve an "acceptable". 

Regarding the wait, I avoid NCEES until PE results come out. I'd love to provide constructive criticism to NCEES to improve their process, but...in the end, it's extremely unlikely anything good will come of it. They must protect their business model; if they open the door to reviewing the exam and give us the red pill, the entire system breaks down and 85% of people will pass. 

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1 hour ago, kevo_55 said:

new-understanding-the-stages-of-grief-1.

I am seeing stages 2-3 in this thread so far.

I'm just consistently on step 3, sir.

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I am currently going through stage 1 mentioned above. A little background of myself: I took both first time last October and passed only lateral. I felt that Friday was tough for me and it did not surprise me at all that I got only 23/40, A,A,IR,UA because I really didn’t understand some parts of the afternoon problems or what they were looking for. I also did not feel so confident about morning because there were a few questions I just blindly guessed due to time.

 

Retook vertical this past Friday and felt good walking out in the morning with more prep this time around. For PM, I finished all problems in time but rushed through last problem only to realize now that I may have missed an important check which could lead to domino effect from one part to the next. My question is, is this an automatic UA or in anyways can be spared as a IR? I really don’t know if missing that crucial check would put me under the category of “not understanding the concept”. I’d like to hear from you all because this is way too early for me to think about this for two months. Thanks in advance!

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I personally don't think a single check would automatically trigger an unacceptable. If you stated that you didn't have time to check it I think that demonstrates your knowledge of the subject.  Unfourtuanly it is up to the grader and his mood.  

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Edited by SouthernEngineer
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4 hours ago, NahzSema said:

I am currently going through stage 1 mentioned above. A little background of myself: I took both first time last October and passed only lateral. I felt that Friday was tough for me and it did not surprise me at all that I got only 23/40, A,A,IR,UA because I really didn’t understand some parts of the afternoon problems or what they were looking for. I also did not feel so confident about morning because there were a few questions I just blindly guessed due to time.

 

Retook vertical this past Friday and felt good walking out in the morning with more prep this time around. For PM, I finished all problems in time but rushed through last problem only to realize now that I may have missed an important check which could lead to domino effect from one part to the next. My question is, is this an automatic UA or in anyways can be spared as a IR? I really don’t know if missing that crucial check would put me under the category of “not understanding the concept”. I’d like to hear from you all because this is way too early for me to think about this for two months. Thanks in advance!

I wish I could give you better news but I am convinced that I failed a wood problem last time over a check that I knew to do, got distracted and left out. I’ve also flip flopped on which parts I’ve passed in this exam. I really do think it is up to the leniency and the competency of the grader and from my experience, they are all over the place. I’ve seen people I wouldn’t trust to engineer a paper bag somehow get through this thing and some of the best PEs I know, can’t pass it. That is part of the problem with an exam that has essay questions, there is no way to insure 100% consistency. That is one reason I am advocating for being able to review your graded exam. As soon as I pass this lateral exam, I’m putting my name in the hat for my state board. It’s a long shot, but you have to start somewhere.

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2 hours ago, FutureSE said:

I wish I could give you better news but I am convinced that I failed a wood problem last time over a check that I knew to do, got distracted and left out. I’ve also flip flopped on which parts I’ve passed in this exam. I really do think it is up to the leniency and the competency of the grader and from my experience, they are all over the place. I’ve seen people I wouldn’t trust to engineer a paper bag somehow get through this thing and some of the best PEs I know, can’t pass it. That is part of the problem with an exam that has essay questions, there is no way to insure 100% consistency. That is one reason I am advocating for being able to review your graded exam. As soon as I pass this lateral exam, I’m putting my name in the hat for my state board. It’s a long shot, but you have to start somewhere.

Yeah thank you for the input. I’m hopeful that I’ll get some partial credits from other parts of the problem but at the same time if I were the grader I could see that as a big no check which can reflect incompetency. I mean, it’s probably the reason for such low passing rate because the room for error is so small. And I feel that sometimes we can be at lower risk of messing up the problem if we provide procedure instead of numbers to walk the grader through the problem. That saves time and eliminates room for numerical error. Just a thought. Good luck everyone and just enjoy the time now. :)

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On 4/9/2019 at 12:50 PM, SE_Hopeful said:

It was problem 3 part 2. I believe that I understood what they wanted us to do but I agree that it could have been worded much better.

I literally have had nightmares every night since the exam about this problem. I wake up thinking I figured it out, but realize it was just dream logic.

Without being too specific, I clearly remember the question asking us to find the "minimum" x. Whats messed up is you go through ELF and get x, but find its higher than X given in the table... well at least I did. Which means I have to be wrong... right?

Maybe I screwed up R, or maybe I was supposed to combine directions? But after reading through asce after the test again and again and again, I feel like the answer just isnt in there.

If someone out there thinks they got it, please PM me. I miss being able to sleep.

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As for the rest of the exam, definitely harder than I had anticipated. I passed vertical last year and felt like it was fairly straightforward. I told my wife I aced it after I finished. But not this time! Think I straight up guessed on about 10 in the AM (worst feeling in the world is to "know" how to do a problem, but fail to arrive at any of the answers, or arrive smack in the middle between two answers).

Like that question about the sign. Such a simple question, we all know how to do it. But depending how you interperet the question, its possible to arrive at 4 of the available answers (I checked it 4 different ways, 2 directions and with/without safety factor). Maybe I just need to brush up on my english.

Sorry if Im being too specific. This exam has consumed me...I need to vent to someone who understands.

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5 hours ago, AlexPE said:

I literally have had nightmares every night since the exam about this problem. I wake up thinking I figured it out, but realize it was just dream logic.

Without being too specific, I clearly remember the question asking us to find the "minimum" x. Whats messed up is you go through ELF and get x, but find its higher than X given in the table... well at least I did. Which means I have to be wrong... right?

Maybe I screwed up R, or maybe I was supposed to combine directions? But after reading through asce after the test again and again and again, I feel like the answer just isnt in there.

If someone out there thinks they got it, please PM me. I miss being able to sleep.

I was in your situtation, my ELFP "X" was higher that the dynamic "X". It's perfectly acceptable to be so, but that is NOT normal in practice. Just cross your fingers. I've already complained to NCEES about the wording of the problem. I don't know why they can't just directly ask what they are looking for rather than play the Bilbo Baggins game. "Guess what I have in my pocket!"

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6 hours ago, AlexPE said:

As for the rest of the exam, definitely harder than I had anticipated. I passed vertical last year and felt like it was fairly straightforward. I told my wife I aced it after I finished. But not this time! Think I straight up guessed on about 10 in the AM (worst feeling in the world is to "know" how to do a problem, but fail to arrive at any of the answers, or arrive smack in the middle between two answers).

Like that question about the sign. Such a simple question, we all know how to do it. But depending how you interperet the question, its possible to arrive at 4 of the available answers (I checked it 4 different ways, 2 directions and with/without safety factor). Maybe I just need to brush up on my english.

Sorry if Im being too specific. This exam has consumed me...I need to vent to someone who understands.

Probably acceptable as worded but I wouldn't divulge anything else about the problem.

I feel the same way as a 4th time taker. What burns me the most is that I've flip flopped the sections I've passed. Also, (2) of the exams I certainly didn't feel like I had the time to finish (no time to check either). I took the PE years ago and thought it was the easiest test I've ever sat for (I've sat through harder interview exams). The PE took me (2) hours per section and the proctor told me good luck when I handed it to her on the way out. I knew I had the PE in the bag. I also took the Vertical, and though it was slightly harder than the PE, I thought it was very fair and still left knowing I passed. For the lateral, I've taken (2) review courses (EET and School of PE), bought and read (4) of the (5) Seaoc books. Read every line of AISC 341-10 and AISC 358-10. Read every line of ASCE 7-10 chapter 11 through 22 and 26 through 30 as well as the commentary as well as the TMS 402/602. I've certainly read the ACI 318-14 chapter 18 multiple times, but that book confuses the devil out of me since they reworked the chapters. You can go from chapter 18 to 10 to 22 to 25 and then 21 just to get an answer (<- that's a wee bit much in my opinion, if anyone in the ACI is reading, please streamline this). Anyway, the point is the exam is hard so don't sweat it. I've beat myself up over this thing for (2) years and I'm well above MENSA membership in IQ (not that it necessarily means anything, but engineers are generally much more intellectually inclined than the average populace). I've also had problems that come up almost in the middle of (2) answers on these exams. I saw (2) on this past exam, one of which I felt I could reasonably guesstimate, the other was a shot in the dark. Unfortunately, it's probably something in the problem statement we missed but who knows. Just get through this thing and run for your state board or some position to get some authority over this and help me push to fix this exam. I don't mind it being hard. I think it should be hard, but it should be engineering hard and people should know exactly why they failed upon leaving. They should certainly not be leaving asking themselves, "What the HELL were they asking for." Otherwise, I believe a disservice is being perpetrated on the examinees and the profession in general. In my opinion, they should just give us a few pieces of a structure and literally ask us to design it from start to finish. Breaking it into cryptic pieces and using cryptic language has to stop. If they just gave you a frame and said, "Hey, Mr. Wannabe SE, design this concrete frame for x-criteria." It would be much more straightforward than the way the exam is currently written. Hell, turn it into a 24 hour exam, but make it reasonably understandable. These "Subject Matter Experts" grading the exam are mostly drunk clowns with big shoes (and no children's birthday party bookings) and people from bum fights with a few reasonably competent people scattered about IMO. Hell, from some of the things I've seen on my previous exams, I wouldn't be surprised if NCEES hired floor sweepers from Labor Ready for grammar checks.

Edited by FutureSE

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