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Advice from those who failed PE and then passed ?


rudy

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For those persevering souls who failed the PE exam (once, twice, or more), and then passed... what did you do differently to prepare for the exam you passed?

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Guest moderndoug

I attempted both the FE and PE at the same time after being out of school for 20 years. I only did the morning part of the PE, then bailed because I didn't toally nail it, and I didn't want to risk screwing up the FE the following day. "the other board" led me to believe that the morning was a piece of cake that you have to ace to have a prayer. I should have stuck it out, because this time around, I feel that I again partially tanked in the morning, but kicked @SS in the afternoon and I passed. ModernDoug

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I failed it the first time, I got good and drunk and felt sorry for myself for a day or two, then I pulled out my books and hit the studying pretty hard, did an honest 150+ hours the second go round. I think that was the big difference for me.

The 1st time I would study for an hour, then watch some TV, study for 15 minutes, etc

It wasnt easy, I have 3 kids, but I just kind of had to write off the family and hit the books.

The failing letter was a pretty good motivator for yours truly.

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I posted this under the OHIO results to Undertaker but think maybe I should have put this here.

Here is the best piece of advice I used for the exam. Spend the first 5 to 10-minutes of session reading through the exam and as everyone says, mark the question easy, medium and hard. But here's the trick, directly under the question, write REAL BIG with your NCEES pencil the UNITS of the answer that the problem requires. Writing the units to remind me was the smartest thing I did. I cannot tell you how many times during the exam I was in a groove solving problems. Thank goodness I wrote the units in big letters under the problem b/c I would have simply bubbled in my answer, not paying attention that the problem asks for 'cm' and I solved in 'm' b/c all the information in the problem was given in 'm'. Hope this tip helps.

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Guest cmp252

I would have to say that the biggest thing that helped me get over the hump would be making a binder for each subject. I worked as many problems as I could and catagorized the problems for each subject. I learned alot just by working,working and re-working problems, and if you hit a snag on the exam I usually had a problem similar in my notes and was easy to find due to being very organized. On the last exam I actually had a couple of problems pretty much identical as my notes. I dont think I even used any other references other than CERM and notes. I took the Civil, WR. Thats my $.02. Good luck to those who are taking/retaking in Oct!!

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Even though I have not actually passed the exam, I have failed several times. I think that the one thing I will definitely do to prepare for the next time is get out of the house. Too many distractions, like RG stated...

ktulu

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I passed my Structural 1 on my 3rd try.

On my first try I didn't study too much (150 hours) and didn't really think twice about the exam.

On my 2nd try, I studied my ass off (300 + hours) and bought books for practice problems, code issues, and in-depth material detailing.

On my 3rd try, I didn't do anything diffrent than my 2nd try. I actually studied less. (~200 hours)

:waitwall:

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Guest Caz Rad

I collected a nice assortment of NCEES pencils before I finally passed. You hear many repeat testers saying they never put in the time or took the exam very seriously. That's a shame because it is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly.

With that being said, I can honestly say I prepared a solid 3 months each time, putting my family and other responsibilities on the back burner for 2 calendar years. It's a big sacrifice, so the sooner you pass, the better.

When I took the exam in October, I knew for sure 100% that I had passed, only to receive a letter of regret from the board. This past April, when I left the exam room, I was unsure about my results, but received a CONGRATULATIONS letter. Oh how sweet that felt because now I know my sacrifice was not in vain.

I believe (if you prepare properly), it is the luck of the draw on which exam questions you get that determines if you pass or not. If the majority of questions are in your strong suit, you stand a better chance. Each exam I took was different than the other - Electrical.

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Guest bpeltzer

Another thing to watch out for, if your kid is suck, stay away from them. I was horribly dehydrated after coming down with a case of the "trots" that were so bad that I could not eat for 24 hours prior to or during the day of the exam. All I was able to digest was a 32 ounce gatorade.

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Guest HiVolts

I was more relaxed the second time around. This helped me spend more time reading the question and understaning what was being asked before punching keys on the calculator and scribbling furiously in a desperate attempt to match one of the multiple choices.

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Guest theplayer
I attempted both the FE and PE at the same time after being out of school for 20 years. I only did the morning part of the PE, then bailed because I didn't toally nail it, and I didn't want to risk screwing up the FE the following day. "the other board" led me to believe that the morning was a piece of cake that you have to ace to have a prayer. I should have stuck it out, because this time around, I feel that I again partially tanked in the morning, but kicked @SS in the afternoon and I passed. ModernDoug

I agree with the above. I felt like I should have done better on the morning session. I thought I might have done a little better in the afternoon. The afternoon should be your strong topic so in theory it is what saves you. The best thing you can do is work problems in your studies.

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Guest ENGR7

I think the 2 mistakes most make is not studying hard enough and not studying right. As we all know from taking the test, there are a suprising number of "theory" (non-numerical) questions on the exam. Grinding out hundreds of numerical problems doesn't do you much good in prepping for these. You need to read, and truly understand the concepts. This is much more important than knowing all of the equations (especially since the equations are provided in your references).

Regarding studying hard, I think you need to set up a study schedule several months before the exam, and don't let anything pull you away from it. I passed the first try, but I studied my butt off. Took a review course, after that, went to the library for 3 hrs every night after work for 2 months.

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Guest sceriana

For me, I found that it wasn't so much the hours and hours of stuyding I put into it. The first time around I took a review course that met once a week for 3 hours for 12-weeks. I added more studying during the week after work and also on the weekend. I don't remember how much studying I did per say ... but it was a fairly large amount.

The second time around, I was more relaxed because in my point of view, every single example/study problem I did, was harder than the actual exam. So I would study for blocks of 30-minutes looking at example problems and study guides / references. I did this for a good 2-months leading up to the exam. I think this was better than the first time around. And I know I also lucked out in the reference material I brought. I had about 1/3 more stuff the second time around. I didn't use 75% of it but the 25% I did use ... came in VERY handy. It was a luck of the draw.

Find what works best for you and make use of the EB for help! Good luck to all!

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Guest jpeeler55

I finally passed after taking a prep class for 10 saturdays prior to the test, and doing a zillion problems, and using all the shortcuts that were taught during the class and not only tabbing my MERM, but I also made a notebook of different types of problems to expect with the relevant equations.

And after all of the problem working and tabbing, I knew the MERM almost by heart, and didnt really need the index. I knew the type of problem, and where to go in the MERM to find it.

To each his own, but when I started each problem on the exam, I immediately looked for what type of units they were wanting for the answer, and wrote it in really big letters right by all the answers, and when done crunching the problem, I better have worked it out to get those units. Unit errors are a real killer.

So, practice the problems like crazy, which will teach you where it all is in your reference book, take a prep class if you are not a self learner, and need someone to show you, and use the shortcuts, charts,etc, that are available out there, and be confident.

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Guest jpeeler55
I finally passed after taking a prep class for 10 saturdays prior to the test, and doing a zillion problems, and using all the shortcuts that were taught during the class and not only tabbing my MERM, but I also made a notebook of different types of problems to expect with the relevant equations.

And after all of the problem working and tabbing, I knew the MERM almost by heart, and didnt really need the index. I knew the type of problem, and where to go in the MERM to find it.

To each his own, but when I started each problem on the exam, I immediately looked for what type of units they were wanting for the answer, and wrote it in really big letters right by all the answers, and when done crunching the problem, I better have worked it out to get those units. Unit errors are a real killer.

So, practice the problems like crazy, which will teach you where it all is in your reference book, take a prep class if you are not a self learner, and need someone to show you, and use the shortcuts, charts,etc, that are available out there, and be confident.

and, devote a lot of time to the process, so you are used to being in the ZONE - what I mean is think the PE, do the problems, let your life revolve around the PE exam for 3 months prior if you can. Dont study if you get a chance, or you dont have dinner plans, or a TV show, etc. I worked an hour at lunch every day, every evening from 7pm-10pm, and took saturdays off from studying to go to the prep class, and then studied about 5 hours on sundays.

hope this may help someone else.

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Guest stmeria

I guess my mistake that I took the structural II exam in the first time, I did not prepare well for it because I thought I have been designing bridges for a long time but when I failed, I realized that taking exam is different than practicing everyday. So I took the Civil PE with the structural depth and studied everyday during lunch break and after work an no weekends for three months which really sucked but at least I passed this time.

My only advice to you is make sure that you calculator that you took in the last PE exam still approved in the next exam, because that what happened to me and they took my calculator even though it was approved last October.

Good Luck to all of you, and think of it as a delay not a failure.

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I passed the 2nd time around. I studied my butt off the 1st time(200+ hours) and did not pass. When I started studying for the 2nd attempt, I spent a lot more time reading instead of actual # crunching. I also spent more time on the 2nd attempt devoting time to the morning portion of the exam. I took the WR Depth and I devoted the 1st 6 weeks of my study time to those subjects that I would see the fewest problems in(Structural, Geo, and Transportation). I spent 4 weeks studying my 2 major subjects(Water Resources/Environmental) and then the last 2 weeks I spent reviewing and organizing references. My success on the morning portion of the exam definately made the difference. I knew that I nailed it and it drastically reduced the pressure for the afternoon portion. If you notice, most all the review classes try to prepare you so that you can get at least 30/40 correct on the morning portion. I didn't take a review class, but I would heed to their advice. Finally, The most important aspect of this exam is being prepared mentally and physically. As the late Paul "Bear" Bryant once said, "Have a plan, work your plan, and plan for the unexpected." Good Luck and keep pressing forward. "The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards." There is nothing sweeter than receiving the passing letter. YOU WILL GET IT.

jd73

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Guest sceriana

Oh ... and one more thing. It might seem obvious to some, but not to all. Start using the calculator(s) you will take into the exam TODAY if you are not already doing so. If your everyday calculator is not one of the approved ones ... say goodbye to it, take it home, put in a drawer ... and use an approved for work, paying bills, whatever. I found that the TI approved calculator I was going to use, the buttons didn't register if not pressed firmly and making sure the number appeared on the screen. Something so stupid ... but make sure were PI is, the square root and squared buttons are. Good luck!

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Guest stompbox

I can officially reply to this thread now! :)

The first time i took it i MIGHT have studied a whole 6 hours, no kidding. Maybe i was cocky, maybe i was tied up in buying my first house, who knows. All excuses aside, i failed and it made me feel like crap. I had a 6th edition of the CERM that i borrowed a week before the exam. I thought i could just use all college notes (very disorginized notes mind you). I was shocked to hear that some have passed with only having the CERM.

This time (the second time) i buckeled down and i took a review course through a major university and we met for 4 hours a week for almost 8 months. I did not keep up with the course work which got me nervous, but just being there the 4 hours per week got your mind moving and really thinking about stuff you never had to since college. The last month i studied a minimum of 20 hours per week outside of class.

My second huge improvement was orginizationl, i can not stress this enough!

Lastly try to solve all problems with the CERM and only use other material if you absolutely have to, this will save time.

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Guest Rocco

Well, to throw my 2-cents in (having passed on the second try)...I think that the selection of study materials played a really big role for me this time around.

At least for the Mechanical Engineering exam, I found that the problems in the MERM were of only a little use. The *example* problems in there are great, but the end of chapter ones just were not representative of the exam. Part of nailing the exam down is being able to understand the texture of the problems a bit, and the MERM just didn't cut it for me.

The best problem resources that I found were the NCEES sample exam, and the Six Minute Solutions books. These problems were much more exam-like, and I worked them until I almost has some of the approaches down by rote. Also of use was the CD of problems that came with the NCEES book.

It really came down to what's been said many times already...if you want to pass the PE, do problems. Work problem after problem and get comfortable with just pounding through them. The clock ticks loudly during the exam, and there's no time to screw around with digging through books for example and hints. Pounding out as many problems as you can in the few months before the test is a recipe for success...and doing problems that are like the ones on the exam gets you into the right mindset to be able to understand what they want you to do.

All that said, thank God I passed...I don't think I could go through another round of studying after the way I prepared for this last exam...

Good luck to all my fellow repeat test takers -- whatever you do, don't let the passing rates for repeat takers get you down. If you put in the time up front, you'll pass.

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Well, to throw my 2-cents in (having passed on the second try)...I think that the selection of study materials played a really big role for me this time around.

At least for the Mechanical Engineering exam, I found that the problems in the MERM were of only a little use. The *example* problems in there are great, but the end of chapter ones just were not representative of the exam. Part of nailing the exam down is being able to understand the texture of the problems a bit, and the MERM just didn't cut it for me.

The best problem resources that I found were the NCEES sample exam, and the Six Minute Solutions books. These problems were much more exam-like, and I worked them until I almost has some of the approaches down by rote. Also of use was the CD of problems that came with the NCEES book.

It really came down to what's been said many times already...if you want to pass the PE, do problems. Work problem after problem and get comfortable with just pounding through them. The clock ticks loudly during the exam, and there's no time to screw around with digging through books for example and hints. Pounding out as many problems as you can in the few months before the test is a recipe for success...and doing problems that are like the ones on the exam gets you into the right mindset to be able to understand what they want you to do.

All that said, thank God I passed...I don't think I could go through another round of studying after the way I prepared for this last exam...

Good luck to all my fellow repeat test takers -- whatever you do, don't let the passing rates for repeat takers get you down. If you put in the time up front, you'll pass.

Excellent Rocco! Your advice really great. I failed the ME PE April 07 exam. I will go for my second chance in october. I agree with you that the MERM end of chapter problems are NOT representative of the exam. In fact, I think that our April ME exam

was more difficult than the NCEES Sample Exam! Here are my numbers for those two:

1. NCEES Sample exam: 47 out of 80.

2. Real April 2007 ME Exam: 38 out of 80. :w00t:

:hung-037:

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Guest gatormech_e

looks like there are a few mech e's in here. i get to take the oct 07 exam also...april was not my time. :(

thanks for the tips, that example problem with the equation format notebook sounds like a good idea...

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Guest Rocco

You know, this afternoon I thought of a couple of other things that I did differently this time around that I want to mention...they turned out to be *big* time savers for me, and time was really a factor (YMMV).

1. I downloaded a .pdf of the MERM index and had it spiral bound. Having that thing saved me from having to close my MERM and dig around in there. The thin, spiral book was much more manageable.

2. A friend photocopied all of the Appendices in the MERM and he gave me a copy. I had these also spiral bound. I tabbed them and never once used the Appendices in the MERM book itself.

3. I got a good, comprehensive list of unit conversion info...many pages of sometime extraneous info, but every unit I could ever want. Again -- spiral bound and tabbed. I got to be greasy fast with that book...units are critical.

I used these resources exclusively when I was studying (the 6-Minute books are great), and I went into PE Exam #2 being much, much faster with the information than I was the first time. I used the MERM as a topical reference and had its index and Appendices all open at the same time.

Again, good luck to everyone who has to deal with failing and trying again. It's a total drag, but you've got a lot of company.

Just pound the stuff out and get it done. Stay positive.

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Guest vmi2000

And to those who were not as fortunate, keep you chin up and keep plugging along. I have taken this exam more times than I care to mention, however as I have stated in previous posts, I had to put the time in :whipping: and as soon as I made that decision, in my mind, I PASSED. Not to be preachy :holyness: . I know that it can be a very overwhelming task to try and tackle. If anyone would like information regarding my self study program :reading: , please feel free to contact me. This is not a sales solicitation!

Good Luck

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I passed PE on my 4th try. I agree with most of the posts, but it is also about disciplining your entire life. You have to give up almost everything that is not essential. Make sure you eat right and sleep enough. When I was studying late nights, I would go to my car at lunchtime and sleep for 50 minutes. Use every minute for something that NEEDS to be done. By the way, sometimes a dinner out or a TV show can be considered essential. Family needs have to be compromised, but there has to be a tolerable balance.

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