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SE Exam Study Plan for someone outside engineering

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Hello everyone,

First post here. I have looked around before posting but my situation is a little unique. I hold a PE license however I do not practice it, I am in the contracting side of things in the construction industry.

I applied to sit for the SE exam this October and I can use some guidance on how to study for it. I've seen list of books in the forum which is helpful but I am trying to find out how realistic it is for someone to prepare for the October exam starting today. I am not practicing any structural engineering at this moment either so that makes it even more challenging I bet.

I am a good test taker and when I sit for the PE, I probably studied for it for 3 weeks tops and passed it. But I am sure the SE test is way more complicated than that.

What are the must have books I will need?

What kind of hours do I need to put in daily to it?

Without seeing a sample test, it is hard to gauge what I need to do so any information will help at this time.

Thank you!

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You should have all the codes that the test references, NCEES Publishes this info. 

The SE Structural Engineering Reference Manual (SERM) is a must-have for the gravity portion. It will be helpful but definitely needs to be supplemented for the Lateral. I find Breyer's book on Wood design to be an excellent guide to the design of buildings. It covers force transfer and wood design. Starting with this book, you could build steel and concrete concepts.

The SERM recommends 300 hours of study. So ~60 hours a month, 12 hours a week. 

NCEES Publishes sample tests. I found it useful, others have different opinions.

I would recommend a study course. Other's who have taken them will chime in. I took the NCSEA's review course. I would not recommend it for someone who is not already familiar with the basic concepts.

 

What is the drive for pursuing the SE? Seems to be a curious case.

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2 hours ago, QuinnTheEskimo said:

You should have all the codes that the test references, NCEES Publishes this info. 

The SE Structural Engineering Reference Manual (SERM) is a must-have for the gravity portion. It will be helpful but definitely needs to be supplemented for the Lateral. I find Breyer's book on Wood design to be an excellent guide to the design of buildings. It covers force transfer and wood design. Starting with this book, you could build steel and concrete concepts.

The SERM recommends 300 hours of study. So ~60 hours a month, 12 hours a week

NCEES Publishes sample tests. I found it useful, others have different opinions.

I would recommend a study course. Other's who have taken them will chime in. I took the NCSEA's review course. I would not recommend it for someone who is not already familiar with the basic concepts.

 

What is the drive for pursuing the SE? Seems to be a curious case.

Thanks for the reply and suggestions.

- It never hurts to have more certifications and licenses but more importantly, I do not enjoy the construction industry from the contracting side. Further, there will be another downturn sooner or later. We deal with developers all the time (we are in land development), I see the housing market situation and the pricing every day which resembles early 2000s which was leading up to the 2008 crisis. Being more versatile for me has always been a focus for me in my career.

- There might be an opportunity with a company that will be established by someone I know.

- I always enjoyed structural courses in college and took elective structural classes too, so I feel like I would enjoy this aspect of engineering a lot more than anything.

- Nice to have a good challenge.

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Awesome! Those are all fantastic Reasons! I think being motivated intrinsically to take the exam is one of the biggest factors for passing.

 

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On 6/5/2019 at 10:36 AM, QuinnTheEskimo said:

You should have all the codes that the test references, NCEES Publishes this info. 

The SE Structural Engineering Reference Manual (SERM) is a must-have for the gravity portion. It will be helpful but definitely needs to be supplemented for the Lateral. I find Breyer's book on Wood design to be an excellent guide to the design of buildings. It covers force transfer and wood design. Starting with this book, you could build steel and concrete concepts.

The SERM recommends 300 hours of study. So ~60 hours a month, 12 hours a week. 

NCEES Publishes sample tests. I found it useful, others have different opinions.

I second all of these.

It's been a few years but I also highly recommend the SERM (I actually still use it as a reference from time to time at my current job) and the NCEES sample exams.

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First piece of advice, split the components into different weekends.  Do not do both vertical and lateral the same weekend.  I know there is temptation to try to knock it out all in one weekend, but it rarely ends up being the correct choice.  Plus, you are running low on time. I did lateral first and actually found it easier to study for. 

For your study plan, follow the NCEES SE exam specification and split your time based on the proportion of problems that are given on the exam. 

For seismic you will need to work every problem in the SEAOC IBC 2015 Seismic Design Manuals.  Certainly Volume 1, volumes 2-4 will also be good.  I'd get this book first.  

Wind - ASCE guide to wind loads book. 

Know all of the design tables in the AISC codes so you can use them efficiently to save time. 

ACI will probably be the hardest code to wrap your head around.  Start familiarizing with it now. 

Masonry - Get the 2015 Design of Reinforced Masonry Structures book by the cmacn.org

Timber - Breyer book is old, but probably still the best one that is still on the market. 

Get the PPI 16 hour SE exam for buildings by Joseph Schuster.  It is a much better representation of the exam difficulty.  The NCESS practice SE exam is somewhat of a joke in how much easier it is vs. the actual exam. 

Finally, you will have about 10 bridge design problems in the morning. I have written a book specifically for the building engineer that needs practice doing bridge problems for the SE exam. You can purchase my book by visiting my website.  www.davidconnorse.com 

Good luck!  

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On 6/7/2019 at 5:48 AM, David Connor, SE said:

First piece of advice, split the components into different weekends.  Do not do both vertical and lateral the same weekend.  I know there is temptation to try to knock it out all in one weekend, but it rarely ends up being the correct choice.  Plus, you are running low on time. I did lateral first and actually found it easier to study for. 

For your study plan, follow the NCEES SE exam specification and split your time based on the proportion of problems that are given on the exam. 

For seismic you will need to work every problem in the SEAOC IBC 2015 Seismic Design Manuals.  Certainly Volume 1, volumes 2-4 will also be good.  I'd get this book first.  

 Wind - ASCE guide to wind loads book. 

Know all of the design tables in the AISC codes so you can use them efficiently to save time. 

ACI will probably be the hardest code to wrap your head around.  Start familiarizing with it now. 

Masonry - Get the 2015 Design of Reinforced Masonry Structures book by the cmacn.org

Timber - Breyer book is old, but probably still the best one that is still on the market. 

Get the PPI 16 hour SE exam for buildings by Joseph Schuster.  It is a much better representation of the exam difficulty.  The NCESS practice SE exam is somewhat of a joke in how much easier it is vs. the actual exam. 

Finally, you will have about 10 bridge design problems in the morning. I have written a book specifically for the building engineer that needs practice doing bridge problems for the SE exam. You can purchase my book by visiting my website.  www.davidconnorse.com 

Good luck!  

Aside from your book, could everything else be substituted with EET SE prep? In terms of study material, not Code References. I want to take lateral in Oct, but i have the SEAOC Seismic Manuals from 2012, dont have the PPI 16 HR book or the masonry book you mention. I know theres about an $700 difference between all of this and EET binder, but being i have all Structural Codes, i feel inclined to put my money towards the EET SE binder. 

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On 6/8/2019 at 8:00 PM, PowerStroke79_PE said:

Aside from your book, could everything else be substituted with EET SE prep? In terms of study material, not Code References. I want to take lateral in Oct, but i have the SEAOC Seismic Manuals from 2012, dont have the PPI 16 HR book or the masonry book you mention. I know theres about an $700 difference between all of this and EET binder, but being i have all Structural Codes, i feel inclined to put my money towards the EET SE binder. 

I don't know what the EET binders consist of.  Although I saw a picture a couple weeks ago and they looked pretty big, so maybe it covers everything you would need.  If EET only covers buildings and you are looking for some bridge study material, then my book should be sufficient to get at least familiar with the AASHTO code.  I wrote my book for the "building engineer" who needs practice bridge problems. 

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EET is amazing. Covers both bridges and buildings 

 

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12 hours ago, PowerStroke79_PE said:

Hey is it 2 binders or just one? 

one per day. so you'll get a huge binder (4"?) for vertical, and one for lateral, plus the quizzes they send you and the practice exam. TOTALLY worth it, IMO.

I only took vertical, and wish I had kept up with the homeworks and quizzes better, but if I had, I would have felt incredibly prepared and ready for the exam!!

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2 hours ago, tj_PE said:

one per day. so you'll get a huge binder (4"?) for vertical, and one for lateral, plus the quizzes they send you and the practice exam. TOTALLY worth it, IMO.

I only took vertical, and wish I had kept up with the homeworks and quizzes better, but if I had, I would have felt incredibly prepared and ready for the exam!!

 I agree. I took the EET lateral class and it is the real deal. It is essential, for the uninitiated. 

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