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civilrobot

Civil Construction PE Prep - Second Attempt

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I've got to be honest, I have no idea where to begin. 

I started studying in June 2019. I studied for ~340 hours. Maybe a little more. I stopped counting during the last few weeks leading up to the exam. 

I took EET breadth and depth courses on-demand. I also did every practice problem, practice test, simulated exam. I completed a host of problems from:

  1. Six Minute Solutions
  2. NCEES Civil Construction Practice Exam
  3. Lindbergh Practice Problems
  4. Indranil Goswami PE Civil Breadth Practice Exams

Aside from the simulated 8 hour exam hosted by EET, I also took two timed 4-hour exams. 

I will admit that my scores were not always consistent. I started off in the 40% range and improved to 70-80% occasionally. I definitely got better as time went on and as I practiced more. I also switched my study hours from night time to morning time. For 3 months, I studied from 9 PM to ~12:30/1AM. At the end of September but the sleep deprivation became a bit much so that changed to 5AM - 6AM with me coming home and studying from 8PM to 10 PM.

I thought I had a solid plan. 

Test day came, and I was filled with so many jitters in the beginning but after the first 30 minutes, I calmed down. I counted about 27 that I felt confident with in the AM. Results showed that I only got 21 right.

I felt confident with 24 in the afternoon; results showed 21 correct. 

Any suggestions on how to improve? I know that repeating the same study habits will not result in a pass. However, I felt like I threw everything at this and it didn't stick. So, I need to be more strategic this go 'round. Where do I begin? 

Also, I have a kid and my husband works long hours. I have family close by and friends willing to jump in and help out. But it's important that I say that because studying from 5 PM to 12 AM isn't going to work for me. 

 

Edited by civilrobot
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Go get it, @civilrobot! We're all rooting for you. :appl:

The only specific advice I would give is to throw the Lindeburg Practice Problems in the trash, where they belong. (Or use them as a doorstop, which is my plan.) 😁

You may have seen already, but I wrote out a novel about my approach for this last round. I don't know how much you'd be able to glean from it, but it pretty much represents my accumulated wisdom for prepping for the exam. 

You also might consider sharing your strengths and weaknesses from this past round. I'm not pressuring you to post your diagnostic, but you might be able to get some more specific advice, depending on what your strengths and weaknesses are, specifically.

:thumbs: :oldtimer: :th_rockon:

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25 minutes ago, Will.I.Am PE said:

Go get it, @civilrobot! We're all rooting for you. :appl:

The only specific advice I would give is to throw the Lindeburg Practice Problems in the trash, where they belong. (Or use them as a doorstop, which is my plan.) 😁

You may have seen already, but I wrote out a novel about my approach for this last round. I don't know how much you'd be able to glean from it, but it pretty much represents my accumulated wisdom for prepping for the exam. 

You also might consider sharing your strengths and weaknesses from this past round. I'm not pressuring you to post your diagnostic, but you might be able to get some more specific advice, depending on what your strengths and weaknesses are, specifically.

:thumbs: :oldtimer: :th_rockon:

Thanks! Any advice helps.

 

ETA: Diagnostic report below.

Edited by civilrobot
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If you felt confident in your answers, you probably got a result that matched one of the answers.  If that is the case, you most likely used a wrong equation, used a wrong assumption, or got tricked.   NCEES throws in trick questions and if you missed one or two of these, that could have been the difference.  In the practice tests I took, I made a lot of these mistakes and made it point to not make that mistake on the actual exam.  I am assuming that you probably made these same type of errors.  I would just keep at it and really pay attention to the practice questions I missed and why i did not get the correct answers.     

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10 minutes ago, ruggercsc said:

If you felt confident in your answers, you probably got a result that matched one of the answers.  If that is the case, you most likely used a wrong equation, used a wrong assumption, or got tricked.   NCEES throws in trick questions and if you missed one or two of these, that could have been the difference.  In the practice tests I took, I made a lot of these mistakes and made it point to not make that mistake on the actual exam.  I am assuming that you probably made these same type of errors.  I would just keep at it and really pay attention to the practice questions I missed and why i did not get the correct answers.     

Two things:

1. Yes, I left the exam and got in my car. Started driving down the highway and realized that I fell for a trick that I fell for on a practice exam, and told myself not to do on this exam. Totally did that. 

2. I did not go back and check my work. I know that really cost me. I completed a problem and just kept pushing through. I feel like my effort on my 3rd pass was a little all over the place. I felt a little loss with which equation to use at times (hydrology). Sometimes debating myself down to the theory over which one to use. Then a voice would pop in my head that said "TOO MUCH TIME! MOVE ON!"

So, it got a little chaotic and then I just filled in whatever was missing with C. 

Edited by civilrobot
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So I didn't take civil as you know.

But I created a binder of all of my completed problems and created an index sorted by category from NCEES. And on the problems I got wrong, I corrected them in a different color pen to show where I went wrong. And pointed out traps and such so it'd be stuck in my head 

I don't know if this is something you can apply to your exam

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1 minute ago, LyceeFruit PE said:

So I didn't take civil as you know.

But I created a binder of all of my completed problems and created an index sorted by category from NCEES. And on the problems I got wrong, I corrected them in a different color pen to show where I went wrong. And pointed out traps and such so it'd be stuck in my head 

I don't know if this is something you can apply to your exam

I created a practice problem binder of problems that I solved myself. I divided them by NCEES exam topic and created an index that identified the following: 

"Exam Topic" - "Find" - "Given"

Then wrote the same thing at the top of the problem in that section "Find:... Given:...."

I think your advice could be a great add to this resource. That binder was very helpful but I think if I tweak it to include marked up mistakes or something that could help. I'll take a look at how I have them presented. 

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It looks like you did pretty well in the afternoon, but morning needs some more work.  Geometrics typically should be a free 2 or 3 points.  You'll need to tighten up core subjects of the morning; structural, soils, and water.  It appears a strong performance is required in those areas to pass.  You're in construction depth so its expected means and methods will pick up next go around.  

Before test day, I read on the forum someone mentioning that the exam has an equal number of A's, B's, C's, and D's as answers.  Not sure how true it is, but I used that rationale to guide my guesses in the morning.

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Reading all what you did, sound like you pushed yourself through too much. This time just be constant with 3-4 hrs of study M-F and Weekends 6hrs. No distractions, I know is a little bit difficult with two kids (son and husband) lol because I'm in the same boat, but we can do this! My advice and is what I will do is start studying the topics where more I failed, focused in practicing and understanding the concept to apply similar problems, but not the same. 

I was very confident that I did a great morning, thinking that nailed 30 of the 40 and I only did 22 correct, in the afternoon I though that I failed and I did 26 correct (i'm including my diagnostic report). With that being said, the key is not be too confident and double check each questions thinking out of the box.

Also, we can do an online support group to discuss problems, this will help. 

image.thumb.png.9fb5aed5a34975f6425423b9cd68484a.png

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3 hours ago, civilrobot said:

Any suggestions on how to improve? I know that repeating the same study habits will not result in a pass. 

What is your approach to study computational problems ? Do you actually try to solve practice problems on your own without looking at the solution until you finished ? 

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Looking back on the test and your practices tests, did any Practice test seemed completely off base from what you saw?

I picked up the 6 minute solution book while trying to grab a lot of content as possible for the WRE test. 

5 problems in I felt the problems took 6 minutes to copy/wonder how they even got those steps. Stopped using it but brought it to the test for the hell of it. Saved me a lot of time not bothering to practice off that book. The exam looked easier than the problems from 6MS. 

And then reviews on it on Amazon and other places too showed others thought it was too much for the WRE exam. 

 

But, I have heard that some did find 6MS helpful for their depth...

 

Some books that helped me in the AM were:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1983913685/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1981825614/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

^(Have A-B-C morning practice tests) 

 

Those IMO definitely helped me solve some AM questions on the real exam. 

 

I feel you on the young kid. I had a 1 year old at the time I started studying that would want to be with me everytime I wanted to study lol. Would open the door and want to sit on m lap. (Early walker)

What I did was M-Thurs 2-3 hours. Friday off, S&S 2 hrs in am and PM. Didn't want to overload myself cause I knew longer hours studying for me equaled less being retained.  Especially after a 10 hour day at work. 

Did that till a week or 2 before the exam. Then I added Friday into the mix and took off some days before to attempt to study all day. 

 

So, the bulk of my studying was at night when he was asleep. 

I'm a firm believer of more problems the better to learn. But, that works for me. I honestly didn't read much from the CERM outside of a few sections I was weak on. Just highlighted/tabbed sections that I felt would be on the exam.

 

 

Edited by john813

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4 minutes ago, john813 said:

Looking back on the test and your practices tests, did any PT seems completely off base from what you saw?

I picked up the 6 minute solution book while trying to grab a lot of content as possible for the WRE test. 

5 problems in I felt the problems took 6 minutes to copy/wonder how they even got those steps. Stopped using it but brought it to the test for the hell of it. Saved me a lot of time not bothering to practice off that book. The exam looked easier than the problems from 6MS. 

And then reviews on it on Amazon and other places too showed others thought it was too much for the WRE exam. 

 

But, I have heard that some did find 6MS helpful for their depth...

 

Some books that helped me in the AM were:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1983913685/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1981825614/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

^(Have A-B-C morning practice tests) 

 

Those IMO definitely helped me solve some AM questions on the real exam. 

 

I feel you on the young kid. I had a 1 year old at the time I started studying that would want to be with me everytime I wanted to study lol. Would open the door and want to sit on m lap. (Early walker)

So, the bulk of my studying was at night when he was asleep. 

I'm a firm believer of more problems the better to learn. But, that works for me. I honestly didn't read much from the CERM outside of a few sections I was weak on. Just highlighted/tabbed sections that I felt would be on the exam.

 

 

How similar are those practice exam to the original exam?

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7 minutes ago, Mo84 said:

What is your approach to study computational problems ? Do you actually try to solve practice problems on your own without looking at the solution until you finished ? 

 

7 minutes ago, Mo84 said:

What is your approach to study computational problems ? Do you actually try to solve practice problems on your own without looking at the solution until you finished ? 

You brought a good point!! I start not cheating in to the results and that works. Obviously, looks that I didn't try hard in the temporary structures and earthwork sections. 

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Just now, TSLT2010 said:

How similar are those practice exam to the original exam?

 

I felt some AM questions were close via difficulty with what I saw on the April 19 exam. 

Some in the PE Prepared tests are a bit too easy but I guess were good for confidence while studying. 

 

Civil Engineering PE Practice Exams: 2 Full Breadth Exams Problems had a few problems very close to the NCEES Practice exam but different variable to find which actually came handy for a problem on the exam. 

I went through the exam on my 2nd/3rd look through with these books to give me a spark on some questions and think they gave me enough hints to get the right answer. 

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34 minutes ago, Mo84 said:

What is your approach to study computational problems ? Do you actually try to solve practice problems on your own without looking at the solution until you finished ? 

Yes. I'll sit down and solve 10-25 problems (depending on the amount of time I have allocated for that day) and then I go through and check them and score myself. That's where I'm thinking I can make sure I identify my mistakes or dive deeper into why I solved something a certain way. 

I sometimes said "well why didn't you just say you were solving for that?" after looking at a solution though. 

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38 minutes ago, john813 said:

Looking back on the test and your practices tests, did any Practice test seemed completely off base from what you saw? Yes, but I knew that would happen. One thing I didn't mention is that I've been out of school for 15 years and in executive management for about a year. Therefore, I'm a little removed from some of the technical mechanics of some of the breadth subjects. With that being said, I took in every practice problem I could to regain (and in some cases just learn) the ability to do that level of technical problem solving again. Maybe I spent too much time on it.

I picked up the 6 minute solution book while trying to grab a lot of content as possible for the WRE test. 

5 problems in I felt the problems took 6 minutes to copy/wonder how they even got those steps. Stopped using it but brought it to the test for the hell of it. Saved me a lot of time not bothering to practice off that book. The exam looked easier than the problems from 6MS. Agreed.

And then reviews on it on Amazon and other places too showed others thought it was too much for the WRE exam. 

 

But, I have heard that some did find 6MS helpful for their depth...

 

Some books that helped me in the AM were:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1983913685/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1981825614/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

^(Have A-B-C morning practice tests) 

THANKS! I'll look into buying these!!

Those IMO definitely helped me solve some AM questions on the real exam. 

 

I feel you on the young kid. I had a 1 year old at the time I started studying that would want to be with me everytime I wanted to study lol. Would open the door and want to sit on m lap. (Early walker) Yeah, my (then) 4 year old wanted to color in the same room as Mommy and also show me everything she colored and drew. So that was great.

What I did was M-Thurs 2-3 hours. Friday off, S&S 2 hrs in am and PM. Didn't want to overload myself cause I knew longer hours studying for me equaled less being retained.  Especially after a 10 hour day at work. 

Did that till a week or 2 before the exam. Then I added Friday into the mix and took off some days before to attempt to study all day. 

 

So, the bulk of my studying was at night when he was asleep. 

I'm a firm believer of more problems the better to learn. But, that works for me. I honestly didn't read much from the CERM outside of a few sections I was weak on. Just highlighted/tabbed sections that I felt would be on the exam. Same.

 

 

 

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Did you run out of time on the exam?

How did you do triage to decide which problems to work first? I scanned all the problems and mentally noted which ones would be easier. Then I worked those first. I skipped around the exam going from easiest to hardest. This prevented me from be stuck on any one problem. I end up with 30 minutes on AM and 45 minutes on PM to review my answers and rework problems I had doubts on.

I would also add is to ensure that you put tabs on all your references. I feel like one could waste a huge amount of time flipping through the crate of books one brings to find answers or formulas. So, knowing where everything is and having it tabulated would help reduce wasted time during the exam.

Also, study the concepts and not work billions of problems. Becuase if you understand the concepts you will be better able to solve problems you have never seen before. Try and elminate answers that do not make any sense.

 

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13 minutes ago, cbass said:

Did you run out of time on the exam?

How did you do triage to decide which problems to work first? I scanned all the problems and mentally noted which ones would be easier. Then I worked those first. I skipped around the exam going from easiest to hardest. This prevented me from be stuck on any one problem. I end up with 30 minutes on AM and 45 minutes on PM to review my answers and rework problems I had doubts on.

I would also add is to ensure that you put tabs on all your references. I feel like one could waste a huge amount of time flipping through the crate of books one brings to find answers or formulas. So, knowing where everything is and having it tabulated would help reduce wasted time during the exam.

Also, study the concepts and not work billions of problems. Becuase if you understand the concepts you will be better able to solve problems you have never seen before. Try and elminate answers that do not make any sense.

I followed the multi-pass strategy. First pass, I labeled problems either 1 or 2. Third pass, I either gave them a 3 or nothing (as in, I have no idea how to solve this). I probably should have spent the time going back and checking my label-1 or label-2 problems rather than staring at problems that I didn't know how to solve. I probably loss points on rushing and making mistakes on problems I could have solved correctly.

I think my tabs/indices/organization was on point. I don't think I need to change that. 

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54 minutes ago, civilrobot said:

Yes. I'll sit down and solve 10-25 problems (depending on the amount of time I have allocated for that day) and then I go through and check them and score myself. That's where I'm thinking I can make sure I identify my mistakes or dive deeper into why I solved something a certain way. 

Seems you used about the right method to study !

Your diagnostics indicate you struggled on construction related topics in the morning ( soil and structural mechanics can strongly relate to construction along with the obvious ones - project planning and means & methods ) and you didn't exactly do well on the afternoon . What made you decide on the Construction Depth if I may ask ? Maybe Transportation or WRE Depths are a better fit for you ?

Construction is probably the least well defined Depth and it covers a wide variety of topics which can be more challenging and less predictable

Edited by Mo84

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13 minutes ago, Mo84 said:

Seems you used about the right method to study !

Your diagnostics indicate you struggled on construction related topics in the morning ( soil and structural mechanics can strongly relate to construction along with the obvious ones - project planning and means & methods ) and you didn't exactly do well on the afternoon . What made you decide on the Construction Depth if I may ask ? Maybe Transportation or WRE Depths are a better fit for you ?

Construction is probably the least well defined Depth and it covers a wide variety of topics which can be more challenging and less predictable

To be honest with you, it wasn't until I was more than halfway through my preparation that I realized that I should have chosen WRE because of the broad scope of construction. My field experience is in construction. I surprised I kinda bombed on Project Planning, etc. I will admit that I studied that topic pretty hot and heavy when I started back in June and then I never revisited it with that same intensity until a month out. But by then, I was more into Deep Foundations, Welding and Bolting, PM stuff basically. I work in transportation but I'm in a senior executive level, and not in the field so that one is meh... 

I don't know if backing out of this area and going into another is the right move...meaning, I really don't know. It's crossed my mind but I wonder if it's a pretty heavy lift.

Edited by civilrobot

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This troubleshooting session has been very beneficial. 

If you think of anything else, please let me know. 

So far, I will work on:

1. Building in time to check my work when I practice problems. 

2. Note my mistakes and learn from them. 

3. Try to maintain ability with the PM topics but beef up on the AM.

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30 minutes ago, civilrobot said:

I don't know if backing out of this area and going into another is the right move...meaning, I really don't know. It's crossed my mind but I wonder if it's a pretty heavy lift.

I agree it's not easy to switch at this point.  Take some time off to clear your mind and then come back with a strong plan. You are not that far off you can definitely do this.

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32 minutes ago, civilrobot said:

To be honest with you, it wasn't until I was more than halfway through my preparation that I realized that I should have chosen WRE because of the broad scope of construction. My field experience is in construction. I surprised I kinda bombed on Project Planning, etc. I will admit that I studied that topic pretty hot and heavy when I started back in June and then I never revisited it with that same intensity until a month out. But by then, I was more into Deep Foundations, Welding and Bolting, PM stuff basically. I work in transportation but I'm in a senior executive level, and not in the field so that one is meh... 

I don't know if backing out of this area and going into another is the right move...meaning, I really don't know. It's crossed my mind but I wonder if it's a pretty heavy lift.

Hey civilrobot - I'm in a similar position.  I took the Construction depth in October 2018 and failed with a 42/80.  I wasn't surprised as I just did self-study and had a one-year old that wasn't sleeping well.  I took the Construction depth again in October 2019 and failed with a 41/80.  I was shocked - I did a prep class, tons of study, and my sleep schedule was fairly consistent.  I took Construction because it felt like a "catch-all" category but I work mainly in environmental remediation.  I decided this year to switch to the Environmental PE and see how that goes.  Maybe you need to consider a change to a different exam as well?  The instructor in one of my refresher classes made a comment that you should only do the construction depth if you work in it every day.  

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As someone who failed in April and just passed October's, the two biggest changes I've done have been to use EET's material for the depth and to check each problem's solution immediately after completing it.  Doing 10-25 problems in a row then checking after attempting all of them seems like theres too much time for it to properly 'etch' the correct procedure in your head.  Once finish, check--if you find an error see the solution, I would (now this may have been overboard) start the problem from scratch and try to solve until correct...Even after you see that its incorrect and look at the solution.  Redo it, make sure its correct, then move on to the next.  I sped up because I eventually developed an intuition from practicing enough.

 

 

Edited by enrique_nola
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