Hello all. I am a 4th time PE exam but I am still preparing myself to finally pass

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Jorge Rangel

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I have taken the PE three times and failed. My next opportunity will be on 2021 but on CBT mode. Will it be more difficult?
 

pittip

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If you’re taking the electrical exam, I can help share with you tips that I used to pass. Like you, I took the exam multiple times.
 

JayUn PE

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I am in the same boat as well. I will be taking the civil transportation exam.
NCEES website says Civil PE Exam transition to CBT tentatively set to 2022. So I guess 2021 is the last (tentatively) of pencil and paper for civil.
 

NJHHEngineer

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I took Construction but I would HIGHLY recommend the EET Review courses for both Breadth and Depth.

Just curious how did you prepare the first 3 times taking the exam? Did you make any changes in your preparation for each attempt? If you haven't tried one of the many review courses out there, I would REALLY suggest going this route. They focus on the material you WILL see on the exam and "touch" some other subjects that MIGHT show up. It helps to streamline the preparation and study topics so you don't waste your time studying something that you likely will not encounter.

For example, the CERM is a great resource but it does not differentiate between a breadth and a depth topic. You could be looking at a structural problem/topic for days when in reality, whatever you read in the first couple hours is more than sufficient for you to handle any morning structural problem on the topic. You won't see a "Structural" problem in your Geotech Depth Exam. At least not in the same capacity of someone taking the actual Structural Depth.

Also, don't just solve problems for the sake of solving problems. Try to understand why you are doing what you are doing. Understand the bigger picture of the concept. The exam isn't all just plug and chug equations. You need to have an understanding of the concepts as well. I recall a few problems on the October 2020 exam that were "number" answers but realistically you didn't need to use a single equation if you read the problem and grasped the concept (ie, based on these given parameters, 3 of these answers make no sense at all).

Also, also, make sure that you are familiar with all of the references you intend to bring into the exam. If not, you'll burn precious time searching. Make sure you have whatever NCEES recommends for your exam type AT A MINIMUM. In my experience, there was plenty of time to complete the exam (both sessions) and bank time to go back and dig through references for any wacky questions. But, you still need to know where to look.

End rant.
 

Jorge Rangel

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Thanks for your advice and I want you to know it has been the very best I have received so far.
I took EET and Dr. Tom’s courses and worked many problems and again failed I think because did not follow the tricks to answer objective questions.
you are very right in the sense of just try to understand every matter and get a master in solving complicated problems or equations.
Now I have lost the opportunity to take a pencil exam and need to wait to 2022 to have the CBT test a lot more difficult I believe since will have to learn many things by hart.
 

piscescon

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I suggest you spend more time on morning part. CERM is good enough to make you over 35/40 in AM. I didn't take any courses and I guess I had 39/40 or even 40/40. No matter how bad I was in PM, I passed.
 

jr_inthefog

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Unfortunately, I find the computer based tests harder than the paper and pencil since you have to almost copy everything in your test supplied scratch paper wasting time and open to copy errors— At least that is how i found the CBT CA seismic (Hiner)(passed 1st time) and CA surveying (CPESR) (which i am about to take 2nd attempt). I had the NCEES civil on paper and passed the 2nd time using testmasters, and i have a degree in Mech Eng- had to learn all the civil for the test. I studied about 3 months pretty regularly.
 

NJHHEngineer

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I suggest you spend more time on morning part. CERM is good enough to make you over 35/40 in AM. I didn't take any courses and I guess I had 39/40 or even 40/40. No matter how bad I was in PM, I passed.
I agree - You should make the morning the priority. Remember, everyone in the room is taking the same AM test regardless of their depth section. These questions have to be tailored to give everyone a fair shot at passing. The morning questions are "easier" in that respect. You should be shooting for, I'd say, a minimum 30 correct in the AM, but even upwards of 35. If you do well in the AM, it takes a little less pressure off the PM session where the questions are a little more involved.

I believe the general consensus is about a 70% correct to PASS the exam. Obviously this number is fluid and total conjecture, but it seems to be the rough estimate. So that's 56/80 questions correct. Leaves a cushion of 24 problems you are "allowed" to get wrong. I'd imagine you'd be better served to have as many of those banked "wrong" answers at your disposal for the Depth session. Hell, lets say you got 36 in the morning. You could leave half the afternoon blank and only answer the questions you are 100% confident in and have a chance to pass. Take those 20 questions you don't "know", try to solve them. Can't figure it out? Guess. You're bound to pick up at least a couple answers that way.

Obviously, I would shoot to be higher than that minimum. I set a goal for myself to shoot of 60-65/80 correct. I think I accomplished/exceeded that goal, at least with the way I felt after the exam.

Remember, you don't need to ACE the test. You just need to PASS.
 

piscescon

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I agree - You should make the morning the priority. Remember, everyone in the room is taking the same AM test regardless of their depth section. These questions have to be tailored to give everyone a fair shot at passing. The morning questions are "easier" in that respect. You should be shooting for, I'd say, a minimum 30 correct in the AM, but even upwards of 35. If you do well in the AM, it takes a little less pressure off the PM session where the questions are a little more involved.

I believe the general consensus is about a 70% correct to PASS the exam. Obviously this number is fluid and total conjecture, but it seems to be the rough estimate. So that's 56/80 questions correct. Leaves a cushion of 24 problems you are "allowed" to get wrong. I'd imagine you'd be better served to have as many of those banked "wrong" answers at your disposal for the Depth session. Hell, lets say you got 36 in the morning. You could leave half the afternoon blank and only answer the questions you are 100% confident in and have a chance to pass. Take those 20 questions you don't "know", try to solve them. Can't figure it out? Guess. You're bound to pick up at least a couple answers that way.

Obviously, I would shoot to be higher than that minimum. I set a goal for myself to shoot of 60-65/80 correct. I think I accomplished/exceeded that goal, at least with the way I felt after the exam.

Remember, you don't need to ACE the test. You just need to PASS.
That was exactly my strategy to pass the exam. My goal was 36 in AM and 20 in PM. I only tried to solve 20-25 in PM and guess others. No pressure in PM at all. I finished AM exam in 2.5 hours. I even stopped going back to check in last 30 minutes, because I was afraid of overthinking. There was only one I could be wrong because CERM doesn’t have lots of construction contents. AM was so easy.
 

NJHHEngineer

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That was exactly my strategy to pass the exam. My goal was 36 in AM and 20 in PM. I only tried to solve 20-25 in PM and guess others. No pressure in PM at all. I finished AM exam in 2.5 hours. I even stopped going back to check in last 30 minutes, because I was afraid of overthinking. There was only one I could be wrong because CERM doesn’t have lots of construction contents. AM was so easy.
That was my game plan as well going in. At least, kill the morning and go into the PM a little more relaxed. I had every intention of answering every question but was prepared for a bloodbath of an exam as well and knew I'd have to adapt if needed. Obviously, I was prepared to "grind it out" if I had to. But in my opinion, I felt the PM session was fairly straightforward as well. I felt the EET course and binders covered the Construction concepts very well and the rest of the problems were pretty much look ups from the ACI/OSHA/MUTCD. I also feel like my professional experience with my company really helped in the preparation as well. Not sure what your "construction" background is, as it is a very broad topic. My company does a little bit of everything and subs very little out. So, in my working experience I've been exposed to a lot of different operations and situations that I feel really helped me on the exam as well for some of those "random" questions.

I feel like I can confidently say I walked out of the AM with say 34 correct and then the PM, maybe, 32 or better. Caught some flack for it on a previous post but I am curious how I actually scored. But in the end, a PASS is all that matters. Whether you scrape by at the cut score or pass with flying colors, you still get the same license, and that's all that matters.

But I say, to anyone currently preparing or thinking about taking the exam: stay focused. The journey sucks. The studying, sucks. Sitting for 8 hours (albeit 2 - 4 hour sessions) getting grilled on your knowledge, you guessed it, sucks. But in the end, if you stay committed to the preparation and truly know your stuff, you will pass the test and the months of hard work will have paid off.
 

piscescon

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My work experiences are very broad but shallow. I’ve never done any actual structural design using US codes. I’m almost a civil guy not structural. I chose structural depth because I’m running a structural engineering firm now. I’m a newbie with very good engineering concepts. The PM problems looked simple and straightforward but I couldn’t find the right pages in my books. It really sucks because I’m not familiar with all the structural codes. However, I passed with my strategy. I knew I had 80% chance to pass before I took the exam.
 

Jorge Rangel

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My work experiences are very broad but shallow. I’ve never done any actual structural design using US codes. I’m almost a civil guy not structural. I chose structural depth because I’m running a structural engineering firm now. I’m a newbie with very good engineering concepts. The PM problems looked simple and straightforward but I couldn’t find the right pages in my books. It really sucks because I’m not familiar with all the structural codes. However, I passed with my strategy. I knew I had 80% chance to pass before I took the exam.
You have done a wonderful work.Amazing, congratulations!!!
 

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