How I Passed the Thermal / Fluid PE exam

Help Support Engineer Boards:

Simpo Hippo

New member
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
User banned for posting links to personal YouTube site.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

breezy_moto

Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2017
Messages
38
Reaction score
3
I've been seeing a lot of talk about the unit conversion book. I've been using the 2 conversion pages in the quick reference for the ME PE Exam by Lindeburg. The multipliers are pretty useful. What does the conversion book have that's not in the quick reference, just more conversions and more complicated ones? 

 

MikeGlass1969

Member
Joined
Feb 29, 2016
Messages
211
Reaction score
53
Location
Butler, PA
I've been seeing a lot of talk about the unit conversion book. I've been using the 2 conversion pages in the quick reference for the ME PE Exam by Lindeburg. The multipliers are pretty useful. What does the conversion book have that's not in the quick reference, just more conversions and more complicated ones? 
Nearly ever conversion possible...    HIGHLY recommend you have this for the exam.  I had to use mine several times for my exam.  Worth every cent of the $40 I paid for the book.  I will be keeping mine for reference.

 

mongolianbbq

Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2017
Messages
49
Reaction score
9
To those who took the revised exam recently. Which practice exam was most similar to the real exam? A reviewer on amazon said the NCEES practice exam was very different than the real exam. I've pasted the review below.

I took the April 2015 exam (ME - thermo/fluids) and passed. While this helped me study, I don't feel the problems were representative of the exam. The exam was substantially different. I wouldn't say it was much more difficult though. Overall, studying problems from my class books seemed more beneficial than this guide.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Unintended Max P.E.

Max Collins of Unintended Consequences
Joined
Sep 21, 2015
Messages
4,426
Reaction score
1,422
Location
Eastern Washington
To those who took the revised exam recently. Which practice exam was most similar to the real exam? A reviewer on amazon said the NCEES practice exam was very different than the real exam. I've pasted the review below.
You need to understand the purpose of the practice exam.  It's not going to give you sample problems from the real exam.  It's only purpose is to show you what level of difficulty to expect and to give you an opportunity to determine how to pace yourself for the actual exam.  You can glean some idea as to the breadth of material that will be on a typical exam, but it is NOT representative of the entire breadth of topics that MAY be covered.

 

hasler

New member
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
I am wrapping up my studying for the April exam and I am unsure which standards I should get a copy of for the exam? Does anyone have suggestions on this topic?

 

Ramnares P.E.

Moderator
Joined
Feb 6, 2013
Messages
9,897
Reaction score
1,939
I'm not sure specifically what Standards you'd be interested in.  Unlike other disciplines, like HVAC where ASHRAE is basically required, T&FS typically isn't limited to specific standards.  A comprehensive list of references is provided in this thread.

 

Vel2018

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2018
Messages
229
Reaction score
36
Location
NYC
I passed the 1st try! Self study, 3 months of no life spent approximately 500hrs of studying, practicing timed test until I was fast fast fast (Like I finished NCEES practice test in lessthan 2hrs, 2.3hrs for SMS and 2.5hrs for SlayThePE at the last week of my study, yes that fast!) You want to pass 1st time 100%, then be that fast at the same time making sure you know your doing the right approach and knowing the concepts. 

just follow this thread, and the attitude to pass only 1 shot and you will succeed!

 

slmn

New member
Joined
May 25, 2018
Messages
2
Reaction score
1
thanks all for the useful info.

i have one question about machine design, statics and dynamics ... problems, according to the TFS NCEES exam specs there is no such topics, is it worth to spend some time studying them?

im asking because i found some recommendations for some machine design books...

thanks 

 

Ramnares P.E.

Moderator
Joined
Feb 6, 2013
Messages
9,897
Reaction score
1,939
@slmn this forum is intended to catalog what worked for you during studying that helped in passing the exam.  For general exam help, please create a separate post in the mechanical forum.

Thanks.

 

mckenz007

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2017
Messages
45
Reaction score
11
Location
New England
This forum was astronomically helpful for me when it came to figuring out how to study for this goliath of an exam. I just found out I passed the exam on my 1st attempt and I wanted to share my study methods for future test takers in case it’s of any value, like previous posts were to me.

My Background: Graduated with a ME degree in 2011, but technically work as an environmental engineer in the municipal drinking water industry. I considered taking the Civil Water Resources exam, but was scared off by the civil breadth section. I decided to go back to my mechanical roots and chose thermal/fluids because of the overlap with fluids and my current work.

Study Resources:

MERM (13th ED): Get this, it’s worth it. I found the most value came from the appendices. You DO NOT need other steam tables – the MERM tables were more than efficient for the exam. Yes, you may need to interpolate. No, the extra 30 seconds spent interpolating for 1 or 2 problems is not going to make or break your test taking experience.

Lindeburg’s Quick Reference for ME PE Exam (5th ED): Take it or leave it… could be useful but I didn’t really utilize it. I ended up writing my own “quick reference” that I found much more valuable.

Lindeburg’s Engineering Unit Conversions (4th ED): Super helpful, especially for studying. There were some conversions on the exam, but not nearly as bad as the practice tests.

Lindeburg’s Practice Problems for ME PE Exam (13th ED): Don’t waste your time or money on this. The problems are way more complex than the actual exam. I did about 30 of the 1000 problems and then never touched it again.

Practice Tests:

NCEES Practice Exam (2016 ED): Hands down most representative of actual exam. Do it over and over.

Engineering ProGuides Practice Exam: Second most representative after NCEES Practice Exam. Questions may be a little on the easier side. Save this test for towards the ends of your studies it will be a good confidence booster after sloughing through the below.

SlaythePE Practice Exam: Some questions are a bit harder than what you’d find on the actual exam, but so, so, so helpful. I think studying off of this exam was the difference between passing and failing for me. The power plant problems look scary and overwhelming, but reviewing these solutions taught me how simple they are when you break it down.

Deckler’s Thermal and Fluid Systems Six-Minute Problems (2nd ED): Will take you way longer than 6-mins a problem to start, but keep at it. Problems are a bit harder than the actual test, but good practice. Skip “Codes and Standards” question at the end. You are not expected to have copies of codes at the exam and these can’t be solved without them.

Lindeburg’s PE Mechanical Thermal and Fluids Systems Practice Exam (1st ED): Way harder than the actual test. Will kill your confidence. Worth struggling through once or twice for practice.

Prep Course:

Dr. Tom’s Classroom: Great resource for catching up on all the basics after years out of school. Most importantly, this course gave me structure and steered me towards what was important to study and what was not. Be prepared to spend a couple extra hundred dollars on ink and printer paper as you amass all of Dr. Tom’s handouts. Videos are on-demand, and surprisingly engaging. There is forum where you can ask Dr. Tom questions directly and he is very prompt with responses.

Study Regimen:

I started studying on January 2nd for the April 13th exam. I started with the Dr. Tom’s Classroom Course. He has a 20 week plan, but I averaged about 3 weeks of lessons per actual week. During this time, I was only doing DTC lessons and his assigned problems, which came from Deckler’s Six Minutes Problems (referred to by old name Six Minute Solutions), the NCEES 2016 practice exam, and Dr. Tom’s personal bank of questions. I was finished the entire course by the 1st week of March.

I then started working through practice test. I ran through the above mentioned tests over and over and over again. First/second time through I often had to look up solutions and runs took WAY longer than 8 hours (more like 16-20). Keep at it. Things will start to click eventually. When you are feeling confident with one test, put it aside and start working on the next. I dedicated at least 4 hours a day to working on problems, 7 days a week. It sucks, but it pays off. While working on these problems, I made of list of equations/notes so I didn’t have to look through the MERM every time – more on this below.

About three weeks out from the exam, I wrote out the question and solutions to every single problem from every single test neatly on its own piece of paper, hole punched it, and put it in a categorized binder. This is huge take-away of the DTC method. I had 5 binders: Thermo, Fluids, Heat Transfer, HVAC, Engineering Basics. These binders were each tabbed for different categories of problems, for example: the Heat Transfer binder had tabs for conduction, convection, radiation, heat exchangers, and so on. Each tab also included corresponding notes/problems from DTC. The theory is if while taking the exam a heat exchanger question comes up that you aren’t sure of the solution path, you take out your heat transfer binder, flip to hex section, and there you have 10-12 different hex questions to compare against to jog your memory.

At the same time I was working on my own equation/reference binder. I got a lot of this information from DTC notes, the MERM, and equations/notes recorded while doing practice tests. I organized it carefully by topic and highlighted important reminders. It ended up being about 40 well-spaced out pages which I put in plastic sleeves for easily flipping through during the exam.

A week or so before the real test I did a timed dry run of the ENGPRO Guides exam. I ended up getting 80% correct, and took me about 7 hours start to finish. Afterwards I also re-wrote and sorted all these questions into my problem binders mentioned above.

The Actual Test:

Most important bit of advice I got off this form: If you don’t know the solution path to a problem immediately, SKIP IT. Morning section, I knew how to do 28 problems on the first run and had skipped 12. At this point, I had about 90 minutes left to work on the ones I didn’t know immediately. I wasn’t panicking because I was feeling confident about those 28 and I still had plenty of time left. And believe it or not, I was able to figure out several of those I skipped during this time (or I at least got a corresponding answer in the multiple choice). By the end of the 4 hours, I only had 2-3 that really were straight up guesses. Same thing happened in the afternoon, first run through I felt confident in 34 questions. I then had a little under an hour to work on the 6 I had skipped, with a lot less pressure. I figured a couple more out and guessed on the remaining 2-3. I never felt pressed for time at any point during the test.

For the test itself, I really only used my personal equation/reference binder, the MERM appendix, and the unit conversion book. I barely touched the problem/solution binders I had made – but I think at this point their content was engrained in my brain that I didn’t need to.

Aftermath:

I left feeling cautiously optimistic. As the weeks of waiting ticked by, that optimism dwindled and I was certain I had fallen for all the tricks or skipped a bubble somewhere and all my answers were off by one question. When I got the email notification my heart was racing. When I saw the “PASS” I literally “Yahoo!-ed”.

Best of luck to all those preparing!

 

Unintended Max P.E.

Max Collins of Unintended Consequences
Joined
Sep 21, 2015
Messages
4,426
Reaction score
1,422
Location
Eastern Washington
Appreciate your post here @mckenz007. The only thing I would caution others about your post is regarding steam tables. The steam tables in the MERM were definitely NOT enough for my exam and a lot of time could have been wasted interpolating, when it was a simple look up.  Can you do it without them? Yes. Would a person be better served with a better set of tables? Absolutely. Since there are excellent free tables available, I see no reason why someone would not study with and bring more complete tables to the exam, for use.  Here are your best bets for both standard and SI unit steam tables (both free):

Here is a link for the best Imperial units table I could find (I did a lot of searching) http://www.tuner.tw/omega%20cd/zsection/STEAM_TA.PDF  and a GREAT compilation of SI units (tables 1, 2, and 3) here: https://www.nist.gov/sites/default/files/documents/srd/NISTIR5078.htm

 

squaretaper LIT AF PE

UNCE UNCE UNCE
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
11,563
Reaction score
2,321
Location
a furnace
Appreciate your post here @mckenz007. The only thing I would caution others about your post is regarding steam tables. The steam tables in the MERM were definitely NOT enough for my exam and a lot of time could have been wasted interpolating, when it was a simple look up.  Can you do it without them? Yes. Would a person be better served with a better set of tables? Absolutely. Since there are excellent free tables available, I see no reason why someone would not study with and bring more complete tables to the exam, for use.  Here are your best bets for both standard and SI unit steam tables (both free):

Here is a link for the best Imperial units table I could find (I did a lot of searching) http://www.tuner.tw/omega%20cd/zsection/STEAM_TA.PDF  and a GREAT compilation of SI units (tables 1, 2, and 3) here: https://www.nist.gov/sites/default/files/documents/srd/NISTIR5078.htm
I agree with @Audi driver, P.E. 100%. The only thing I would add (in addition to both these US and SI tables) is to print out an 11x17 Mollier diagram and use that as your first stop. You'll know immediately if you're superheated (and if you're doing any turbine problem, you'll probably start there anyway) and you can pick off enthalpies in 1-5 seconds versus 20-30 seconds rooting around the tables. In my practice runs and on the exam, I found the resolution on the Mollier diagram sufficient to get the correct answer. Either way works! Just nice to have options. I was a steam table holdout for a long time before I jumped to the Mollier diagram.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

mckenz007

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2017
Messages
45
Reaction score
11
Location
New England
The steam tables in the MERM were definitely NOT enough for my exam
Appreciate the note - I guess I should have prefaced that I am only describing my test taking experience. I would say the need for interpolation on the test I took was minimal. I used my calculator to do any interpolations for me and as I said, time was not an issue for me on test day, so a couple extra seconds didn’t make a difference. If you think you’re going to need every last second, print out the tables (great links!). But I just used the MERM tables, and I passed, so it can be done!

 

cornsnicker3

Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2016
Messages
96
Reaction score
32
I made a similar post on another thread, but wanted to capture my experience here. Overall, I took a minimalist approach and it worked just fine. I passed

Overall hours studied: ~200 hrs

Books Used/Brought:

1. MERM - This is the bread and butter of my studying. 95% of the content I reviewed was out of this book. I simply reviewed the relevant chapters for TFS and did all of the example problems. I hardly used it during the test itself due to #3.

2. Engineering Unit Conversions - This is a must have during the exam and is beneficial for studying.

3. Self Made Equation/Appendices Book - I compiled each chapter into an equation sheet and their respective appendices. This book REALLY made the difference for me. I was able to navigate everything so much faster than with the MERM. I had the MERM for back-up or for unknown definitions, but this book was my execution playbook.

I did not use any other NCEES exams, SMS, EngPro Guides, or any other reference. I also didn't refer to any problems during the exam

How did I study:

1. MERM Problems - I worked the relevant MERM problems in the actual MERM itself. I did this only one time.

2. MERM Companion Problems - I worked about 80% of the relevant problems and felt that the problems were sufficient for understanding the material.

3NCEES 2016 - I worked this three times with about 96% on my last attempt. I honestly didn't find much value for this other than exam formatting.  It was good for understanding the PE problem structure, but I didn't get as much use out of it as many other posters.

4. SlaythePE - I worked this exam once, but was stubborn to pay for the solutions. It kicked my butt when I did it and got me to focus harder is about all.

What would I have done differently? Although I passed, I still would have done some stuff differently.

1. Get the Companion Problems earlier - These are integral to studying and really complete the MERM problems

2. Work the chapters carousel methodI would have hopped chapters after each problem rather than slamming a single chapter at once. I got really bored doing all one problem.

3. I probably would have brought something for control valves since I know very little about the them and the MERM does a weak job covering it.

That is my experience!

 

sambisu

Hydropower Engineer
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
105
Reaction score
61
Location
Loveland, CO
Following @cornsnicker3's lead...here is what worked for me and some thoughts for future test-takers. This was my first (and only) time taking the exam. 

The only books I ended up using or needing were MERM, Engineering Unit Conversions, and steam tables. The steam tables I used were a version published by Iowa State University which I held on to from my undergrad. I actually looked into whether they still print them, but couldn't get an answer. They were a huge help though as they were much more comprehensive than anything else I found. I did not have to interpolate a single time to get through the exam. If you are questioning the need for the Engineering Unit Conversions book, GET IT! I used it a lot while studying as well as during the actual exam.

In general, my studying looked like this:

  1. Started by attempting to read through MERM in its entirety and gave up after 3 or 4 chapters.
  2. Completed the NCEES 2016 practice exam twice un-timed. On the second pass, I made a note sheet of all the commonly used equations. This eventually became my exam "cheat sheet". Completed the exam a third time (not in one sitting) timed. Also tabbed MERM as I went along.
  3. Completed Slay the PE once un-timed. Made additions to my cheat sheet as I went through. Made sure I understood each problem.
  4. Completed Slay the PE (not in one sitting) timed.
  5. WEEKEND BEFORE THE EXAM: Completed NCEES 2016 in one sitting (giving myself the same format as exam day with a one hour break between AM and PM sessions...also did not allow myself any scratch paper besides the exam itself). I made a point of not even looking at this exam for about 6 weeks prior to this so I would hopefully not just remember how I worked out the problems. I also went through and worked out all of the practice problems that @Slay the P.E. posted on this forum.
Not sure total number of hours studied, but would guess somewhere in the 100-150 hr range.

Opinions on practice exams taken:

NCEES 2016 - Spot on as far as difficulty and type of questions.

Slay the PE - Definitely more difficult than the actual exam, but really helpful as it hit the right topics. Definitely worth the investment for the solutions.

 

sambisu

Hydropower Engineer
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
105
Reaction score
61
Location
Loveland, CO
SlaythePE Practice Exam: Some questions are a bit harder than what you’d find on the actual exam, but so, so, so helpful. I think studying off of this exam was the difference between passing and failing for me. The power plant problems look scary and overwhelming, but reviewing these solutions taught me how simple they are when you break it down.
This ^

 

ME_VT_PE

Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
464
Reaction score
305
Location
Vermont
just take Dr. Tom's classroom for TFS and do exactly what he says and you will almost certainly pass

 
Top