Passed PE Civil Construction and here's my advice.

Professional Engineer & PE Exam Forum

Help Support Professional Engineer & PE Exam Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


New member
Dec 21, 2022
Reaction score
I have to admit, reading some of the posts about the PE Construction exam had me worried. I'd agree it's a difficult exam, but if you work in construction then I recommend taking this one. I put in a total of 140 hours of studying and I'll break down my study schedule later, but I'll start will what I wish I knew first.

A few posts have stated this, but I didn't really get what was meant by no more breadth and depth. This test was completely random and you don't start off with just 40 breadth questions. What you do get is 40 random questions coving any one of the breadth or depth topics. With that said, you do get all of the design standards to use for both the am and pm portions. Getting into those standards. For my exam less than half of my questions required looking up anything in the manuals, but when I needed them it was a time suck. The manuals are all broken down into their subparts and you have to know generally what and where to look before you even open a section to search. OSHA was a pain to search and AISC was a pain. If you don't practice with a pdf version it will hurt you on this exam.
My next big surprise, and this may be different for your testing center, but to write I was given a fine point sharpie marker and a 6 gridded plastic covered sheets. This was miserable. If you can get a reasonable accommodation to get to use a pen or pencil and paper then you should try. I spent so much time just trying to get that marker to write and then even when I could write, reading what I wrote was a challenge. I will say, I didn't have too many long calculations so that probably saved me.
That's the main things I wish I knew, but I'll answere any questions. Below is my study strategy.

In total I spent 140 hours studying. I have two little kids, 2&3, so getting a solid brick of 2 hours to study was as good as it got for most of my study sessions. Honestly, if you do it right, 2 hour sessions are about perfect.
I started 3 months out from my exam studying. Month 1 was just 3-4 times a week watching YouTube videos and getting familiar with the topics. I also bought paper copies of all the standards and glossed through them. Don't get just paper copies, I wish I bought pdf versions. Occasionally I would work a few problems, but month one was really just learning the topics and getting comfortable with the materials available on exam day. During my studies, if it wasn't available on exam day then I didn't bother even using it. That includes the CERM. I have a copy, but I didn't even open it. Why waste brain space filling it with info not used on the exam.
Month 2 was still 3-4 sessions a week but this was all working questions. I purchased the access to PPI's learning hub and this was great. They have a quiz generator and each time I sat down I'd do a new 8-10 question random quiz. This is what you should do. The test is random so study that same way. I also did every single question in PPIs 6 min solution book. Honestly that book is pound for pound the best one available.
If your doing the math, 2 hour sessions 3-4 days a week for 2 months only adds up to 50-60 hours. Going into that final month that's all I had. For the first three weeks of month 3 I kept that pace. Here was the kicker, and for me this was perfect. The week before the exam I took off work. I crammed for 10 hours a day for 7 days straight. Each of those 7 days I started with a timed 4 hour exam. Unfortunately most prep exams are either breadth or depth, not random like the real thing, but I used what I had. The 6 hours left in the day we're used to evaluate the topics I got wrong. I used the PPI quiz generator to do quizzes on my weak subjects. In total I did 3 breadth exams (2 PPI and 1 NCEES) and 5 depth (2 PPI online, 2PPI paper, 1 NCEES).
2 days prior to the test I was done. My test was Monday and I spent the weekend watching some Netflix and enjoying time with my kids. I went into things on Monday well rested and I passed.