Passed the PE Civil: Transportation CBT Exam on the 1st attempt without prior experience in Trans. Eng and Without taking a Course – Here’s my advice.

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JHoff

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After taking both Paper & Pencil in April 2018 and CBT in October 2022, I believe they are making the exam more representative of the style of questions they put in the NCEES Practice Exam.

The Pearson Center I was at was kind of small (only about 15-20 computers), and there were other types of examinees there. As far as I knew I was the only PE Examinee. Other people were social workers, lawyers, etc.

They give you 8 hours total. You’re allowed breaks to use the bathroom or access food/water in your locker at any point but your timer doesn't stop. You get one optional planned break for 50 minutes after finishing the first section and you’re able to take as little of that 50 minutes as you want and then go back into the exam (I took 30 minutes). During this break you’re allowed to go to car, access your phone etc. The morning section you use however much time you want. ( I used 4 hrs 10 minutes). Then the afternoon section is whatever time you have left ( I had 3 hrs 50 mins). My exam had 41 questions in the AM and 39 questions in the PM. When sitting and taking the exam, I didn’t know the timer didn’t stop when you are through the first set of questions. That’s why I went over the 4 hr time in AM portion. I used that extra time to review the problems that I have flagged. However, not knowing that the timer didn’t stop after 4 hours or give me a warning that the AM section was almost up, left me with a little less time in the Afternoon. I was a little more conscious and cautious of my time.

At the end of both sections they bring you to a review screen to click on any questions you flagged and they also notify you if there are any questions you didn't answer. AM portion I had maybe 12-14 questions I was unsure of and PM I had maybe 8 I was unsure of. The morning was heavily conceptual and I wasn’t solving a problem until around question 14. There were drag & drop and type of your answer questions that put a little more pressure on getting and knowing the correct answer(s).

I started studying about 5 months before my exam because I was trying to learn a whole new discipline of engineering. Backstory - I was mostly doing structural bridge design at work a few years ago, so I took the P&P PE Civil: Structural exam and ended up not passing. During the pandemic and working remotely, my work switched to helping other offices out with drafting and CAD work and I got away from doing structural design. I got more all-discipline type of work and took a liking toward the highway work that was handed to me. With that said, with the exam turned to computer-based testing and still wanting to pass the PE Exam, I switched to learning all about transportation engineering and pursuing that career path.

Eyes on all pages and You don’t have to know everything, but you have to know where everything is. That was my approach. I made sure I read through all 10 manuals (1 PE Civil Handbook and 9 Transportation references) – I read more in-depth for the more used manuals and skimmed over the other ones, but I made sure I knew what was and approximately where everything was in all the references. That took 4 months. During the last month of studying, I went through practice exams. I alternated between AM practice exams and PM exams so everything would stay fresh.

I bought a lot of practice exams but in my opinion, the best books available for studying and style of questions were most representative were these books all purchased on AMAZON:
*NOTE* While doing practice problems, have all of the required codes in PDF form so you get used to using them and the NCEES reference manual. You can find PDFs of most of them on SCRIBD, Academia.edu, and PDFCoffee.

HCM, AASHTO GREENBOOK, Highway Safety Manual, MUTCD, AASHTO Roadside Design Guide - These are the most important. The rest of the required codes have only a few questions.

BREADTH:
"NCEES PE CIVIL : TRANSPORTATION PRACTICE EXAM"
"Path to PE Services: CIVIL PE PRACTICE EXAM CBT BREADTH (Updated 3/15/22)"
"Civil PE Practice: CIVIL ENGINEERING PE PRACTICE EXAMS A & B"
"Civil PE Practice: CIVIL ENGINEERING PE PRACTICE EXAM C"
“Civil Engineering PE Breadth Exams: Three Full Exams with Solutions”
Researchgate: ‘Free PE-Civil-Exam Strategies and a Free Morning Exam Sample’ pdf

DEPTH:
"NCEES PE CIVIL: TRANSPORTATION PRACTICE EXAM"
"Path to PE Services: CIVIL PE PRACTICE EXAM CBT DEPTH Transportation"
"Path to PE Services: CIVIL PE PRACTICE EXAM Transportation Depth (Updated 3/15/22)"
"PPI: SIX-MINUTE SOLUTIONS FOR THE CIVIL PE TRANSPORTATION DEPTH EXAM PROBLEMS" - This book was good to help me learn the transportation depth problems, I worked through every problem and how to do each one and it was a really good way to learn how to do the depth portion of the exam as I had no Transportation Engineering experience.
Researchgate: ‘Free PE Civil Transportation- Depth Exam Sample’ pdf
 

Felix77

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Thank you so much! For the codes, how were they presented on the exam? Were they one pdf you searched through or were any of them split up and you had to know which section to pull up?
 

JHoff

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Thank you so much! For the codes, how were they presented on the exam? Were they one pdf you searched through or were any of them split up and you had to know which section to pull up?
You're welcome! One big thing I told my co-workers and I'll share it here - The manuals are not one whole pdf, they are broken down in to chapters and sections (bookmarks). I wasn't expecting it so it was more time consuming to find exactly where a solution might be. You should become very familiar with what's in every section of the different manuals. Moreover, you don't have to know everything, but you have to know where everything is.
 

Dasdbomb

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Your going to have your typical codes and in the form that is listed on the. NCEESS website the version. You’ll have those and they will be identical and somewhat combined in a somewhat useful way. One thing they need is larger screens, I got tripped up multiple times by tiny font on formulas. I have good eye sight and no glasses and it still did me wrong enough to cost me points.
 
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After taking both Paper & Pencil in April 2018 and CBT in October 2022, I believe they are making the exam more representative of the style of questions they put in the NCEES Practice Exam.

The Pearson Center I was at was kind of small (only about 15-20 computers), and there were other types of examinees there. As far as I knew I was the only PE Examinee. Other people were social workers, lawyers, etc.

They give you 8 hours total. You’re allowed breaks to use the bathroom or access food/water in your locker at any point but your timer doesn't stop. You get one optional planned break for 50 minutes after finishing the first section and you’re able to take as little of that 50 minutes as you want and then go back into the exam (I took 30 minutes). During this break you’re allowed to go to car, access your phone etc. The morning section you use however much time you want. ( I used 4 hrs 10 minutes). Then the afternoon section is whatever time you have left ( I had 3 hrs 50 mins). My exam had 41 questions in the AM and 39 questions in the PM. When sitting and taking the exam, I didn’t know the timer didn’t stop when you are through the first set of questions. That’s why I went over the 4 hr time in AM portion. I used that extra time to review the problems that I have flagged. However, not knowing that the timer didn’t stop after 4 hours or give me a warning that the AM section was almost up, left me with a little less time in the Afternoon. I was a little more conscious and cautious of my time.

At the end of both sections they bring you to a review screen to click on any questions you flagged and they also notify you if there are any questions you didn't answer. AM portion I had maybe 12-14 questions I was unsure of and PM I had maybe 8 I was unsure of. The morning was heavily conceptual and I wasn’t solving a problem until around question 14. There were drag & drop and type of your answer questions that put a little more pressure on getting and knowing the correct answer(s).

I started studying about 5 months before my exam because I was trying to learn a whole new discipline of engineering. Backstory - I was mostly doing structural bridge design at work a few years ago, so I took the P&P PE Civil: Structural exam and ended up not passing. During the pandemic and working remotely, my work switched to helping other offices out with drafting and CAD work and I got away from doing structural design. I got more all-discipline type of work and took a liking toward the highway work that was handed to me. With that said, with the exam turned to computer-based testing and still wanting to pass the PE Exam, I switched to learning all about transportation engineering and pursuing that career path.

Eyes on all pages and You don’t have to know everything, but you have to know where everything is. That was my approach. I made sure I read through all 10 manuals (1 PE Civil Handbook and 9 Transportation references) – I read more in-depth for the more used manuals and skimmed over the other ones, but I made sure I knew what was and approximately where everything was in all the references. That took 4 months. During the last month of studying, I went through practice exams. I alternated between AM practice exams and PM exams so everything would stay fresh.

I bought a lot of practice exams but in my opinion, the best books available for studying and style of questions were most representative were these books all purchased on AMAZON:
*NOTE* While doing practice problems, have all of the required codes in PDF form so you get used to using them and the NCEES reference manual. You can find PDFs of most of them on SCRIBD, Academia.edu, and PDFCoffee.

HCM, AASHTO GREENBOOK, Highway Safety Manual, MUTCD, AASHTO Roadside Design Guide - These are the most important. The rest of the required codes have only a few questions.

BREADTH:
"NCEES PE CIVIL : TRANSPORTATION PRACTICE EXAM"
"Path to PE Services: CIVIL PE PRACTICE EXAM CBT BREADTH (Updated 3/15/22)"
"Civil PE Practice: CIVIL ENGINEERING PE PRACTICE EXAMS A & B"
"Civil PE Practice: CIVIL ENGINEERING PE PRACTICE EXAM C"
“Civil Engineering PE Breadth Exams: Three Full Exams with Solutions”
Researchgate: ‘Free PE-Civil-Exam Strategies and a Free Morning Exam Sample’ pdf

DEPTH:
"NCEES PE CIVIL: TRANSPORTATION PRACTICE EXAM"
"Path to PE Services: CIVIL PE PRACTICE EXAM CBT DEPTH Transportation"
"Path to PE Services: CIVIL PE PRACTICE EXAM Transportation Depth (Updated 3/15/22)"
"PPI: SIX-MINUTE SOLUTIONS FOR THE CIVIL PE TRANSPORTATION DEPTH EXAM PROBLEMS" - This book was good to help me learn the transportation depth problems, I worked through every problem and how to do each one and it was a really good way to learn how to do the depth portion of the exam as I had no Transportation Engineering experience.
Researchgate: ‘Free PE Civil Transportation- Depth Exam Sample’ pdf
Thanks for all the great info above.

If you had to pick 1 from the above sections, both AM and PM, which ones would you pick?
 
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Also I hope your not a BOT because someone had said the exact same thing below about a year ago. Different user... lol

"PPI: SIX-MINUTE SOLUTIONS FOR THE CIVIL PE TRANSPORTATION DEPTH EXAM PROBLEMS" - This book was good to help me learn the transportation depth problems, I worked through every problem and how to do each one and it was a really good way to learn how to do the depth portion of the exam as I had no Transportation Engineering experience.
 

JHoff

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Also I hope your not a BOT because someone had said the exact same thing below about a year ago. Different user... lol

"PPI: SIX-MINUTE SOLUTIONS FOR THE CIVIL PE TRANSPORTATION DEPTH EXAM PROBLEMS" - This book was good to help me learn the transportation depth problems, I worked through every problem and how to do each one and it was a really good way to learn how to do the depth portion of the exam as I had no Transportation Engineering experience.
Haha no, not a BOT. Theirs was well written with good info...so I just elaborated on it and added my own experience to it.
 
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JHoff

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Thanks for all the great info above.

If you had to pick 1 from the above sections, both AM and PM, which ones would you pick?
Thanks for all the great info above.

If you had to pick 1 from the above sections, both AM and PM, which ones would you pick?
Hmm, tough choice. Each practice exam was a little different and which is better will depend on your stronget & weaker areas (what you might need more or less practice on). Since I can't upload an excel file, I have attached screen shots of my exact study timeline and notes about some of the practice exams. The last week or so,I went over the ones I felt most helpful and included questions I needed more practice on. Hope that answers your question.
 

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