Passed the Power PE Exam on my first try!!

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Jul 14, 2021
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I spent hours on these forums looking for people's experience with this behemoth of an exam, and this is my way of giving back to anyone who might need it! Fair warning, this is going to be a long post for those who love to read detailed experiences. Will include a TLDR for those who don't!

A little background on me. I'm 27, married, no kids, work during the day and take care of my folks when needed. I have 3+ years of experience in a power engineering consultancy firm. My education was heavily focused on Microelectronics. While I took a number of Power classes, I was behind the curve in terms of the depth of knowledge needed for this exam.

I used Engineering Pro Guides 6 months on demand. Highly recommend this. It is extremely well structured and has everything you need to know. Justin does a great job of explaining the material in his book and his video lectures. His practice problems and exams also do a great job at solidifying the material, but I wouldn't say they look similar to the actual exam. Also, there is so much of these problems that they start to look similar towards the end, so definitely invest in other practice exams. Look out for some errors/typos in the material though, make sure to reference the errata. This review course also has a more attractive price tag than other classes. I also used Zach Stones Electrical PE Review practice exam and NCEES practice exams. These are MUST haves. Will explain why later.

Study Timeframe:
Keep in mind that this is what worked for me. I didn't want to feel rushed and had no reason to rush. Instead of treating this like a second 40 hrs/wk job, I wanted to keep the stress levels low and kept it at 10-15 hrs/wk. I extended my total study time to 7-8 months, taking one month off to deal with some things. I started studying early (April 2022) before I even scheduled my exam. Around September 2022, I scheduled my exam for November 2022.

Study Methodology: Month 1-4 (month 2 was off)
I went through each chapter in the EPG textbook thoroughly, watched the video lectures and took notes along the way. This lasted for a little over 3 months. The only problems I did here were the ones at the end of each chapter in the EPG textbook. These problems are good to test your knowledge of the chapter but not all of them are challenging enough to be considered exam type questions. I found that this method of studying was VERY boring, time consuming and required a lot of focus. However, due to my limited background in Power, I had to do it to cover all my bases and make sure I touch up on all the subjects. Keep in mind, I was taking my time ON PURPOSE. Don't think you need 3+ months to review material only. That was my pace. I hadn't even scheduled my exam at this point.

Study Methodology: Month 5-8
Here is where I noticed the flaws of Months 1-4. I started going through the EPG practice exams and noticed that I've forgotten some details of the earlier chapters. I had to go back and review these chapters, albeit at a quicker pace. Looking back, I would go through them faster. The practice exams will identify gaps in your understanding and knowledge, which will force you to revisit the chapters and notes anyways.
I also decided that it was time to add some urgency to my studying, so in August/September, I decided to schedule my exam for November 22nd.
I did all the EPG exams. He has three full exams, including a references exam which is fully dedicated as a code practice exam. I took those at a slow pace to identify where I'm missing knowledge in each chapter.

Mock Exams: NCEES and Zach Stone
Towards the final month before the exam, I used the NCEES Practice Exam, which I hadn't touched until that point, to do an 8 hour simulation of the actual exam. I scored 56/80, which is bang on what people say the passing score is. The NCEES practice exam is important because it exposes you to how NCEES words their questions. The level of difficulty of the practice exam vs the actual exam is close, but not identical. I did another mock exam using Zach Stones practice exam, and that was golden. I scored 57/80. The exam itself is difficult, more so than the actual PE exam, because of the way it's structured. It exposes you to things that will trick you and reveal where your gaps in knowledge are, but the neat thing about it is the way Zach explains the answers. His answers explain concepts that you will encounter on the exam, regardless of the original question.

Final month before the exam:
I ramped down a lot of the studying, besides the mock exams. I relaxed and tried not to make a big deal out of the exam even though I knew I was shitting bricks.

Exam day thoughts and mentality:
I went in there confident but also very anxious. The mock exams I did helped build some confidence, but the main thing that I had on my mind is: what's the worst that could happen? I'd have to retake it, which sucks but isn't the end of the world, and at least I'd have a solid idea of the exam experience and difficulty level.

Exam Experience & Advice:
I can't disclose any actual exam information, so I will use situations I ran into with practice exams as examples. The exam fried my brain. For quantitative problems, you need to look out for simple mistakes. For example, a question that popped up in a practice exam was about the voltage regulation. Its easy to forget which goes first in the equation, Vnl or Vfl? Which is Vnl and which is Vfl? Its easy to overlook these when studying until you fall into the mistake in a practice problem, or worse, in an actual exam problem. The wrong answer resulting from such mistakes are usually one of the choices, so it gives you a false sense of security. Always ask yourself, where's the trick in this question? You also need to understand the material well because there are plenty of qualitative questions that test your understanding. For example, a practice exam question was about transformer coil and core losses and the operation of the load at a certain percentage of its rating. You need to understand how the variation of the load affects coil losses and why it doesn't affect core losses.

I had 41 questions in the AM session and 39 in the PM session. The AM session was 50-50 for me. I felt confident about some questions but flagged and guessed on a lot of others. The NEC questions took time and I couldn't be confident in those answers because I don't use the NEC in my work much. I didn't have a lot of time to review these guesses and flagged questions either because I didn't want to eat into the time for the PM session. So, I just went with my gut. The PM session started off amazing for me. I felt like I aced the first 25 questions, which were mostly power flow, T&D, circuits, which is what I work with every day. Then, the fatigue kicked in, and the Protection questions do not agree with fatigue. I felt like I did ok, but I was not confident. I did the best I could and left feeling like it could have gone either way. Make sure to focus on the small details of Protection.

I couldn't remember a single thing from the exam. It was a blur. It still kind of is, but I can remember some details now. My brain was fried. I was starving. But I was done, and that was a relief. I had my exam on a Tuesday and got the results 8 days later (second Wednesday after the exam). Nothing could beat the feeling I got when I saw the green "PASSED" sign as soon as I woke up. All that hard work paid off. It felt like 8 months worth of ecstasy was flowing through my body. And you can feel it around your peers at work, passing this exam really IS a huge accomplishment. Sometimes, I need to remind myself of what I managed to do, and that makes it all worth it.

Things I would have done differently/Focused on more:
- Not have spent that much time on reviewing notes had I knew I will eventually go back and review them regardless
- Put a little more studying effort into questions on things like illumination, economics, demand because it is a lot easier to master these questions and guarantee a correct answer than big topics like the NEC & Protection
- Practiced the NEC more. These questions are about how quickly you can find what you're looking for and understanding the flow of these questions (how to move from one section of the code to the next)
- Focused more on the small details of Protection. You really need to understand how coordination works and understand the terminology used in this section.

Study material:

1. Engineering Pro Guides for reviewing chapters and plenty of practice problems
2. NCEES practice exam as mock exam to get familiar with how NCEES word their question
3. Zach Stone practice exam as mock exam to identify gaps in your understanding and learn a lot from the answer key


Don't be afraid to take it slowly, 10-15 hrs per week for 5-6 months should be enough, assuming you don't spend as much time on notes and videos like I did. It helps keep your stress levels low. Completing the studying process in 3-4 months is also perfectly fine as long as you spend more hours/week.

Study Methodology:

Read notes, get familiar with all subjects, don't try to be an expert on any. The material is too deep and large for you to try to master each chapter. Don't spend too much time trying to learn every small detail because you’ll still do some guesswork on the exam. You're better off practicing making good guesses on questions that you're not sure of. Practice problems and mock exams are a must, only then will you find gaps in your knowledge that you refer to in the textbook.

Overall advice:

The fact that you're here is amazing on its own. The worst thing that could happen? You'd have to retake it? That's not the end of the world. Best of luck!
How do u think to prepere the problem related to Code.
As I know, I can't use NEC code in the real test.
I should memorized the NEC code?
The problem requested the memorization of the NEC code?
Additionally, there are three codes exept NEC code in the specification of PE exam.
I should momorize these three codes too?
Please advise me.
How do u think to prepere the problem related to Code.
As I know, I can't use NEC code in the real test.
I should memorized the NEC code?
The problem requested the memorization of the NEC code?
Additionally, there are three codes exept NEC code in the specification of PE exam.
I should momorize these three codes too?
Please advise me.
As I know, I can't use NEC code in the real test.

That is not correct. All codebooks will be provided. You will be able to use the search function as well. And you don't need to memorize codes, but you need to know where to look at. For example, if the question asks what the width of the working space in front of the electrical equipment is, you need to know how to find that information in the codebook. Be familiar with the tables, commonly asked topics like transformers, motors, conductor sizing, overcurrent protection sizing, grounding and bonding, etc.

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