PE Civil CBT Geotech (Passed Second Try) - Tips, Schedule and Life for the Last 4 Months

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AngelaK

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Congratulation on passing!
How often did you find yourself looking through the references other than the "PE Civil Reference Handbook"?
I'm currently starting to study for the Geotech Depth exam but I'm currently getting overwhelmed at the prospect of having to not only go through the textbooks to learn some of these topics in addition to the Reference handbook but also read through all 16 of these references. Many of which are more than 500 pages in length.
So I guess what I'm asking is, is it worth reading all of these references based on your experience or is there some which you think would be helpful reviewing and others that aren't?
Know your references. Very important. Also, don’t forget the basics. For breadth questions I used only the handbook. Depth, I knew only half the questions roughly. Quarter of it, I could do it with references and I am pretty sure the last quarter send me searching the references multiple times.
 

dab_org

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Thanks for the recap. Congratulations on passing! Any chance you are willing to share your study info?
 

Jorge Rangel

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Know your references. Very important. Also, don’t forget the basics. For breadth questions I used only the handbook. Depth, I knew only half the questions roughly. Quarter of it, I could do it with references and I am pretty sure the last quarter send me searching the references multiple times.
I would like to know if during the geotechnical exam civil breadth I can access to other manuals as: Manual of Non Uniform Transit Devices and AASHTO Green Book.
 

AngelaK

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I would like to know if during the geotechnical exam civil breadth I can access to other manuals as: Manual of Non Uniform Transit Devices and AASHTO Green Book.
No, these were not available. There were no questions from it.
 

bbarcelo16

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Everyone,
I got a few dms on tips so I am posting here on what I did. I did put a lot of work in, but along with that I think a lot of other factors also played a big role. Everything is below.

i failed p&p exam in October, things learned from it:
- didn’t prepare enough
- did only 3 School of PE exams and ncees once and I didn’t get enough time to really study the problems because I spent too much time attending the review classes. That’s not how it works. At least for me.
- total lacking on conceptual problems
- there are things that need to be memorized to make things easier. I didn’t do it the first time
- I also shut out and opted out from a lot of social gatherings, I didn't spend a lot of time with kids and family which was eating me up, they also got frustrated when we had to say no to friends for soical activities. Overall relationships were not great

I took a break in December and started slowly in January. Somethings I did over the last 4 months:
  • This time prep was all practice problem based, I did 1-4 exams a week including reviewing them after taking the exam
  • My schedule was to study 8pm-11pm and 5am-6am on a weekday, and early morning 5-8, 12-2pm, and 8-10pm something like that on weekends. I didnt study much during the day on weekends because of the kids, but I did study 8-10pm just like weekdays. I also studied in the office when I got time, may be 1-2 hour (during lunch breaks or so). So I would say some where around 20-25 hrs in a week for 4 months. I have two kids (a clingy 18-month-old and a grade schooler) and husband who travels, so that was all I could put in. I also did a lot of house chores, attended kids activities (I sometimes studied while waiting at kid's martial arts class) and this time around I hosted one party at home and attended a few with friends and also said no to some. I also exercised at least 30 mins + took 10,000 steps a day. This helped to keep my spirits up (If you are into it, shadow boxing and outdoor walk are great stress busters). Long weekends, I planned not to study on the holiday. I cooked all my meals on sunday, never spend time on grocery shopping at a store, said no to activities that are not worth my time - mindless social media time, picking up the house right away instead of end of the week etc.
  • Scoured reddit and this forum for tips from other people
  • Then I ordered several practice questions – goswami, preprepared, ppi, 6 min solutions, I had access to school of pe (3 exams and quizzes to all sections), civil eng pe practice exams, and I also had couple exams and practice from testmasters. I went through all of them at least twice exam style. My scores were 60-90% some improved after taking it several times some didn’t, but I knew how to solve all problems, so I didn’t focus on my scores that much but it did bother me a little (especially when you see people posting things like “I got 90%” on ncees practice exam). For practice exams and otherwise I used only the references specified by NCEES. All exams were done strictly using the references and handbook.
  • I took all the quizzes from SOPE and also used their flash cards. I reviewed material when I got problems wrong, otherwise there was no studying just the material itself.
  • After taking some exams I started noticing patterns – if I knew how to do the problem the avg time I take to solve it is 3 mins (sometimes I get incorrect answers but this timing allowed me to review and correct it). I also didn’t like to review my answer, but I broke this pattern by forcing myself to review it after practice exams several times. I also used to spend more than 6 mins on lenght problems or questions i didn't know how to answer. So when I practiced if I don't know how to get going in the first minute, I skip it and come back to it later. This saved time in the actual exam. got this tip from reddit!
  • Conceptual questions never sat right with my spirit, what I did eventually is - Make flash cards just for conceptual, copy all of them to a word document with one side question and other side answer, doesn't matter if question is repeated from a different practice exam, it is most probably worded differently so, it is worth the effort. Searching for answers, I sometimes used answer choices as keywords
  • I had google notes for a depth portion and breadth portion, anything written on these notes are for me to review and memorize before exam. For example, f= Mc/I, 1 gal = 0.134 ft^3, types of cement uses etc. Some of these are in ncees manual but searching and finding would take some time. I reviewed these notes everyday closer to the exam. Flash cards were also google notes because I could access it from anywhere.
  • NCEES manual has a lot of information – I tried to be be familiar with all of it that way I don’t have to scour through other references. Geotech had 17 references or so each with 500+ pages. Not all of them were searchable as single pdfs at the exam and I knew this earlier from reddit
  • Studied using the reference material whenever possible, and if I used other material, I knew I will have to memorize it if i didn’t know where that is in the provided references
  • Calculator shortcuts – solving simultaneous equations etc. if it is applicable to you.
  • Solve the problems as if they are closed book, I didn’t do this the first time I studied and it cost me precious time.
  • I used reddit for all of my questions if I get stuck or how others approached a particular question if I don’t feel right when solving. This also has a caveat of increasing your anxiety as you get closer to exam. I didn’t check reddit the week before the exam.
  • Youtube videos - civil engineering academy (under 6 mins which is what we want) and Kestava (mostly structural), other videos at random if I need in depth info (drilling and sampling, office hours, also one transpo professor for got his name)
  • Know your weakness – mine were structural (trusses), then transportation (vertical curves and traffic), deep foundations, seepage pressure, and problematic soil (both are depth portion for Geotech) – spend some time on this and there will be some easy questions that you can study, make sure not leave them behind.
  • When taking the practice exams, I numbered them on my worksheet and it made easier to organize and review them at the end. I followed the same at the exam day as well. It also reduced anxiety.
  • Last but not least, exam day prep. I planned not to do anything on day before, but ended up studying a lot because I got a stomach bug 2 days before the exam. So it was a little stressful but I sticked to my plan. Prepped everything, made sure I know my way to the place, when to leave what to take – I ate my normal breakfast at home and drove early enough. Had a packed lunch, I looked up what kind of food is helpful for exam , found that good fats and protein are my best bet so I had a salmon sandwich with hummus, nuts, avocado, a cup of blueberries (I heard they keep brain alert) and coconut water. I didn’t take any unscheduled breaks, as I had planned to drink less water. I also took only took 30 mins of scheduled break because I was too antsy and wanted to go back in that room. I asked for 2 of the reusable notepads in the morning session. I had fairly good morning session. Thoroughly reviewed the problems. Afternoon was more difficult, more conceptual and 2 problems I absolutely didn’t know. Leaving the exam, I was kinda sad because I thought I would know for sure If I will pass or not. I had nightmares about the questions in the exam. But looking back I was able to do most problems and got answers from the provided choices and reviewed them, so in the end, it worked out well.
  • Other Tips:
    • I also reviewed indexes of depth references
    • Since I spent more time in review class for the previous exam, I think that might have helped me on this time’s prep.
    • Doing practice exams from different vendors helped me not to memorize the problems but to quickly think how to solve them
    • Taking breaks in between studying is helped refresh memory
    • I noticed that the NCEES exam is based on high level info but it could be from a wide variety of sub areas of the discipline, so I had to be familiar with every topic in exam specification. I printed that out and referenced it from time to time to ensure I did not miss any of the areas
    • Understand why I got a problem wrong, remember the mistake
    • Know your references well, and don’t forget basics
    • Keep calm at the exam, I am an anxious person in general so I had to practice breathing some days. Now matter how much you prepare there will be some questions that will throw you off and send you in loops looking in the references.
Hope this helps. Let me know if there are any questions.
Any way that you can share those flash cards? I would greatly appreciate that. My email is [email protected].
 
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