Reasons for failing PE?

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roadwreck

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Right after the exam I swore I nailed it. By results time I wondered if I had done basic arithmetic right!
I thought the exact same thing. I remember driving home after the exam feeling pretty good about my performance. In the weeks to follow that confidence dwindled to the point that by the time results started to come out I'd pretty much convinced myself I didn't pass.

 

Capt Worley PE

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^Not me. I was POSITIVE I'd failed. One of the happiest days in my life was getting the :pASSED2: letter.

 

sergcanes98

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Thanks for all the great suggestions. Is it the consensus that one should go through the entire exam right at the beginning and identify the easier problems and works those first, and then go down the line from there, as Desert Water has suggested? I always avoided this back in school because I didn't want to psyche myself out right away if I happened to see a bunch of difficult problems. I know this exam, however, is really unlike any test back in school (minus the FE).
Thanks.

I did that; first thing is go thru, rate the questions as Easy Medium Hard. Work the easy ones first, mark the solution on the booklet AND the scantron sheet. Repeat the same with the Medium. Double-check that the answer on the easy and medium matches btw. the bubble sheet and ur answer, THEN tackle the hard ones. That's what worked for me this 3rd time that I passed :p10940623:

 

Matt-NM

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Thanks for all the great suggestions. The help is very much appreciated. One thing I have decided to do different, however, is to go ahead and work through the NCESS sample problems now. I just finished working through the machine design 6-minute solutions. After working a few of the NCEES problems, I have found that I am trying to over-analyze them, and am thus not doing that great on them so far, even though they are significantly easier than the 6-minute solutions problems. Most utilize basic concepts, as opposed to some of the 6-minute problems, which are more in depth. They just have a different feel to them. So much so, IMO, that I am willing to forego using it as another practice exam to get this added, somewhat different flavor of problem in my mind. This leaves me with only one sample exam to take (Lindeburg) for practice.

As usual, any other suggestions are greatly appreciated. Good luck to everybody taking the exam in April. Also, it seems like I sometimes spend hours on these boards, when really I should be studying. I can honestly say, however, that I have changed my study plan and approach just by reading what people have done in the past and what they would do differently. Thus, I feel that every hour spent researching tips and suggestions from those who have been there will be worth it in the end. This is not a knock on actual study time, of course. That's what it all boils down to!

Good luck to all.

 

Capt Worley PE

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The bad thing with doing the NCEES stuff now is that you WILL remember the problem methodology when you retake it in a few months. It might give you a false since of security.

 

Jennifer Price

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Also, it seems like I sometimes spend hours on these boards, when really I should be studying.

You aren't the only one who has done this. I remember thinking to myself...well, although I am not studying, at least I am looking at stuff related to the exam...so I'm ok, right? :) But this Board is a nice break from studying...you can come here to ask questions or to blow off a little steam.

 

maryannette

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Also, it seems like I sometimes spend hours on these boards, when really I should be studying.
If you want, we can bust you when we think you're hanging around too much. :whipping:

Seriously, I know that this site is valuable for information and tips, and also to relieve stress. Good luck and study hard. If you pass this time, you can hang out here and have fun next time instead of studying again.

 

Capt Worley PE

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I think the advice offered on this site was a big part of the reason I passed. I recommend it to anyone trying for a PE.

 

Roy T.

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Well I am officially in study mode for the ME PE exam in April. Almost wish I hadn't told anybody I was taking it, since i'll have to tell them I didn't pass if that should be the unfortunate case. My questions are these...
1. To those who have taken the PE (any discipline) and come up short, what do you think were the main reasons you didn't pass? Of course not being prepared to begin with is an obvious one.

I'm kind of looking for reasons why one wouldn't pass even if they were completely prepared and felt that they couldn't have possibly done more to get ready for the exam. Is there any reason not to pass if you are fully prepared? Did anybody deal with very unexpected curveballs on the exam (whether ME or any other discipline)? Anything here would be helpful!

2. To those who have posted how many hours they studied for the exam, what percentage of those hours do you feel were actually quality, hard study hours? The reason I ask is because it seems like i'll sit there studying for 5 hours sometimes, but feel like I really only put in half of that by the time I am done. Hopefully I am not the only one whose mind wonders sometimes while studying. I am keeping a study log and am trying to be as honest as possible with myself as to how much time I am actually putting in. Anybody else hurtin' for motivation?

Thanks for any suggestions.
I might add, and this really doesn't apply to you but perhaps others, take the easiest exam offered. I wouldn't recommend that anyone take the Struc. 1 exam before passing the Civil. Some may disagree with this, but the most important thing is getting that cert.

 

Roy T.

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and how many times did you take the stuc 1 test kevo? be honest. with a 40% pass rate, it is a crap shoot, some will get lucky, most won't. and with so much riding on just the license, it just isn't worth the chance.

I am doing public service here, beleive me.

Also, they are going to stop offering struc 1 altogether in 3 years and it will be interesting to see how those who only passed str 1 are classified as PEs. Not civil and not structural... then I am a Gigantic DoucheBag

 

cocoloco

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For those going for the Mechanical Exam, be VERY CAREFUL with questions that ask what is the 'most nearly' answer. In my experience, if you are not pretty close on your answer and there seems to be a 'kind of close' answer, double check- I noticed that misleading answers can get the best of you VERY OFTEN if you are not careful... For example, some answers will be close when calculating mixed air temperatures with different humidity ratios, etc. I noticed usually you will get close answers but they are looking for conditions using mass flow rates for which you took into consideration differing specific volumes for finding mass flow rate instead of assuming one density of .075 lb/cf. Watch out for these, you may think you got the problem right and you will be wrong...

 
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A

Aaron

A lot of people go through and rate the questions easy/hard. I did and it worked for me. The other thing I think is important is to do practice exams so you have an idea of the speed and endurance needed. Good luck, Matt.
Do at least one of those practice exams as a full length, simulated exam conditions setting. You will burn an entire Saturday doing it, but it's invaluable.
I think a simulated full-day exam might really only be beneficial if the exam situation itself is likely to stress you out or if you get nervous in such settings. If you don't get nervous or don't tend to lose focus under the pressure of an exam setting, it probably would be better to just go through practice tests in a comfortable environment at your own leisure. Personally, I find myself retaining more that way.

For the October exam (I passed first try), I had ordered the NCEES sample exam booklet among other things. As I went through it, I realized I had no clue how to do most of the problems and it kind of disturbed me. I had studied CERM and it's practice problems already, and the NCEES sample exam was meant as a diagnostic in the last week before the exam. I bombed it, but I discovered that I only didn't know how to solve them because I was making the problems more complicated than they needed to be. The CERM and it's practice problems were all complicated and involved, unlike the actual exam. Most of the questions in the sample exam were easily solvable with a quick calculation. So if there's anything the sample exam taught me, it was to look for the simplest solution.

As for overall studying tips, I used the CERM but skipped the body of the text and just went straight to the practice problems. If there was a problem about a topic I didn't know, then I would turn to that section of the book and read the text on it until I knew enough to attempt to solve the problem. After solving them all, I'd then check the answers and discover the correct way to solve the problems I got wrong. Then I'd go back and redo the problems I missed. After the CERM, I did the same thing with Six-Minute Solutions and the NCEES Sample Exam in the last week before the exam.

The only caveat with that method is that when you go back and redo the problems you missed, after having checked your answers, you have to keep in mind that you are trying to remember how to solve the problem, not memorize the answer. Ultimately, you should be able to go back through all your practice problems or sample exams and resolve them all correctly by remembering the correct methods and not through rote memory of the answers.

Finally, I did not rate my exam questions by difficulty, I just solved them in order. I can not determine the difficulty of a question without first reading and evaluating it in my mind, and by that time I'm already half way to the answer. If I'm completely stumped, I can just skip it. You can not tell the true difficulty of a problem at a glance. Some questions are short and appear simple, but are deceptively complex. Some questions fill the page and include confusing diagrams, but you only need to multiply two numbers together. Most of the problem is just ferreting out the relevant information from what they tell you. Once you've done that, you can determine the difficulty but by then you're almost done. Why not just finish it?

 

kevo_55

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and how many times did you take the stuc 1 test kevo? be honest. with a 40% pass rate, it is a crap shoot, some will get lucky, most won't. and with so much riding on just the license, it just isn't worth the chance.
I am doing public service here, beleive me.

Also, they are going to stop offering struc 1 altogether in 3 years and it will be interesting to see how those who only passed str 1 are classified as PEs. Not civil and not structural... then I am a Gigantic DoucheBag
I passed the SE1 on my 3rd try. I 100% believe that it is tougher than the SE2.

It really depends on your state for which exam you should take. Most states only have a general PE license. Other states have an SE license and multiple exams must be passed prior to licensure.

From what I'm hearing, the SE1 and SE2 will be mearged into a 16 hour 2 day exam. In order to pass this exam, you must pass both sections. If you fail one section then you must retake everything next time. In 5 years, I'd expect this to be the norm for structural engineering licensure.

 
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jmbeck

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I passed the SE1 on my 3rd try. I 100% believe that it is tougher than the SE2.
It really depends on your state for which exam you should take. Most states only have a general PE license. Other states have an SE license and multiple exams must be passed prior to licensure.

From what I'm hearing, the SE1 and SE2 will be mearged into a 16 hour 2 day exam. In order to pass this exam, you must pass both sections. If you fail one section then you must retake everything next time. In 5 years, I'd expect this to be the norm for structural engineering licensure.

Glad I didn't go Structural!

I may try to talk people out of it too.

 
F

fmullner

This is just my 2 cents, but there are a few things that I thought really helped when I took the exam.

1. Be familiar with all your references. I didn't tab mine, but I knew what was in them and was able to use the indexes in each one to help me find what I needed quickly.

2. There will be three kinds of problems on the exam. Ones that you know cold or with very little work, ones that require significant work and/or educated guessing, and ones that you have no clue on. I didn't go through the exam and rate the questions before I worked them. It was apparent which kind of question it was as soon as I read it. The point is, knock out the easy questions first, then put the impossible questions aside, then spend the bulk of your time working on the problems that require your effort. That was my basic strategy and I am convinced that is what allowed me to pass the exam.

3. Relax. At some point you have to embrace the zen aspect of the PE and realize that you are going to take this exam, get some questions right, get some questions wrong, and you will either pass or fail. Beyond an honest effort at preparation, there is nothing more that you can do. There is no magic formula for passing, and no amount of studying will guarantee a passing grade either. Apply yourself to the material and dedicate a healthy (but not obsessive) amount of time to it.

So that's my advice: Study hard. Peace out.

Hope this helps.

 
J

JunkerJorg

In the morning session, I simply worked the test front to back, skipping the questions where the answer or method didn't pop into my head right off. In the afternoon, I flipped through the whole section and started with the easiest ones, to get my brain going again, (about 4 or 5 problems) then went from front to back again skipping the hardest ones.

I had almost an hour to re-check and re-work morning session. I had about 10 minutes left to check work in the afternoon.

Sometimes a question appeared easy on the surface, but was, in truth, quite difficult.

 

SE2B

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I passed the SE1 on my 3rd try. I 100% believe that it is tougher than the SE2.
It really depends on your state for which exam you should take. Most states only have a general PE license. Other states have an SE license and multiple exams must be passed prior to licensure.

From what I'm hearing, the SE1 and SE2 will be mearged into a 16 hour 2 day exam. In order to pass this exam, you must pass both sections. If you fail one section then you must retake everything next time. In 5 years, I'd expect this to be the norm for structural engineering licensure.

Where did you guys hear about the SE1 and SE2 being merged into a 2 hour exam? Any idea to what happens to someone who has just passed the SE1 and not the SE2 before this merger happens? I would think that someone who only passed the SE1 would be screwed and have to take them both again. I have already failed the SE1 once and after the day comes when I pass it I had hoped to take the SE2 a year or two down the line. I am now thinking forget it...I should just take the civil structural instead because I would be upset if my SE1 was worthless and I am not even considered a PE after this whole merger goes down.

 

kevo_55

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^^ The merger was talked about in the NCEES newsletter maybe 3-4 months ago. It was also talked about in the NSPE magazine around the same time.

 

RIP - VTEnviro

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