Take one exam or both at the same time?

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Antnyt23

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Hi,

I'm awaiting the approval of my application then i'm planning on signing up for either the SE vert or both exams. I have gathered all my materials and began some moderate reading/studying.

I was curious from your experiences if you recommend taking the exams together or seperately.

Initially the thought of taking exams on back to back days comes off a little bit overwhelming.

If anyone has any recommendations or comments based on your experiences please let me know.

v/r

Anthony

 

CyclonePE

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I did back to back days. It was not fun but I did not want to study twice.

The thing I tried to remember is that once the force is acting on the member, does it really matter if it was caused by lateral or vertical loads? I know there are specific things to watch for but for the most part a moment is a moment.

My point is you need to know how the material will respond either way. Why study that knowledge twice?

 

Antnyt23

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I definitely understand that. Taking both was what I originally planned on doing but since then I have thought maybe it isn't best to overwhelm myself and just pass them each separately. You may be right though. Study hard once and pass them best would probably save on study time in the grand scheme.

 

TehMightyEngineer

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I've had a lot of thinking on this and have come up with no good answer. I took them separately and think this was the best choice for me but probably not for most.

Taking both back to back:

PROS:

1) MUCH less time out of your life unless you take 4 tries to pass both days.

2) Studying is more efficient as you can mentally prepare for both and some studying for vertical will be somewhat useful for lateral.

3) Potential to pass both in one try.

4) Even if you fail one or both sections you will have a good feel for the exam and can choose to take only one section next time. In this way you could fail both, pass vertical, then pass lateral and complete it faster than I did (failed each section at least once).

5) You only have to prepare for the exam once for two days.

6) Potentially cheaper by a small amount.

CONS:

1) HUGE amount of studying to do. Don't pick this unless you can seriously devote about 20 hours of honest, hard studying to the exam each week. This I couldn't do and thus split the exam up. At best I managed about 12 hours each week. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF ON THIS!

2) You will not exist socially for a 3 to 4 month period before the exam. This could hurt relationships or cause very large amounts of stress. Could even hurt your work if you normally work overtime and now can't because of study needs.

3) Given the need to study for two days of exams you will be less prepared for each exam. This could potentially make it harder to pass.

4) Slightly more books required.

5) On average you will fail both sections first time through. This could be a big blow to your confidence if you failed both sections on your first try.

6) You will be burnt out for the lateral exam, this makes it unlikely to pass on the first try.

7) Some crisis life event or other issue causing you to miss the test means you will have lost twice as much money on an exam you couldn't make it to.

Taking one at a time:

PROS:

1) Much easier study schedule with only about 60% the studying for the full exam.

2) More focused studying, you only have to study what you need for the exam you're taking.

3) Higher potential to pass the first exam, potential confidence booster.

4) Less books, study prep, and so on.

5) Less impact on social life, work, etc.

6) Cost is spread over longer time period.

7) Easier to recover if you fail on your first try.

CONS:

1) Minimum of one year preparing for the exam. Essentially this means you will be studying for almost an entire year. More likely this will be almost a 2 year endeavor. This will REALLY begin to wear on you by year two. This is the biggest reason I would say makes me wish I had taken them back to back.

2) Some wasted study time getting back "in the groove".

3) Taking them back to back lets you at least preview the 2nd day exam, even if you don't pass it.

4) Potentially more stressful if you get stuck taking the same day over and over.

I would say take them back to back if you want them done fast and over with. Take them separate if you don't have enough free time for studying or want to make the exams easier and don't mind the one to two year (or more) commitment.

 

Agostage

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TME has some good insight. I think the decision should primarily be based on the experience you have. If you are a 10+ year engineer in a SDC D designing steel and concrete several stories high on a daily basis, you'll be an a really solid position and should likely go for both. If you've been designing in a niche field for most of your career and maybe don't have the expertise acquired by experience, frankly you'd have a lot of catching up to do. I am in the later category which is why I split it up.

 

bassplayer45

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Agostage is right, it depends.

I am a Bridge Designer / Project Manager with 6 years experience and my PE, but had done nothing with buildings or anything seismic related. I chose to take them one at a time because the amount of information I had to teach myself was overwhelming, especially getting familiar with codes I had never used before. It was basically like going back to school for me, so it was a no brainer to take one at a time. Still working on passing lateral, but will get there eventually.

 

TJM

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I agree that this is a decision that should to be made based on your experience and your lifestyle. I have no experience outside of metal building design, but I was able to absolutely devote my life outside of work to studying for the three months leading up to the test. I had just sold my house and decided to put off house shopping until after the test, was living in my parents basement, told my girlfriend I would see her in the spring and basically locked myself away for 3 months.

Because of this, I decided to take both exams at once and that worked out well for me. Even with all the studying I did, I felt like I was just prepared enough to pass. I had already decided that I would split them up if I had to take them both again. I am not at all recommending this approach, most people can't or wouldn't want to (who would!) have the total lack of a life and any real responsibility for a few months of their lives. The timing just worked out perfectly for my situation.

Hope this helps!

 
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Antnyt23

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I agree I'm a young engineer 4 years experience most in the telecom industry which gives me good background in steel and a pretty good variety in foundations ...wood... Concrete... Masonry.... all different types of building analysis, however, not full design. I believe I'm going to start early for vertical(already began minor studying) and then see how confident I am feeling at a certain time and decide if I want to add in lateral too. I feel like if I'm very confident on vertical before the sign up deadline I will add lateral. I am the a type of person that tends to over prepare but this test just feels like a different beast and I don't want to overwhelm myself and cause myself to fail both sections.

I appreciate all the replays! So much to consider.

 

mikesltj23

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Pass or fail, I'm glad I took both at the same time. I had every intention of studying my butt off for both of them, but I definitely got burnt out. At that point, I'd say I studied 80% vertical and 20% lateral. I walked out of both tests feeling about 50/50 on both (not great, and it was an awful two days, but with all that I studied, I don't know how better prepared I would have or could have been for the first time around). It really all depends on your situation. If you have no problem holing yourself up for quite some time, then take it separately. But pass or fail, I like that I now at least have some semblance of an idea what to expect on both. The vertical was tougher than I thought it'd be considering how much I effort I felt I put in, whereas the lateral felt easier than my effort dictated. When push comes to shove, I won't be surprised if I failed both, but won't be surprised if I passed both, so until I know my results, I can't accurately answer this. But I do feel like, if I decide to take it again, at least I now know what I'm getting myself into, whereas if I never took the lateral, I wouldn't know that it's just a totally different animal. Not worse, just different.

 

STEEL MAN

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I would say it is case to case basis and so many factors involved in studying and etc., if you think you can do it in one time, then go for it, but if you need more time studying the second day, then split it up. Good Luck.

 

Antnyt23

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Still waiting on my state approval from Ohio unfortunately so still kind of teetering. Going to set mid February as my check point on vertical if I feel solid on it going to move onto horizontal and take them both. All assuming my application gets approved been with them since first day of November :-/

Really appreciate all the replies though very helpful.

 

bassplayer45

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Ohio is waiting to give me approval too. I am taking lateral in Ohio since Indiana is no longer letting people sit for the test. They are really grilling me over experience. I just had to send them a 6 page resume' of work experience and they said I may have a phone interview to discuss my experience. Apparently passing the vertical wasn't enough...

 

TehMightyEngineer

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Wow bass, really hoping you get this in this year. You've had one hell of a screw-over due to states dumb rules.

 

BoilerEng

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Ohio is waiting to give me approval too. I am taking lateral in Ohio since Indiana is no longer letting people sit for the test. They are really grilling me over experience. I just had to send them a 6 page resume' of work experience and they said I may have a phone interview to discuss my experience. Apparently passing the vertical wasn't enough...


What's this about Indiana no longer allowing people to sit for the exam?? If that's the case, I certainly hope I passed during my first go-round in October...

 

bassplayer45

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I was told last April that they were no longer allowing people to sit for it. I can't confirm, but they denied me. I talked to the head of the PLA in Indiana and she told me that was the case. It doesnt make sense because i know people were in there when my EIT sat for the PE. I was lucky to pass vertical before i found out i couldnt anymore after taking lateral twice

 

BoilerEng

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I was told last April that they were no longer allowing people to sit for it. I can't confirm, but they denied me. I talked to the head of the PLA in Indiana and she told me that was the case. It doesnt make sense because i know people were in there when my EIT sat for the PE. I was lucky to pass vertical before i found out i couldnt anymore after taking lateral twice


Hmm, it sounds like you got jobbed. I just sat for Vertical and Lateral in Indy in October

 

BoilerEng

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I was told last April that they were no longer allowing people to sit for it. I can't confirm, but they denied me. I talked to the head of the PLA in Indiana and she told me that was the case. It doesnt make sense because i know people were in there when my EIT sat for the PE. I was lucky to pass vertical before i found out i couldnt anymore after taking lateral twice


Hmm, it sounds like you got jobbed. I just sat for Vertical and Lateral in Indy in October


I was also the only one there Friday. One other guy was there for his first go at Lateral on Saturday. Just us 2 and the proctors

 

BoilerEng

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I was told last April that they were no longer allowing people to sit for it. I can't confirm, but they denied me. I talked to the head of the PLA in Indiana and she told me that was the case. It doesnt make sense because i know people were in there when my EIT sat for the PE. I was lucky to pass vertical before i found out i couldnt anymore after taking lateral twice


Hmm, it sounds like you got jobbed. I just sat for Vertical and Lateral in Indy in October


I was also the only one there Friday. One other guy was there for his first go at Lateral on Saturday. Just us 2 and the proctors


I need to learn out to edit my posts haha - I mean I was the only SE there Friday. About 200 PE takers and some LS guys

 

BoilerEng

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Also, rather than thread-jacking I should contribute to OP. It was definitely a marathon sitting for both days at the same time. Completely drained after the Lateral portion. You have to be very committed to studying if you want to get all of the studying done for both sections. I agree with others that once you have the loads, material analysis is basically the same with a few special rules.

Granted I have found my results yet, but I'd take both again if I had to do over, probably. Saves 6 months.

 
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