If you want to pass the PE on the first effort, take some free exam tips from a master of testing. I completed a lot of schooling over the years. I studied two years in the military and accumulated almost 200 semester hours at 10 different colleges and universities. Here are excellent PE exam tips to facilitate your passing the NCEES exam as well as the California state specific surveying and seismic exams.
- Give yourself plenty of time to study.
- Sacrifice an unnecessary part of your life, like television or bowling.
- Make a REGULAR, dedicated study schedule. Keep it over all else.
- Take practice exams regularly.
- Analyze your PE practice test results.
- Using practice test results, list focus areas: strengths first, weaknesses second.
- Purchase the CERM as soon as possible. Tab it well.
- Practice with the calculator you plan to use in the exam.
Above are the main aspects of preparing for the NCEES and state specific exams to receive a professional engineering license. Below are more detailed explanations of the above exam tips to give you an edge above the Noobs who did not find this article.
PE Exam Tips Expanded
- Time: Give yourself an ample window of time to study. Six months is not unreasonable. Start with a full practice exam. The brain breaks things down into chunks. As you learn information, the short-term memory platform holds 5 to 9 items which it can process. (This is psychology’s magic number, 7±2). Items repeated in groups or frequently paired eventually can be handled as one item, called a chunk. Chunking knowledge for mental Ielts test processing is not a rapid process. You need to give the brain time to form new neural networks, and to activate the structures you built in college.
- Sacrifice: Each day before today was filled with activity: work, sleep, eating, and optional activities. Some of these optional activities must make way to provide the time you need to take practice exams, to work problems, to familiarize yourself with your calculator and reference books, and to build a quick-reference folder.
- Regularity: The mind-body system responds well to routine. It likes it. Capitalize on this. I recommend taking a full 8-hour practice exam every Saturday (and Sunday, if you live in California and will take the seismic and surveying exams). If you have Fridays free, test on Friday and Saturday. Exactly match the conditions of your future exam as best you can.
Find a room similar to the situation of the test room to take your practice exam. Offer bribes and threaten to cry if anyone interrupts your practice exam. Use a well-lit, open space. Sit at a folding table, if you have one. Arrive to your practice area at the time you need to be seated in the actual exam room for the NCEES exam. (For example, in some states you must be seated at 7: 40 when the instructions begin to be read. NCEES policy does not allow examinees to enter after this time. ) Begin practice exams exactly at the scheduled time in your state. Give yourself a 1-hour break between the morning and afternoon sessions.
Between taking practice tests, set a regular time to study. An hour and a half after a reasonable dinner is a good time. For example, if you eat your evening meal at 6: 30, study engineering from 8 p. m. to 9 p. m. Monday through Thursday. Give yourself Friday off. On my off Saturdays (every other Saturday when i was not taking a practice test), I got to my desk by 8 and studied for at least 4 hours.
- PE Practice Exams: Take these regularly. I studied for three months. I took a practice exam every second Saturday. If applying for a California engineering license, you may also want to take a seismic practice exam and a surveying practice exam the day following your NCEES practice exam. Practice exams familiarize you with not just the material, but also with time management, reference materials, and the process of moving your reference books, exam, and other materials around in your test area. You will have half of a folding table. Proctors sat us 2 examinees to an 8′ x 2’6″ plastic, folding table.
Regardless of how well you studied or did not study in the 2-week interval between exams, be sure to sit for practice PE exams every other week. I was surprised to find I did much better on my third practice exam than I did on the two previous tests- despite a weak study performance the preceding two weeks. Chunking, reference book familiarization, and time management had all improved, which translated into a higher score. Also, an 8-hour exam requires mental conditioning. Two days of 8-hour exams requires additional endurance training!
- Develop Depth: Use at least three example exams. These should be from different publishing houses and from different authors. One of your practice exams should be the NCEES booklet (see links at bottom. )
- Strengths & Weaknesses: The test you completed included questions from all main areas of the PE exam. However, it could not possibly cover every area of every subject. The subjects in which you scored best represent the areas in which you are most likely to score points on your exam date. So: practice heavily in both your strongest subjects, and in your weakest subjects. Read material in these subjects (the Civil Engineering Reference Manual is good for this) and work practice problems. Practice PE exam books can be an excellent source of subject-specific questions and self-administered mini quizzes, if you’re wise enough to make the investment. Study your best and worst subjects for the next two weeks, until your next PE practice exam.
- Buy the Civil Engineering Reference Manual as soon as you can. Mark the index with tabs that don’t fall out if you shake the book. Use this book for your practice exams. Familiarize yourself with it. I learned to open the index, write down the page numbers indexed to my topic, and then check each in turn until I solved the problem at hand. Hoping the first referenced page holds the correct information, or sticking a finger in the page, both usually result in time wasted re-opening the index to search for the same information.