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Mechanical (Thermal and fluids) PE exam practice material advice

engr2GW (Petroleum) (OP)
24 Jun 13 10:07
I just bought the study material from NCEES, but there's an additional material called the "reference material", where can one get that, is it given to us or do I have to purchase it myself.
1. Are there recommended study guides, materials, etc.
2. Is the reference material just a book or combination of books, where can one get it
3. Whater other materials can help with the general mechanical part, and the fluid and thermal depth part?

thanks for your help

As much as possible, do it right the first time...

fegenbush (Mechanical)
24 Jun 13 10:22
Get the "Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam" (MERM) by Lindeburg. It is published by PPI (Professional Publications, Inc.). They have some other reference materials as well. When you get the MERM, be sure to get the problems and solutions book as well since there are no problems in the MERM itself.
zdas04 (Mechanical)
24 Jun 13 11:16
In the FE exam the only reference material allowed is the book they provide.

The P.E. is WAY different. You can bring any reference material you can carry. At my test the guy next to me had 4 egg-crates full of books on a hand truck (he failed because he spent too much time looking stuff up--you have two minutes per question and at the end of every hour you need to jump to where you are supposed to be).

I took:
  • MERM referenced above
  • Cameron Hydraulics (it turned out that those were the only steam tables that I used
  • Crane #410
  • Mark's (never opened it in the test, but you have to take it)
It was enough, I passed the first time.

fegenbush's advice to purchase MERM and the sample test is very good. I worked through all the chapter problems in MERM and then took the first practice exam about a month before the test date (do it like the real test, a quiet place, timed, no phone, no family, no computer). Only use the books you plan to take with you. Grade the practice exam and figure out where you need to study more. Study for two more weeks and take a second practice exam. Grade it and study for another week. Then take a week off.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

Gymmeh (Mechanical)
24 Jun 13 15:36
"Only use the books you plan to take with you." -zdas

To Expand on what zdas says, what you practice with and what you bring to the test should all be the same.

Dont bring stuff you didnt practice with, and dont practice with stuff you cant bring. For some people, like myself, time management is very important on the exam, you don't want to waste time looking for a simple piece of info, from a book u haven't used.

4 to 5 books is all I needed.

engr2GW (Petroleum) (OP)
24 Jun 13 15:42
Thanks a lot everyone.
Here's my 4-5 books I'm planning to get
1. Practice questions from NCEES: Thermal and fluid systems
2. MERM (the 12th edition is half the price of the 13th, does that matter>)
3. Crane 410
4. Additional practice questions and answers, FE type questions
5. Any other, Maybe Mark's listed by David Simpson above, but I don't know what Mark's is?

Thanks a lot.

As much as possible, do it right the first time...

zdas04 (Mechanical)
24 Jun 13 16:05
"Mark's" is "Marks' Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers". You see it (nearly always lightly used) on every senior Engineer's bookcase. You kind of have to have it, but you don't very often have to use it.

The most useful book for at the exam was Cameron Hydraulic Data ($56 from FlowServe, best money you'll ever spend) Actually from the looks of it, it is the most useful book on my shelf. It spends more time on my desk than it does on the shelf.

DON'T take practice questions to the exam. The questions change every test and the practice ones are hugely worthless with 2 minutes/question.

I bought a used copy of MERM v10 and it was a major rewrite for the "new" multiple-choice test format (12 years ago) and so full of errors that I threw it away and bought V11. The sample problems add on was still pretty buggy, but the book was better. I heard that V12 was better (in both the book and the addenda), but it isn't that good a reference book so I never bought it. It is unlikely that V13 is worth twice V12, but in 5 years you won't have any recollection of what you paid for the one you buy.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

fegenbush (Mechanical)
24 Jun 13 19:31

When and where did you sit for the test? In what I believe is the current incarnation of this exam, there are 6 minutes per question (40 morning breadth, 40 afternoon depth) and there is no requirement to "jump to where you need to be". While all states take the same exam, some have restrictions on what you can bring into the exam room (Illinois I know has a restriction on any publication by PPI other than the MERM).
zdas04 (Mechanical)
24 Jun 13 23:15
It has been 12 years. The numbers are somewhat fuzzy. There are a number of questions and a fixed amount of time. Divide one by the other and minutes/question. At the end of the first hour (of a 4 hour test) you should be 1/4 finished. If you are not, then you should note where you are and guess values for the questions between where you are and where you should be. If you finish early, go back and revisit the ones you guessed on. That way you don't miss the opportunity to do any "easy" questions towards the end. No requirement to do anything, but that is a test-taking technique that maximizes your chances of passing that sort of test (i.e., no penalty for wrong answers).

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

"Belief" is the acceptance of an hypotheses in the absence of data.
"Prejudice" is having an opinion not supported by the preponderance of the data.
"Knowledge" is only found through the accumulation and analysis of data.
The plural of anecdote is not "data"

Gymmeh (Mechanical)
28 Jun 13 8:38
I did not take Marks because it is literally everything for mechanical (which is why almost every ME has one), but i thought it was to much for the exam.

But if you need to design a ship, blast furnace, or HVAC its a perfect start.

Pmatherne (Mechanical)
18 Sep 13 10:30
I am looking to take this test really soon. One issue that bothers me is units. Is the test mostly in SI or US units.
I have the Kaplan 2nd edition book to study from (found on ebay cheap) and I am finding that book filled with errors or they do not explain how they got some numbers in the equaitons

I noticed the Crane and Cameron books listed, is one book more helpful than the other?
Would the GSPA book be of any use? I have an older version of MERM;s. Where is till has the quesitons in the book, would that be good to use or should I buy the newest versoin?
ALso have a book written in 1962 for the PE. Wondering if that has any good questions
I also have a copy of the NCEES reference book they give you when you take the FE that I am planning on bringing. I remember the biggest help in that book was knowing where everything was located

Future HVAC PE Engineer
Pet project I am working on to help other engineers

PeterVenkman (Electrical)
18 Sep 13 12:10
The biggest mistake I made was bringing too many books. I really only used 3 books. Maybe, it is different disciplines other than electrical. The people who bring carts to the exam I am guessing were not that prepared or had no idea what to expect.
dvd (Mechanical)
18 Sep 13 21:15
The best thing to take with you to the PE exam is about three months of studying every night.
racookpe1978 (Nuclear)
18 Sep 13 22:48
Big difference!

When I took the PE nuke test in 1989 time frame, the morning had perhaps 12 questions - you had to answer either 5 or 6 of the 12, but the choice of which was up to you. Same for the afternoon (5 of 12 had to be answered), but at least one of the afternoon answers had to include an "engineering economics" problem. For nukes, I was surprised at the number of heat transfer, decay heat, fluid flow and atomic transformation-type (predecessor-decay) problems there were. No operations questions. Little structural and little control theory. Core design and absorption.

I agree with the observation that those who brought the most boxes and hand-carts of books usually did the poorest, and were least confident of their answers.

Then again, on one of my answers, I came up with an odd (negative direction) heat flow answer. Went back after the rest were done and re-worked it two more ways -> came up with the same negative result. Wrote that down, told them what I has assumed and what was given in the problem. Told them why I thought my answer (or their problem statement! ) was wrong, and where I would go to in the plant to measure the actual problem conditions.


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