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How to study for the PE Exam?

How to study for the PE Exam?

How to study for the PE Exam?

What are some general tips/advice to pass this exam?  I graduated college less than a year ago and want to take the PE Exam before too long.  I will be taking the Civil exam, probably transportation discipline.

RE: How to study for the PE Exam?

You can't take it until you have 4 years of experience under a PE (typically- depends on your state, though)

RE: How to study for the PE Exam?

In Illinois, you can take it while you are fulfilling your 4 years.

RE: How to study for the PE Exam?

PE Review course is good - helped me to build a good reference notebook of examples.  Also helps with one or two good general reference manuals.  Too much information in the form of books can be disastrous.  Better to be concise and organized, knowing where to find the material needed.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering
Motto:  KISS
Motivation:  Don't ask

RE: How to study for the PE Exam?

There are specific reference books that are required for the transpo exam.  See this link and click on Civil:Transportation to get an overview of the exam.


RE: How to study for the PE Exam?

Wait 3 years, then start worrying about it.  

Most folks typically take a PE review course, which can run a month or two tops on Saturdays at your local technical college, then spend about a month or two studying an hour a night.  Take 2 days off work going into the exam to study, but don't cram the night before.  Spend the last evening organizing your notes and creating an index of where to find stuff.  Get the big Blue Book that everybody gets.   

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: How to study for the PE Exam?

I agree with Beej67. I took the review course and studied every night for a month. The only book I needed was the Lindeberg text from the review class, and the binder of class notes.

I don't know if it's true, but I've heard that unless you really spend a lot of time in one of the other disciplines, you should take the hydrology afternoon session. It supposedly has the most straight forward questions. That's what I did.  

RE: How to study for the PE Exam?

One important lesson I learned was NOT to have a baby  and have your wife return to work (retail hours - including nights)the week prior  to taking the exam.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law lived nearby, so I could study for a few hours after work, and I passed the exam.

RE: How to study for the PE Exam?

I took the hydrology because it's my field.  Didn't know my field was easy!  :)

If you're 3 years away, one thing you do need to start looking at now is making sure you'll have enough PE recommendations to apply.  I know some people who get out and either don't work under a PE, or work under one for the entire time, and don't have enough recommendations.  The process sort of forces you to job hop in some instances, if you're not at a big firm.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: How to study for the PE Exam?

I took geotech because it was easy.  I could have done hydrology if I'd waited till more than a day and a half before the exam to realize that I really wasn't equipped to do the structural option; I needed more than a day to study afternoon-level hdyro and environmental.  Likewise transportation, because I didn't have the manuals on hand.

There were other people from our design office taking the exam at the same time, and they also were not taking the structural option even though they were working as structural designers.  They'd been warned by structural PhDs to avoid it!  It is very weird that one option out of five (or now six?) is significantly harder than the rest, with no different certification to show for it.  I should have known structural best and yet I had trouble with it, then got a 96 on geotech after two undergrad courses and a day and a half of specialized preparation.  Something not right there.  But I digress.

For transpo, get the MUTCD and whatever other manuals you need (isn't there something with runoff tables? It's been a while), work through the Lindeberg text and the PPI2PASS CD--ROM, and you should be okay.  I think NCEES also publishes workbooks with sample questions for the various afternoon sessions.  The questions in the books and the CD-ROM will give you a good idea of which manuals you'll need.  If you get time to take a real-life prep class on top of that, you should be golden.

It doesn't hurt to prep for more than one of the different afternoon options and then leaf through them day of the exam and pick the one that looks most agreeable with your current state of mind.


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RE: How to study for the PE Exam?

Investigate www.engineerboards.com and www.ppi2pass.com

Both have message boards geared towards the PE exams.  PPI is the publisher of the Lindburg reference manuals.  I prefer the message boards on engineerboards for exam prep questions.

Professional Engineer
Pretty good with SolidWorks

RE: How to study for the PE Exam?


What helped me pass the exam was the same thing that I found effective in college and in my professional career.  Teamwork.  Hook up with a couple of other people from a review course.  Outside of the class, set up a time for everyone to get together and work problems.  It helps keep you accountable for studying and putting in the work.  It also helps by getting others advice and help in reviewing some material that you haven't seen in a couple of years.  I studied with three other guys who were going for our mechanical PE.  My specialty was Machine Design, another guy was strong with Thermodynamics and Cycles, another was good at the Engineering Economics portion.  Out of the four of us all four now carry our PE licenses.  Good luck and work the problems.....



Richard Nornhold, PE

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