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PE ChE Exam Advice

PE ChE Exam Advice

PE ChE Exam Advice

(OP)
As part of my desire to improve as an engineer, I have applied for, and been given approval to, take the chemical PE exam.

I began by taking a practice NCEES exam with no prep to gauge my preparedness, and got something in the neighborhood of 60ish% right. I have since reviewed my general textbooks (thermo, separations, reactions), and have acquired another practice exam and a Practice Problems... by Lindeburg.

I have been going through the Lindeburg book, but it has struck me that the problems therein are too complicated compared to the PE exam. For those of you who have taken the chemical exam, what did you find most helpful? Taking past exams? Textbook study? I have about 7 weeks until the exam, and would appreciate any advice.

RE: PE ChE Exam Advice

I took the ME, but think my experience will apply. I took the practice exam (sold by NCEES) AFTER studying. Once you did it, it will be hard to gage if you can handle it since doing it over will be easier. i found the actual test is about the difficulty of the practice exam.

I had one of the Lindeburg books. it had chapters to each topic and the last questions in each chapter were way more complex and difficult than the actual exam. I actually got a bit frustrated until I realized that I don't need to solve the very difficult questions. I mean, I could solve them, just not in a short time. There also was a text book type book that explained more (called handbook or so). Always better to have hard test questions and an easier exam (better thna the other way around)

I also had some typical reference books (rule of thumb equations etc., typical references). Since PE is open book, you need to be fluent in all reference material and the approved calculator. Whatever you do, use the same material and calculator as in the test. I found I learned a lot I need for my job while studying. I also found the PE test is easier than the FE test since it is more practical.

My undergraduate degree isn't from the US, so what I had learned wasn't tailored towards that test. Accredited US school is much more tailored towards the exams, especially the FE exam. So I had to self-study a lot more. I passed FE and PE test at the first time.

they do sell a lot of courses and study programs. I personally think it is a waste of money for people that can study from books (one thing an engineer should be able to do, is read a book and apply the knowledge)

RE: PE ChE Exam Advice

Also note, some of the PE exams (such as Chem and Mech) have moved to computer based. They are now closed book and you're only provided a digital copy of the NCEES reference book (that you can control F in).

Due to this, I feel like the test problems have likely changed slightly, since you only have the one official resource now instead of whatever resources you brought.

I do agree that Lindeburg's problems are overly complicated. I think they stated that was by design so the exam problems are easy, and they're essentially 2-3 problems each. But it's still frustrating going through it.

One other thing I'd recommend doing - NCEES provides the exam question breakdown on each exam. Focus on the main subjects of your test. Take some time and look at the ancillary chapters, but don't spend a week practicing problems that represent a maximum of 4 questions on your test.

RE: PE ChE Exam Advice

good point on the computer test, my advice above is based on open book paper test. Also be prepared to sit in a cold gymnasium next to an air handler that cycles on and off.....

Whatever you do, study with the exact material/equipment allowed for the actual test. Find out if scratch paper is allowed, if not, study without use of such etc. Also, get 2 of the approved calculators (spare) and be fluent in use. Use those for normal life as well, even if you have a much better calculator.

Be good in reading exactly what is given and asked for, and what units. Some of the wrong answer choices are based on typical mistakes (i.e. units wrong) and may appear correct.

RE: PE ChE Exam Advice

(OP)
Thanks. I already have to wear a mask the entire 9-hour exam, so I'm not looking forward to that. There are quite a few of the old NCEES exams available. From your responses, I think I am going to take 2-3 of them, then focus on areas of weakness that pop up during examination for further study.

I have a paperback copy of the reference handbook that will be available electronically during the exam. I am solely using that and the exam-allowed calculator for my studies.

I think scratch paper is provided at the exam site (provided by Pearson, I think). I've been to a similar site before for the FE exam - it was actually quite nice. I'll make a note to bring a jacket, though.

RE: PE ChE Exam Advice

If there is an electronic version of that reference book available beforehand, I would use that for practice and not the hard-copy. Not sure what they mean by electronic (searchable PDF, HTML?), though.
You may want to study with mask to get used to it. At least when you do practice exams. Hope no one there is coughing throughout the exam. I'm glad I did that many years ago.....

Used to be 8 hours, broken up in two 4-hour morning and afternoon sessions.

RE: PE ChE Exam Advice

With regards to the scratch paper, most Pearson centers will give you dry erase markers and laminated paper to use as scratch paper. It's super annoying, I don't know why they don't just keep/throw away actual scratch paper, but they don't.

Definitely still study Lindenburg's book since it has good information and is a good resource, but be cognizant of whatever sections/chapters may no longer be relevant due to the exam change.

RE: PE ChE Exam Advice

Quote (RVAmeche)

most Pearson centers will give you dry erase markers and laminated paper to use as scratch paper. It's super annoying, I don't know why they don't just keep/throw away actual scratch paper, but they don't.

I assume they don't want actually used paper leave the building (in trash, or in the person's pocket). They fear someone could deduct the nature of the question from the scratch paper. IIRC in paper test times there was a booklet with questions and we could use that booklet as scratch paper for calculations. That booklet had to be returned. From there we had to transpose the A, B, C or D to the answer sheet that got read by the machine. I remember being nervous about the time this transposing took, and the chance of making an error. I double-checked all. So there is some advantage to computerized tests.

RE: PE ChE Exam Advice

You can write the test questions on the scrap paper. And it is not just the questions but the mix of questions. 10% about topic x, nothing about topic y etc. They do not want groups of people to get together and compile the test questions nor the general direction of the test. So, they will not let you take whatever your "scrap system" is out of the test. I took the "Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) exam 5 years ago. Test has nothing to do with Engineering but it was given in the same methodology. It was 250 questions, 6 hours at Pearson. It was the same, return their dry erase system. Paper you can hide or replace once you know what their paper looks like. Once you walk out of the long test, it is difficult to remember any of the actual questions.

RE: PE ChE Exam Advice

(OP)
Thanks all for the advice. I studied using mostly PPI2pass and the NCEES practice exam. I took the exam a couple of weeks ago and passed.

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