Advice from Electrical PE Examinees

“Been There!”—Advice from Electrical PE Examinees

This page is a compilation of comments contributed by engineers who have recently taken the Electrical PE exam. Some of the advice may seem contradictory—sometimes engineers disagree. Nobody received compensation for mentioning any product.

As you read this advice, keep in mind that the exams change from administration to administration. Subjects that are emphasized on one exam may not show up at all on the next exam.

If you would like to contribute to this compilation, email us with the subject line “Electrical PE Exam Advice.” In the body of your email, please note your exam section and exam date.

General Electrical PE Exam Advice

Advice for the Electrical PE Computer Engineering Exam

Advice for the Electrical PE Electrical and Electronics Exam

Advice for the Electrical PE Power Exam

General Electrical PE Exam Advice

Be sure to download and print the Electrical Engineering Reference Manual (EERM) index from the PPI website and bring it to the exam in a three-ring binder. It’s a real time saver to have it separate from EERM.

Be prepared to solve each problem in about 5–6 minutes. I was expecting more time and was shocked.

Knowing your references well, and how to use their indexes and contents pages, is just as important as knowing a lot of formulas. Know your references inside out.

Know exactly where topics are in your reference books and don’t bring too many. I found EERM to be my main reference; I used only a few others for special topics. Time flies during the exam—you can’t waste time trying to find stuff.

I graduated in 1978 and have forgotten most of what I learned in school. I used nine different Schaum’s Outlines to help get me up to speed. EERM was a good review, too. Unfortunately, Schaum’s was not allowed into my exam room.

Create your own single-page overviews for various subjects, including values for all constants, all formulas, and, in the case of matrix solutions, the calculator key strokes to accomplish a stated example. It’s amazing what you can forget when you are under stress!

Study all topics the exam might cover. The dispersion of problems did not follow what NCEES gave as guidelines. Some topics were over-represented, and some did not show up at all.

I brought my references in a crate and put a mounted book divider within the crate that kept the books upright and organized.

Thoroughly tab all reference materials to save time.

Flip through the exam as soon as you get the “go” signal. Work the problems that are easiest for you first. You don’t want to get hung up trying to solve harder problems and miss working some easier ones in the process.

There ARE problems on engineering economics, so don’t skip studying the basics here.

When reading a problem, underline the part that says what the problem is asking, AND the information needed to solve it. There is frequently extra information given that is unneeded. Underlining the necessary data helps you ignore the unnecessary.

The problems were worded so that they contained a bunch of additional information that had no bearing on the solution.

In the exam, there are no units on the solution options. This makes your work a little more taxing than what you see on the practice problems.

The percentage allocation of problems in each of the categories spelled out by NCEES was not even close. There were MANY NEC problems—way more than expected.

Experience solving problems is the key. Solve every kind of problem you can find. Have a general knowledge of everything (or at least know where to go to get information during the exam). One study guide and four or five references is about the right number.

Take a practice exam prior to taking the actual exam, and structure it like the real exam. It helps you get into the mindset of working problems for a full eight hours.

The NCEES Sample Questions books are very good representations of the different types of subjects and problems on the real exam. Take the NCEES practice exam well before the real exam. Note which topics the EERM doesn’t cover well. Find textbooks that cover these topics well and bookmark. (There shouldn’t be too many topics.)

Advice for the Electrical PE Computer Engineering Exam

The NCEES Sample Questions were actually great preparation. I was surprised at how close it was to the exam I took.

Don’t take this depth exam unless you work in or have real expertise in the field of computer science. Otherwise the level of detail will kill you.

There is no single book that covers everything you need to know for this exam. EERM is useful but you will need your textbooks (if they’re not too old), as well.

I found some of the problems on computers to be somewhat obsolete—the exam clearly lags reality, forcing you to dig back into your memory banks.

This exam does not lend itself to studying from one book. I found I needed a number of resources to cover all the bases (operating systems, software project management, etc.)

Study the NCEES Sample Questions to get a feel for the trend and depth of problems. To refresh your memory of topics, use EERM.

EERM was lacking the depth necessary for this exam. I needed subject-specific references.

You must not rely on EERM for the computer section—it is too shallow and doesn’t track the exam well. You will definitely need other references to study from.

Advice for the Electrical PE Electrical and Electronics Exam

For anyone aspiring to take the Electrical and Electronics PE exam, here are some of my recommendations:

  1. If you can't solve the problem in six minutes, move on and come back to it later.
  2. Take along all of the practice exam books you may have purchased and used; they're invaluable.
  3. Know the theory to your best ability but if all else fails, try to find similar practice problems to assist in your solution.
  4. Be organized and don't take too many references (six or seven should do).
  5. 2013's exam was very heavy on math, amplifiers, control systems and micro-processor applications.
  6. Last but not least, keep a VERY close eye on the clock; the time goes by like a rocket!

Consider taking the power exam if you don’t do control systems regularly. The control systems problems were easier for power.

Bring the NEC. I had no idea it would be so necessary.

The problems were much more difficult than any examples I have seen.

Use the NCEES Sample Questions to practice. The problems in EERM are not representative of the difficulty of the exam.

There was considerable emphasis on block diagrams and their relations to control functions.

Advice for the Electrical PE Power Exam

EERM is a must, but you will need other books. EERM doesn’t have sufficiently in-depth coverage of many key areas. (Really, no book could cover it all for this exam.)

Expect problems involving practical applications of information—things you actually might experience in industry. It’s not all theory by a long shot.

Make sure you have a calculator that can operate with complex numbers.

Be sure you have the NEC if you are taking the power exam. There were more problems requiring it than we expected.

There were more theory problems (no calculations needed) than I expected.

Expect problems phrased like, “Why is X better than Y?”

Be sure to work the NCEES Sample Questions. They are more representative of this exam than anything else I saw.

I swear there were problems from the NCEES Sample Questions book on the exam! Bring that book to the exam with you.

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