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PE Exam Resource Center

Passing the PE exam is a pivotal step in an engineer’s career. PEs also typically earn higher salaries and have greater opportunities for career growth compared to EITs or unlicensed engineers. Read on to learn more about the PE exam.

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Ultimate Guide to the PE Civil Exam

What is the PE Civil exam?

The PE Civil Exam is an 8-hour, 80-question exam including multiple-choice, multiple-correct, point-and-click, drag-and-drop, and fill-in-the-blank questions. The PE Civil Exam is designed by NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) to test competency in civil engineering. Passing the PE Civil Exam is a mandatory step toward becoming a licensed professional engineer. The first 40 questions are breadth questions, and the second 40 questions refer to your chosen depth area, depending on your specialty:

There are no individually timed sections on the PE Civil Exam, meaning that you are responsible for managing your time on the exam. You’ll begin the exam with a 2-minute nondisclosure agreement, and an 8-minute tutorial, and then you can begin work on the test questions. Throughout the exam you’ll encounter pretest items included to test questions for use in future exams. They’re unscored, but you won’t be able to identify which questions are pretest questions and which are legitimate exam questions. 

You’re allowed one 50-minute scheduled break during which you can leave the testing center. You can take additional breaks as needed, during which you may not leave the testing center, but unlike the scheduled break these additional breaks will eat into your exam time.

PE Civil Exam Scoring

The PE Civil Exam is a pass/fail test. No points are deducted for wrong answers, meaning that your raw score is determined by adding together your correct answers. There is no partial credit awarded, no matter the question type. Your raw score is scaled to account for minor differences in difficulty between different versions of the exam. There is no published passing score and no limit on the number of passing exams per window. There is no difference in how first-time and repeat test-takers are evaluated. 

Scores for the exam will be available 7-10 days after you take the exam. You’ll receive an email from NCEES about how to access your scores and how to proceed based on whether you passed or failed. If you fail the exam, you’ll get a diagnostic report that will tell you what test areas you struggled with.

PE Civil Exam Switched from Paper-and-Pencil to CBT

The PE Civil Exam switched to a CBT (Computer Based Testing) format (from a paper-and-pencil format) in 2022. The last paper-and-pencil PE Civil Exam administration took place in October of 2021. This transition to a CBT format allows for greater exam security, more uniformity in testing experience, and a greater variety of question types. In addition to multiple-choice questions, the CBT version of the exam is able to ask multiple-correct, point-and-click, drag-and-drop, and fill-in-the-blank questions. 

The PE Civil Exam Computer Based Test will be offered at Pearson VUE testing centers year-round. There are four annual testing windows: January-March, April-June, July-September, and October-December. Eligibility requirements include four years of work experience, but specific requirements vary from state to state. Make sure you’re eligible in your state.

When you're creating a study plan, we recommend starting with one of our prep course options, which ensure that you receive comprehensive and up-to-date exam review while catering to your schedule and prep needs. Choose your depth section to view our prep course bundles and additional review materials for the PE Civil Exam.

How to Register for the PE Civil Exam

The ability to register and schedule for the CBT PE Civil Exam is available through your NCEES account. Once you register for the exam, you’ll get an authorization email from NCEES indicating that you’ve received approval to take the exam within the next 12 months. You’ll then be able to select the “SCHEDULE” option in your NCEES account and select a testing date and location. The PE Civil Exam is administered at Pearson VUE testing centers, which are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. You’ll be required to pay an exam fee of $375 at the time of registration. 

As a general rule, PE Civil examinees are eligible to retake the PE Civil Exam once per testing window, and up to three times per year. Check your state board for additional state-specific retesting requirements.

Exam rescheduling and cancellation are also done through your NCEES account. Reschedule using the “Modify Appointment” button at least 24 hours before your exam appointment. Keep in mind that you may be required to pay rescheduling fees, though some examinees are eligible for refunds.

Exam cancellation requires re-applying and re-paying for the exam.

How to Study for the PE Civil CBT Exam

It’s recommended that you spend approximately 300 hours studying for the PE Civil Exam. To ensure that you’re studying the right information at an appropriate pace, consider signing up for one of PPI’s PE Civil Exam prep courses. Depending on the level and frequency of prep you require, as well as your chosen depth area, you can choose between the three following exam prep bundles:

  • Live Online Course Bundle: Attend virtual live lectures, problem-solving demonstrations, exam strategy sessions, and office hours facilitated by licensed engineers. You’ll receive homework assignments, class notes, and reference materials. This prep option will prepare you for the depth and breadth portions of the exam. 

  • OnDemand Course Bundle: Get access to pre-recorded lectures, problem-solving demonstrations, and exam strategy sessions from licensed engineers, as well as homework assignments and reference materials. This is a great option for students with busy schedules, who need the option to study on the go or at inconsistent times. 

  • Self Study - Learning Hub and Print Bundle: This study option is designed for students who need a refresher before they take the PE Civil Exam, but may not need a full review course. With this option, you’ll get access to the PE Learning Hub and printed practice materials.

If you only wish to purchase review materials to help with the breadth portion of the PE Civil Exam, consider our Breadth-Only products, including the PE Civil Reference Manual, PE Civil Practice Problems Book, and the PE Civil Quick Reference Book

Studying with the PE Civil Reference Manual

The PE Civil Reference Manual includes all the information you need to prepare for the breadth portion of the PE Civil Exam, as well as an overview of each depth topic, study scheduling help, exam tips, and up-to-date codes. 

Since the exam is now given in a CBT format, you are not permitted to bring any materials into the exam with you, including the reference manual. Instead, you will have access to an electronic NCEES PE Civil Reference Handbook and the design standards for your depth section.

How to Study with the NCEES PE Civil Reference Handbook

With the introduction of the NCEES Handbook, students may be relying too heavily on the Handbook while preparing for the exam. Expecting that everything needed for the exam will be supplied to them, may be doing them a disservice. 

The Handbook is only a reference. The NCEES does not claim "what is on the exam will be in the Handbook." If a topic is listed in the exam specifications, it should be studied in-depth, regardless if you can find it in the Handbook or not. 

It's also important to understand the material well enough that you don't need the Handbook, but know the Handbook and design standards inside and out. Meaning, don't expect to search through the provided material for an answer, but know your references so well that if you need a refresher, you know where to look. One of the biggest stressors on these tests is the time cap, especially if it's approaching, and that time can easily diminish as you search for keywords. NCEES provides the Handbook to you ahead of the test, so take advantage of that since you cannot take your own materials.

With the CBT exams, and the PE exam in general, you should already have a firm grasp on the material (it's what you do in practice almost every day except for some topics), so a large part of your studying should also be how to take the exam.

Preparing for the PE Civil exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz.

Test Day: Taking the PE Civil Exam

To take the PE Civil Exam, show up to your test location 30 minutes prior to your exam start time. Bring with you a current photo ID (government-issued, military, or an international passport), a printed copy of your appointment confirmation letter, and an NCEES-approved calculator. For more detailed information about what items are and are not allowed inside the testing room, refer to the NCEES Exam Guide

Reasonable accommodations are available to those test-takers with a documented disability or scheduling conflict due to military service or Sabbath observance. Any accommodations required must be requested during the registration process. 

Since the exam is now given in CBT format, it is no longer open book. Examinees will only have access to an electronic NCEES PE Civil Reference Handbook and design standards for their depth section.

Which PE Civil Depth Section Should I Take?

Can't decide which PE Civil depth section to take? Choosing a depth section is a big decision, particularly if you're unsure of the best route to take. It could mean the difference between passing and failing depending on how well you know the material. You'll need to consider your knowledge of the tested material and what information could be most useful to you in your career. Here are some of the discovery steps you can take to find this answer:

  1. Review what depth section topic would benefit your career, where you are working now, and what you want to do in the future.

  2. Take what you liked in school and what you scored well in.

Proceed with caution if you’re considering the construction depth exam. Some engineers falsely perceive this depth section as being easy. This is exam is actually one of the more difficult sections and can take engineers by surprise. If you would like more information about this or other PE depth sections, we invite you to explore our PE Civil Exam resources.

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Posted by PPI - April 29, 2022
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Preparing for the NCEES PE Exam

Preparing for the PE exam is a formidable task. In fact, planning your preparation, developing a study plan, and sticking to it is an engineering feat in its own right! You already know the benefits of earning your PE license, but how can you ensure you are prepared for the PE exam? This article explores ways to prepare for the PE exam, as well as strategies for following through on your personal study plan.

Caution: The tips below assume that you have already applied to take the PE exam and that you have sufficient time to prepare for it. We recommend at least three months of study time.

Preparing to Study for the PE Exam

To effectively prepare for the PE exam, you should start studying as soon as possible. You may not be ready to start the exam preparation process, but becoming familiar with the exam, acquiring the review materials needed, and signing up for a prep course could help motivate you to optimize your studying.

1. Thoroughly study the PE exam format and subject outline.

2. If you have a current PE reference manual, read the introductory chapter for information about your exam and tips on how to prepare successfully for it. (If your manual isn't current, however, it may have information about a prior exam format, so it's best to check this online.)

3. Decide what you are going to study: 

(A) Are you going to study all exam subjects (which I recommend) or a subset of the exam (which is what most engineers do)? 

(B) Are you going to review explicitly by studying the chapter theory or review implicitly by solving problems?

4. Decide how you want to prepare: 

(A) Study on your own with books and practice problems; 

(B) Use audio, video, or CD-ROM products to enhance your self-study; 

(C) Enroll in a "live" prep course; 

(D) Take a correspondence course.

5. Seek out and accumulate practice or sample PE exams, available from PPI and other academic sources.

6. Decide on a calculator. Locate the instruction manual. Make sure you have extra batteries and know how to change them. Have another calculator available as a spare, and make sure you know how to use it.

7. Establish a secure study location in your home where you can spread out each day without having to clean up.

8. Establish an "exam-item consolidation" box or drawer, into which you can toss items that you want to take with you to the exam. It is surprising how much you will accumulate in a month or more.

9. Put your name on everything (your calculator and books) that you intend to bring with you to the exam.

What PE exam textbooks do I need?

Identify the books that are essential references to study for your PE exam. Check your local and corporate library for books you can borrow rather than purchase. Assemble college textbooks, collections of old class notes, and other collections of solved problems. These are not necessarily the same books you will take into the exam. Decide which books you want to accumulate, and get as many as you possibly can.

Examinee Advice: "Don’t bother to buy any book that doesn’t have a decent index. Lindeburg’s books have great indexes. Don’t underestimate how much a good index will help you. You’ll save time studying and during the exam."

If you have a passed-down or borrowed PE reference manual, determine if the edition is current. Changes in exam format, codes, and emphasis often make using an old edition a big mistake. If you are taking the civil or structural exam, make sure you know which codes (year or edition), if any, will be used in your exam. 

Study with the editions of the codes that are specified for the exam, whether they are current or not. Frequently, what's used on the exam lags well behind current usage in the real world. Use PPI's Errata listings to correct any mistakes that have been identified in PPI books. Check with other publishers whose books you may be using to see if they have errata lists.

Getting Support When Studying for the PE Exam

The stress of studying for the PE exam when you have family responsibilities can be alleviated with commitment from your family and support from your employer. Explain to family members and friends what you are doing and why it is important to your career that you pass the PE exam. Emphasize the importance of earning your PE license, including the added respect from peers and the possibility of a higher paycheck at work. 

Communicate to your family the importance of your study schedule, time dedication, and goals. Gaining the support of your family can hold you accountable for achieving your goals, as they can encourage you during periods of burnout or high stress. Explain how long the process is going to take and what changes to your behavior and lifestyle might occur.

Your employer can be another source of support and guidance as you start your journey towards licensure. Ask your employer if you can set time aside at work to study for the PE exam, or go into work early or stay late to study in a productive environment. Coordinate with your employer for time off of work right before the exam in order to relax and enter into the right frame of mind for passing the PE.

Developing Your PE Exam Study Plan

After gathering family and employer support, the next step towards earning your PE is developing a study plan. Take out a calendar, mark the date of the PE exam, and plan out your time leading up to that date. Be sure to include family trips, birthdays, and any other events that may impact your study schedule. 

Then, try to find blocks of time where you can study each week for at least 2 hours. Write out the topics you will study for each session, and be sure to include time for practice exams as well. If you are unsure how to start this process, PPI has many resources, such as study schedules, online instructor-led prep courses, as well as e-Learning review materials that will help you formulate a plan.

Examinee Advice: "Sign up for email updates. That was the only way I found out about the new exam format!"

Committing to Your PE Exam Study Plan

Consistently dedicating time to your study plan will invariably become overwhelming. However, there are ways that you can manage your time throughout the day to achieve your ultimate goal. One way to begin is by deleting distracting apps or social media accounts. By eliminating the items in your life that aren’t conducive to achieving your goal, you will be more likely to stay on track. If deleting these apps is a little too extreme for you, you can install programs onto your phone that limit your time on distracting apps. Additionally, you can leave any distracting items outside of your designated study room.

Enrolling in a PE test prep course is another effective way to commit to your study plan. PPI’s prep courses keep your studies on track and ensure your time is focused on the topics needed to pass the exam. Other strategies to make the most of your study time include;

  • Making a review schedule, allocating time to all of the subjects you intend to study.

  • Adding color-coded book tabs to useful pages as you’re reviewing. Caution: Some states do not permit the use of removable sticky notes in books. Check with your State Boards.

  • Assembling and organizing your work in a manner that works for you.

  • Taking one or more of your practice exams as you approach the PE exam date. Evaluate your readiness and work on your weaknesses.

  • Rereading the "What to Do Before the Exam" sections in your PE reference manual.

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE CivilPE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

Alleviate PE Exam Stress By Practicing Self-Care

Passing the PE exam requires more than just engineering knowledge—you will need to be resilient and possess strong communication skills and the ability to think outside the box. Studying aggressively for the PE exam could lead to burnout, and the best way to prevent that is by setting aside time for breaks. Take the time to socialize with family and friends to alleviate the stress. 

Keep in mind that building up resilience to pass the PE exam demands more than just studying. Ensure you are taking care of your body by eating healthfully, exercising regularly, and sleeping for 8 hours each night. Most importantly, relax. If you have intentionally followed the tips in this article, you will be in a great position on exam day.

Examinee Advice: "Whatever you do to relax, do it the day before the exam. A clear mind is very important."

What to Bring on PE Exam Day

Apart from studying for your PE exam, this section includes what you can expect on the day of your exam as well as what you’ll want to bring with you. Read our related blog to learn more about what to bring to the PE exam.

  • "Have all the logistics of exam day well planned. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you’ve already seen the exam site, know where you’re going to park, how you’re going to carry your reference books, etc."

  • "Check with your state board to find out whether you can bring loose papers or three-ring binders into the exam room. This apparently varies a lot among states. Having your own three-ring binder of material is very helpful."

  • "Don’t buy an expensive calculator if you do not have time to learn how to use it."

  • "Wear layers of clothing for the exam--our room was at first way too hot and then way too cold! You need to be able to take clothes off or add them easily."

  • "I photocopied the index to my reference manual and kept it separate. During the exam, I had both the index and the main text open in front of me. Definition problems call for a lot of use of the index. It’s great to have it available at all times."

  • "Bring a straight edge to help with reading graphs."

  • "Bring a wheeled suitcase with your books in it. My arms almost fell off trying to carry mine."

  • "Bring a backup calculator and extra batteries. I couldn’t believe it when the display on my calculator started losing characters during the exam."

  • "Bring earplugs. The exam room can be very noisy. I sat next to a guy who grunted every 30 seconds, and it drove me crazy. I will never go into the exam room without earplugs again!"

  • "Bring your own lunch. You never know what the food is going to be like on-site. This is the only way you can be sure you’ll have something decent to eat, in a timely manner."

  • "A couple of power bars are a real pick-me-up (if your proctors allow you to eat during the exam)."

  • "Bring a pillow or cushion to sit on. Those seats get hard."

What to Do (and Not to Do) During the PE Exam

In this section, past examinees share tips concerning what you should, and should not, do during your PE exam. To learn more, read our blog on what to expect on the day of the PE exam.

  • "Read each problem all the way through to the end. Then start solving. Don’t just dive in. You may be given information at the end that will change what you THINK the problem is about."

  • "Don’t get caught by units. In many, many problems, there were two “right” answers listed—but one was not in the units the problem was asking for! Focus on what conversion you may need to make."

  • "Take time to check your calculations. Calculation errors will kill you. I know—I reviewed my last exam and kicked myself for all the stupid avoidable calculation errors!"

  • "Don’t leave a single problem blank—there’s no penalty for guessing."

  • "Bubble in your answers as you go! Don’t wait until the final 10-minute warning to start bubbling in your “guess” answers. That 10 minutes will be gone before you know it."

Preparing, Studying, and Passing the NCEES PE Exam

Think you’re ready for the PE exam? Here’s a final review of what you’ll need to prepare adequately:

  • Get ready to study. Think about what, how, and where you’re going to study.

  • Gather your PE exam study materials; including textbooks, calculators, class notes, etc.

  • Request support at work and at home.

  • Develop and follow through with your study plan.

  • Practice self-care to alleviate stress ahead of your exam.

  • Know what you’re going to bring into the exam with you.

  • Understand the Do’s and Don’t’s of taking the PE exam.

 As you near the end of your PE exam study plan, read our blog to find out what happens after you pass the PE exam.

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Posted by Michael Lindeburg, PE - January 12, 2022
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Qualifying to Take the NCEES PE Exam

Deciding to take the NCEES Professional Engineer (PE) exam is an important step in your engineering career. You may have questions regarding PE exam requirements and what it means once you have your PE license. Below is a brief overview of the qualifications:

  • Meet your state’s education requirement. 

  • Successfully complete the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam.

  • Meet minimum experience requirement through a licensed PE (typically four years).

  • Complete a background check.

  • Build and submit an Experience Record (ER) endorsed by your references.

  • Send the application paperwork to your state board.

  • Complete state-specific ethics exam.

PE Exam Requirements by State

Each state acts independently to set its own education experience and residency requirements. States can have widely different requirements in these areas. A few states have residency requirements for taking the FE and PE exams. Most do not, however, since it is common for consulting engineers to be registered in adjoining states.

I took the FE exam in another state, do I have to transfer my EIT/FE certificate?

In most cases, you don't have to do anything. Since the FE exam is the same in all states, it is accepted by all states. When you fill out your PE exam application, just list the state, date, and your EIT certificate number. The exception to this rule is if you received a waiver on your FE exam from another state. It may not be recognized in any other states.

NCEES PE Exam Degree Requirements

Some states require that you have a BS degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, with no exceptions. Other states permit you to take the PE exam with a degree in engineering technology, physics, math, or chemistry, or without any degree at all, providing you meet experience requirements. These requirements are nearly always greater for applicants without an accredited engineering degree.

PE Exam Qualifications: Military Education

It depends on what is meant by "military education." A 4-year engineering degree from West Point or the Naval Academy is probably accredited. However, AIT-type "military training" that is more trade-oriented is essentially the same as no degree at all. Contact your state board. The experience requirement may be greater than for someone with an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited 4-year engineering degree.

ABET-Accreditation

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, or ABET, periodically reviews, surveys, and visits U.S. institutions with engineering and engineering technology degree programs. If ABET's criteria are met, the degree program becomes ABET-accredited for a certain number of years.

ABET lists accredited programs on their website. Your state board is also aware of which programs are accredited and might be willing to tell you over the phone.

What if my engineering degree is from a foreign university?

Degrees from foreign universities are accepted in some states. However, it can be difficult to convince your state board that your international degree is equivalent to an ABET-accredited degree. Numerous agreements with organizations worldwide like the Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), enable some foreign universities to become ABET-accredited. To learn more about receiving an evaluation of your foreign engineering credentials, contact your employer or your state board to be referred to a credentials evaluation organization.

How much does the NCEES PE exam cost?

The costs that factor into taking the Professional Engineer exam can vary in each state. For more information about registration fees and payees, find your state and exam location at NCEES.org.


Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE CivilPE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.


How to Become a Civil Engineer Without a Degree

Although it is difficult to become a civil engineer without a degree, it is not impossible. For entry-level positions, a PE license is often not required and can be earned later on in your career. Working in the field of civil engineering requires many years of hard work and the development of specific skills. 

Separate from the education requirements, notable attributes of successful civil engineers include skillsets in:

  • Problem-solving: Civil engineers deal with many variables in their work and need to recognize and assess intricate problems.

  • Decision Making: Civil engineers often make decisions based on several objectives at once using best practices from their own experience and technical knowledge.

  • Organizational: As with problem-solving, civil engineers need organizational skills to juggle multiple projects at once, managing their time and resources effectively.

  • Leadership: Leadership skills are important for civil engineers to manage teams in planning, surveying, construction, technology, and more.

  • Math: Of course, civil engineers use all kinds of math principles during the analysis, design, and troubleshooting phases of their projects.

  • Writing: Proficient writing skills are required when communicating projects to regional and urban planners, architects, and elected officials with little technical knowledge.

  • Speaking: Civil engineers should be comfortable with conversing and explaining reports including complex scientific information to diverse audiences.

It’s important to note, due to steep requirements and responsibilities, the quickest and simplest way to find success in this career path is to obtain a civil engineering degree. 

Qualifications to Become a Civil Engineer

For the most part, a career in civil engineering requires a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Depending on your specialty, related occupations and degree coursework can include:

  • Civil engineering technologies

  • Construction

  • Statistics

  • Fluid dynamics

  • Math

  • Engineering mechanics and systems

As with other engineering degree programs, a civil engineer degree program must be ABET-accredited to qualify for a PE license. Depending on your state, a bachelor’s in civil engineering technology can all meet the academic requirement for a PE license.

Qualifying Work Experience for the NCEES PE Exam

Only experience wherein you have made use of your engineering knowledge will count. This can include:

  • Graduate school/academic research

  • Teaching college-level engineering courses 

  • Relevant military experience

Research in an accredited graduate school can qualify as experience. It depends on what you did. If you only did academic research in the library or on the Internet, it won't count. If you were working in the lab, it could very well count. Most states will give some credit for teaching engineering courses at the college level. But generally, the full experience requirement cannot be satisfied with just teaching.

If you have been checking the work of others, you have been doing engineering. However, this basically requires you to recalculate the design. If all you did was "check the numbers" by punching them into a calculator, then you haven't been doing engineering.

In terms of the military, all branches have engineers doing genuine engineering work. In this regard, the military is just like any other employer, and the engineering work experience counts. However, work performed by "combat engineers", electronic repair technicians, and so on is generally not true engineering work.

What if my engineering experience included some irrelevant tasks?

Most engineers spend a portion of their time doing non-engineering work. Don't try to hide or misrepresent your nontechnical work. If it is substantial, you can assign a percentage to your experience, and that will be accepted by the state. For example, if you have six years of work experience, and you spent 33% of your time drafting the designs that you developed, then you really have only four years of work experience.

PE Exam References 

The purpose of getting references is primarily to verify the length of your work experience and the nature of your work experience (i.e., whether it is engineering or something else). Character, ethics, and morality are not the primary issues, if they are issues at all. You will need at least one reference from every engagement for which you are claiming as qualifying work experience. Typically, states require around four to six references. One or more of your references may fail to complete or send in the recommendation form. So, arranging for one or two extra is always a good idea.

Qualifications for Professional Engineering References

Most states require all (or a majority) of your references to be licensed, professional engineers. However, the most important issue to the board is whether the reference has specific first-hand knowledge of the length and nature of your work experience. Another important issue is whether your reference is unbiased. Usually, references that are related to you by blood or marriage are not accepted. It is not necessary for all of your references to have supervised you directly, although such a relationship is preferred.

Normally, a reference from an engineering co-worker (someone who was level with you on the organization chart) will be accepted. Most of the time, college professors won't have any direct knowledge of your work experience (duration or nature). Only engineers can judge engineering work. References from nonengineers usually have no value.

What if I can’t find enough professional engineer references?

Many applicants have this problem. Electrical and telecommunication engineers are often hard-pressed to find enough PEs references, but the problem is not restricted to these areas. Each state has had to deal with similar problems hundreds of times and has developed its own policies in this regard. The states won't give you any specifics about these policies, either in writing or verbally, but there is some flexibility. 

Basically, you just have to do the best you can. Always get the required number of references. Always get references from each qualifying engagement. Beyond that, a reference from any engineer with first-hand knowledge of your work experience seems to satisfy the states. Your first alternative (which is almost always accepted), is to use your engineering supervisors, even if they are not PEs. The next best option is any staff engineer with knowledge of your work history.

How do I know my NCEES PE exam application is completed?

Some states send out a notification when your application is complete (including having received all of your references). Other states send out an "incomplete" warning telling you who has not yet sent in their references. Check with your state board in this regard.

Will I have to take the PE exam again to become licensed in a different state?

If you took an 8-hour NCEES PE exam in one state, you won't have to take the same exam in another state. You will have to take an NCEES exam if;

  • You got your PE license by some non-examination method (e.g., interview, eminence, grandfathering)

  • You took a non-NCEES exam

  • You took an NCEES exam in a different discipline

What about unique, state level engineering exams?

Some states have special exams covering topics unique to those states. Many states have "law and ethics" exams covering their state laws and board rules. California has special exams in seismic design and surveying for civil engineers. Exams in cold-regions engineering (Alaska) and high winds (Florida) are also used. The states contract with subject matter experts to have these exams prepared. You will take these exams on a different day from the 8-hour PE exam. Administrative procedures differ from state to state.

Do all states have the same professional engineering license?

Some states offer reciprocity, meaning that one state’s PE license is valid in another state. But this is not typical. Most states offer only a generic PE license. Other states register by discipline (e.g., "civil engineer," "mechanical engineer," etc.), or offer licenses unique to those states (e.g., "maritime engineer," "traffic engineer," etc.). With the exception of Texas, states do not currently recognize certifications from other countries.

Complete Your PE Exam Application and Start Studying

Qualifying to take the NCEES PE exam is not a simple task. But if you stay organized and reach out to all of your helpful professional engineering contacts, you’ll be prepping for your PE exam before you know it! Be sure to explore our resources section to learn more about the NCEES PE exam and find out what happens after you pass.

 

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Posted by PPI - November 29, 2021
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What Happens After You Pass the NCEES PE Exam?

If you’ve just passed your NCEES Professional Engineering Exam - congratulations! If your PE exam date is fast approaching, we wish you the best of luck! Remember to take advantage of PPI’s many resources available to you. Whether completing the NCEES PE exam is in your rearview mirror, or still ahead of you, here’s what you need to do after passing the PE exam.

Unfortunately, passing the exam doesn’t immediately make you a professional engineer. Next, you’ll need to apply for a professional engineer license. The major steps after passing the PE exam include:

  1. Applying for the PE license with your state board.

  2. Submitting your NCEES records to your state board.

  3. Displaying your new designation.

  4. Requesting your wall certificate.

  5. Purchasing your stamp or seal.

Be sure to verify your state’s requirements to become a licensed professional engineer. In general, for a PE license application, you’ll need to verify that you have:

  • Passed the FE and the PE exams.

  • Achieved an engineering degree from an ABET-accredited school.

  • Completed at least four years of experience under a professional engineer.

  • Paid the submission fee.

It’s important to note that the submission fee amount varies from $80 to over $300 depending on your state.

Displaying Your New Professional Engineer Designation

Important places for displaying your new designation can include your business cards, job applications, email signatures, and more. But how should this information be arranged? And what information must be included, versus what can be left out? The sections below address these concerns as well as other questions that arise after passing the PE exam.

The Difference Between PE, P.E., RE, and CE

The designations "PE" and "P.E." (Professional Engineer) are synonymous. Modern style is to omit the periods, but this is not universal. The designation "RE" (Registered Engineer) and "CE" (Consulting Engineer) may also be available for use in your state, although their meanings are largely unknown by the public.

What about PE (US) vs. P.Eng. (Canada) vs. Ing. (Mexico)?

The Canadian "P.Eng.," the Mexican "Ing.," and other similar foreign designations are not recognized in the US. Technically, their use is not restricted by state laws. However, giving the appearance of a properly licensed "PE" would probably be subject to scrutiny. Foreign certification (registration, licensure, etc.) status does not convey any legal rights in the United States.

Engineering Disciplines or Specialties On Your PE Business Card

e.g., "Civil Engineering" or "Geotechnical"

No, you do not have to list your engineering discipline (e.g., “Civil Engineering”) or area of engineering specialty (e.g., “Geotechnical”) on your PE business card. However, most engineers practice in only one discipline, and it is common to include some type of clarifying phrase (e.g., Consulting civil engineer") on the business card.

Should I list the licensed state on my PE business cards?

If you represent your company or perform work in more than one state, you should avoid giving the impression that you are licensed in states where you are not. You have three options: 

  1. Obtain reciprocal licenses for all states in which you do business. 

  2. List "Licensed in the State of XXXX" (or similar) on your business cards. 

  3. Omit "PE" from your business cards. 

Options (2) and (3) will not let you avoid being subject to a state's engineering laws, but they will eliminate misrepresentation. Unless required by your state, you do not have to list your license number or your state on your business cards. However, these should be shown on your stamp or seal.

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz.

Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

How do I get my wall certificate?

Delivery time and procedure for getting the wall certificate vary from state to state. Most states do not include the wall certificate with your notice of having passed the PE exam--the certificate comes automatically several weeks or months later. In some cases, you have to request the certificate. In rare cases, you are asked to pay a small fee for it.

Can I use my state professional engineering society certificate instead of a state-issued PE certificate?

Some professional and technical organizations can provide membership and/or recognition certificates, usually for a fee. These can be used to advertise your accomplishment, status, and membership. However, they satisfy no legal requirements nor do they convey any legal rights. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to display your state-issued PE certificate.

I received an EIT (FE, IE, EI, etc.) wall certificate. Should I display it?

You may, if you wish, display your EIT wall certificate. Passing the FE exam is an accomplishment to be proud of.

Do I have to display my Professional Engineer wall certificate?

Passing the PE exam is an accomplishment you can be proud of. Normally, you do not have to display your wall certificate. However, some states (for example, California) require you to provide notice of licensure to your clients. Displaying your wall certificate is one way of satisfying this requirement. It’s worth noting, however, that if your company is covered by the industrial exemption, you do not have to display your certificate.

Other Ways to Provide Notice of PE Licensure to Clients

If your company has multiple locations, it will not be possible to display wall certificates in all locations. Instead of displaying your wall certificate, you may also be able to post a listing of all of the licensees in your company, provide a statement of acknowledgment of licensure for your clients to sign, or include the statement in the signed contracts for services. Other options may exist in some states.

Where do I get my PE stamp or PE seal?

Most large office supply stores produce custom stamps. Engineering stamps are one of the "stock" designs usually available. Engineering stamps and seals can also be ordered online. Stamps are typically under $30, while mechanical embossing seals are under $40. Generally, stores do not require any proof of licensure to purchase a stamp/seal. Improper use of stamps/seals is regulated. However, possession is not.

What's the difference between a PE stamp and a PE seal?

A "stamp" is a "rubber stamp." It may be self-inking, or it may need to be used with a stamp pad. A "seal" is a design embossed onto the paper. The word "seal" is also used to describe the hand press used to do the embossing.

Do I have to buy a stamp/seal after passing the PE exam?

That depends on the state in which you are licensed. Some states require you to obtain a stamp or seal upon registration as a PE. In other states, it isn't necessary to buy one unless you intend to sign off on finished designs. Check with your state board for what applies in your state.

What is the required format or design of the PE stamp/seal?

The actual design is specified by your state. The design is generally round and includes: 

  • The phrase "professional engineer”

  • Your state name

  • Your name

  • Your license number

Your PE stamp or seal may also list your license's expiration date or provide a place for you write in that date. You should contact your state board to obtain the exact design specifications, as generic designs do not always satisfy state law. Unless you are directed otherwise, always use black ink with your PE stamp.

How do I use my PE stamp/seal?

Although usage varies, normally you will stamp/seal a document, write in the expiration date of your license (if this information is required by your state and is not part of the stamp/seal), and affix your signature and date.

What should I use my PE stamp/seal for?

You should affix your stamp/seal only when you are taking responsibility for the design (i.e., when you are in "responsible charge"). Although you could use your stamp/seal to make a greater impact when signed letters or contracts, this is generally not done.

What is "plan stamping"?

Plan stamping is the use, either by you or by someone else, of your stamp or seal to certify designs that you did not perform, check, or supervise. Plan stamping is illegal in every state.

Can you pass an FE or PE exam and not receive a license, title, wall certificate, or professional status?

Yes. In some states, it is possible to pass the FE exam but be denied EIT status because you "only" have a BS degree in engineering technology, physics, or chemistry. In some states, it is possible to pass the PE exam before you have met all of the experience requirements. In such states, your legal rights will "kick in" only after you have met the experience requirements.

As a Professional Engineer, what am I allowed to do?

Your rights as a PE are determined by state law, and they include the right to use the title "Professional Engineer" and/or the right to practice engineering as a consultant. Your license may also permit you to design in certain areas (e.g., hospitals and schools). This is a matter best determined by a reading of your state's engineers act.

As a Professional Engineer, what am I NOT allowed to do?

This subject touches upon both state law and ethics. Generally, you gain--rather than lose--legal rights when becoming a PE. However, your practice may be limited by state law to a certain engineering discipline or certain categories of designs (i.e., buildings). Regardless, you should voluntarily refrain from working outside of your area of expertise in any case. You cannot use your stamp/seal to certify designs you haven't been involved in. Generally, you are held to higher ethical standards.

Can passing the PE exam increase my salary?

This answer varies "all over the map"--anywhere from nothing to substantial raises, promotions, and increases in responsibilities. Generally, zero or token raises are realized by engineers in commercial/manufacturing industries where the industrial exemption makes the PE license immaterial. The largest raises are realized by engineers in companies with public exposure--where the credentials of the "team" are important to winning contracts. In public service (state and federal), the PE license may qualify you for higher salary ranges and additional responsibility (i.e., higher GS ratings).

Are recertification exams or continuing education courses required to renew my PE license?

No states require you to retest in engineering principles in order to maintain your PE license. However, some states have annual continuing education requirements. Approximately half of the 50 states have continuing education requirements. Check with your state board.

How can I extend my PE license to other states?

In most cases, obtaining an engineering license in another state is largely an administrative matter. A special comity application and payment of fees are required. Unless the registration laws of the new state are significantly different (California, for example, is one state that requires testing in additional engineering subjects), you are not required to take additional exams covering engineering principles. 

In some cases, you may be asked to take a short exam covering the ethics and the laws of the new state. You make your application directly to the new state. The application process may be simplified if you are a model law engineer (MLE) or NCEES Records Retention Program participant.

About the NCEES Records Retention Program

The NCEES Records Retention Program is a voluntary, centralized database program available to all licensees who wish to maintain a record of their education, examination, and experience credentials, including references, to assist them with comity applications. Licensees meeting the requirements are designed as "Model Law Engineers" in the NCEES Records Program. Most states will accept the NCEES record with little additional paperwork required when a Model Law Engineer wants to obtain a reciprocal license. In other words, keeping your NCEES record updated throughout, your career, is an easy way to get licensed in other states

Several states claim that they can process a comity application for an MLE in one or two weeks. Ohio, for example, can process an application within days or hours by obtaining electronic verification of MLE credentials from the NCEES. Contact your state board for more information.

What is a Model Law Engineer (MLE)?

In an effort to obtain better uniformity among the state licensing laws, NCEES has developed (and is continually refining) its Model Law, which is a complete set of generic sample engineering licensing laws. Some states have adopted the Model Law in its entirety; others have adopted it in part, with or without the addition of parts specific to those states. Many states have adopted the Model Law verbatim, and a few have more stringent requirements. But most still have licensing requirements that are less stringent than the Model Law requirements. If licensees meet the requirements of the Model Law, they are considered to be "Model Law Engineers" by NCEES and the states.

Differences Between "Reciprocity" and "Comity" in Professional Engineering

Although the two terms are frequently used as synonyms, there actually is a difference. "Comity" is the act of recognizing your status as a professional engineer and, as a courtesy, exempting you from some of the administrative steps and/or exams that would be required of you if you were not already a professional engineer. 

"Reciprocity" is the act of recognizing you as a "professional engineer" in one state by virtue of your license in another. Most states offer registration by comity. Under comity, you won't have to retake the PE exam, but you might still have to complete an application, submit references, list your experience, take any special state-specific exams, and/or pay a fee. Under reciprocity, your status as a professional engineer in a new state would be (essentially) automatic, given your status as a professional in another.

Can I appeal my PE exam score?

In general, appeals are not allowed on multiple-choice questions. If you think there is a flawed question on the exam, you may file a comment sheet at the time of the test. In most states, you are allowed to check your answer sheet to make sure that it was correctly scanned. To do this, you need to make an appointment with your state board.

In some states, you may appeal your score on an essay-format exam, as long as your score falls within your state's cutoff. NCEES will not review an essay exam with a score below 62 points. A number of states do not allow appeals, so check first with your state board to find out whether an appeal is possible.

Celebrate Passing the PE Exam

As you’re taking the above steps to obtain your professional engineering license, don’t forget to celebrate what you’ve accomplished up to this point. This includes passing the FE exam as well as the PE exam.

If taking the NCEES PE exam is still ahead of you, be sure to check out our resources covering how to prepare for exam day, what to bring to the exam, and even advice from past examinees.

 

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Posted by PPI - October 29, 2021
Read through common questions about what to do next after passing the NCEES Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Exam.

About the NCEES PE Exam, or Professional Engineer Exam

Taking the NCEES PE exam is a big step in your professional career. Understanding the details of the PE exam is an important part of your preparation to sit for the exam. 

What is the NCEES PE exam?

The NCEES PE exam (Principles and Practice of Engineering exam) is the exam you need to pass in order to become a professional licensed engineer in the United States. The PE tests your knowledge for a minimum level of competency in an engineering discipline of your choice.

You can take the PE exam after passing your FE exam and gaining at least 4 years of relevant post-college work experience. Once you pass, you are able to put the designation “P.E.” after your name, indicating that you are a Professional Engineer.

Why become a PE?

Passing the PE exam doesn’t just signal to others that you are at the top of your field; it’s also a gateway to pay raises, promotions, and career opportunities like consulting and stamping designs. Beyond personal gain, obtaining your PE license benefits the public by ensuring that important engineering activities are only completed by those who have the proper knowledge and training.

Engineers challenge themselves with the important task of protecting public safety, and obtaining your PE license is a pledge to uphold the high standards of the profession. Professional Engineers help keep our communities healthier, safer, and more efficient. Pursuing PE licensure is an honorable and responsible path for any engineer.

What is the deadline for the PE application?

The application deadline varies significantly by state, ranging from 45 days to more than 180 days before the exam date. Check with your state board for your deadline.

Do the PE exams differ from state to state?

The PE exams are the same nationwide. They are written by the NCEES and have been adopted by all U.S. states and territories.

Some states, however, require PE exam candidates to take additional exams to obtain their license. For example, California requires PE Civil exam candidates to pass not only the 8-hour Civil PE exam but also two additional exams covering surveying and seismic principles. Contact your state board for specific requirements that may affect you.

When do I choose the subject of my PE exam?

Regardless of which PE exam you are taking, you must choose your exam subject upon registration. This applies to all sessions of every PE exam.

What is the format of the NCEES PE exam?

The NCEES PE exam is an 8-hour exam with 80 questions, with the exception of the PE Chemical CBT exam and the PE Electrical and Computer CBT exam. See the NCEES website for more details.

What subjects are on the PE exam?

Take a look at the NCEES exam specifications to see the subjects for your discipline. Irrespective of the published exam structure, the exact number of questions that will appear in each subject area cannot be predicted reliably. There is no guarantee that any single subject will occur in any quantity. One of the reasons for this is that some of the questions span several disciplines. You might consider a pump selection question to come from the subject of fluids, while NCEES might categorize it as engineering economics.

What is the typical question format?

Almost all of the questions are standalone—that is, they are completely independent. However, NCEES allows that some sets of questions may start with a statement of a “situation” that will apply to (typically) two to five following questions. Such grouped questions are increasingly rare, however. Each of the questions will have four answer options labeled “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D”. If the answer options are numerical, they will be displayed in increasing value. One of the answer options is correct (or, will be “most nearly correct,” as described in the following section). The remaining answer options are incorrect and may consist of one or more “logical distractors,” the term used by NCEES to designate incorrect options that look correct. 

NCEES intends the questions to be unrelated. Questions are independent or start with new given data. A mistake on one of the questions should not cause you to get a subsequent question wrong. However, considerable time may be required to repeat previous calculations with a new set of given data.

Is the exam tricky?

Other than providing superfluous data, the PE exam is not a “tricky exam.” The exam does not overtly try to get you to fail. Examinees manage to fail on a regular basis with perfectly straightforward questions. The exam questions are difficult in their own right. NCEES does not need to provide misleading or conflicting statements. However, you will find that commonly made mistakes are represented in the available answer choices. Thus, the alternative answers (known as distractors) will be logical. 

Questions are generally practical, dealing with common and plausible situations that you might experience in your job. You will not be asked to design a structure for reduced gravity on the moon, to design a mud-brick road, to analyze the effects of a nuclear bomb blast on a structure, or to use bamboo for tension reinforcement.

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

What makes the questions difficult?

Some questions are difficult because the pertinent theory is not obvious. There may be only one acceptable procedure, and it may be heuristic (or defined by a code) such that nothing else will be acceptable. Many highway capacity questions are this way. Some questions are difficult because the data needed is hard to find. Some data just is not available unless you happen to have brought the right reference book. Many of the structural questions are of this nature. There is no way to solve most structural steel questions without the AISC Manual. Designing an eccentrically loaded concrete column without published interaction diagrams is nearly impossible to do in six minutes. If you did not bring OSHA regulations to the exam, you are not going to be able to answer many safety questions. 

Some questions are difficult because they defy the imagination. Three-dimensional structural questions and some surveying curve questions fit this description. If you cannot visualize the question, you probably cannot solve it. Some questions are difficult because the computational burden is high, and they just take a long time. Pipe networking questions solved with the Hardy Cross method fall into this category. Some questions are difficult because the terminology is obscure, and you just do not know what the terms mean. This can happen in almost any subject.

What reference material is permitted in the exam?

See What to Bring to the PE Exam for details on what you should and shouldn't bring to the exam.

Are tabs permitted on my exam references?

Most states will allow you to use “permanent” (glued or taped on, not easily removable) tabs on your references. Some states even allow Post-It® notes. Check with your state board to confirm its policy on tabs.

What is the exam’s calculator policy?

The NCEES often changes their calculator policy. Click here for the current calculator policy.

What is the exam’s pencil policy?

NCEES will provide you with the mechanical pencil you must use for the exam. The supplied pencils use 0.7 mm lead. You may bring extra lead and your own eraser.

Do you need a prep course?

Approximately 60% of first-time PE examinees take an instructor-led review course of some form. Live classroom and online courses of various types, as well as previously recorded lessons, are available for some or all of the exam topics. Live courses and instructor-moderated internet courses provide several significant advantages over self-directed study, some of which may apply to you. 

A course structures and paces your review. It ensures that you keep going forward without getting bogged down in one subject. A course focuses you on a limited amount of material. Without a course, you might not know which subjects to study. A course provides you with the questions you need to solve. You will not have to spend time looking for them. A course spoon-feeds you the material. The course instructor can answer your questions when you are stuck. You probably already know if any of these advantages apply to you.

How long should you study for the PE exam?

We have all heard stories of the person who did not crack a book until the week before the exam and still passed it with flying colors. Yes, these people really exist. However, I am not one of them, and you probably are not either. A thorough review takes approximately 300 hours. Most of this time is spent solving problems. Some of it may be spent in class; some is spent at home. Some examinees spread this time over a year. Others try to cram it all into two months. Most review courses last for three or four months. The best time to start studying will depend on how much time you can spend per week.

Wondering where to start?

Check to see if your employer has an assistance program for licensure. They might even pay for your exam fees and review materials, and provide you with mentorship from a Professional Engineer at your firm. You’ll also want to review the exam specs for your discipline. The exam specs tell you all the knowledge areas you’ll be tested on, in addition to the design standards they follow.

If you’re ready to start preparing for your PE exam, start by choosing your discipline and selecting the review path that works for your skill level and study needs. A prep course is a great way to prepare for your exam, including expert instruction and all the materials you need to prepare. 
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Posted by PPI - May 12, 2021
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What to Expect on the Day of the PE Exam

In this excerpt from Civil Engineering Reference Manual, author Michael R. Lindeburg, PE tells you what to expect and what to be aware of on the day of your PE exam.

What to Do the Day Before the PE Exam

Take the day before the exam off from work to relax. Do not cram. A good night’s sleep is the best way to start the exam. If you live a considerable distance from the exam site, consider getting a hotel room in which to spend the night. Practice setting up your exam work environment. Carry your boxes to the kitchen table. Arrange your “bookcases” and supplies. Decide what stays on the floor in boxes and what gets an “honored position” on the tabletop.

Use your checklist to make sure you have everything. Make sure your exam kits are packed and ready to go. Wrap your boxes in plastic bags in case it is raining when you carry them from the car to the examination room. Calculate your wake-up time and set the alarms on two bedroom clocks. Select and lay out your clothing items. (Dress in layers.) Select and lay out your breakfast items. If it is going to be hot on exam day, put your (plastic) bottles of water in the freezer. Make sure you have gas in your car and money in your wallet.

What to Do the Day of the PE Exam

Turn off the quarterly and hourly alerts on your wristwatch. Leave your cell phone in the car. If you must bring it, set it on silent mode. Bring a morning newspaper. You should arrive at least 30 minutes before the exam starts. This will allow time for finding a convenient parking place, bringing your materials to the exam room, making room and seating changes, and calming down. Be prepared, though, to find that the exam room is not open or ready at the designated time. Once you have arranged the materials around you on your table, take out your morning newspaper and look cool. (Only nervous people work crossword puzzles.)

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

What to Do During the PE Exam

All of the procedures typically associated with timed, proctored, machine-graded assessment tests will be in effect when you take the PE exam. The proctors will distribute the exam booklets and answer sheets if they are not already on your tables. However, you should not open the booklets until instructed to do so. You may read the information on the front and back covers, and you should write your name in any appropriate blank spaces. Listen carefully to everything the proctors say.

Do not ask your proctors any engineering questions. Even if they are knowledgeable in engineering, they will not be permitted to answer your questions. Answers to questions are recorded on an answer sheet contained in the test booklet. The proctors will guide you through the process of putting your name and other biographical information on this sheet when the time comes, which will take approximately 15 minutes.

You will be given the full four hours to answer questions. Time to initialize the answer sheet is not part of your four hours. The common suggestions to “completely fill the bubbles and erase completely” apply here. NCEES provides each examinee with a mechanical pencil with HB lead. Use of ballpoint pens and felt-tip markers is prohibited. If you finish the exam early and there are still more than 30 minutes remaining, you will be permitted to leave the room. If you finish less than 30 minutes before the end of the exam, you may be required to remain until the end. This is done to be considerate of the people who are still working.

Be prepared to stop working immediately when the proctors call “pencils down” or “time is up.” Continuing to work for even a few seconds will completely invalidate your exam. When you leave, you must return your examination booklet. You may not keep the examination booklet for later review. If there are any questions that you think were flawed, in error, or unsolvable, ask a proctor for a “reporting form” on which you can submit your comments. Follow your proctor’s advice in preparing this document.

 

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Posted by Michael R. Lindeburg, PE - April 29, 2021
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What to Bring to the NCEES PE Exam

An important part of preparing to take the NCEES PE exam is knowing what to put in your PE exam kit, and what you should leave at home. In this excerpt from the Civil Engineering Reference Manual, you will learn how to put together your exam kits and what to leave behind.

For Open-Book PE Exams

Most states do not have any limits on the numbers and types of books you can use. Personal notes in a three-ring binder and other semi-permanent covers can usually be used. Some states use a “shake test” to eliminate loose papers from binders. Make sure that nothing escapes from your binders when they are inverted and shaken. The references you bring into the exam room in the morning do not have to be the same as the references you use in the afternoon. However, you cannot share books with other examinees during the exam. A few states maintain a formal list of banned books. It is a good idea to check with your state board to learn what is and is not permitted in the examination room.

The exam requires the use of a scientific calculator. To protect the integrity of its exams, NCEES has banned communicating and text-editing calculators from the exam site. NCEES provides a list of calculator models acceptable for use during the exam. Contact your state board to determine if nomographs and specialty slide rules are permitted.

Starting Your PE Exam Catchall

Designate some location (a drawer, a corner, a cardboard box, or even a paper shopping bag left on the floor) as your “exam catchall.” Use your catchall during the months before the exam when you have revelations about things you should bring with you. For example, you might realize that the plastic ruler marked off in tenths of an inch that is normally kept in the kitchen junk drawer can help you with some soil pressure questions. Or, you might decide that a certain book is particularly valuable, that it would be nice to have dental floss after lunch, or that large rubber bands and clips are useful for holding books open. It is not actually necessary to put these treasured items in the catchall during your preparation. You can, of course, if it is convenient. But if these items will have other functions during the time before the exam, at least write yourself a note and put the note into the catchall. When you go to pack your exam kit a few days before the exam, you can transfer some items immediately, and the notes will be your reminders for the other items that are back in the kitchen drawer.

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

Preparing Your PE Exam Kits

Second in importance to your scholastic preparation is the preparation of your two exam kits.

The first kit consists of a bag, box (plastic milk crates hold up better than cardboard in the rain), or wheeled travel suitcase containing items to be brought with you into the exam room.

[ ] your exam authorization notice

[ ] current, signed government-issued photographic identification (e.g., driver’s license, not a student ID card)

[ ] your reference manual

[ ] a separate, bound copy of your reference manual’s index

[ ] other textbooks and reference books

[ ] regular dictionary

[ ] prep course notes in a three-ring binder

[ ] cardboard boxes or plastic milk crates to use as bookcases

[ ] primary calculator

[ ] spare calculator

[ ] instruction booklets for your calculators

[ ] extra calculator batteries

[ ] two straightedges (e.g., ruler, scale, triangle, protractor)

[ ] protractor

[ ] scissors

[ ] stapler

[ ] transparent tape

[ ] magnifying glass

[ ] small (jeweler’s) screwdriver for fixing your glasses or for removing batteries from your calculator

[ ] unobtrusive (quiet) snacks or candies, already unwrapped 

[ ] two small plastic bottles of water

[ ] travel pack of tissue (keep in your pocket)

[ ] handkerchief

[ ] headache remedy

[ ] personal medication

[ ] $5.00 in assorted coinage

[ ] spare contact lenses and multipurpose contact lens cleaning solution

[ ] backup reading glasses (no case)

[ ] eye drops

[ ] light, comfortable sweater

[ ] loose shoes or slippers

[ ] cushion for your chair

[ ] earplugs

[ ] wristwatch with alarm

[ ] several large trash bags (“raincoats” for your boxes of books)

[ ] roll of paper towels

[ ] wire coat hanger (to hang up your jacket or to get back into your car in an emergency)

[ ] extra set of car keys on a string around your neck

The second kit consists of the following items and should be left in a separate bag or box in your car in case it is needed.

[ ] copy of your exam authorization notice

[ ] light lunch

[ ] beverage in thermos or can

[ ] sunglasses

[ ] extra pair of prescription glasses

[ ] raincoat, boots, gloves, hat, and umbrella

[ ] street map of the exam area

[ ] parking permit

[ ] battery-powered desk lamp

[ ] your cell phone

[ ] length of rope

What You Will Not Need to Bring to the PE Exam

Generally, people bring too many things to the exam. One general rule is that you should not bring books that you have not looked at during your review. If you did not need a book while doing the practice problems in this book, you will not need it during the exam. There are some other things that you will not need. Except for codes and standards, you should not need many books in the examination room. The trouble is, you cannot know in advance which ones you will need. That is the reason why many examinees show up with boxes and boxes of books. The exam is very fastpaced. You will not have time to use books with which you are not thoroughly familiar. The exam does not require you to know obscure solution methods or to use difficult-to-find data. You will not need articles printed in an industry magazine; you will not need doctoral theses or industry proceedings; and you will not need to know about recent industry events. So, it really is unnecessary to bring a large quantity of books with you. This book and five to ten other references of your choice should be sufficient for most of the questions you answer.

The following items cannot be used during the exam and should be left at home: personal pencils and erasers (NCEES distributes mechanical pencils at the exam), fountain pens, radio, CD player, MP3 player, or other media player, battery charger, extension cords, scratch paper, notepads, drafting compass, and circular (“wheel”) slide rules. See the introduction to your reference manual for more information on what you won't need.
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Posted by Michael R. Lindeburg, PE - April 27, 2021
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PE Exam Pass Rates 2020/2021

ExamFirst-Time Takers (%)Repeat Takers (%)
Agricultural and Biological 69%100%
Architectural64%30%
Chemical (Jan 2021)
67%29%
Civil: Construction61%35%
Civil: Geotechnical55%24%
Civil: Structural64%41%
Civil: Transportation70%39%
Civil: Water Resources and Environmental71%46%
Control Systems67%31%
Electrical and Computer: Computer Eng.71%29%
Electronics, Controls, and Communications62%22%
Electrical and Computer: Power (Jan 2021)
71%N/A
Environmental (Jan 2021)
71%50%
Fire Protection (Jan 2021)
88%N/A
Industrial and Systems (Jan 2021)
63%N/A
Mechanical: HVAC and Refrigeration (Jan 2021)
75%58%
Mechanical: Machine Design and Materials (Jan 2021)
68%36%
Mechanical: Thermal and Fluids Systems (Jan 2021)
69%47%
Metallurgical and Materials69%27%
Mining and Mineral Processing65%14%
Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering68%61%
Nuclear (Jan 2021)
58%40%
Petroleum (Jan 2021)
63%37%
PE Structural - Lateral Forces Bridges 38%33%
PE Structural - Lateral Forces Buildings33%29%
PE Structural - Vertical Forces Bridges51%50%
PE Structural - Vertical Forces Buildings 45%32%

 

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

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Posted by PPI - April 25, 2021
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What You Need to Know about the PE Electrical CBT Exam

The PE Electrical and Computer exam is transitioning from a paper-and-pencil format to computer-based testing. The Power exam will no longer be offered as a paper-and-pencil version, and is transitioning to CBT in December 2020. If you’re planning on taking the CBT exam, there are a few things you should be aware of. Take a look at this list to learn more about the changes being made.

5 Changes to the PE Electrical and Computer Exam

1. Your exam date depends on which discipline you are taking.
The PE Electrical and Computer exam dates will change depending on which exam discipline you are taking. If you’re taking the PE Electrical and Computer: Power exam, you’ll be able to schedule your exam year-round beginning December 1st, 2020. If you’re taking the Computer Engineering or the Electronics, Controls, and Communications discipline of the PE Electrical exam, your exam date will fall on a single day beginning in October 2021. Once you are authorized to take the exam, you will need to simply log in to MyNCEES to schedule it.

2. Your exam will be given at a Pearson VUE test center.
While registering for your exam on MyNCEES, you’ll be able to choose the location of a Pearson VUE testing center where you will take it. The Pearson VUE testing centers have specific test center rules and regulations that you’ll need to follow, including guidance for what you can bring to the test center and what’s needed to check in. You will no longer be able to take your own reference materials into the exam with you. Instead, you will be given access to a searchable PDF of the NCEES Reference Handbook on the screen next to the exam.

3. A linear-on-the-fly (LOFT) algorithm will create the Power exam.
For the Power discipline of the PE Electrical and Computer exam, what’s called a “linear-on-the-fly” or “LOFT” algorithm will be used to create your exam. This means that all examinees will complete the same number of questions on the same major topics, but no two exams will be the same. A unique exam will be administered to each candidate. The LOFT algorithm is designed to give an equal number of questions at the same level of difficulty on the same subjects. If you are taking the Computer Engineering or Electronics, Controls, and Communications disciplines, your exam will remain in the same format as the pencil-and-paper exam, which is a fixed format where all examinees see the same questions.

4. Question formats will consist of multiple-choice and alternative item types.
Traditional multiple-choice formats and alternative item type (AIT) formats will be used across all exams, regardless of which discipline you take. All questions will be scored as either correct or incorrect. AIT question types will consist of “multiple correct,” “point and click,” “drag and drop,” and “fill in the blank.” See detailed information on AIT questions here.

5. You will receive results 7–10 days after your exam.
Once your exam results are ready, you’ll receive an email from NCEES inviting you to view your results in your MyNCEES account. Your test result will either be “Pass” or “Fail.” If you fail the exam, a diagnostic report will be provided to you showing your performance on each exam topic.

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Many examinees view having the opportunity to take the CBT version of the PE Electrical and Computer exam as a benefit because it offers more security and scheduling flexibility for the Power exam. If you’re planning on taking the last pencil-and-paper exam in October, being able to take your own reference materials into the exam might be of greater benefit to you. Regardless of what you choose, it always pays off to start preparing early. Ready to get a jump start on preparing? Take a look at PE Electrical and Computer exam prep materials here.
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Posted by PPI - October 7, 2020
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Author Spotlight: Michael R. Lindeburg, PE

Michael R. Lindeburg, PE, is one of the best-known authors of engineering textbooks and references. His books and courses have influenced millions of engineers around the world. Since 1975, he has authored over 40 engineering reference and exam preparation books. He has spent thousands of hours teaching engineering to students and practicing engineers. He holds bachelor of science and master of science degrees in industrial engineering from Stanford University.

Q. How was PPI started?

A. Actually, it all started in the late 1970s at a copy machine at GTE Lenkurt. l was waiting my turn at a copier and started chatting to John, a fellow engineer. John was copying a syllabus of sorts for an engineering review course for staff who wanted to get a professional engineering license. I asked what book they were going to use. When I was told what book they had chosen, I said, "That's a terrible book—it's totally outdated." John said, "If you're so smart, why don't you teach the class?" I thought that would be fun, so said I would! When studying for the licensing exams myself a few years earlier, I could not find any suitable exam review book, so I had put together notes for my own self-study. I dug up those old study notes and put together weekly lectures based on my recollection of the exam subjects. In addition, I prepared some handouts for the students.

I found that I had a knack for explaining subjects in a logical manner so that others could learn and retain the information. So, I left GTE Lenkurt and started my own home business—the Professional Engineering Registration Program (PERP). PERP morphed into the Professional Engineering Institute, a non-profit educational organization which offered engineering licensing classes on the San Francisco Peninsula. I wrote a chapter for each week's lecture, and my wife, Elizabeth typed it on a Sear's electric typewriter and got it printed. We assembled the chapters in a bright yellow binder so that, by the end of the course, students had a "big yellow book."

I improved and expanded the content for each course offering. Soon, we were getting requests for the "book" from people in other areas who couldn't travel to our courses. We decided to get a cost quote to print the material in its entirety. We discovered it was a lot cheaper to print a whole book than to have the local printer produce the chapters individually and put those in a binder. So, we kept the Professional Engineering Institute as the venue to offer classroom courses for all the engineering licensing exams and started Professional Publications, Inc. to produce and market the printed materials. Fortunately, the home that we had purchased as a young married couple had a large enclosed patio where we stored and shipped books around the country. It was great having our "business" in our home. About the same time that the books were published, we had become parents. The only thing more fun than teaching and writing was being a parent! Most people take coffee breaks; I took baby breaks!

I found that teaching the material in front of a live class very beneficial to improving the written materials. Students gave honest feedback on what was clear and what needed more explanation. Besides the lectures being beneficial to writing clearly, I really enjoyed teaching and finding ways to make engineering interesting and fun. However, the classes were held for three hours at night. When my four-year-old daughter, Jenny, asked me, "Daddy, why aren't you home anymore at night to play with us?" I realized that I had a greater love than teaching engineers; it was playing with our little girls, reading them books, and telling them stories of fairies in a far-off land. I finished that course, which was the last classroom course I ever taught. I found other instructors to continue teaching the courses based on the review manuals I had written. The instructors through the decades have brought their own personalities and insights, and have continued to improve what we started 40 years ago as PERP.

I often get the question at conventions, "What's your best book?" My answer has always been, "The two best books I ever wrote are our two girls."

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

Q. What are the most important elements of a PPI review manual and what makes them the best?

A. My review manuals are the best because I give the customer everything they need. This applies to what they need to not only pass their exam, but also to become excellent engineers. I write my books to hold all the knowledge an engineer needs to know to be competent in their profession. As they’re studying, sure they’re learning the information they need to pass the exam but, they’re also learning what they need to pass in their careers. The latter is even more important to me than the exam. But for the exam, I always make sure my review manuals have an extensive, thorough index. An extensive index is critical to be able to find the information quickly.

Q. Why do you offer a passing guarantee?

A. I offer a passing guarantee because I stand by my products 100%. There’s nothing more important to me than quality. I spend a lot of time writing my material to be thorough, clear, and accurate. I know the exam specifications, and I know what engineers need in order to pass. I’m confident that as long as an engineer truly puts in the time studying with my products, he or she will pass the exam. The passing guarantee is there to support this.

Q. Why is licensure important?

A. There are many good reasons why an engineer should be licensed—besides the obvious career development reason. The professional engineer (PE) license will of course set one apart from other engineers without their PE license, and the PE license will expand career growth opportunities. For those engineers who want to be consultants, or who want to be able to prepare, sign, seal, and submit engineering plans, the PE license is an absolute requirement. But the PE license is more than these benefits. The PE license marks someone as a leader in their field. It’s a prestigious standard recognized by industry professionals, employers, and the public that shows a commitment to knowledge and skill. It’s a demonstration that an engineer is a true professional, and one who is willing to work hard to be the best. It is a badge of honor, worn only by those worthy of it. If an engineer is serious about engineering, the PE license is the way to show it.

Q. What piece of advice would you offer a recent engineering grad?

A. Take the FE exam immediately or soon after graduation while your studies are still fresh in your mind. Then, get a job, internship, or anything that allows you to apply what you have learned in college. Don’t hold out for your ideal, most perfect job. Most likely, that ideal job you’re imagining doesn’t truly exist. Instead, be open to anything that will offer you the ability to apply what you’ve learned in college. College is not the “real world,” and in order to be a great engineer you have to get out into the real world and start applying what you’ve learned. There will be bumps along the way. You’ll learn the most from your mistakes. Embrace them, then resolve not to make the same mistake twice. In your career, you’ll have good bosses, and you’ll have bad bosses. You can learn a lot from both if you resolve to make the most out of every situation. Don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know when that new thing (like agreeing to teach an engineering class!) will define your entire career path. Smile. Get a good night's rest as often as you can. Develop relationships, even when you’re busy building your career. There is nothing more important in life than family and good friends. Above all else, stay hopeful.

Q. What is your mantra?

A. Always, always, always be honest, legal, and ethical. When making decisions, I always ask myself: Is it honest? Is it legal? Is it ethical? If an idea passes those questions, most likely it will be a good decision. And, always keep a level head. When the world is going every which way, and your next step isn’t clear, stop, take a break, and breathe. In my lifetime as a professional engineer, I haven’t found much that can’t be fixed by sitting down with someone you love, having a piece of pie, and drinking a cup of tea.
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Posted by Michael R. Lindeburg, PE - October 7, 2020
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Self Improvement Tips for Engineers During COVID-19

So, you’ve binge-watched Tiger King on Netflix, LegoMasters on Hulu, Onward on Disney+ and Contagion on AppleTV... now it’s time for something more productive.

This is a perfect time to improve yourself and your circumstances. Depending on your circumstance, you might use this time to improve in a few different ways.

Self Improvement for Engineering Students

1. Learn a software skill with free resources online.
There are multiple platforms online offering free classes or trial memberships. Use this time and these resources to your advantage to learn skills like AutoCad, Revit, or another software skill that is important in your career.

2. Clean up your resume and cover letter.
If your resume and cover letter are not up-to-date, then give them a refresh. Look for ways to reword your experiences so that they have a greater impact. There are things that you can do to differentiate yourself from competing job candidates. Check out some of these free resources for improving your resume and cover letter:

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

3. Prepare for your licensure exam.
Get all the materials you need, then start reading, skimming, and tabbing them. This time will help you spread out your studies enough to let the information stick in your mind. If you want help understanding what study materials and practice problem materials to use, then check out The Hipster Engineer for guidance on the FE, PE, and SE exams.

4. Apply for scholarships.
If you need financial support for school, then you can use this time to fill out forms, write essays, and collect anything else that is needed to apply for scholarships. There are scholarships available through ASCE and other professional organizations, along with alumni organizations from your school. See how much support you can get!

Self Improvement for Working Professionals

Sharpen your axe with items 1, 2, and 3 in the “student” section.

  • Learn a software skill with free resources online.
  • Clean up your resume and cover letter.
  • Prepare for your licensure exam.

Out of work?

Along with the tips listed above, put yourself out there, and virtually connect with companies that interest you. If you are not doing this, then I can guarantee that somebody else is. Family and mentors can be good resources to reach out to for a pep talk.

If you need more advice, feel free to reach out to me. I am happy to help get you back out there and score your dream job. You can do this!

Keep on keepin’ on. Life’s a garden… dig it!

—Josh Ogle, PE, SE

The Hipster Engineer

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Posted by Josh Ogle, PE, SE - October 7, 2020
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Which PE Civil Depth Section Should I Take?

Can't decide which PE Civil depth section to take? Choosing a depth section is a big decision, particularly if you're unsure of the best route to take. It could mean the difference between passing and failing depending on how well you know the material. You'll need to consider your knowledge of the tested material and what information could be most useful to you in your career.

Luckily, Isaac Oakeson, PE, of Civil Engineering Academy put together this video explaining how to best choose a depth section when you're not sure what direction is best for you. Take a look at the video below for his advice.

 

Preparing for the PE Civil exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz.

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Posted by PPI - October 7, 2020
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What You Need to Know about the PE Mechanical CBT Exam

In April 2020, the NCEES PE Mechanical exam transitioned from paper-and-pencil format to computer-based testing (CBT).  If you are planning to take the PE Mechanical exam in 2020 or later, you’ll want to make sure you are prepared for the changes. Read on for a list of everything you need to know about the new PE Mechanical CBT exam.

1. You’ll be able to choose your exam date.

If you take the CBT version, you will have more flexibility when it comes to the date of your exam. No longer will you be restricted to taking it on specific dates in the spring or fall. After you’re authorized to take the exam, all you need to do is log in to MyNCEES to schedule it. You can take the exam one time per testing window (a specific 3-month period), and no more than three times in a 12-month period.

2. Your exam will be given at a Pearson VUE test center.

When you register for your exam on MyNCEES, you’ll be able to choose a Pearson VUE testing center where you’ll take the exam. Make sure you review the test center rules and regulations. The only items you’ll be allowed to take into the exam room are the ID used during the admission process, the key to your test center locker, an NCEES-approved calculator, a booklet and marker supplied by Pearson VUE, eyeglasses (no case), a light sweater or jacket, and items on the Pearson VUE Comfort Aid List. You’ll also need to bring your appointment confirmation letter, but you won’t need it in the exam room. You will no longer be able to take in your own books or notes to use during the exam, as was allowed in the pencil-and-paper version. Instead, you will have access to the appropriate NCEES reference handbook as a searchable PDF on the screen alongside the exam.

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

3. A linear-on-the-fly (LOFT) algorithm will be used to create your exam.

No two exams will be the same, but all examinees will complete the same number of questions on the same major topics. Each examinee will have a completely unique exam, assembled by an algorithm designed to present an equal number of questions on the same topics at the same level of difficulty.

4. Question formats will consist of multiple-choice and alternative item types (AITs).

Most questions on the exam will be in multiple-choice format. The ones that aren’t multiple-choice will be presented as an alternative item type (AIT). Examples of AITs are “multiple correct,” “point and click,” “drag and drop,” and “fill in the blank.” You can find detailed information on each AIT on the NCEES website here. No partial credit will be given for any question, as all questions will be scored as either “correct” or “incorrect.”

5. Results will be available 7–10 days after completing your exam.

When your results are ready, you will receive an email notification. You will be able to log on to MyNCEES to see your results. All results will be either “Pass” or “Fail.” If you fail, NCEES will provide you with a diagnostic report showing your performance for each of the major topics covered, so you can easily identify the areas where you need more practice.

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Being able to take the CBT version of the PE Mechanical exam is a big plus in the eyes of many examinees. If you choose to take the CBT exam, you will be able to schedule your own exam date and receive your results much faster. There are many upsides to taking the pencil-and-paper exam, as well, including the opportunity to utilize your own books and notes in the exam room. Regardless of which option you choose, make sure to carefully review all the information provided by NCEES about your exam. Ready to start preparing? Learn more about PE Mechanical review materials here.
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Posted by PPI - October 7, 2020
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How to Study for the PE Exam as a Busy Professional and/or Parent

Balancing studying for the PE exam while working a full-time job is a daunting task. Add on family responsibilities, and you may begin to doubt if your goal is viable. You already know the benefits of earning your PE license, but how can you ensure you are prepared for the PE exam? PPI has curated a list of five tips for you to effectively balance your commitments while preparing to pass the PE exam.

1. Begin studying right away.

As a working professional who may have a family, you are not going to be able to study full-time. To effectively prepare for the PE exam, you should start studying right away. You may not be ready to start the exam preparation process but becoming familiar with the exam, acquiring the review materials needed, and signing up for a prep course will motivate you to optimize your studying.

2. Gather family and work support for your long-term goals,

The stress of studying for the PE exam when you have family responsibilities can be alleviated with commitment from your family and support from your employer. Emphasize to your family the importance of earning your PE license, including its importance in commanding respect from peers and contributing to a higher paycheck at work, as well as the fact that it has been a long-term goal of yours. Communicate to your family the importance of your study schedule, time dedication, and goals. Gaining the support of your family can hold you accountable for achieving your goals, as they can encourage you during periods of burnout or high stress.

Your employer can be another source of support and guidance as you start your journey towards licensure. Ask your employer if you can set time aside at work to study for the PE exam, or go into work early or stay late to study in a productive environment.  Coordinate with your employer for time off of work right before the exam in order to relax and enter into the right frame of mind for passing the PE.

3. Develop a plan.

After gathering family and employer support, the next step towards earning your PE is developing a study plan. Take out a calendar, mark the date of the PE exam, and plan out your time leading up to that date. Be sure to include family trips, birthdays, and any other events that may impact your study schedule. Then try to find blocks of time where you can study each week for at least 2 hours. Write out the topics you will study for each session, and be sure to include time for practice exams as well. If you are unsure how to start this process, PPI has many resources, such as study schedules, online instructor-led prep courses, as well as e-Learning review materials that will help you formulate a plan.

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

4. Commit to your study plan.

Consistently dedicating time to your study plan will invariably becoming overwhelming. However, there are ways that you can manage your time throughout the day to achieve your ultimate goal. One way to begin is by deleting distracting apps or social media accounts. By eliminating the items in your life that aren’t conducive to achieving your goal, you will be more likely to stay on track. If deleting these apps is a little too extreme for you, you can install programs onto your phone that limit your time on distracting apps. Additionally, you can leave any distracting items outside of your designated study room.

Enrolling in a test prep course is an effective way to commit to your study plan. PPI’s prep courses keep your studies on track and ensure your time is focused on the topics needed to pass the exam.

5. Take care of yourself,

Passing the PE exam requires more than just engineering knowledgeyou will need to be resilient and possess strong communication skills and the ability to think outside the box. Studying for the PE exam may lead to burnout, and the best way to prevent that is by setting time aside for breaks. Take the time to socialize with family and friends to alleviate the stress. Keep in mind that building up resilience to pass the PE exam demands more than just studying. Ensure you are taking care of your body by eating healthfully, exercising regularly, and sleeping for 8 hours each night. Most importantly, relax. If you have intentionally followed the tips in this article, you will be in a great position on exam day.
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Posted by PPI - October 7, 2020
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Embracing Online Learning for the PE Exam

Online learning is increasingly becoming the go-to method for students preparing for any sort of exam—from the ACT or SAT to the LSAT, as well as for the FE and PE. Students rely on the convenience, structure, and cost savings by enrolling in online courses to guide their prep. There are numerous advantages to preparing for important exams via eLearning, eTextbooks, and online instructor-led prep courses.

Many students have taken at least one college course via an online platform and are familiar with the benefits of learning from home. Taking a PPI Prep Course online allows easy access to materials and content from the comfort of their own home. By setting up a designated study space or area, students can achieve the benefits of focus and productivity associated with traditional classroom learning while saving time and money from not actually transporting to a classroom. Furthermore, taking a prep course from PPI allows students to watch a recorded lecture in case a session is missed, or they would like to rewatch it.

Online learning offers students with varied learning styles the opportunity to participate in class compared to a traditional classroom setting. PPI allows students to interact with each other and the instructor to facilitate class discussions and learning. Compared to face-to-face courses, online prep courses have proven to increase lecture retention rate. There are multiple ways for students to communicate with their instructor between forums, office hours, and email in order to receive feedback on work or ask questions.

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

PPI’s Live Online prep courses keep students’ studies on track. Our instructors ensure students focus their time on the topics needed to pass their exam. Students who have been out of school for awhile find our Live Online prep courses to provide the structure needed for their study routine to prevent cramming. Busy working professionals find that the courses help synthesize the vast amount of information covered on the exams while seamlessing fitting the exam prep into their schedule. PPI’s Learning Hub allows students to stay organized with a streamlined study process.

From the content to the learning experience to the materials, you have the best chance of passing when you choose PPI. We believe in our courses so much that we offer a passing guarantee. Click here to enroll in one of PPI’s prep courses.
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Posted by PPI - October 7, 2020
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How to Prepare for the PE Exam After a Gap Period

Many engineering graduates have advanced in their careers, started families, and are busy balancing work and home life. These graduates may feel apprehensive towards studying for the PE exam, especially after the duration of time that has elapsed after taking the FE exam. Some may feel like they simply do not have the time or resources to refresh their skills to pass the PE exam.

If that sounds like you, then you are in the same boat that multiple PEs were in before embarking on the journey towards their PE license. Through perseverance, time management, and effective studying, you can earn your PE License as well.

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

Passing the PE exam requires adeptness with an NCEES-approved calculator. The Casio’s FX-115 ES Plus Advanced Scientific Calculator is on the list of approved calculators for the NCEES engineering and surveying exams. We recommend using this calculator to aid you during your exam.

If you are unsure how to effectively use the Advanced Scientific Calculator, PPI offers affordable Casio Calculator OnDemand Lessons. These 12 easy-to-follow video lessons provide you with calculator training, tips, and shortcuts necessary for exam day success. After learning about the tools on this calculator, you will uncover the ways the calculator can help you efficiently answer tough questions. Having a better understanding of your calculator’s features will give you added confidence when taking your exam. Click here to start your calculator lessons.
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Posted by PPI - October 7, 2020
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NCEES Exam Dates for the PE and SE Exams

Paper and pencil PE and SE exams are only offered twice a year.  Help plan your long-term study and testing strategy by knowing when these exams are offered.

CBT Exams

The NCEES started the process of converting their exams to computer-based testing in 2011. The benefits of a CBT exam include enhanced security and the ability to proctor the test year-round, rather than only twice a year.

Most PE exams have not gone CBT yet, but are in the process of this transition. Here is a conversion schedule of when specific PE exams will transition to CBT.

PE Exam Dates

Below you can find a current schedule for the pencil and paper NCEES PE exams through 2026.

 

YearExam Dates
2021April 23 & October 21 & 22
2022April 22 & October 21
2023April 14 & October 27
2024April 12 & October 25
2025April 11 & October 24
2026April 10 & October 23

 

We currently offer review materials for the following PE exams:

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

SE Exam Dates

Below you can find a current schedule for the SE Vertical Forces exam and SE Lateral Forces exam through 2026.

 

YearSE Vertical ExamSE Lateral Exam
2021April 23 & October 21April 24 & October 22
2022April 21 & October 20April 22 & October 21
2023April 13 & October 26April 14 & October 27
2024April 12 & October 25April 13 & October 26
2025April 11 & October 24April 12 & October 25
2026April 10 & October 23April 11 & October 24

 

We offer review materials for the both the SE Buildings and Bridges exam.

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Posted by PPI - October 7, 2020
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About the NCEES PE Chemical CBT Exam

Looking for more information about the changes to the PE Chemical exam after it went CBT? On January 1, 2018, the NCEES PE Chemical exam moved to a CBT (Computer-Based Testing) format administered year-round at NCEES-approved Pearson VUE test centers. The exam includes multiple-choice questions as well as Alternative Item Types (AITs). Take a look below for more information on the different question types for the PE Chemical exam.

Alternative Item Types (AITs)

AITs include:

  • Multiple correct—allows examinees to select multiple correct answers
  • Point and click—requires examinees to click on part of a graphic
  • Drag and drop—requires examinees to click on and drag items to match, sort, rank, or label
  • Fill in the blank—provides a space for examinees to enter a response
Learn More About the New NCEES Alternative Item Types (AITs)

PE Chemical CBT Exam Specifications

The PE Chemical exam contains 80 questions. The exam appointment time is 9 hours and includes:

  • Nondisclosure agreement (2 minutes)
  • Tutorial (8 minutes)
  • Exam (8 hours)
  • Scheduled break (50 minutes)

PE Chemical CBT Exam Scoring

PE Chemical exam results are typically available 7–10 days after you take the exam. Exam results are reported pass/fail. If you did not pass the exam, you will receive a diagnostic report indicating subject areas of relative strength and weakness. The diagnostic report can assist you if you decide to retake the exam.

Register for the PE Chemical exam by logging in to your MyNCEES account and following the onscreen instructions.

What is the best way to prepare for the exam?

PPI offers a comprehensive selection of products and solutions to help you prepare for the exam. From complete review packages for self-study to instructor-led prep courses with a guarantee to pass, there are options for every type of schedule and study habit.

Browse PPI’s selection of Chemical PE exam materials by clicking here. Take a look at the current course offerings and schedules for the exam by clicking here.

What should I do if my question isn't answered here?

You can find more general exam questions answered in our General PE FAQ section by clicking here.

For unresolved questions about exam licensing and accreditation processes, visit NCEES.org.

For any other questions about how PPI can help you pass the Chemical PE exam, contact our customer service team by using the form below, or by calling 650.593.9119, ext. 2. We are available to provide you with personalized product assistance Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, PT.

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Posted by PPI - October 6, 2020
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Engineering Licensure Outside of the United States

Engineering licensure outside of the United States varies by location. Here is an overview of the PE licensure and reciprocity guidelines for Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, and more.

PE Exam Licensure in Canada

In Canada, the title "P.Eng." designates the status of a professional engineer. This is analogous to the title "PE" in the United States. Approximately 160,000 professional engineers are registered in Canada.

There are ten provinces and two territories in Canada, each with its own licensing body, commonly called "the engineering association." Engineering in Canada is self-regulated, which means the Canadian government has delegated the responsibility for administering engineering legislation to the profession.

All Canadian undergraduate engineering (B.Eng., B.E.Sc., and B.A.Sc.) programs are accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB), a standing committee of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE). The CEAB uses volunteer professional engineers from across Canada, with members from both industry and academia. CEAB performs functions in Canada that are parallel to those performed by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) in the United States.

Each association has an Academic Review Committee (ARC) or Board of Examiners that reviews the academic qualifications of licensure applicants. Applicants from CEAB-accredited programs automatically meet the academic licensure requirements. All other applicants are reviewed by the Board of Examiners (or ARC) and are required to take one or more technical examinations covering all traditional subjects in engineering curricula. Therefore, it is possible for engineers who were educated outside Canada, scientists, and technologists to become Professional Engineers in Canada. Almost 8% of all Canadian professional engineers have obtained their licenses by taking technical examinations.

In part because of CEAB's close monitoring, candidates for the P.Eng. title who are graduates of Canadian B.Eng. programs are not tested in engineering principles after graduation. However, to receive the P.Eng. title, the provincial engineering associations have additional requirements beyond the B.Eng. degree. These typically involve additional work experience past graduation, letters of reference, and an examination (known as the Professional Practice Examination, PPE) covering ethics, intellectual property protection, and provincial law. This "law and ethics exam" is based on a national syllabus established by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, but it is administered by each province. For example, applicants in Quebec must be familiar with aspects of Napoleonic law, while applicants in English-speaking provinces must be familiar with elements of English common case law. Applicants must be fluent in the language of business used in their province or territory.

Recently, several of the associations have introduced structured engineer-in-training or mentoring programs. These programs require new graduates to keep log books and, in some associations, to be interviewed by the licensing body during their four-year internship.

Six of the twelve associations have implemented mandatory continuing competence or practice review requirements. The remaining associations either have established voluntary systems or are in the process of developing other competence evaluation systems.

In 1999, the Canadian Professional Engineers achieved internal mobility with the signing of an Inter-Association Mobility Agreement. Essentially, this agreement allows members in good standing expedited admission into the other associations.

Reciprocity with the United States

In many states, the Canadian licensing process does not satisfy the state requirements for examination. Because of this, Canadian engineers will find themselves pursuing the same examination process as US citizens: taking the FE and PE exams in the states where they desire to perform consulting services. An example of an exception to this rule is the state of Nevada, where Canadian P.Eng licensees can receive PE licensure without having to pass the FE and PE exams, as long as they are listed in the Engineers Canada Mobility Register. In addition, approximately half of the US states have provisions for issuing "temporary engineering licenses" to non-US engineers. The best way to find out the requirements of the state you wish to be licensed in is to contact the state board.

A six-nation mutual recognition agreement (the "Washington Accord") signed in 1989 recognized the essential equivalence of the accreditation processes for engineering education in these countries. This makes it easier for Canadian engineers to prove that their degrees are "ABET equivalent."

The effect of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has not been significant.

Description of the Law and Ethics Exam

The law and ethics exam typically contains short questions on legal definitions and key precedent-setting cases, professionalism and professional practice, regulation of the profession, and the Engineers Act. The exams are usually two to three hours in length. Within a province or territory, all engineers take the same law and ethics exam, regardless of discipline.

Passing rates are usually high—70% and above. Language is often a cause of failure.

Many provinces use a machine-graded, multiple-choice exam—the so-called "National Professional Practice Examination" developed by the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA). This examination is closed book and two hours in duration. There are 100 multiple-choice questions. All questions are common to the professions of engineering, geology, geophysics, and geoscience. The examination is graded as pass/fail. A detailed report indicating areas of weakness is available to candidates who fail. There is no penalty for wrong answers (i.e., for guessing). The minimum passing score is 65%, although psychometric adjustments may be made by APEGGA to ensure that, over time and among groups of candidates, pass/fail decisions are made consistently. The grade is final, and there are no appeals.

In Ontario, exams also include written essay questions concerning fictitious legal cases. The fictitious legal cases are based on actual case law. Additional questions cover ethical dilemmas (i.e., "what would you do" questions). These exams are three hours in length and require essay responses.

Review Materials for the Canadian Law and Ethics Exam

Law for Professional Engineers, D.L. Marston, McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. (1996)

Canadian Professional Engineering Practice and Ethics, Second Edition, G.C. Andrews and J.D. Kemper. Saunders College Canada. (1999) ISBN 0-7747-3501-5

Reference guides covering intellectual property protection ("A Guide to Patents," "A Guide to Trademarks," "A Guide to Industrial Designs," and "A Guide to Copyrights") can be obtained from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).

The provincial engineering professions act, manual of professional practice, and code of ethics published by the association.

Relevant safety regulations, such as an Occupational Health and Safety Act.

More Information on Canadian PE Licensure

Provincial and territorial associations are accessible from the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers' (CCPE) website, www.engineerscanada.ca

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA)
Head Office, 1500 Scotia One, 10060 Jasper Ave.
Edmonton AB T5J 4A2
Phone: 780.426.3990, 800.661.7020
Fax: 780.426.1877
www.apega.ca/

Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE)
180 Elgin Street, Suite 1100
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2K3
Phone: 613.232.2474
Fax: 613.230.5759
www.engineerscanada.ca

Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB)
Contact through Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE)
180 Elgin Street, Suite 1100
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2K3
Phone: 613.232.2474
Fax: 613.230.5759
www.engineerscanada.ca

Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)
Industry Canada, Place du Portage I
50 Victoria Street, 2nd Floor
Hull, Quebec, K1A 0C9
http://cipo.gc.ca

Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO)
25 Sheppard Ave., West, Suite 1000
Toronto, Ontario, M2N 6S9
Phone: 416.224.1100, 800.339-3716 (within Ontario)
Fax: 416.224.8168
www.peo.on.ca

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Deborah Wolfe, P.Eng., Director, Educational Affairs, Canadian Council of Professional Engineers; John Stephenson, P.Eng., PE, Toronto, ON; and Dr. Hugh Jack, P.Eng., Assistant Professor, Padnos School of Engineering, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI.

PE Exam Licensure in Mexico

Mexico awards the federal professional engineering license after an exit exam or thesis in addition to the successful completion of a four-year engineering program accredited by the Federal Secretary of Education. The exit exam is written and evaluated by the professors at the accredited institution. The Mexican engineer is not required to be registered to practice before becoming employed as an engineer. However, there is a social and professional distinction between a graduado (one who has passed all subjects) and a titulado en ingenieria (one who holds the title of "Ingeniero"). Successful engineers are allowed to use the prefix "Ing" prior to their names.

At least one educational institution, Centro de Ensenanza Technica y Superior (CETYS), accepts the NCEES FE exam in lieu of the general-knowledge exit exam.

The Mexican accreditation system requires that students perform community service. An educational institute may also define additional requirements for graduation. These additional requirements might include service within the educational institution, foreign language proficiency, and professional practice in local industry.

As a result of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico has created an engineering curriculum accreditation board, Consejo de Acreditacion de la Ensenanza de la Ingenieria (CACEI), which performs functions similar to ABET in the United States and CEAB in Canada.

Texas is the only state the offers the Mexican Ingeniero a reciprocal PE license without examination. There is no reciprocity between Mexico and other states.

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Daniel R. Robles Alvarez, PE, Boeing Company, Seattle, WA, formerly Facultad de Ingenieria, Centro de Ensenanza Technica y Superior, Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico.

Engineering Licensure in the United Kingdom (UK)

In the United Kingdom, the title most analogous to "Professional Engineer" is "Chartered Engineer." This title is not granted through an examination process, but the procedure is rigorous, nonetheless. Upon graduation, an engineer must work for three to four years in a supervised and structured training period.

After this on-the-job training, the engineer submits two written papers for comment and grading by two senior members of the institution most appropriate to their discipline. The applicant is interviewed for several hours and then makes a 15-minute technical presentation based on one of his papers. Thereafter, the engineer answers technical and professional questions from the examiners.

In the afternoon, the engineer writes two 1500-word reports in three hours on two questions—one technical and one professional—in subjects set by the examiners which the engineer will not have seen before. Passing all of the elements is required before acceptance as a member of their institution.

Engineering Licensure in Europe

Information on the EUR ING professional designation can be found on the European Federation of National Engineering Associations (FEANI) website. Criteria for the EUR ING designation is described here. Application is open only to individuals who are members of an engineering association represented in FEANI through a National Member (a list of which appears on this site).

PE Licensure in the Philippine Islands

Other than the United States, the Philippines are the only country to license Professional Engineers by examination. Various exams (the "Engineering Boards," "Board Exams," or just "Boards") are administered by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) in Manila. These exams may be taken by any graduate of a five-year engineering program. The only requirements are a diploma and transcript of records issued by the university.

The engineering disciplines have different examination and experience requirements for licensing. For example, civil engineering and geodetic graduates take one exam; mechanical engineers take two exams; and electrical engineers take three exams. Most exam problems are multiple choice and machine-graded.

The civil engineering exam is administered over two days. Mathematics and surveying are tested on the first day. On the second day, the morning session covers hydraulics, water supply, hydrology, and wastewater. The afternoon session covers design and construction in concrete, steel, timber, and masonry, as well as seismic design.

Electrical engineers who pass the first exam are designated as "associate electrical engineers." Associate EEs are limited in authority as to what they may sign off on. After a specific number of years, the Assistant Electrical Engineer exam may be taken. Similarly, after additional experience, the Professional Electrical Engineer exam may be taken.

The two mechanical engineering exams are similarly separated by a certain number of years of experience.

PE License Reciprocity with the United States

The Philippines' professional engineering license is not recognized in the United States. At one time, California permitted Filipino PEs to skip the FE exam. However, this is no longer the case.

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Edgar S. Surla, Board Certified Civil Engineer (Philippines), Board Certified Jr. Geodetic Engineer (Philippines), EIT (US), Project Detailer, Dick Pacific Construction, Guam.

Australia | Canada | Ireland | New Zealand | United Kingdom | South Africa

A six-nation mutual recognition agreement signed in 1989 recognized the essential equivalence of the accreditation processes for engineering education in these countries. This makes it easier for foreign engineers to prove that their degrees are ABET-equivalent.
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Posted by PPI - October 6, 2020
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NCEES PE Exam Advice From Past Examinees

Ever wonder what your peers have to say about their experience? Read on for anonymous comments contributed by engineers who have recently taken the 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 “PE Exam Advice.” In the body of your email, please note your exam discipline and exam date.

Common PE Exam Surprises and Misconceptions

"The guidelines that NCEES provides for what percentage of each subject will appear on the exam are ONLY guidelines! In fact, they’re probably averages (since the tests vary from one administration to another). The exam I took definitely was NOT broken into the percentages that NCEES stated. If I’d known this going in I would have studied more across the board, rather than concentrating on just a few high-percentage topics."

"The questions on the exam are in no special order. Every subject is scattered throughout the exam."

"Some of the practice problems I had worked before the exam had a problem statement followed by 10 or so related questions. That is not what the exam was like. I was surprised to find that the exam questions were nearly all individual."

"There were no units given on the answer choices for each problem. You need to be on your toes to make sure you don’t pick an answer that reflects the WRONG units."

"I was surprised how many questions asked for the answer that was most nearly correct. This can be quite tricky. Make sure you understand what’s being asked for."

"I passed but I felt underprepared for the afternoon portion."

"I think the biggest issue with test is being able to time yourself and test taking skills. I am a Chemical Engineer and have been out of school for 13 years. My biggest issue is working through the material strategically and not wasting time on materials irrelevant to the test."

"First, get familiar with the exam format. Being a normal person who knows how questions are going to be asked is more important than being a genius who doesn’t. Know what subjects are going to be covered and how."

"Take the exam seriously. You can pass it the first time if you study hard and work many problems. Don’t waste your time taking it if you are not prepared to really work."

"Preparing for the PE exam is like trying to lose weight. It’s no use looking for easy gimmicks to help you pass, because there aren’t any. Just get the right books, make yourself a schedule, and start studying!"

"Having taken the exam three times now, I can say that the exams do differ significantly in what subjects are covered and to what degree. Don’t expect the exam you take to be just like the one your co-worker took six months ago. The general topics areas stay the same, but everything else is up for grabs. Study accordingly. (I just passed!)"

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

"Don’t listen to people who have taken the exam once and say “They always ask...” The test changes a great deal from sitting to sitting. Review everything you can."

"Start your review by going over theory. Then read through example problems in your reference manual and textbooks. Then actually work practice problems. Two or three weeks before the exam, work a practice exam or two."

"Start by working practice problems, and then refer to your reference manual to find out how to solve these problems. Don’t just read through the book and then work the problems. You will spend a lot more time and not get much more out of your studying."

"There is grave danger in studying what you know well already, particularly for folks like me who have been out of school for two decades. Resist the temptation to focus on just one or two areas, since this will restrict your ability to pluck low-hanging fruit in other areas."

"No matter what anyone tells you, you can’t learn it all. Pick your areas of expertise and focus on them hard. Study your strengths; know them cold."

"Find your strengths and hit those hard. You don’t have to study everything, but what you do study, know well. Do problems, problems, problems, and for each one, figure out WHY it is solved that way."

"Practice determining solutions methods. Crunching all the numbers and working the problems is great, but most important is to practice determining the METHODS to solve the problems. What are the steps you will take?"

"Work—don’t just read through—lots of practice problems. If you simply scan through problems, they may seem easy—but when you actually try to solve them on your own, they’re much more difficult."

"Be prepared for problems on the exam that you have no idea about. Try not to let tough problems on esoteric concepts unnerve you. The exam seems to be testing you on obscure concepts to see how quickly you can look them up in a reference book. Being able to think fast, on your feet, is essential."

"Take a prep course if you can. If you can’t, make and stick to a study plan."

"Sign up for email updates. That was the only way I found out about the new exam format!"

"Use the Exam Forum! This is an excellent source of exam information. Being able to ask questions and chat with others preparing for the test helped me immensely."

"The Exam Forum is a great place to get help on a study problem you may be stuck on. Someone out there can usually explain it and help you out."

"The Forum is essential to anyone’s review. Ignore it at your peril."

Preparing Your Materials for the PE Exam

"There are a surprising number of “definition” or “theory” problems on these multiple-choice exams. You just need to know the subject, or be able to look it up quickly. Be prepared to pick up points on these kinds of questions by bringing a manual with a good index, and/or a good engineering dictionary."

"Check with your state board to find out whether you can bring loose papers or three-ring binders into the exam room. This apparently varies a lot among states. Having your own three-ring binder of material is very helpful."

"Know where all your information is during the exam. Train yourself to be efficient using your references. That’s half the battle—just being able to get quickly to the info you need to work the problem, not fumbling around wasting time."

"Don’t bother to buy any book that doesn’t have a decent index. Lindeburg’s books have great indexes. Don’t underestimate how much a good index will help you. You’ll save time studying and during the exam."

"I photocopied the index to my reference manual and kept it separate. During the the exam, I had both the index and the main text open in front of me. Definition problems call for a lot of use of the index. It’s great to have it available at all times."

"If you are taking one of the depth exams that requires use of codes (like the civil and structural exams), get the code books ahead of time, and be sure to get the correct editions. This really matters, and some of the older codes that the exam references can be tricky to find."

"Tab your reference manual (with permanent tabs, not sticky removable tabs, which often aren’t allowed) so you can find things fast. Speed is everything."

"Tab, tab, tab your reference manual. Color code your tabs. Time is your enemy in these multiple-choice exams."

"Many states (mine among them) don’t let you take solutions manuals of any type into the exam. You can bring the Reference Manual and anything else of that nature, but not the Practice Problems book."

"Bring a straight edge to help with reading graphs."

"Bring a wheeled suitcase with your books in it. My arms almost fell off trying to carry mine."

"Bring a back-up calculator and extra batteries. I couldn’t believe it when the display on my calculator started losing characters during the exam."

"Don’t buy an expensive calculator if you do not have time to learn how to use it."

Preparing for the PE Exam Site

"Have all the logistics of exam day well planned. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you’ve already seen the exam site, know where you’re going to park, how you’re going to carry your reference books, etc."

"If you live fairly far from the exam site, make a motel reservation and arrive the night before. Being rested that morning, rather than having to worry about traffic and being on time, helps tremendously. Money well spent!"

"Go to the exam site the day before the exam and (if you can get inside the building) go to the actual location of the test. I did this the day before the exam and found they were changing the room location to a different floor than my exam entry ticket indicated."

"Be prepared for the worst possible exam site. Who picks these places—Satan? Bring earplugs, a seat cushion, and all your patience for tolerating the confused proctors."

"Wear layers of clothing for the exam--our room was at first way too hot and then way too cold! You need to be able to take clothes off or add them easily."

"Bring warm socks--the rooms can be cold."

"My exam site (in CA) ran out of the supplied mechanical pencils! Be sure to bring your own, in case this happens to you."

"Bring ear plugs. The exam room can be very noisy. I sat next to a guy who grunted every 30 seconds, and it drove me crazy. I will never go into the exam room without earplugs again!"

"Bring your own lunch. You never know what the food is going to be like on site. This is the only way you can be sure you’ll have something decent to eat, in a timely manner. Carry a thermos with your favorite beverage (well, maybe not beer)."

"A couple of Power Bars are a real pick-me-up (if your proctors allow you to eat during the exam)."

"Bring a pillow or cushion to sit on. Those seats get hard."

Getting Your Head in the Game

"Don’t study the day before the exam, and get a good night’s sleep."

"For the record: ginkgo biloba does NOT help with remembering basic structural concepts."

"Having the right mental state of mind on the day of the exam is probably half the battle. The common advice is not to study the day before the exam, but I would even suggest taking two or even three days off before the exam date."

"Whatever you do to relax, do it the day before the exam. A clear mind is very important."

"Going to a funny movie the day or evening before the exam is a great way to relax. The sillier, the better."

"This sounds obvious, but don’t forget to go to the bathroom right before the exam. You don’t want to waste time getting the proctor’s attention and taking a bathroom break when you could be answering questions. And waiting can get mighty uncomfortable."

"For breakfast the day of the exam, eat protein and go light on carbohydrates. You can’t afford an energy drop-off three hours into the exam."

What to Do (and Not to Do) During the PE Exam

"Read each problem all the way through to the end. Then start solving. Don’t just dive in. You may be given information at the end that will change what you THINK the problem is about."

"Every time you finish with a problem, re-read it to make sure that you actually answered the question that was asked."

"When you receive the answer booklet, do not just start answering questions. First, read each question and assign a number at the top of each indicating the difficulty of the problem: 1 for the easy ones, 2 for the medium ones, and 3 for the hard ones. When you’re done, go back and answer all the 1s, then the 2s, and then finally, if you have time, the 3s. (Note: Do not use a letter labeling system A, B, C—for obvious reasons!)"

"I limited each question to six minutes the first time around. For those I didn’t finish, I wrote down the page numbers in my reference book, and also marked my best-guess answer in the question book before I went on. When I went back at the end to finish the questions, this saved me from having to use the index, and it ensured that my best guess was handy even if I only had a minute to finish."

"If anyone tries to tell you that with multiple-choice questions you can always throw out at least two “obviously wrong” answers, don’t believe them! On this exam, for most questions, ALL choices had reasonable numbers, and the “wrong” answers often were the result of incorrect unit conversions. If your calculations arrive at one of the answer choices too easily, check your conversions—this happened to me at least 10 times during the exam."

"One thing that cost me a bunch of points was the absolutely stupid idea that I would work the problems in metric (heh-heh) and then translate the answers into English. Suffice it to say, that does not work, even a little."

"Don’t get caught by units. In many, many problems, there were two “right” answers listed—but one was not in the units the problem was asking for! Focus on what conversion you may need to make. This is easy to forget. I underlined the units asked for in the problem, so I would remember."

"There are no units given for the answers, so be extra careful about reading the question to make sure you pick the answer that matches the units the question asks for."

"Don’t be caught by the “factor of 12.” Check the question to see whether you are being asked for the answer in inches or feet (psi or psf, etc.). BOTH answers will absolutely be there in front of you on the test. Pick the one the question asks for!"

"Be aware that questions on the same subject are NOT all grouped together, so you may end up looking up the same formula multiple times. You can save time by trying to locate similar problems."

"Take time to check your calculations. Calculation errors will kill you. I know—I reviewed my last exam and kicked myself for all the stupid avoidable calculation errors!"

"Don’t leave a single problem blank—there’s no penalty for guessing."

"Bubble in your answers as you go! This sounds stupid but it may have just cost me a chance to get licensed. Don’t even wait until the 10-minute warning to start bubbling in your “guess” answers. Human nature will make you want to try to squeeze in a few more problems, and that 10 minutes will be gone before you know it."

"DON’T spend your lunch break re-hashing the morning exam in your head. RELAX. Remember, your score is the combination of the morning and the afternoon results. You might even want to avoid discussing the morning exam with your fellow examinees. You’ll want to go into the afternoon session with a clear mind."

"Once the morning exam is over and you’ve left the exam room, spend 10 minutes or so of your lunch break writing notes to yourself about what you were good at and what you weren’t. Don’t attempt to recall the exam questions (you won’t have time). Instead, just jot down generalizations, like “Good at all highway problems. Need more work on foundation walls.” Also make note of any references you should have brought but didn’t. Repeat the process after the afternoon exam. This process has two advantages. First, it helps calm your nerves during the lunch break—gives you something constructive to do. Second, knowing what areas you are weak in helps you prepare again, in the event you don’t pass. You won’t get your results for four months. By then, you’ll have long forgotten which areas you needed to review and/or which references you should’ve brought."

"Enjoy your favorite beverage. You’ve earned it!"

Advice for Repeat PE Examinees

"Judging from some of the repeat takers at work, they failed because they did not learn from their mistakes on the first time that they took the exam. They did not change their study strategies."

"Most people who are not prepared the first time don’t change their preparation habits and fail the second time as well."

"When I was in a study group of test takers I discovered that one of our repeaters had used the same study schedule (or really lack of, in her case) for the last three times she took the test. When she finally changed her study methods, she passed the exam."

"If you were really close when you missed passing, you might just have had a bad day. If you missed it by more than a couple of points, go over what you did to prepare for the exam, work more problems and study more. Also, you might try a review class or study group to keep you more focused and give you an instructor or fellow testers who may be able to see where you are having perceptual problems. You may be missing some fundamentals that are tripping you up."

"In my case, I failed the first time by just a few points. I figured that if I studied just a little more I should be able to ace the exam with no problem. I also tailored my studying to the questions that appeared on the previous exam. As a result, I failed again by the exact number of points as the first time. On my third try, when I got serious about studying and not trying to find shortcuts, I finally passed."

"Assuming you’re normal, you need to study 20 hours a week for at least three months prior to the test for a passing grade, barely—because it’s a gamble. 80% of what you study will not show up on the test; that’s why you have to study so much. People who barely study sometimes pass because they happen to study the right concentration of things, kinda like picking the right numbers in a lottery. It’s also very important to know where to find everything fast (charts, tables, etc.). I didn’t show up the first attempt, failed my second attempt, and passed my third. I’d probably fail if I took it another two or three times in a row. You must prepare yourself for the best combination of studying and given questions."
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Posted by PPI - October 3, 2020
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How Licensing Your Engineers Can Benefit Your Firm

It’s no secret that licensure is important to engineers, but it’s becoming equally important for firms, too. More and more, engineering firms are figuring out that if they want to retain their top talent and attract new hires, they need to offer opportunities for their engineers to advance through licensure. One of the best ways for firms to support their engineers with licensure is by offering preparation for the FE, PE, and SE exams. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you think about helping your engineers obtain licensure.

Benefits of Licensing Your Engineers

Boost the Authority of Your Firm

Earning advanced licensure marks engineers as leaders in their field. The FE, PE, and SE licenses can be challenging and time-consuming to obtain. By pursuing them, your engineers demonstrate a true commitment to the profession. Your firm can put its best foot forward on RFPs and in presentations by showing that your engineers are committed to achieving licensure.

Protect Your Practice

Many states now have imposing civil penalties against unlicensed individuals for violating engineering state regulations. This could mean that your firm may be held responsible for violating these regulations, too. Get ahead of these potential penalties by putting a plan into action for licensing your engineers.


Increase Your Ability to Submit Plans

Only licensed engineers may prepare, sign and seal, and submit engineering plans to public authorities for approval. The more licensed engineers you have, the more resources you have available for these submissions.


Meet State Regulations

Your firm may need to obtain a Certificate of Authority (COA). 37 states require engineering firms to obtain a COA from the state engineering board. Obtaining a COA is dependant on employing qualified licensed engineers. If a responsible, licensed engineer leaves your firm, you must notify the state engineering board within a specified time. If most of your engineers are already licensed, you will be able to appoint a replacement quickly and avoid license forfeiture.


Retain and Recruit the Best Engineers

Between 2016 and 2024, an additional 130,300 engineers will be needed across all disciplines, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. With competition growing, firms need to start looking at ways to attract and retain engineers. Retaining your best employees and recruiting new engineers will become easier when you support them with their career goals.

Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free sample quiz. Choose your discipline: PE Civil, PE Electrical, or PE Mechanical.

What steps can my firm take to license engineers?

Licensing your engineers doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. If your firm doesn’t have a lot of time or resources to devote to career development, it doesn’t mean that offering effective FE, PE, and SE exam support is out of the question. Something small that you can do right away is to pay the exam fees for engineers who are preparing for an exam or provide alternative schedules to allow for adequate study and prep time.


But if you really want to assist with quickly and efficiently licensing your engineers, consider making licensure training a part of your standard employee benefits. Offering this benefit is easier than you might think. The answer to providing your employees with high-quality, effective licensure training is to look into partnering with an engineering exam prep company that offers a one-stop-shop for all of these benefits at a price that’s affordable for your firm. This solution removes the stress of trying to figure out how to offer licensure support on your own and ensures that your employees are receiving time-tested and valuable prep for their exams.

PPI’s Corporate Training Solution Offers Low-Cost, Comprehensive Prep

PPI offers corporate training programs to give your unlicensed engineers access to prep courses and materials to make sure they are completely prepared for their FE, PE, or SE exam. Our corporate programs offer a passing guarantee, open access for one low fee, and hundreds of time-tested and proven exam prep materials from PPI and revered author, Michael R. Lindeburg, PE.


PPI can make it easy and affordable to offer exam prep resources to your team. Visit the corporate training section of our website to learn how to give your firm a competitive edge when recruiting new talent and retaining your best engineers.
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Posted by PPI - September 21, 2020
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