Thursday, January 31, 2013

Recommended Sites for Civil PE Study Preparation:

These are two sites which should prove useful to FEs preparing for the NCEES Professional Engineering Exam:

1. This site provides lists of reference books, overviews the depth exam specifications, provides a photo overview of NCEES permitted calculators, and even provides a unique list of books for each of the afternoon depth exams. You will also find many valuable resources like links to all the state boards, an easy to read list of NCEES exam day policies, and the just released PasstheCivilPE Guide Book. Check it out.

2. This is a forum. There are more than 450 topics with thousands of replies. If you have a question, and you need an answer, this is a great site to use. (You can also use the search box on the upper left of this blog.) The site administrator, ptatohed, provides very informative posts. He seems to know a great deal about the PE.

3. This is a site full of books, packages, online PE review courses, a forum, and a test generation platform to take practice PE exams. They frequently give special discounts, and you can always get another 5% off using the word mommy taught you, "PASS1114". (Seriously, put those eight letters in the discount code box at checkout.)

4. PE Exam Study Materials Store: The best rated PE exam materials, grouped together for easy comparison and shopping. Only the most current editions are listed. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Pass the FE Exam

I studied for my EIT exam in 2004 using  a heavy book from Great Lakes Press, with an FE practice exam in the back. I also ordered a copy of the NCEES supplied reference handbook. Now I know there are many great tools available. I could have saved a lot of time if I'd had better materials.Want to know how to pass the FE exam? Easy. Take several practice exams. Take one immediately. Then, take more periodically. Adjust your study emphasis based upon the results of the most recent exam and the overall trend in your performance.

Taking practice exams became a fun tool. As I studied, I found taking short quizzes to actually be fun- I could see my progress quickly and easily. I also realized how effective it was to learn. Because of the elevated mental intensity of  testing myself, I remembered what I had worked much better compared to the time I spent working problems sitting in coffee shops (lots of conversations and goings on.) Additionally, I reviewed each problem I missed on my quizzes. Practice FE exams provided the carefully worked solution to each question. So, there was a triple benefit: Increased time efficiency because of increased focus, immediate feedback, and instant explanation of missed problems.

I used my FE Exam booklet from NCEES during my practice quizzes as well as my practice exams, which I took every second week. 

Top 10 FE Review Materials

How do Practice Exams Compare to the Actual FE Exam?

When I arrived at the actual test, I did very well on the morning session. The actual questions seemed a bit easier than those I worked in review book. In the afternoon, the tables were turned. It seemed the questions were a bit tougher, and took a bit longer to work. However, because of the effectiveness of the time I invested, I was able to locate many problems I knew how to work at first glance. I finished, and went back to those I skipped. I completed all the questions. I walked away feeling very good about my performance.

And, a few months later, I received my passing notice from BPELS- passed!

There is a better comprehensive FE review book than the Great Lakes Press book I used. The FE Review Manual is by far the most popular.

Suggested Reading:
PE Exam Tips (works just as well for FE exam)
PE Exam Checklist (yep, again, works for FE, too.)
Pass the FE like a Pro (covers a wealth of information about the CBT FE exam format, and unique information to help you pass the FE exam.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Best Book for Seismic PE Exam

If someone is going to fail a portion of the California PE Exam, the state-specific Seismic Principles exam is the second most likely to be that portion. (Slightly more people fail the California Civil Surveying exam.) The primary reason is that most engineers do not need to perform seismic force calculations. The second reason is people fail to study properly.

Most materials for the NCEES Principles and Practice exam focus on the morning and afternoon portions of the exam. All 50 states and the U.S. territories take those two portions, and must complete the ethics and professional code take-home exam. State specific exams are not addressed in most of the exam preparation books and courses.

And, most engineers do not own the reference books they will need. This is one reason passing rates for the California Civil Seismic are much lower than national passing rates for the PE exam. Overall rates are about 64% each year. Passing rates for the California seismic exam, on the other hand are lower. Only 47% pass. Keep in mind that people still fail to pass the Civil Surveying exam an additional 1% fewer than the rate for the seismic exam.

If you want to pass, you need review materials specific to those exams. There are not too many options.

Should you buy the ATC-20 to study for the seismic portion? Most people say no. But, read my post. This link will also take you to a list of all the required books for the Seismic Exam.

Other resources for the Seismic PE Exam:

1. Best Seismic Review Book for the PE Exam has several options.  One of the best seismic sample problems books is Seismic Principles Practice Exams for the California Special Seismic Exam. Pass rates for the civil engineering exams are just 64% in the U.S., and slightly lower in California. Even lower: pass rates for the seismic exam. Only 47% pass. People don't prepare adequately. Be sure to get your books early. And, use them well.

PE Exam Review Materials are an Investment
Study materials for the PE exam are tax deductible, so keep your receipts. The books you purchase today are not only to advance your professional credentials. They will line your reference book shelves for years to come.

2. 345 Solved Seismic Design Problems (5th Edition) by Majid Baradar, PE. This book is a little underrated. Overall, it has an average Amazon user review rating of 3.6/5.0 stars. However, this includes at least three editions. Some of the older (and lower) ratings refer to the third edition. The current, 5th, edition has an average 4.0 rating. When it comes to the review of Professional Engineering products, the ratings are typically about a 3, plus or minus 0.2 stars. So, with an average 4.0 rating, the 5th edition looks like a quality edition.

3. For other seismic review books and media, as well as other PE exam review materials, visit: PE Exam Study Materials

4. Practice Exams for the California Seismic Principles Civil P.E. Examination: This is a relatively new book. But, it already has three 5-star reviews. This book is 180 pages. It includes two 55-question practice seismic exams. Cost: $70.

5. Should you buy the ATC-20 to study for the seismic portion? Most people say no. But, read my post. This link will also take you to a list of all the required books for the Seismic Exam.

6. ASCE7-10: The basic equations and process to calculate seismic forces are in this code book from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Monday, January 21, 2013

How Many Books are Allowed in Principles and Practice NCEES Exam?

Short answer: One. But, you better read the next few paragraphs.

The NCEES passed a vote in 2011 to go to a closed-book exam for PS licensure. The NCEES is avid about protecting its questions. Because sample questions must be inserted into each year's exams to calibrate them for future years, the Council must ensure questions are not jotted down in reference books and taken out of the testing center.

When I took my PE exam in 2009, PS examinees were wheeling in small libraries of books (not recommended, btw). Most of them had large collections of voluminous tomes.Basically, this is really a blessing for PS testers. No more worry about having the best references, purchasing many references, and wheeling them into your testing center from the parking lot.

How many books are allowed in the Principles and Practice exam? Just one, and they give it to you in the exam.

NCEES sells a set of 50 questions to prepare you. They also offer a download of the provided reference book for examinees. 

Breakdown of subjects on the exam: PS Exam Specifications

Free download of the PS Supplied Reference Handbook. Note of caution: check back for latest version as your study progresses. NCEES says they may update the reference book periodically.

If the 24 page booklet makes you think you will really need to know your stuff, I'm with you on that. 4 hours for 67 questions, and then 2 hours for 33 more... and just 2 dozen pages of support. Better study up!

Here are some more options to study and prepare:

1,100 Solved surveying problems (One to keep on the shelf). The ppi2pass promo code should work for this product as well. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

PE Exam Strategy

Which is the better strategy for answering questions on the NCEES professional engineer exam?

Strategy #1, The Bull: Push through each question, sequentially, answering within 6 minutes, only moving on to the next question after answering or reaching 9 or 10 minutes.

Strategy #2, The Fox: Examine each question in turn. If it looks complicated or time consuming, skip it entirely. Work all the problems you can. Return to skipped problems after reaching the end of the test.

Strategy #1 is highly recommended for geniuses, brutes, obdurate mules, and those generally prone to stubbornness.

Strategy #2 is recommended for examinees of excellent character who are taking the exam with an intent to pass.

Ribbing aside, while a genius who has also invested a substantial amount of time may be able to push through the professional engineer exam question by question, most people benefit from working questions with which they are most familiar, and whose solution process is evident. There are some corollaries to strategy #2:

  1. If you begin a question, and don't have both formulas and a solution method to solve it, move on. 
  2. If you derive an answer, and it looks nothing like the choices, check your units, then your work. If the answer isn't obvious, move on. 
  3. Keep a list of questions you skipped on a page you dog-eared, or just put a large circle around those you skip. This makes locating them easier after you reach the end of the exam. 
  4. After skipping a question, be sure you are marking the correct location on your answer form. If you skip number 5, and calculate the answer for number 6, be sure not to fill in 6's answer in 5's answer line. 
Additional Strategies that save time:
  1. Transcribe answers in batches. For example, work answers on both faces of two pages. Circle the correct answer, then transcribe all these to the Scantron form before turning the page to the next two page faces. This saves time because you must move the Scantron and any open reference books and the exam itself around to mark the Scantron. 
  2. If you skip a question you can work, because it is obviously a time-consuming solution, circle it and add another annotation, like a "+".
So, you must decide if you want to be the Bull or the Fox. The bull charges without any real strategy. The fox plans his moves carefully. The strategy presented here is very valuable. It may seem evident now, but you will not really appreciate how powerful this wisdom is until you take practice exams utilizing both techniques. Take one like the bull, then take another like the Fox. Or, take one practice exam, and use the Bull on half of the morning session, using half the time (2 hours), then use the Fox on the second half, using the remaining 2 hours. Repeat for the afternoon practice exam.
Analyze your results. How did the strategies work for you? If the Bull won out, there's a good chance you are a genius.

Take Practice Exams to Solidify your Strategy:

Taking practice professional engineer exams will reveal your test-taking faults, and your weak subject areas. You need to take many practice exams. This way, you immediately recognize where you need to work. You should use at least two practice exams. My own PE exam strategy included six practice exams. I was scoring almost 80% correct by the time I reached my exam date (raw score, not scaled.)

Here are resources for practice exams:
  1. Best PE Exam Review Materials, 4th Edition (1 morning exam + 1 each all 5 afternoon exams)
  2. Mike's Civil PE - A highly reviewed sample problems book. Reviewers say between 12 and 14 problems in this one were similar to actual exam problems.
  3. PE Sample Exams (a comparison of the most popular PE Sample exams)
  4. PE Sample Exam Store (a compilation of PE exams- filtered for current and well-reviewed titles)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

NCEES Practice Exam

(Link for free FE mini exam is at the bottom.)

Preparation for the FE exam or the PE exam, both prepared and administered by NCEES, absolutely requires taking practice exams.

There is really only one place to begin your search for preparation materials. This is the bookstore I put together of the best PE exam materials on Amazon. I hear people saying they invested 150 hours and more to prepare for the FE and more than 300 hours for the PE. You need the right materials to make your time effective.

I studied much less, and- get this - I do not have an engineering degree! (California is one of the states which allows experience and knowledge to qualify a person for the FE and for the PE exam.)

How did I pass when so many with expensive 4 and 5 year degrees could not? (Only about half of those with engineering degrees ever take the FE, fewer than this take the professional engineer exam.)

The reason I passed is simple. I know how to prepare for an exam. (Plus the required years of work experience, of course.) To prepare for the FE exam, I bought a fat book from Great Lakes Press on Amazon. I also took many practice exams, using the book I purchased. I studied by focusing on my strongest and weakest topics- a strategy to consolidate my base of points, and to glean the easiest additional points.

Really, it was the PE practice exams which really made the difference. There are several reasons why.

  1. Practice exams familiarize you with the time constraints of 6 minutes per question on the PE exam morning and afternoon sessions, and with the 1.92 minute allotment in the FE exam (5 hours, 20 minutes for 110 questions- the CBT format.)
  2. Practice exams remove stress. Once you are comfortable with the format, and have scored enough to pass (based on statistical history and rumor) on two or three PE practice exams, exam stress will be eliminated or nearly gone. Stress works against the examinee. Being relaxed frees your mind and allows good circulation for body and brain. 
  3. Practice exams show you which subjects are your strongest, and which subjects are your weakest. (There is a lot about this in my book, Pass the PE like a Pro.)
  4. The explanations for the solution to each of the problems allows you to immediately review mistakes. 
  5. Psychology has shown through experimentation: Information given in exams is remembered far better than information covered in cram sessions, homework, or lectures. (This is why teachers are encouraged to put more True answers on exams than False. People who thought the false information on the exam was true tend to believe it years later.) Taking a practice exam, or taking one a mini-quiz with questions in subjects you choose, is a more effective learning technique than sitting at Starbucks with your CERM and attempting to work problems. 
  6. Schedule your practice exams (FE or PE) regularly. Study in between. This will show you how effective your study has been. If you slack off between practice exams, your score will warn you immediately. Bad feedback will motivate you. Good feedback will encourage. But, you need to invest in some practice exam books. Buy from at least two authors/publishers.
  7. I reviewed all the offerings on Amazon. Click the link above to go see pages and pages of current, top-rated PE review books. They are listed by exam topic: mechanical, civil, geotech, etc. 
Prices vary slightly month to month on Amazon. But, availability for PE Practice Exams definitely dips in the 6 weeks before the April and October exams.

Many people like to have a hard copy to take practice exams. There are good reasons for that. For one thing, you can take the practice exam anywhere you want. Here is a link to the best PE sample exams available, with reviews and explanations of why you should buy or not buy them:

Best PE Sample Exams
If you need a break, check out these engineering jokes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

PE Exam Questions

How many questions are on the California PE Exam?

A: The California NCEES exam, typically given on a Friday in April and a Friday in October each year, is the same NCEES exam given in all 50 states. California, however, has two state-specific exams particular to the Sunshine State. These are the Seismic Exam and the Survey Principles Exam.

Here is the breakdown of PE exam questions for California:

    Morning:     40 questions    4 hours     6 minutes/question   Breadth
    Afternoon:   40 questions    4 hours     6 minutes/question   Depth

California Special Civil Seismic Exam Questions:
    55 questions     2.5 hours      2 minutes 43.6 seconds/question
      (Note: was 50 questions. Some examinees at October, 2012 sitting were surprised by 55 questions. The additional 5 questions are to vet and standardize questions for future Civil Seismic exams.)

California Engineering Survey Exam Questions:
    55 questions     2.5 hours      2 minutes 43.6 seconds/question

Once I received my PE license, my income went up 32%. Do not fail to invest the time and money (in proper materials and review courses) to ensure you pass. Plus, you can get a 5% discount at checkout by using discount code PASS1114 on I wish you success and a great career!
A collection of the best, current PE Exams

Of course, always has the best prices. It's part of their contract with publishers and sellers. Here are the best PE Exam books on Amazon.

Free Sample PE Exam Questions:

The site ppi2pass gives 5 free sample questions on their main page. Look in the lower right for the free sample questions for: FE/EIT, PE, Electrical PE, Mechanical PE, and LEED GA.

To browse the available PE sample exams, go here: PE Sample Exams 

You can also find some PE exam sample problems on this Facebook page:
Professional Engineering Exam Study Materials

Monday, January 7, 2013

PE Exam Tips

How to Pass the PE Exam: Exam Tips for Winners

If you want to pass the PE on the first try, take these tips from a master of taking tests. I have taken a lot of schooling over the years, in the military and at 10 different colleges and universities- on both coasts and overseas. Here are some excellent PE exam tips to facilitate your passing the NCEES exam as well as the California state specific surveying and seismic exams.

1. Give yourself plenty of time to study.
2. Sacrifice an unnecessary routine event, like television or movies.
3. Make a REGULAR, dedicated schedule. Keep it over all else.
4. Take practice exams regularly during your engineering review program.
5. Analyze your PE practice test results.
6. Using practice test results: study your strengths first, weaknesses second.
7. Purchase the Civil Engineering Reference Manual as soon as possible. Know it better than your calculator.

Above are the main aspects of preparing for the NCEES and state specific exams to receive a professional engineering license. Below are more detailed explanations of the above exam tips to give you an edge above those less-blessed EITs who did not  find this blog.

Professional Engineer Exam Tips Expanded

1. Time: Give yourself as much time as you can. Six months is not unreasonable. Start with a full practice exam. The brain breaks things down into chunks. As you learn information, the mental platform holds 5 to 9 items which it can compare and process. (This is called the magic number in psychology, 7±2). Items repeated in groups or frequently paired together become one item, called a chunk. Chunking is not a rapid process. You need to give the brain time to form new neural networks.

2. Sacrifice: Prior to implementing your review course, each day before today was filled with some activities: work, sleep, eating, and optional activities. Some of these optional activities must make way to provide the time you need to take practice exams, to work problems, and to familiarize yourself with reference books.

3. Regularity: The mind-body system responds well to routine. It likes it. Capitalize on this. I recommend taking a full 8-hour practice exam every other Saturday (and Sunday, if you live in California and will take the seismic and surveying exams). If you have Fridays free, take your practice exams on Friday. You want to duplicate the actual conditions of test day as closely as possible.
Find a test area similar to the situation of the test room (well-lit, open space, folding table) conditions where you will take your exam. Arrive at the time you need to be seated in the exam room. (For example, in some states you must be seated at 7:40 when the instructions begin to be read. NCEES policy does not allow examinees to enter after this time.) Begin the exam exactly at the time scheduled in your state. Give yourself a 1-hour break between each 4-hour practice test. Take a practice PE exam as in conditions as close to the real exam as possible.
Between taking practice tests, set a regular study time. An hour and a half after a reasonable dinner is a good time. For example, if you eat your evening meal at 6:30, study from 8 to 9 Monday through Thursday. Give yourself Friday off. On non-practice-exam Saturdays, sit at your desk by 8 and study for at least 4 hours. If ennui sets in, study anyway. It is better to put in 20 minutes of a scheduled hour than to skip the hour entirely. The 20 minute investment keeps your study habit alive. And, the first part of a review period and the last part of a review session are the most valuable in terms of remaining in memory. So, 20 of 60 minutes is closer to a 50% kept goal than it is 33%. 

4. PE Practice Exams: Take these regularly. I studied for three months. I took a practice exam every other Saturday. If you live in California, you may also want to take a seismic practice exam and a surveying practice exam the following day. Practice exams familiarize you with not just the material, but also with time management, reference materials, and the process of moving your reference books, exam, and other materials around in your test area. (I had half of a folding table, it was 5 or 6 feet long by 2'6", I think). Regardless of how well you studied or did not study in the interim between exams, be sure to take the exams according to schedule. I was surprised to find I did much better on my third practice test than on the previous two- despite a weak study performance the preceding two weeks. Chunking, reference book familiarization, and time management had all improved, which affected my score. Also, an 8-hour exam requires some mental training, some mental conditioning.

5. Develop Strength: Analyze your results by type of problem. What percent did you correctly answer in Chemistry? In Environmental? Geotechnical? (and etcetera...)

6. Strengths and Weaknesses: The test you completed included questions from all main areas of the PE exam. However, it could not possibly cover every area of every subject. However, the subjects in which you scored best represent the areas in which you are most likely to score points on your exam date. So: practice heavily in the one or two subjects in which you scored highest. Also: look at your two lowest subject matter scores. Read material in these subjects (the CERM is good for this) and work practice problems. You will need to buy a few different PE sample exams. Study these three or four subjects for the next two weeks, until the next scheduled NCEES practice exam on your schedule.

7. Buy the Civil Engineering Reference Manual as soon as you can. Mark the index with tabs that don't fall out if you shake the book. Use this book for your practice exams. Familiarize yourself with it. I learned to open the index, write down the page numbers indexed to my topic, and then check each in turn until I found the solution process needed.

8. Purchase two approved calculators, not one. Choose different models, practice with both, and choose the one you prefer as your primary. NCEES permits just one on the desk. But, a reserve calculator is encouraged. An exact duplicate has the advantage of not requiring any new learning. However, a carefully selected back-up engineering calculator will compliment the functionality of your primary calculator.

9. Get a good guide book to walk you through the non-studying part of preparation for the PE exam. You need to know where to source the best prices for books, how to get discounts, how to lay out an effective study plan, how to force your brain to work and learn, what to bring to the exam, and much more. For that, there is really just one quality book: Pass the PE like a Pro
(Sometimes $1.98 or less.)

If you have not yet purchased your code books and review books, I have another advantage for you: I painstakingly reviewed the available options on Amazon, and put them together on one site. They are categorized by type of exam: Mechanical, Civil, etc. For the Civil, I compiled separate pages for each of the five afternoon subject areas.

I included only current versions. From these, I also booted out material with poor reviews. See all these pages at: PE Exam Study Materials. I have placed the best materials at the top of each page.

Please share this blog post via Twitter and Facebook, and give it a Google +1. Thank you!

Update: Here is an article from the American Psychological Association. It explains how studying in shorter sessions, spread out over a longer time period, with more time between sessions, creates stronger long term memories than does studying the same total of hours packed into a shorter time frame. For example, 2 hours a night 3 times weekly for 14 weeks will produce better results than 2 hours per night 6 times weekly for 7 weeks. Both programs total 84 hours. But, according to the article, the 14-week plan will produce up to 26.5% improvement. This is a very good article. It recognizes some of the more important techniques I used to derive the study plans presented in Pass the PE like a Pro. Read Study Smart.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

PPI2PASS Discount Code

PPI2PASS Discount Code

Note: This code is good until forever. 

To receive a discount on your ppi2pass purchase, enter discount code (See below to save more than 30%!) before you checkout. This discount code applies to almost anything published by PPI.

Reasons to buy from Amazon and not from ppi2pass: 

1.) Prices are cheaper on Amazon. Amazon policy forces every seller to sell at or lower than any price anywhere else, even on the publisher's own site. 
2.) Amazon gives free shipping on orders over $35. PPI waits until $350 for free shipping.
3.) PPI ships 10-day slow. Amazon has faster options, such as 2-day shipping. And, if you are a member of Amazon Prime, 2-day shipping is free. Follow the link to get a free 30-day membership, and you will receive 2-day shipping for FREE. Sign up for the free 30 days. You get a free ebook loan per month; free 2-day shipping with no minimum;  instantly watch 40,000 videos and tv episodes. Cancel after 30 days with no cost.
4.) Even if you buy one of PPI's bundles, you still pay more than if you buy on Amazon.

Enter the promo code during checkout to receive discount.

PPI2PASS discount code: ff1212

Compare total cost for Civil Engineering Reference Manual, 2015:
Amazon: $274.89 + (shipping = free) = $274.89
PPI: $275 less 20% discount = $220 + (shipping = $20.63) = $240.63

So, this is a big surprise. Sometime in the last year or so, PPI massively reduced their prices. This is good news for PE examinees. For now, it appears you can get good prices on the PPI website. However, Amazon's policy still requires that sellers not sell lower on their own sites. This will end some future time, when Amazon learns about it. But, for now, you can get better prices at the publisher's site. Enjoy. 

How to Save More
Most of the books published by PPI (maybe all) are also for sale on I compiled the best PE Exam review books on a collection of pages, all located at the other end of the in-text link in this sentence. You will find the books organized according to specific PE exam specialties. There are pages for:
Mechanical PE exam
Electrical Engineering PE exam
Civil: Structural
Civil: Geotechnical
Environmental and Water Resources
California Special Surveying Exam
California Civil Seismic Principles Exam
PE Sample Exams

 and just about all the various exams. Each page lists the best-reviewed books first, then in descending order. Only current editions are listed.

To find the cheapest sources for the California Seismic books recommended by bpelsg, click here:
California Seismic Exam Study Books.

Reasons to buy from Amazon and not from ppi2pass: 

1. Prices are cheaper on Amazon (even after a promo code.)
2. Amazon gives free shipping on orders over $35. PPI waits until $350 for free shipping.
3. PPI ships 10-day slow. Amazon has faster options, such as 2-day shipping. And, if you are a member of Amazon Prime, 2-day shipping is free. Follow the link to get a free 30-day membership, and you will receive 2-day shipping for FREE. Sign up for the free 30 days. You get a free ebook loan per month; free 2-day shipping with no minimum;  instantly watch 40,000 videos and tv episodes. Cancel after 30 days with no cost.

Pass the PE like a Pro

If you plan to pass the PE exam, I highly recommend this product:

1. Civil Engineering Reference Manual, the Lindeburg book - Buy Civil Engineering Reference Manual.

Purchase your books early. Learn what they give you. Acquire two calculators, here's why: PE Exam Calculators, why you need two, and how to choose them.

Be sure to share this with your friends on Facebook and Twitter! They'll thank you, and be encouraged to share similar opportunities with you.

California Professional Engineer Exam Dates 2015

As usual, the California Board of Professional Engineers scheduled two exams for 2015. As expected, these exams are in April and October. Filing dates for these exams are shown below.

Notice that last year they shortened the refile time allotment by 2 weeks over previous years.

April 2015 NCEES PE Exam Date
    Final Filing Date: New Applicants - varies by state, but usually around November, 2014 (already too late to file for this exam date) November 3rd in California.
                              Refile Applicants - varies by state, but around January, 2015. Jan. 9th in California.
    Exam Date: April 17, 2015, Friday (all states)

October 2015 NCEES Exam Date
    Final Filing Date: New Applicants - varies by state, but around May, 2015. This is May 1st in California.
                              Refile Applicants - varies by state, but approx. July, 2015 and July 6th in California.
    Exam Date: October 30, 2015, Friday (all states)

How to Pass the NCEES Professional Engineer Exam:
The NCEES exams are administered on Fridays, both exams in 2015 (as usual.) The California state specific seismic and surveying exams have always been administered the following day, a Saturday. This year, however, the bpels site has not yet declared dates for the state specific exams.

Many years ago, I learned the secret to passing any exam: practice as close to the actual test as possible. For this reason, the core component of your study should consist of taking practice exams. Analyze your results. Work on your best areas to form an anchor of knowledge for test day, and also work on the areas in which you performed weakest. This is absolutely the best way to prepare.

When I passed my exam, it was by taking a practice exam every other Saturday, a full 8-hour exam modeled after the NCEES exam. This works best using sample exams from more than one author or publisher. The best practice exam books are here:

Best PE Practice Exams

Suggested Reading:
300 Hour PE Exam Study Plan
Six Week PE Exam Study Plan