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.

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