After writing and researching the PE exam, and how to pass it on the first try, for several years, I realized this: Every examinee needs a basic scaffold upon which to prepare their plan to pass the PE exam. So, here are 10 tips to pass the PE:
1. Carefully calculate when you first qualify to sit for the exam. Plan to apply as soon as possible. Every state has unique requirements. There are also many exceptions, and most states have appeals boards. So, don't listen to a colleague's advice. Go read your state's site. If it is confusing, just phone them. They're engineers like you, and the engineering community is self-supportive. Call if you need an answer.
2. Choose your emphasis, your afternoon module concentration, quickly. Topics for Civil Engineering:
3. Find the NCEES list of reference books used to prepare the exam for your specialty. Be sure to have all these books, or to have access for study and to bring with you to your exam site. For your convenience, her is a link to the NCEES site page with links to the design standards and specifications used to create the modules. The distant end page has links for all exam types, not just civil.
4. Research the professional study books for the PE exam. Find a list of books that are well reviewed, current, and relate to your afternoon module.
6. Choose your calculator or calculators. Buy two. Here is an excellent overview of the Best Calculator for the PE Exam.
7. Create a study plan. For this, Pass the PE Like a Pro has three good example study plans; a discussion of the strategies used to answer questions for time economy; and a few unique tips for improving your score. You must also choose a place where you won't be disturbed. Bring your spouse into the planning. He or she will need to sacrifice and cover some of your daily responsibilities. You need a schedule, some time, a place, and some quiet.
8. Choose something to give up to make room for your study plan. Your life is full now. Every day is spent in one activity or another. Decide what you will sacrifice, and make a commitment to do it. Suggestions: television, weekend trip to the movies, or even working off the clock. Maybe arrange to use the thousand hours of comp time you've built up.
9. Take lots of practice exams. Absolutely buy the NCEES practice PE exam for your specialty.
PE exam day checklist. Plan everything, even what to eat for lunch during the PE exam, where you will park, what you will wear, if you will drive in the morning, or stay in a hotel nearby.
And, say a prayer.
And, remember, no matter how many times it takes to pass, once you pass, you're a licensed engineer.