To continue our Path to PE series, this month’s blog post is focused on study materials that I used to pass the Civil PE Exam in the Computer Based Testing (CBT) format. If you are looking for the free study resources I used in conjunction with these, please go to https://stemchangemaker.org/2022/08/31/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-pe-exam-updated-for-cbt/.
The Civil Engineering Academy’s Ultimate Civil PE Review Course
Looking back on my study time, using Civil Engineering Academy’s Ultimate Civil PE Review Course was my most efficient use of time per resource material. I used about 1 month to go through all the content in the course. I loved how this was broken into 10 modules in the same order as the NCEES PE Exam specifications. I personally liked the on-demand module format because I could go through the videos at my own pace and replay portions when I needed to. Each module had several videos as part of it that were easily labeled so if you wanted to go back and review a specific topic like bearing capacity, it was easy to do so. In addition to all topics covered in the morning, Isaac covers important topics like effective test-taking tips and strategies.
For practice problems, I went through the problems underneath each module as I went. They are set up nicely so that you can attempt the problem first and if you aren’t sure how to do it, the video by Isaac will walk you through it. Speaking of Isaac, he even created a private Facebook group for folks enrolled in the course to ask questions! I used this group often when I got stuck on a question from another one of my practice problem material and really loved the power of a supportive community I got from being a part of it since I studied for the PE Exam primarily on my own.
Beyond the modules and video practice problems, you get some great additional resources:
- The Ultimate Homework Planner which is based on the modules and PPI Michael R. Lindeburg, PE’s PE Civil Practice Problems, 16th Edition which I talk about more below
- The Ultimate Equation Reference Guide – while you can no longer bring these in with you into the exam, I found this guide helpful to go through the PE Reference Handbook and highlight where these equations are in that reference
- The Ultimate Civil PE Breadth Exam Vol. 1 – A complete 40-question and solution practice exam built just like the real exam.
- The Ultimate Civil PE Breadth Exam Vol. 2 – A second complete 40-question and solution practice exam. You need practice and you now get both breadth practice exams!
- A depth exam for each Civil PE Depth. If you are on the fence as to which depth to take, this course might be able to help you! Each depth exam is 40 questions and solutions.
- 20 Bonus Theory Questions – I would estimate that 25 – 30 percent of my exam was purely conceptual questions (no calculations needed), so this theory practice exam was extremely beneficial for checking my technical knowledge on various topics.
- Simulation Exam – this was added after I took the course, but this is an awesome addition to practice for test day
I would personally recommend the One Month Access for $397 which is a pretty awesome deal compared to many of the other PE Review Courses out on the market. If you want to spread out your studying more, there is also a Six Month Access for $697 which is their most popular option. While I did not use it personally, I have also heard great things about their depth portion which is only $300 more at either option. The payment is not renewed, so you don’t need to set yourself a reminder to cancel the renewal after 30 days or 6 months depending on your choice which I found refreshing. You can read more and enroll in this course here: https://civilengineeringacademy.com/review-courses/
ASCE’s PE Review Course
I took this course from February 2022 through the end of March. They ended up covering the topics a bit out of order from the NCEES Civil PE specifications, but overall it covered a general view of all the topics. You can sign up for all depths or just one to make it a bit cheaper, so I signed up for just the Transportation Depth. Work did reimburse me for this course, so I wasn’t too concerned but wanted to mention it for folks in case they are paying on their own! Each depth is only 6 hours total of live videos and definitely doesn’t cover every topic that you will need to be familiar with, so I do recommend that if you take this course that you also include some self-study depth topics into your plan. Each module for both depth and breadth does come with practice problems which were helpful. ASCE also set up a discussion board for all those currently enrolled in the course that was available until August 2022, though I was one of the few that used it.
This cost for this course ranges from $1595 to $2295 as cost varies depending on ASCE Membership, 1 depth or all 5 depths, etc. You can learn more about the course and enroll here: https://www.asce.org/education-and-events/explore-education/pe-exam-reviews/pe-civil-on-demand
NCEES Practice Exam
Once I completed both courses, I then took the NCEES practice exam for the first time. It was a physical book when I was buying it, but now you can buy the PDF cheaper directly through NCEES. This is an 80 question exam with 40 problems in the first half and 40 in the second half. The first time I went through this exam, I did not do so well, so don’t let that deter you! I spent the next few days going over each problem I go wrong in depth since this exam is straight from those who created the exam.
I would review these questions once every week or so leading up to the exam to ensure I was comfortable with the way NCEES worded their problems and what kind of problems I could expect come exam day. You can purchase this exam for about $40 as a digital download through your NCEES account at https://account.ncees.org/login .
One Week of PPI’s Learning Hub:
About a month before my exam date, I bought a week of PPI’s Learning Hub. I started my week access on a Saturday and used my first day primarily on their one Full Practice Exam. The exam was 79 questions long and covered a wide variety of topics like the NCEES exam does. I emulated test day as much as possible for this exam attempt including not eating or drinking while I was taking either part of the exam and taking only a 50 minute break between the morning and afternoon. This was a great way to practice for exam day as the PPI exam simulator and Learning Hub are setup nicely to mimic what you see on your screen on test day. I found these questions pretty on par with the actual NCEES Exam in terms of topics and level of difficulty.
The rest of the week I spent going through the 500+ practice problems in their Learning Hub. While I did get through a good portion of them, I don’t think I was able to completely go through all the problems within my 6 remaining days. One of my favorite parts of the PPI Learning Hub is that you can select what topic you want questions to be pulled from, how many total questions, level of difficulty, as well as if you want them to be conceptual or quantitive. Another awesome feature is their performance reports that let your weakness and strengths for each section.
To use the PPI Learning Hub for your studies, go to the following site: https://ppi2pass.com/engineering?affiliate=5354454d505049. Follow the prompts for your exam (PE, FE, or SE), “Looking for additional PE Civil Transportation exam prep products?’ and click to find “Learning Hub: PE Civil Transportation – Weekly Renewing” which should be $59. NOTE: Do make sure that you cancel the renewal if you only want to use it for a week like me as there is an automatic renewal and will renew each week until it is canceled.
Supplemental Practice Problems:
After completing all of the items above, I did seek out additional materials as going through practice problems was a great way to check my understanding of the concepts. For context, I filled up about 200 pages of notebooks while completing practice problems which included reviewing problems I was struggling to understand. To mimic the test, I used a pilot razor point pen or an ultra-thin marker for most practice problems so I got used to not being able to erase my work.
Below I have listed these resources.:
- PPI Michael R. Lindeburg, PE’s PE Civil Practice Problems, 16th Edition (CEPP16) – This book includes 900+ great practice problems, so I highly recommend it: https://ppi2pass.com/engineering?affiliate=5354454d505049 (follow the same directions for PPI below and select “PE Civil Practice Problems” which will give you one year of access
- Civil Engineering PE Practice Exams: 2 Full Breadth Exams – I found these questions pretty on-par for the level of difficulty of the exam. While some of the questions use equations not in the PE reference handbook, they did help me think critically about conceptual questions that they can still ask on the topic: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1983913685?tag=onamzdani0a8d-20&linkCode=ssc&creativeASIN=1983913685&asc_item-id=amzn1.ideas.HA3MMH8BRGK4
- Civil PE Practice Exam: CBT Transportation Depth – This was great for getting practice with all the provided references for the Transportation Depth. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B2J275J9?tag=onamzdani0a8d-20&linkCode=ssc&creativeASIN=B0B2J275J9&asc_item-id=amzn1.ideas.HA3MMH8BRGK4
- Civil Engineering PE Practice Exams: Breadth and Depth, Second Edition
- Civil Engineering PE All-in-One Exam Guide: Breadth and Depth, Fourth Edition 4th Edition
- If you are a member of ASCE, you have access to the last two books for free at https://www.asce.org/accessengineering/ You can search “PE Exam” on there and these two books should be in the search results.
Please let me know if you have any questions about any of the material above or any other topics about the PE Exam that you would like me to cover. You can leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My goal is to help you on your journey to becoming a PE so please reach out with questions!