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How I passed PE Civil Exam: a month to month journey from January to April

Articles > How I passed PE Civil Exam: a month to month journey from January to April

I passed the Civil PE: Structural this past April also (first time taker).. My approach was very simple: Studied for 3 months prior to the exam, take a review course, increase how much I study up until a few days before the exam, and take many practice exams. I do work 40-50 hours/week as a structural analyst so that didn't make studying any easier I might add..

January - Enrolled in the PPI review course and purchase all of the needed study materials. The PPI review course met every other Saturday for 8 hours and provided insight to the exam, study tips, and asked us to do HW that was collected; all I did for the month of January was do the PPI HW and attend class.. This averaged out to about 15 hours/week of PE studying.. Not a whole ton but gave me some time to get back into the groove of studying again.

February - This is when I ramped things up a bit.. I continued to attend the review course and complete the HW (to the best of my ability) but I also started looking at other codes and standards that I wasn't all that familiar with. The most important thing I started doing was really focusing on things that I wasn't too familiar with. In other words, I started to identify what areas/subjects I really needed to do better in (ie. fluids for me). I started coming into work earlier and leaving later so I could try to sneak in a few additional study hours. This averaged out to about 20 hours/week of PE studying

March - Around this time the stress and anxiety started to kick in and I really had to buckle down. I found myself spending a lot of time focusing on the AM portion and not a whole ton of PM studying which wasn't great for me especially since I only work with steel and concrete. So on top of the PPI review course hw I was still doing, I started focusing on old practice exams I was able to get a hold of. Every Saturday that I didn't have classes I would take a 8 hour practice exam and every Sunday I would spend all day looking over the answers and trying to solve the solutions I answered incorrectly previously. To be completely honest, the only studying I ended up doing for the PM portion was just in the practice exams.. I was really nervous that I wasn't focusing more time to the PM portion.. Somewhere around 20-25 hours/week of PE studying in March.

1st week of April - Practice exams, practice exams, and more practice exams - 1 practice exam every 2 days I'd say; I highly recommend the Four Sample Exams, any NCEES previous exams, and the Six Minute Solutions (but only for your depth portion - these can get very hard and take up too much time). The review course was over at this point so this is more a fine tune kind of period for me; I started really tabbing and marking codes and the CERM and basically just trying to get more and more familiar with where certain things were in the codes and trying to focus on how quickly I could solve problems. THIS WAS HUGE..

2nd week of April - Get everything together and again.. MORE PRACTICE EXAMS. Make sure you keep yourself organized and collected. This a very stressful time and the last thing you want to do is freak yourself out anymore than you need to.. Make sure you print everything you have (eg. CERM index) and again, keep at it - almost there!

2 days prior to exam - Slow it down and relax a bit. Give your brain some time to breathe.. At this point, you should be doing more of an easier type of studying.. More flipping through pages and trying to focus on locating things as opposed to learning more. It's too late at this point.. If you can't do it by now, you don't know it in time..

Test day - Go out and kill it. Drink a cup of coffee, have a good breakfast and go out and give it your best.

Hope this helps and good luck!


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