First off, let me say that if you are considering or already enrolled to take the P.E. exam, good for you. It will help your career tremendously. Your potential for advancement will increase and you will find avenues for career growth you never considered before.
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To pass the P.E. Exam, I went to PPI for their 18-week preparation course. The course is offered online and live, but also allows you to view the recordings later. I watched each recording repeatedly.
Plan, plan, and plan some more. Nothing will help you more on the P.E. exam then having a solid plan. Lay it out on paper and follow through. This will ensure your preparations are complete. This is another reason why the PPI course is so valuable. They do the planning for you with their weekly lectures and homework assignments.
I completed every portion of the course. The course has a guarantee that if you follow all the guidelines you can take the course again for free. I made sure I followed all the guidelines to be absolutely sure I was adequately prepared to pass or to take the class again.
This is what I took with me for the Mechanical – Thermal and Fluids exam:
- Mechanical Reference Manual
- Practice Problems book
- Quick Reference Guide
- Unit Conversions Book
- Notes and Homework from the PPI course
- Copy of the FE reference manual
- Heat transfer book (depends on which exam your taking)
- Mollier Diagrams 11×17 (depends on which exam you are taking)
Tab your reference manual, guides and notes diligently. I had labeled / color coded tabs at each section that I used on the PPI homework. My ability to quickly find the right equation was critical to completing the exam on time. I even pasted equations directly in the reference book in the correct section. If I rearranged an equation to complete a homework assignment, I wrote it in the reference book. I even highlighted and tabbed any conversion factors I used during my preparation in the PPI Unit Conversions Book. My ability to quickly find the correct information was critical to completing the exam on time.
Bring only what you know
I noticed a lot of students hauled in a ton of books to the exam. When I spoke to them after the test they did not use many of them. Simpler is better. Bring what you know and nothing you don’t. You don’t have time to rifle through a bunch of books to find the right equation. You need to have the information readily at hand.
Prepare for the worst
I arrived at the testing site the day before the exam. I checked into a hotel and walked the path to the exam location that night before. Being able to visualize the route in the morning gave my brain some relief.
Do not study the night before the exam
This may sound counter intuitive but the test is 8 hours long. Your brain needs a good night’s rest before the big day. If you are not as prepared as you should be the night before the exam, a few hours of studying aren’t going to help you anyway.
Always guess. If you do not pick a solution you will always get the question wrong. I don’t recommend giving a pure guess, I would try your best to eliminate an answer or two and then guess from there.
If you prepare accordingly, the test will be easier than you thought. The amount of anxiety prior to the exam is enormous. I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the exam weeks prior. Sometimes I’d find myself making wrong turns on the way home from work. What I found was that the test was easier than I anticipated. I over prepared, but I wouldn’t do it any other way. When I was complete I had all the confidence that I had passed and sure enough, I did.
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