Preparing for the October PE Exam

2021 Examination Dates: October 21 -22, 2021

The exams offered in October are:

The exam administration will take place over two days—Thursday, October 21 and Friday, October 22. All exam site locations are currently proceeding with reduced capacity restrictions in place. Changes to state and local requirements that further reduce capacities for groups and events may impact the number of examinees that are able to test at a specific site.

View the October 2021 exam site procedures regarding COVID-19 here.

Taking the next step in your engineering career is both exciting and stressful. Preparing for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam, like many of your engineering feats, is no walk in the park. Preparing for the exam includes hundreds of hours of studying and, most importantly, making sure you’ve met the right requirements to take the test. 

The requirements for the PE exam include:

If you meet those requirements, congrats! The only thing standing between you and a professional engineering license is the PE exam. 

The exam may seem daunting, but NJSPE is here to help!  

Provided below is an easy to follow checklist that will make preparing for the exam as simple as possible.


  1. Register for the exam. On the current NCEES website, there are tests scheduled out twice a year until 2026. The 2021 examination date are October 21- 22, 2021. Planning ahead will give you a clear deadline for when you should be done studying and will help you set goals.
  2. Tell your family and friends about what you’re doing. Explain to them why passing the PE exam and obtaining your professional engineering license is important to your career. Additionally, explain the process and what it will take to help you reach your goal.
  3. Study the exam format and subjects. Understandably, the exam format and subjects are different for each concentration of engineering. For a list of concentrations and exam-specific information, click here. Knowing the format and subjects leaves little room for surprise the day of the exam and will help you focus your studying.
  4. Read advice from people who actually took the exam. The internet is full of blogs and forum feeds of professional engineers offering advice for people taking the PE exam. One especially useful blog post is this.
  5. Purchase PE study materials and join a review class. Undoubtedly, PE study materials and reference books are essential. Rolling into the exam having done no practice problems or review will not be pretty. You can purchase exam prep materials here. A review class may not be necessary for everyone. You know yourself and know how you learn best. 
  6. Decide what you are going to study. From studying the exam format and subjects, it should not be difficult to decide what you’ll spend your time on.
  7. Decide how you are going to study. Will you mostly solve practice problems? Review chapter theory from your own books? Use audio and video products? Attend a prep course? Figure out what will work best for you.
  8. Create a study schedule. Now that you know what you’re going to study, how you’re going to study, and when your test date is, it’s time to plan. The best way to maximize studying and your chance of scoring a professional engineering license is by staying organized. Allocate time for all of the subjects you want to study.
  9. Take practice exams. As you near your exam date, take one or more practice exams to evaluate your readiness. Continue to work on your weak subjects. It’s helpful to purchase a practice exam book along with your study materials.
  10. Assemble your day-of “kit.” Before your exam, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Pack your things needed for the exam: water bottles, energy drinks, snacks, a ruler, a watch, and a set of reference materials. With the exception of the structural exam, each exam is eight hours long. Long form test-taking does not come naturally. Be sure to pack the things you will need to keep your mind sharp and healthy.

Studying for and passing the PE exam is no easy task. If you follow these tips, stay on schedule, and focus on studying, you’ll be walking away from the exam with confidence. 

Good luck on obtaining your professional engineering license! 

Engineers Piece Together Champlain Towers Probable Collapse Sequence

Structural engineers have compiled the probable sequence and speculated over the initial trigger of the fatal collapse of the 12 story Champlain Towers in Surfside Florida. The fatal collapse has claimed a dozen lives and left 149 individuals unaccounted for. Allyn Kilsheimer, a veteran engineer and founder of KCE Structural Engineers, has been hired by Surfside to investigate the collapse. The investigation into the collapse will likely take months and may never find a single definitive cause. 

It has been reported that in October 2018 an engineer, Frank P. Morabito, had discovered “major structural damage” to a concrete slab below the pool deck in the section of the Champlain Towers South condominium building. Morabito stated that waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance drive had failed, allowing for damaging leaks and limited water drainage. Utilizing this information, a surveillance video, photos, and the original 1979 plans, structural engineers are beginning to piece together this disastrous collapse.

While examining images of destruction experts observed indications of “punching shear failure,” in the parking garage below the building. Punching shear failure of foundation, defined by Neenu S K editor of The Constructor, occurs when there is a localized force acting on the structure. It is mostly found in foundations but also common in flat slabs. When the total shear force exceeds the shear resistance of the slab, the slab will be pushed down around the column, or this can be viewed as the column being punched through the slab.

“There is a possibility that part of the pool [area] came down first and then dragged the middle of the building with it, and that made that collapse, and then once the middle of the building collapsed, number two, then the rest of the building didn’t know how to stand up and it fell down also, number three.”stated Kilsheimer

The president of the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Joe DiPompeo expressed his beliefs that there must be “a very specific sequence of events that somehow evaded all the fail-safes in the code and everything else.”


  1. Jon Swaine, B. S. (2021, June 29). Video, images and interviews deepen questions about the role of pool deck in condo collapse. The Washington Post. 
  2.  What is Punching Shear? Punching Shear in Slabs and Foundations. The Constructor. (2017, September 28).
  3. Jon Swaine, B. S. (2021, June 29). Video, images and interviews deepen questions about the role of pool deck in condo collapse. The Washington Post.

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