PE Exam Prep Resources

Need some last-minute PE exam study resources? You’ve come to the right place. Making it to the PE exam in and of itself is a feat. Once you get past this next milestone you’ll officially be a professional engineer, as long as you pass the exam! Use these PE exam prep materials to better your chance of getting a passing grade:

NCEES exam prep

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) develop and administer the PE exam, so why not take a page out of their book to get study materials from them? NCEES offers practice exams for all of the different concentrations. These practice exams include questions from past exams and it’s the same format, style, and level of difficulty as the actual exam. 
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PPI practice materials

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) features PPI on its website for exam review and preparation. PPI is part of the Kaplan Professional family, so you can be sure you’re getting top-quality PE exam prep materials. PPI offers resources in a variety of formats as well including print, digital, eTextbook, eLearning, and video.
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School of PE prep courses

School of PE has been offering PE exam review courses since 2004 and all of their instructors are professional engineers and have experience teaching. School of PE offers a variety of ways to learn: on demand, live online, and in-person (COVID-19 permitting). Whichever avenue you sign up for, you’ll be able to access School of PE’s online Study Hub to stay organized in your preparation. 
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PE exam prep guide from Engineering Management Institute

This guide on engineeringmanagementinstitute.org was posted in 2014, but the information for helping you pass the PE exam is still relevant! This isn’t a study packet or a pre-test, it’s a guide for how you should be studying from someone that actually took the exam. The post explains strategies for studying efficiently and organizing your study material for success. We recommend you give it a read!
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If you’re taking the exam this October, good luck! If you’re reading this and you’re not taking it until next year, use as much of these resources as you can to maximize your chance of success.

What You Need to Know About the October PE Exam

As many of you reading this probably know, this year’s April PE paper-and-pencil exam was canceled due to COVID-19. About 16,000 examinees were impacted. To accommodate these examinees, the format of the upcoming October 2020 exam has been modified. Read on to see what has changed for the upcoming PE exams.

The biggest issue for the upcoming PE exam has been testing center capacity. Back in May, Pearson VUE began to open temporary testing centers across the country to increase capacity. Overall capacity has been reduced to maintain social distancing requirements, which isn’t great news for the 16,000 examinees that we’re forced to reschedule their exams and the examinees that were originally planning on taking the test in October. If you are impacted by reduced capacity requirements, you should have received a notification email from Pearson VUE. 

In October, most testing centers will require examinees to bring their own face masks for admittance. Each state is different, so please make sure you check in with your testing center to confirm specific requirements prior to testing! 

See exam site procedures for October exams below:

October 2020 exam site procedures regarding COVID-19

To help ensure the health, safety, and welfare of examinees and proctoring teams, NCEES is implementing the following measures for the October 2020 exam administration.

Examinees must review and satisfy the following requirements before being admitted to an exam site. No one will be admitted to the exam site if they have met any of the COVID-19 qualifications listed below.

  • Tested positive for COVID-19

UNLESS symptom-free and fever-free for at least 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine AND at least 14 days have passed since your last exposure, or you have received two negative COVID-19 test results in a row, 24 hours apart.

  • Experiencing (or have experienced) one or more associated symptoms the last fourteen (14) days: shortness of breath, cough, fever, chills, sore throat, loss of smell

UNLESS you have been symptom-free and fever-free for at least 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

  • Live with or have had close contact with someone who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19

UNLESS at least 14 days have passed since your last exposure.

  • Have been or are currently under home quarantine or centralized observation by government or healthcare authorities

UNLESS at least 14 days have passed since your quarantine or centralized observation has been lifted by the government or healthcare authorities.

Examinees who meet the above conditions on exam day and are admitted to the exam site must agree to follow the below guidelines on exam day.

  • Examinees will be seated alone and properly distanced from other tables.
  • Examinees and proctors are required to wear face masks at all times.
  • Examinees must practice social distancing at all times.
  • Examinees will be allowed to have hand sanitizer and wipes, extra face coverings, and disposable gloves in the exam room; they must be placed on the floor during the exam.

New information is evolving every week when it comes to COVID-19 and requirements for the PE exam. Stay up to date with the newest information by monitoring your email with updates from Pearson VUE and keep an eye on the latest information about testing from NCEES.

A COVID-19 and PE Licensure Update

Due to increased health concerns and state-mandated stay-at-home orders, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) has canceled the April 2020 paper-and-pencil PE exam. This has impacted about 16,000 examinees. To accommodate these examinees, dates have been added for October 2020. 

New dates for the PE exam are as follows:

Thursday, October 22, 2020
Civil: Geotechnical
Civil: Transportation
Civil: Water Resources and Environmental
SE Vertical Forces Bridges
SE Vertical Forces Buildings

Friday, October 23, 2020
Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Architectural Engineering
Civil: Construction
Civil: Structural
Control Systems
Electrical and Computer: Computer Engineering
Electrical and Computer: Electronics, Controls, and Communications
Electrical and Computer: Power
Metallurgical and Materials
Mining and Mineral Processing
Naval Architecture and Marine
SE Lateral Forces Bridges
SE Lateral Forces Buildings

FAQ

Will my April registration roll over to the October exam? 
No! Registration for the October 2020 pencil-and-paper exam will open at 10:00 a.m. EDT on June 1, 2020 and close at 3:00 p.m. EDT on August 20.

Will my money be refunded for the cancelled April PE exam?
Yes! Examinees who are registered to take an exam in April 2020 are receiving a full refund of fees paid to NCEES. 

What about the computer-based tests?
Pearson VUE, which administers NCEES computer-based exams, closed its professional test centers and will remain closed until conditions are deemed safe to reopen. If you have been impacted by this closure, you are able to reschedule your exam without paying a rescheduling fee.

PE Licensure Updates

2020 license renewal deadlines are officially pushed back until June 30, 2020. Renewal applications are all by mail this year. They were mailed out in February 2020 and will NOT be available online! The renewal grace period has been extended as well between July 1 and July 31, 2020. 

Stay updated with NJSPE! Become a member today and you’ll receive member benefits like the latest news impacting the industry, discounted continuing education courses, and more. Become a member today >>

Everything You Need to Pass the Electrical Engineering PE Exam

The next PE electrical and computer exam will be held in Fall 2019. To be fully prepared to pass, you should take a few months to plan and build your study materials. Maybe it has been a few years since you’ve taken a serious exam, so you may be a little rusty with studying. Not to worry because we have you covered! Here, you’ll learn what to expect from the exam, the best ways to study, and where you can find helpful materials to study.

What you can expect

The electrical and computer exam is an eight-hour open-book exam, containing 40 multiple choice questions in the four-hour morning session and 40 multiple choice questions in the four-hour afternoon session. The questions require a variety of approaches and methodologies, including design, analysis, and application. The exam features questions on subjects like general electrical engineering knowledge, digital systems, electromagnetics, electronics, control systems, and communications. A breakdown of each category and the approximate number of questions for each can be found here.

How to study for the exam

For this open-book exam, you are allowed to bring bound reference materials, and they must remain bound for the duration of the exam. Loose papers can be bound with ring binders, brads, plastic snap binders, spiral-bound notebooks, or screw posts. As you’re studying, it’s beneficial to organize the information that will be the most important to bring with you.

It is also helpful to create a schedule for your studying. For some subjects, there will be more questions than others, so pay attention to this when you are breaking up your study time. When you organize what you will bring to the exam, remember that sometimes, less is more. Having to flip through potentially hundreds of pages of notes to find an answer will eat into your exam time. When doing practice exams, notice what subjects you are weakest in and focus your materials a little more on those.

Electrical engineering exam materials

To prep for your exam, The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) offers practice exams, supplied-reference handbooks, and free PDF downloads to aid your studying. The practice exam will also contain 80 questions and will familiarize you with the subjects and layout of the exam. All electrical engineering exam materials can be found and purchased on your MyNEECS account.

On ppi2pass.com, you’ll find exam prep bundles, which include a reference manual, practice problems, practice exams, an NEC quick-card, engineering unit conversions, customizable book tabs, and a scientific calculator. See the bundles here. They also offer a number of a la carte manuals and practice exams.

Hopefully you take these materials and go on to crush the PE electrical and computer exam! Have any other topics you’d like more information on? Drop us an email at info@njspe.org

How to Obtain Your License After Passing the PE Exam

Congratulations on passing your PE exam! Months of learning and studying has paid off, and you’re probably asking yourself, “When do I receive my professional engineering license?” Unfortunately, after passing the exam, obtaining your actual license isn’t as easy as waiting by mailbox.

The process for obtaining your license varies state by state; the following information applies to New Jersey engineers. To find your state’s licensing board process, click here.

At the beginning of your PE exam journey, you should have filled out an exam application, like this. This application was your gateway to be able to take the exam, as the state licensing board must grant approval. Once you’ve passed the PE exam, your application is reviewed again by the state licensing board. Each month, the licensing board members meet to determine who will receive a PE license. The board goes through hundreds of applications at every meeting, meaning it could be a few weeks before your application is officially approved.

Upon full approval, you will receive a License Activation form – the final step to obtaining your professional engineering license. Send your activation form, along with the licensure fee ($80 – check or money order made payable to the State of New Jersey), to:

State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors
124 Halsey Street, 3rd Floor
P.O. Box 45015
Newark, New Jersey 07101

Once you officially become a professional engineer, you can reap all the benefits of licensure. Like printing business cards with your new title, displaying your certificate on the wall, purchasing a personalized stamp/seal, negotiating a higher wage at work, and joining a professional engineering society, like NJSPE. Learn more about the benefits of joining a professional engineering society here.

PE Exam Retake: Using Your Diagnostic Report

If you failed the PE exam this time around, don’t get discouraged! In the email you received that included your score, you should have also received a diagnostic report. This report indicates what subject areas on the exam you did well or poorly on. Utilizing your diagnostic report gives you a big advantage when trying for your professional engineering license again. In future study sessions, you’ll know exactly what subjects you should be focusing harder on.

If you’re taking a pencil-and-paper exam, your diagnostic report will look like this.

If you’re taking a computer-based test (CBT), your diagnostic report will look like this.

Understanding Your Diagnostic Report

Pencil-and-paper

In your report, you’ll notice all subjects from the exam in the ‘Knowledge Area’ column. Each subject corresponds with the number of questions asked related to that subject. The next two columns are your performance in that subject, followed by the average score of passing examinees. The average examinee is indicated by a dashed line, and your score is indicated by a solid line.

For example, in the ‘Mass & Energy Balances & Thermodynamics: Mass Balances’ subject, the sample examinee got three questions correct out of nine. Compared to the average passing examinee, this sample tester did not do so well. For the next exam, he or she will probably study harder for Mass & Energy Balances & Thermodynamics, Mass Transfer, Kinetics: Reaction Rate, and Plant Design & Operation: Process Control.

Computer-based tests

Out of all of the PE disciplines, only two exams are computer-based (nuclear and chemical exams). The example diagnostic report above shows examples of an FE exam and uses similar scoring methods as the pencil-and-paper report. You’ll notice there is a column for knowledge area and number of questions asked, and the comparison of your performance to the average of the passing examinee. However, on this report, your performance is ranked on a scale of 0 to 15. The scaled score adjusts for any minor differences in difficulty across the different exam forms.

Like the pencil-and-paper report, you are able to see where you fall compared to the average passing examinee to determine your focus for future study sessions.

 

Using your diagnostic report as a study tool will give you an edge for passing the PE exam and get you that much closer to receiving your professional engineering license. For more study tips, check out our blog on how to improve your study sessions. Good luck!

Post PE Exam: What to Expect

After months and months of studying, you finally took your PE exam. Whether you felt awesome or just not sure after the exam, you’ll have to do a bit of waiting before you find out your score and next steps towards licensure. There are some important differences between the computer-based exams and pencil-and-paper exams when it comes to the waiting period, scoring procedures, and next steps after you pass or fail.

Computer-based exams

Typically, results for computer-based exams are determined much faster than pencil-and-paper exams; they are usually available seven to 10 days after you take the exam. An email will be sent out with instructions to view your results. Your exam results are reported as pass or fail, with your score being based on the number of correct answers you selected. The good news is your score is not affected by incorrect answers. After the number of correct answers are tallied, your score is then converted to a scaled score, this adjusts for any minor differences in difficulty across the different exam forms. Your scaled score represents your ability level and is compared to the minimum ability level for that particular exam. Since every exam differs, there is no predetermined passing score.

Pencil-and-paper exams

A majority of the PE exams are pencil-and-paper exams. The results of these\ exams typically take about eight to 10 weeks to be sent out, depending on the licensing board you selected during the registration process. The process for scoring and releasing results for pencil-and-paper exams are similar to computer-based tests (CBT) in many ways. However, there are also some key differences. You should receive an email with instructions for viewing your results, which will be reported as pass or fail, and you are not penalized for incorrect answers.

Unlike CBTs, there is a rigorous process for scoring exams. Each exam undergoes extensive statistical analysis to determine the minimum level of performance required for a passing score. All answer sheets are scanned and a psychometric analysis is performed on a sample of answer sheets to identify any questions with unusual statistics. These questions are then flagged for review by licensed engineers or surveyors. They also take into consideration examinee comments about specific exam questions. If there is an error in a question, credit may be given for more than one answer. When all of the reviews are complete, the answer keys are changed as necessary, and it is time for exam scoring. Answer sheets are typically machine-graded, but there is a percentage of answer sheets that are manually scored and compared to the machine score to ensure accuracy. For a fee, you may request that your exam be manually verified.

If you pass your exam, congratulations! The next steps you should be taking after passing the exam are highlighted in our blog post here.

If you do not pass your exam, don’t be discouraged! For CBTs, NCEES policy allows examinees to attempt an exam one time per testing window and no more than three times in a 12-month period. For pencil-and-paper exams, the number of times you are allowed to take an exam varies by licensing board. View the policy of your specific licensing board here. In the email you receive with your test results, you will also receive a diagnostic report showing your performance for each of the major topics covered on the exam. The next time you take the exam, you’ll be able to crush those hard topics!

If you’re in the waiting period to get your PE exam results, take a deep breath! You’ve studied and gave the exam your best. Whether you pass or fail, you’re now equipped with your next steps to go forth and crush it.

Your Day-of PE Exam Checklist

As the fall 2018 PE exam date crawls near, you may be doing some last minute cramming and starting to think about what you should have with you on exam day. We’ve mentioned this before – the PE exam rules for what you can and cannot have are very strict, so it’s important to spend some time familiarizing yourself with them before exam day. To make things a little easier, here is a checklist you can print out the night before exam day so you have everything you need:

  • Government-issued ID, valid passport, or military ID
  • Printed copy of your exam authorization
  • One calculator
    • Casio fx-115 and fx-991
    • HP 33s and HP 35s
    • TI-30X and TI-36X
  • Non-smart wristwatch
  • Glasses (but leave the case at home)
  • Two straightedges
    • Ruler
    • Protractor
    • Triangle
    • Scale
  • Bound reference materials with no loose papers
  • Earplugs
  • Non-electronic handheld magnifying glass
  • Protein bars, pretzels, candy, or other small snacks
  • Non-alcoholic beverages, such as water, soda, or Gatorade
  • Leave cell phone, tablets, and smartwatches at home or in the car
  • Don’t wear hats or hoods unless it’s for a religious reason
  • Don’t worry about pens, pencils, or erasers

Remember, rules for the PE exam are very strict and are taken very seriously. Preparing what you can and cannot bring the night before will ensure you are in compliance with regulations, making check-in and the exam itself easier. Looking for some more information related to the PE exam? You can check out all our most recent PE exam resources and blogs here.

What to do if you Need to Reschedule your Computer-based PE Exam

If you’re hoping to get your professional engineering license, you should be well on your way to studying and making reference materials for exam day. Being prepared is the best way to ensure you can concentrate on the PE exam and get the results you’re looking for. But what happens if something stops you from taking your exam, such as an injury or death in the family? Unfortunately, these things do happen, and it’s good to know how to proceed if it does.

For those seeking a professional engineering license in chemical or nuclear engineering, don’t think you can just reschedule last minute since the exam is computer-based. Instead, familiarize yourself with the protocol of what’s allowed and what’s not and how to proceed if you can’t make your scheduled exam day.

Cancellations and Refunds

When you cancel your exam, you may not receive a refund if you cancel too close to the exam date. If you cancel more than 48 hours before the exam, you will receive a refund of the NCEES registration fee minus a $50 administrative fee. Cancellations less than 48 hours before the exam will not be accepted.

Rescheduling

The rules are different for testers wishing to reschedule their exams. If you reschedule, you must pay a rescheduling fee. However, those who reschedule 24 to 48 hours prior to the exam time must pay a higher rescheduling fee than the others. No rescheduling will be accepted 24 hours or less before the exam.

Exceptions

There are a few exceptions to the cancellation and refund rules. You may reschedule without a fee or cancel and receive a full refund for the following reasons: illness to yourself or immediate family member, death in the immediate family, disabling traffic accident, court appearance or jury duty, or military duty. To be eligible for these exceptions, you must provide written documentation within 14 days following the exam. Please note: if there’s inclement weather but the test site is still open, everyone is still required to attend – no exceptions.

Where to Cancel and Reschedule

If you wish to cancel or reschedule your computer-based exam, log in to your MyNCEES account and follow the instructions. The funds will be issued to your credit card within seven to 10 business days if you qualify to receive them.

We hope you don’t have to reschedule or cancel your computer-based PE exam. But if you do, hopefully this information can point in you in the direction of what to do and what to expect. Are you a professional engineering license hopeful looking for more great information about the exam? Check out this page.

How to Nail Check-in the Day of your Professional Engineering Exam

If you’re like most people, making sure you have everything you need to check-in and sit for the exam can be as stressful as worrying about acing the exam itself. While the check-in instructions can slightly vary based on your test location, here are the main things you need to have prepared on the day of your professional engineering exam:

  • Exam authorization – this is emailed to you about two weeks before your exam day, and it is very important! When you receive it, review it to ensure your name is spelled correctly, you have the proper test site, and the test date is correct. If there are any errors, contact the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying immediately to remedy it. The authorization will also include instructions for what to do when you arrive to the test location. Please print and bring this authorization with you on the day of the professional engineering exam, because it is necessary for check-in. Forgetting it could delay or cancel your check-in.
  • Identification – to be clear, not all identification is appropriate for checking in to the professional engineering exam. You must have one of the following: a government-issued identification that was provided by the country you are testing in, a passport from your country of citizenship, or a U.S. military ID. These identification items include a clear picture, date of birth, name, signature, and expiration date. If any of those pieces are missing, your ID will not be accepted, and you will be turned away from taking the exam.

The information on your exam authorization and your provided ID must match. That means if you got married and recently changed your last name, both documents must have either your new last name or old last name. No exceptions.

Once your authorization and ID are checked, the proctor will show you your assigned seat and ask you to turn over any prohibited items, and then you’re all set to take the exam. Have any questions? Drop us a line at info@njspe.org

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