In this article (and video above), I talk how you can identify and avoid the top five mistakes that can hinder your ability to Pass the PE exam. Whether you’re gearing up for your first attempt or looking to improve upon a previous effort, these insights are tailored to boost your exam strategy.
1. Time Management Miscues
The PE exam is quite a challenge against time. You’re given 8 hours to tackle 80 questions. This breaks down to roughly 6 minutes per question. The strategy here is crucial: don’t get bogged down on a single question. If you find yourself stuck, it’s wise to move on and revisit it later. You can flag problems that you skip so you can easily come back to them later. One practical tip I recommend is bringing a stopwatch or wristwatch to the exam. This simple tool can be a lifesaver in helping you monitor your time.
2. Underestimating the Power of Sleep
It’s tempting to cram all the information you can the night before the exam, but this approach can be counterproductive. A good night’s sleep is invaluable. Lack of sleep can impair your judgment and diminish your focus, and critical faculties that you absolutely need during the exam. Aim for about 7-8 hours of sleep the night before the exam. A light review before bedtime can be helpful for memory retention, but remember, it’s just as important not to overdo it.
Remember, no matter how well you performed academically in the past, the PE exam presents a unique set of challenges. It’s a mistake to assume you can pass without thorough preparation. Taking a comprehensive review course that covers all exam topics is an excellent strategy. They refresh your memory on what you already know and strengthen your grasp on areas you’re less familiar with.
4. Not Studying in a Timed Atmosphere
Many exam takers do tons of practice problems prior to the PE Exam (and you should), but they don’t do them in a timed, pressure-filled atmosphere which mimics the actual exam. You must do this! There is nothing like the pressure of going up against time, so you must prepare for it.
5. Calculator Familiarity
This might seem minor, but it’s incredibly important. Make sure the calculator you bring is approved by the NCEES. Familiarize yourself with it well before exam day. If you’re using a new model, spend time practicing with it. There are many free tutorials available that can help you get up to speed.
Bonus Tip: Reading and Following Instructions
This might sound obvious, but under exam pressure, it’s easy to skim over instructions. Misinterpreting a question can cost valuable points. Take the time to read each question carefully, understand it thoroughly, and then proceed with your answer. By steering clear of these common pitfalls, you’ll be well on your way to passing the PE exam. Remember, it’s not just about hard work, but smart work. Stay calm, stay focused, and trust in your preparation.
This Episode Is Brought to You by PPI
PPI has helped engineers achieve their licensing goals since 1975. Passing the FE and PE exams can open doors to career advancement and new opportunities. Check out PPI’s wide range of prep options, including Live Online courses, OnDemand courses, and digital study tools to help prepare you to pass your licensing exam here.
I hope you found this article helpful. In upcoming articles, I will solve some more PE exam practice problems and answer other questions from our subscribers. Pass the PE Exam videos will publish weekly, so be sure to click the subscribe button so you don’t miss something that could make a substantial difference in your exam result.
Lastly, I encourage you to ask questions in the comments of this video, or on this page and I’ll read and respond to them in future videos. So, if there’s a specific topic you want me to cover or answer, we have you covered.
I’ll see you next week… on Pass the PE Exam
Anthony Fasano, P.E.
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success