Statistics and Lessons Learned from the April 2014 Civil PE Exam

mapFirst lets talk about the stats.  The April Exam was given in the US on 11April 2014.  Of the first time exam takers, 70% of those passed.  Of the repeat test takers only 39% passed.  It took between 39 to 56 days (5.6 – 8 weeks) depending on which state you are from to get your results of the test.  Below are the dates that the different states released the results.

5/20: KY, WA, ME, AR, IN, UT, TN, DE, AK, TX, VT, FL, WV, DC, NH, NE, SC, MS  MS

5/21: OK, OH, MI, NC, LA, PA, AZ, MO, NM, ND, KS (Mailed), WY, OR (Mailed)

5/22: AL, NV, IL, WI, NJ, MD, CT, MN, HI

5/23: NY, CA, VA, MA

5/27: RI

5/29: GA

6/2: IA, PR

6/6: CO

I asked many people about their exam.  Of course details could not be provided due the NCEES testing policy.  However, below are some helpful comments for you to prepare for the next Civil PE Exam.

Overall impression of the test:

  • “Morning was a lot easier than the Afternoon”.  I think this is becoming a trend with the Civil PE exam.  The morning tests you on some basic concepts of each discipline, but the afternoon NCEES really wants to test you on your full understanding of your field.  The best advice for this, just to be ready for it.  The questions will have a little more reading comprehension.  They will take the basic problems and add a twist to it to make you think on your feet.  There will be problems on the test that you never saw before, even if you did every practice problem book out there.  Expect the afternoon to take longer than the morning, so plan accordingly.

One section to study more of:

  • “Afternoon depth”.  Of course this is very person specific but as a general rule you should spend the majority of your time studying your depth section which is 60% of the test.
  • “The first topic that you studied” The first topic that you start studying could be looked at months before the test.  It is recommended that you spend a little time before the test to review all the material again, but especially the first discipline.

One thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started studying for the exam:

  • “Work practice problems and know where to find the information”. This is the best use of your time by far.  You need to be working problems and then documenting (tabbing, highlighting) the places you found it.
  • “Make sure to bring the NCEES practice books in to the exam with you, bring all your study books”.  You will not have time to look up every answer, but if you finish early it is good to be able look up and double check some questions.
  • “Studying takes longer than I thought, and study the right material”.  Before you start studying make sure to fill out your study schedule and stick to that.  This test is not easy to study for, you need to commit your time to it.

Were you able to finish all the questions?

  • Yes, both sections: 63.41%
  •  No, neither sections:  7.32%
  • Yes, morning – No, Afternoon: 26.83%
  • No, morning – Yes, Afternoon: 2.44%

Advice to share for people taking the next exam:

  • “Work as many practice problems as you can.” Of course, this is pretty standard advice.  I like the 60%/25%/15% rule of thumb.  60% of your time should be doing practice problems, 25% should be studying theory and equations, 15% should be organizing and making sure you know how to find everything on exam day.
  • “Don’t too get bogged down in tabbing.  Tab the indexes and possibly the chapters, but don’t recreate the index with tabs.”  This is pretty good advice, there is a fine line between having a good tabbing system and having way too many tabs.  It is up to you, but be careful not to overdo it.
  • “Spend more time studying the “other topics” in the depth portion”.  There will be 4 questions on the afternoon portion of the exam which will be from the other disciplines.  Know them and study them so you at least have a chance to answer them on exam day.
  • “Have a study schedule, and do not study every topic from the CERM”.  This gets a lot of people during the early days of studying for the exam.  The CERM covers a lot of material that is not going to be on the test, so get the NCEES outline for topics and study those not the manual.

Let me know if you have any other advice for new test takers or if you have any questions.



{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment