How The Various PE Review Courses Help You To Prepare

This article explains why the PE Review courses are so important for most of us. It shows how undergraduate education can be variable, even when all programs are accredited.

There are two key aspects to PE Exam preparation. You need to prepare for the content, and you need to prepare for the exam format. Let’s first look at the content.

We all graduated from accredited schools which means that we are all prepared for the content of the exam. Right? Wrong! Our content background is as diverse as our ethnicity, our gender, and our personalities. The examiners job is to safeguard the public and uphold the finest traditions of the Civil Engineering profession. The examiners want to establish a common set of minimum standards for our nations Civil Engineers.

The process begins by a body known as “ABET” – an acronym for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. ABET currently accredits some 2,700 programs at over 550 colleges and universities nationwide. ABET is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. For Civil and Environmental Engineering, its job is to assess the quality of degree programs. You are taking the PE Exam, because you have a degree from an ABET approved program. This ensures that your professors had the right qualifications, your degree program had the right content, and many other factors such as the adequacy of your school’s lab facilities. It doesn’t mean that you were attentive, five years ago in the structures classes. It doesn’t guarantee that you geotechnics professor covered the unified soil classification method. It doesn’t assert that you really understood the area end method for earthworks calculations.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. We all have professors who perhaps didn’t quite connect to us. So however good we were, there will always be gaps and deficiencies. And what about those codes and manuals we used as undergrads? Sometimes the exam requires codes that have been updated, sometimes overhauled, and sometimes replaced. So why should we have to be tested on references that didn’t even exist when we were undergraduates? Because we’re applying to be accepted into a profession. And that means that we willingly submit to the code that requires us to stay up to date – lifelong learning.

So, in preparing for the content of the exam, we need to have a clear understanding of how much we know and what we don’t know. The Examiners expect a broad based understanding, and it’s up to us to plug the gaps. Now if you’re a Water Engineer, you may ask ‘why should I have to know about Critical path Methods, and Equilibrium Theory?” The answer is that you’re applying to become a licensed Professional Engineer in “Civil Engineering”. So, even though your specialty may be project management or structural design, you should have a broad understanding of the profession to which you aspire to join. You would expect a Brain Surgeon to understand the difference between a fracture and a sprain. So too must a Finite Elements designer know the difference between a settlement tank and an aerobic filter.

Turning to the actual content preparation, remember you’re effectively looking at work that spanned your junior and senior years at college. Picking up those weighty manuals can be a little daunting. Even if you were the most organized of students, 4 or more semesters of lecture notes, handouts, lab reports, homeworks, and exam scripts makes quite a bundle. So where should you begin?

There are excellent manuals and preparation books. Just don’t be overwhelmed by their size and weight. There are classes which can be very useful. And of course, there’s where you can tailor your preparation to your weaknesses, leaving your strengths to a quick brush-up.

In summary, the PE Exam is a long and broad sweeping ordeal. Preparation is essential, and can’t be the same for everyone.