PE Exam Tips: Test Taking Techniques

In addition to knowing the material, there is another factor to consider in your success at passing this exam: Test-taking techniques.

There are many people who can know the material, but fail the exam because they simply are not good test takers. And the 8 hour PE exam will test your test-taking ability, to the limit.

Nothing suffices for knowledge, of course, but the ability to take a test properly can make a difference of up to 10% or more to your final result. Bearing in mind that these standardized licensing exams tend to be both difficult and tricky, here are some hints I have come up with from my experience of preparing students.

Proper preparation is the key to passing the exam. Your part in this process is vital because no one can learn the material for you, You must do the learning.

Attitude Matters

Your general attitude to the exam matters. You need to establish the correct mental attitude. Develop a healthy level of contempt for the exam, but don’t be intimidated by it. Be both positive and cautious.

The night before the exam make sure you get a good night’s sleep, 8 hours is good. When you are physically tired, you will make many more careless errors on a test. And don’t try staying up all night with last minute cramming. It may have worked for an undergraduate mid-term, but your running a marathon, not a sprint. Before you sleep, read a book or watch a movie.

On the day of the exam, arrive at the exam center early and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Sit quietly to collect your thoughts before you begin the exam.

Read Questions Very Carefully

Once in the exam, Read the Entire Question. Yes, you really should read each question very carefully. Read each and every word individually. Avoid the bad habit of read things into the question. So read like an engineer. Read with precision. Then, read the question again. Many times, you will catch something the second time through that you did not see on the first reading.

As you are going through the test, be mindful of the fact that some of the questions contain information that you may find useful in subsequent questions. Most problems take one or two steps; a few may take three or more steps. If you think a problem needs 5-6 steps to solve, there may be a different method. Be careful with your time, and remember that each problem should take an average of only 6 minutes.

Don’t talk about your preparation with others. Don’t discuss the morning exam over lunch. It’s unethical and will only feed your doubts. Exam day is not social. Keep to yourself.

Techniques Boost PE Exam Results

So while preparation is the key, exam technique can give you a precious 10% boost. It’s not enough to simply read this advice. Go and take practice problems under timed conditions. And practice reading carefully. Practice working to a 6-minute constraint.

Many engineers have told me that these hints, if properly followed, have made the difference between passing and failing