Top Tips on How to Pass your Professional Engineers License Exam

If you are currently studying toward your PE, we don’t need to sell you on why earning your PE license is a great idea, but all the studying can be overwhelming to juggle alongside your day job. We collected some tips for preparing for your exam from recently licensed KPFF Professional Engineers:

1. Find Your Preferred Study Style

Everyone has different styles of studying; some people like to read a chapter and then recall the information by writing down everything on paper, others like to use an audio guide while they are doing monotonous tasks. Reflect back to the study styles that worked for you in the past or research different study techniques. Be wary of fancy PE-study apps being a distraction from the studying.

2. Create a Study Plan

Create a study timetable, be realistic with your time, and print it out and stick it somewhere you cannot ignore it.

3. Pair Up with a Study Buddy

Find someone who is studying at the same time and practice answering questions out loud. Start with easy questions and increase difficulty, flash cards work great for this. This helps cement knowledge and give an element of accountability in your studies. This tip came from Colleen Brehm, PE, a Civil Engineer in Portland, who passed her PE exam in 2018.

4. Study Before or After Hours at Work

Studying at your desk before or after work hours is a great way of avoiding distractions at home, allowing you study in a familiar setting and leave it at the office. Some even go as far as coming in to the office on a Saturday morning.

5. Text Books

Once you start researching books you will realize there are dozens of books out there, keep it simple and get familiar with no more than three essential text books and stick to the minimal number of books to take to your exam. Check your local or corporate library for books and reference material you can borrow rather than purchase.

6. Book Tabs

Bookmark important sections of text books so you can easily find them later, ensuring you can quickly locate the topic you are looking for in your reference materials without wasting too much time during the exam.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice

Do as many practice questions as possible, leave ones aside that you are not able to solve and revisit later. Alexi Brooks, PE suggests practicing equations on your calculator which means you eventually develop "muscle memory" with your calculators and reference guides, so you don't fumble during the exam. As your exam date approaches take one or more real exam practices.

8. FE Reference Handbook

Following from the previous point, the FE reference handbook, found here is available free online as a PDF. It has a lot of valuable equations and would be good to have with you on test day.

9. Be Prepared

Before the day of the exam research the best route to where the exam is being held. Also make sure you know exactly how to get to the exam room, this will reduce the stress on the day of the exam. Get plenty of sleep the night before and remember your supplies like your calculator and a set of batteries or bring a spare.

Finally, Remember the End Goal

It’s important to remember the end goal during all this studying - obtaining a professional licensure is an excellent way to show commitment to your career path and well worth all the hard work!

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