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RE: PPE Exam

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"NCEES (www.ncees.org) has practice tests available.  Get one and take it."

I completely agree with this.  I took the practice "breadth and depth" test
online the weekend before the real thing.  It was a real eye opener, since I
had never seen the format before.  It was well worthwile if for no other
reason than to become comfortable with the type of things I would be seeing.
Beware, though, when I took their online test there were a lot of bugs and
it was badly misscored.  You should look through the solutions to determine
if you got a problem right or not.  

"I did all my studying with the practice test and a exam preparation book
byMichael Lindeburg (warning - the Lindeburg book has hundreds of errata -
far far more than the 8 pages worth you can download from the PPI site)."

I found the Lindeburg Civil Engineering Review Manual, 7th Edition, to be
extremely valuable.  Your local university bookstore probably carries it, or
you can get it from www.ppi2pass.com.  It is also a handy resource after the
exam, and I know quite a few engineers who still use theirs years later.  It
does have quite a number of errors, and I liberally marked mine up as I read
through it and found things that didn't make sense.  Even so, I used it as
the primary resource for about 80% of the questions that I answered.  I read
almost all the main chapters (exluding such things as the review of math and
units chapter) and worked all of the in-chapter questions and any of the end
of chapter questions marked as "1 hour" questions.  This may seem like
overkill, but you will want a lot of broad knowledge for the morning session
if you take the "breadth and depth" test.  You should start this process
ASAP, as it is very time consuming, and the sooner you start the more
flexible you can be with your study schedule down the road.  It took me
about four months of 1 to 2 hours a day to read it all.  Fortunately, I was
able to take the bus to work, which provided me most of that time without
taking away as much family time.  In taking the structural specialty
section, the AISC manual, the UBC (or other codes, you get to pick), and the
NDS were crucial.  The ACI is also important.  The AASHTO was useful, but I
mostly do building design and thus did't have sufficient background to make
good use of it.  Having it there was what put the "educated" in the my
"educated guesses" about ASSHTO problems.  

When you take the test, just stay relaxed about it.  I know that is easy to
say, but based on my experience I would estimate that if you have prepared
well, you will probably find 60% of the questions to be pretty easy, 30% to
be challenging, and 10% to be just plain hard to impossible.  Just keep in
mind that you don't need *every* question to pass, and can actually miss
quite a few without hurting your chances much.  You aren't shooting for a
college class "A" here to boost your engineering GPA.  Passing is passing,
so don't get rattled if you feel a "C" coming on.  Traditionally, you only
needed 60% to pass.  This may be higher or lower this time, but in either
case there's no need to worry if you meet a few questions that are well
outside your abilities.  Expect to find *at least* 6 out of the 80 questions
that you can't do and don't be concerned when you do find them.  I met a few
of those, moved on to easier questions, and used some extra time I had at
the end to come back with an "educated" guess.  Of course, I don't know if I
passed yet :) but we'll see in a few months.  

Paul Crocker