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Re: California Civil PE Exam Preparation.

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Bill Marczewski wrote:

<I'm taking the California Civil PE Exam in April and would appreciate input
regarding preparation suggestions for the Civil Exam, as well as the
Seismic, and Surveying portions of the exam.>

There are some reasonably good manuals out there for these exams. You need
to make sure that the one you are using is current to the codes you will be
examined on (UBC 97). I actually found my old university textbooks were good
for the basic principles. I found that the NCEE Civil Exam was not terribly
difficult and I had lots of time to review my answers. You can go a long way
on structural problems but I found that some areas of structural,
particularly the bridge questions, were more difficult for me to handle than
a lot of the general civil questions. I remember picking up some fairly easy
marks by doing a flow net problem for water flow under a dam. I read through
the chapter in my old soils text (Sowers and Sowers) during the exam and
found it to be a fairly simple problem to solve using the step by step
procedure they had. There are also some easy marks to be had doing void
ratios type soils problems. Make sure you have all your definitions and the
simple formulas down cold.

I used the PPI publication for the survey exam and it was a great help. I
think I came close to acing that exam. Just based on common sense and
reviewing the manual pretty thoroughly. If you're really keen there is the
CALTRANS Survey Manual available on line at:

The special seismic exam was a bit more challenging. The Seismic Design
manuals from SEAOC are a useful aid. You need to know your fundamental
definitions for seismology plus good detail of the UBC seismic provisions.
Make sure your diaphragm design (steel and timber) is up to scratch and that
your masonry design is solid.

Being a world class procrastinator, my major problem was sitting down and
working through the study material. It helps if you set up a work area that
is well organized and appealing. Commit yourself to do 20 or 30 minutes a
night. Leave your book out opened where you stopped so you're all set to go
next time you come in.

Show up to the exam early and be well rested. (And all that other stuff your
mom told you!)

Good Luck!

John MacLean

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