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Re: CA Seismic Principles and Engineering Surveying Exam

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I ordered several books from PPI (

They have two "sets" of books that may be of use.  They both consist of
"review" book with some examples, a book with sample exams, and a book
with a bunch of solved problems.  One is for the seismic exam and the
other is for the surveying exam.

The surveying set consists of:

1) Surveying Principles for Civil Engineers by Paul Cuomo, PLS
2) Civil Surveying Sample Exams for the California Special Civil Engineer
Examination by Peter Boniface, PhD, PLS and James Monroe, PE
3) 120 Solved Surveying Problems for the California Special Civil Engineer
Examination by Peter Boniface, PhD, PLS

The seismic set consists of:

1) Seismic Design of Building Structures: A Professional's Introduction to
Earthquake Force and Design Details by Michael Lindeburg, PE with Majid
Baradar, PE
2) Seismic Principles Practice Exams for the California Special Civil
Engineer Examination by Majid Baradar, PE
3) 345 Solved Seismic Design Prblems by Majid Baradar, PE

You can get the books as sets or as individual books.  I found the
surveying "review" book (the first one in the list above) to be REALLY
useful for me (as it has been about 15 years since I last did any
surveying "stuff"...which was back in school).  The other five books I did
not use too much for many reasons (mainly cause I hate to study, but
since I have already taken and passed the Struct III exam in Washington as
well as the NCEES Struct I and II exams for Illinois [rougly
overall equivalent to what is needed to get a CA SE], I am rather already
familiar with seismic design).  The seismic review book did still come in
useful for finding a couple of things when I was taking the exam (i.e. the
index helped find the section in the review book which then told me the
code provision section number in the UBC).

So, at a minimum, I would largely second what someone else said...

For the seismic exam, get familiar with Chapter 16 of the 1997 UBC (or
CBC...the information from CA specifically says that only the UBC is
fine).  In reality, you should be somewhat familiar with ALL the
structural provisions from Volume II of the 1997 UBC, but the overwhelming
majority of the questions relate to Chapter 16.  I can recall at least one
question on wood shear wall parameters from the wood chapter, so don't
completely ignore the other structural chapters.  Another book that can
help with learning this "stuff" is Seismic Design of Buildings and Bridges
by Williams or Ben Yousefi's Structural Engineering Review Manual.  Both
of these books a likely a little "overkill" for this exam as they also get
heavily into the material chapters and "design details", which this exam
does not really get into.  Both of these books are "aimed" more for the CA
SE and WA SE exams, but are still good if you just want to learn overall
seismic design (which includes what you need to know for this exam and

For the surveying exam, a good surveying basics book is likely all you
need.  For me, the PPI "review" style book worked very well.  I also had
my old surveying book, but really did not open it for review (nor did I
take it with me to CA when I was there about two weeks ago for the exams).

As I just took the exams a couple of weeks ago, I don't know yet how I
did.  I feel pretty good about them, but that doesn't mean anything to me
as I have take license exams before where I felt good and did not pass
(the first time I took the NCEES Struct II comes to mind).  So, I will
just have to wait.

My best advice is don't stress out over these exams.  It is not worth it.
I did it once when I first took the PE exam in Michigan many years ago.  I
stressed out so much the night before that I almost did not take the exam
that time...until my folks calmed me down and reminded me that if I did
not pass I could always take it again.  After I got there and took the
exam, I felt REALLY foolish for stressing out...and ended up passing on
the first try.  Since then, I have learned to relax quite a bit and so
taking the NCEES Struct I and II exams for my Illinois SE and the Struct
III for my Washington SE and now the seismic and surveying exams for my CA
PE have been a much more pleasant experience.  The worst part of any of
them was the chair and table that I had to use for the first time I took
the exams for Illinois...the chair sagged ALOT and was a LOT lower than
the table...which resulted in me having a serious back ache after the 16
hours of exams...and then having to drive 4 hours home from Chicago
afterwards with an aching back.

Good luck,

Adrian, MI

On Tue, 15 Nov 2005, Eric Tompos wrote:

> Can anyone recommend references and/or study aids for taking the California
> Seismic Principles and Engineering Surveying Exam.
> Thanks.
> Eric Tompos, P.E.
> NTA, Inc.

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