10 Must Have PE Exam Resources

These 10 items should be at the top of your PE Exam – Test Day Checklist

These Must Have PE Exam Resources are specifically listed for those taking a Civil Engineering or Mechanical Engineering Exam but some are applicable to every test. Refer to the NCEES Examinee Guide for a list of approved and not approved items allowed in the exam room. And, check out the links – the pictures are links too – to find related information.

1 – Acceptable Form of ID

Acceptable forms of ID must be government issued and must include:

  • a valid expiration date
  • your name
  • date of birth
  • a recognizable photo
  • your signature

Valid U.S. military IDs that do not include a signature will be accepted.

2 – Exam Authorization

Bring a printed copy of your exam authorization to prove that you’re registered and approved to take the exam. This will help in avoiding delays at check-in.

3 – International Building Code

Must Have PE Exam Resources

The basis for the October 2014 PE Exams is the 2009 International Building Code. Currently 23 states have adopted the 2012 International Building Code with the remaining states using the 2003, 2006, or 2009 versions. If you can find a copy of the 2009 version, use it for the exam. Otherwise, I recommend purchasing the 2012 version. After the exam you can either use it in your practice or attempt to resell it.

4 – Approved Calculator

Must Have PE Exam Resources

The approved calculators listed on the NCEES.org website are:

Don’t try to outsmart the system on this one. I actually saw someone’s calculator being taken away during the exam. If they didn’t have a spare approved calculator, I assume they did all their calculations long hand.

5 – Timer

Must Have PE Exam Resources

A timer is a definite must-have for test day. With 80 questions on the exam and 8 hours to finish, that only gives you 6 minutes per question. In this 6 minutes you must:

  • read the question
  • determine what the question is asking for
  • find your resources
  • solve the problem
  • mark the answer sheet and move on to the next question

On the majority of questions – hopefully – this will be plenty of time. But there is always a certain percentage of the questions that will take you more than 6 minutes to solve/answer. By using a timer, you can stay on schedule, picking up a few precious minutes here and there to use towards those more difficult questions. The last thing you want on test day is to be well short of finishing when the proctor indicates you have 30 minutes left.

Note: Cell phones are NOT allowed in the exam room at any time. So don’t plan to use your smart phone app as your timer or else …

6 – Resource Library

In addition to the International Building Code, you need to have those resources that are specific to your particular exam. A good rule is that if you used a resource – code book, handbook, chart, graph – when solving practice problems during your preparation, then include the resource in your library. If you used something once or twice, make a copy of that particular resource only. Your Resource Library is not intended to be every notebook, textbook, study guide, Post-It Note®, scrap of paper you can find.

You will see people hauling in so much material you might feel under-prepared.


There is no way they can use all that stuff in the limited amount of time available. The good news is you’ll be amused by the fact they spent a lot of time and effort getting their collection to the test site while you waltzed in carrying a box of binders.

7 – Binders of Solved Example Problems

Must Have PE Exam Resources

If you’ve taken any of the Crash Courses I offer, then you are well aware of my endorsement for working example problems. You can take all the review courses you can find, read all the study guides you want, and use any number of other preparation routines, but you still won’t beat the benefit of working problems. I built my Test-Day Resource Library© by finding example questions for each of the topics shown for the exam I was taking. Working through the problems allowed me to add to the supplemental materials I found helpful. I then assembled everything into my 5 binder library. These 5 binders plus a few code books are all I used to pass my PE Exam.

8 – Equations, Formulas, & Conversions

Must Have PE Exam ResourcesAlthough this one seems a bit obvious, I can assure you there will be a question or two that requires some obscure equation or conversion factor you don’t have. Find a good source of equations and conversion factors – in a book or online – and add those to your library.

9 – Engineering Economics Resources

Must Have PE Exam Resources

Almost all the PE Exams have an Engineering Economic analysis problem or two. During your preparation time, determine the most typical type of analysis problems – depreciation, present worth, future worth, equivalent uniform annual benefits – and find applicable tables and charts to solve these problems.

10 – Snacks and Nonalcoholic Drinks

Make certain your snacks (i.e. hard candy, candy bars, gum) and drinks can be opened and consumed with little or no noise that would disturb the other examinees. I can’t think of anything more annoying in a testing room than someone attempting to quietly open a candy wrapper. In their efforts they usually make considerably more noise than if they would have just opened it normally. Your goal here is to quickly have a snack without anyone noticing.

And there it is, my top 10 list of resources for your PE Exam. In my next post I will talk about specific items to include in your Test-Day Resource Library©. For additional information on PE Exams including resources to accelerate your preparation time, check out my website:


10 Must Have PE Exam Resources

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