80-Day PE Exam Countdown

The PE Exam Countdown doesn’t have to be a frenzied, stressful cram session where you try and stuff as much information as possible into your short-term memory. The PE Exam preparation process can actually be enjoyable and possibly career-expanding by thoughtfully planning out your time and activities.

PE Exam Countdown

Here’s a quick checklist to help you get and stay on track with the PE Exam Countdown:

  • Read PE Exam Success – The 10 Best Ways to be Prepared
  • Get registered with NCEES for your exam.
    • Note: registration typically closes at 3:00 pm EST, 8 weeks plus 1 day prior to the exam.
  • Download and read the Examinee Guide.
    • Don’t under-estimate the guidelines. People have been dismissed from the exam for as little as wearing a non-compliant digital watch. This mistake could cost you an entire year depending on which exam you are taking.
  • Start gathering your Test-Day resources:
  • Work through as many example problems, practice tests, review courses as possible between now and the exam. Working example problems helps you focus on your “weak” spots and builds your confidence for the exam. Solved problems are great to include in your test-day binders.
  • Schedule your time during the PE Exam Countdown:
    • How much time are you going to devote each day/each week to preparing?
    • Where can you find enough practice material?
    • Do you have to borrow any reference material (i.e. code books, handbooks, etc.)?
    • How are you going to organize and catalog your resources for quick reference during the exam? Remember, you only have 6 minutes per question.
    • When can you devote an entire 9-hour day to practicing with sample exams. Getting a “feel” for working through a practice exam under actual time constraints will pay huge benefits on exam day.
  • Plan your exam day:
    • Know the exact location of the exam including address, building, and room.
    • Have accurate and detailed directions.
    • Have an emergency/secondary route – just in case.
    • Know how long it will take to get to the exam.
    • Plan when you’ll have to wake, eat, get ready, and leave for the exam.
    • If necessary, make lodging arrangements.
    • Plan how to spend your lunch break.
      • Bring something to eat in your car.
      • Map out the nearest fast-food restaurants.
      • Have your running shoes and a change of clothes for a quick walk or run.
      • Bring additional resources to look through.

By thinking through the entire process:

Exam Prep – Logistics – Resources – Backup Plans

and working everything out in advance, your PE Exam experience will be much more pleasant and less stressful.

If there’s anything I can help with, please don’t hesitate to contact me at:


To Your Success …

Jeff Setzer, PE
PE Exam Countdown

PE Exam Countdown

7 PE Exam Success Habits

7 PE Exam Success Habits – the methods Professional Engineers use to pass the PE Exam

7 Ways To Pass The PE ExamRealize the volume of material that must be reviewed

Regardless of which PE Exam you are taking, you will have to review a great deal of information to be fully prepared. The individual exam outlines found at NCEES show that exam-writers have a wide range of topics and subjects on which to base their questions.

Your job is to cover as many of these topics as possible to ensure you’re not surprised on exam day. You want to be prepared for whatever they throw at you.

7 Ways To Pass The PE ExamUnderstand the time commitment required to prepare for the exam

In order to cover the material described above, you must be willing to commit adequate time for preparation and review. Depending on when you plan to take the exam, your time commitment will vary.

For instance, if you have 12 months to get prepared, then a couple of hours during each week plus some time on the weekends will probably be sufficient. The problem is that you will most likely have to keep re-reviewing material as time goes by to make certain you can remember and recall the information.

If you have +/- 3 months to prepare, then you’ll need to commit a couple of hours each night plus additional time on weekends.

And if you have 1 month (or less), then you’re test preparation efforts will be a full-time job.

Take the time to plan out a study schedule and stick to it. You will save yourself from a lot of anxiety and sleepless nights.

Read: Total Immersion Test Preparation

7 Ways To Pass The PE ExamUse the right tools to prepare for the exam

Everyone learns best using method(s) they are most comfortable with and that suit their learning style. Some of you are best using books and study guides. Others excel searching the internet for appropriate exam prep tools. And still others like to make use of teachers – either in person or online.

Whatever method you use, make certain you know how you learn most efficiently and capitalize on that strength.

You can find PE Exam preparation courses, books, practice exams, etc. at:

7 Ways To Pass The PE ExamWork through as many sample questions as you can find

Working through sample exam questions is the most efficient and thorough means of getting prepared. You will be exposed to relevant information, problem solving methods, and critical thinking techniques that will be beneficial on exam day.

Also, if you will take the time to work sample problems in a timed format – i.e. 6 minutes per problem – you gain the additional benefit of practicing under time constraints. You will learn how to efficiently work through the question, find the right resources, solve the problem being asked; all under the stress associated with time.

You can find sample questions (some free of charge) and practice exams at most of the sites listed above. You can also search the internet, old course textbooks, and some code books for additional practice problems.

7 Ways To Pass The PE ExamFind and participate in a review course to refresh your abilities

As with the exam preparation tools outlined above, there are many types of review courses:

  • In-person at a local university or college
  • Online in an interactive program
  • Online in a self-paced course
  • On your own or in a group with a printed course

Find a course that suites your needs, learning style, time frame, etc. You can find review courses at most of the sites listed above.

The Review Course should cover all the topics listed at NCEES.org and not devote time to other subjects – such as engineering math, unit conversions, ethics, etc. If a topic is not shown on the NCEES exam outline, don’t spend review course time studying it.

Also, be wary of courses that claim to get you prepared too quickly. Meeting for a couple of hours once a week over a 30 day time period is probably not enough to get you ready.

Passing The PE ExamPut together a Test-Day Resource Library©

A Test-Day Resource Library© is your best tool while in the exam. It should contain all your reference material, solved example problems, charts and tables, applicable code sections, etc, that you need to solve the majority of potential questions.

You cannot possibly know what questions will be asked on the exam, but through your preparation, you should have compiled a great deal of information. You can sort and segregate this information into sections of 3-ring binders that can easily be accessed during the exam.

Your resource library will give you the tools and confidence to b e successful on the exam.

Read: Test-Day Resource Library

7 PE Exam Success HabitsSeek the advice of others who have passed a PE Exam

The advice and input from others who have successfully passed a PE Exam can be a useful source of motivation and encouragement. You can typically ask for and receive guidance on what to study and what not to study, what resources to take to the exam, and answers to any questions you may have.


  • Coworkers
  • People in Professional Societies
  • Contacts in other engineering companies
  • Professors and instructors from your university

Find engineers on:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google+

Search the internet for:

  • forums dedicated to your discipline
  • independent consulting engineers

Send me a message or question using the form below:


There are multiple ways to find engineers willing to give you their advice and opinions on how to prepare for a PE Exam … you just have to look.

If there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to ask.

To Your Success …

Jeff Setzer, PE
7 PE Exam Success Habits

7 PE Exam Success Habits


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