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Preparing for PE Civil Exam

This exam is referred to as the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam that is conducted to measure a minimum amount of proficiency in a certain discipline of engineering. This exam is taken by those who have concluded four years in a particular discipline of engineering and have attained professional work experience in that field. The format of the exam is such that it comprises 80 questions and the time given to attend those questions in pencil-and-paper format. At present, such exams are offered in pencil-and-paper format, but some PE exams are directed year-round with the help of computer-based testing.

This exam is conducted in two halves, i.e., the first half comprises questions from all five regions of civil engineering and the second half comprises questions from any one area of practice. The instructions and level of this exam are modified 6 months before the exam administration. The notification for this exam to be conducted in April will be posted in November, and for October, it will be posted in May. When you have to fill out the form for this exam, you will be required to select an afternoon module, based on which scoring will be done. Given below are the five specializations in Civil Engineering:

The exam results are declared 8–10 weeks after the exam administration to the licensing boards. You will be notified for this exam based on your state, via online mode, through your MyNCEES account, or will be notified via postal mail from your state licensing board. The fees required to appear in this exam vary from state to state or as per the foreign location. Depending upon your place of registration, fees may be paid directly to NCEES, the state licensing board, or the designer of the board. The exam type is an open book where you are allowed to bring reference materials, they may bound it with ring binders, brads, plastic snap binders, spiral-bound notebooks, or screw posts. Staple is not permitted inside the examination hall. Flags and notes are permitted only when attached to bound materials, otherwise, they are not allowed when these are taken loose. NCEES also conducts mock tests so you can familiarise yourself with the exam format. These tests comprise questions that are based on past years and questions written just for study materials to provide extra practice.

Fig 1 Books available online for PE Civil Exam
Fig 1: Books available online for PE Civil Exam
Courtesy: Google

Understanding exam
Preparing for this exam is not a tough journey at all. Before starting with the preparation, it is important to know which subject is the easiest and which one is hardest. Here are some points-

Some Important Tips

Fig 2 A flow chart depicting PE Civil exam format
Fig 2: A flow chart depicting PE Civil exam format
Courtesy: School of PE

No exam is tough or easy. It solely depends on the candidate’s preparation technique, hard work or smart work planning, and a better understanding of one’s weaknesses and strengths. If preparation is done beforehand, then it is easy to excel in any exam. Rarely is the possibility of some students excelling in such exams with preparation just before the exam. This exam should be taken seriously as it decides the destination of the candidate’s interest to pursue a branch of interest. With good preparation and applying such beneficial techniques, one can come out with flying colours and become the best civil engineer to whom the world is looking up to.


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Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

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