A New Era for the PE Exams: Are You Ready for the New Specifications?
Part 3 – Civil Breath and Water Resources and Environmental Depth Exams
By Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., F-NSPE
As we discussed in last month’s article, April 2015 is an important month for all engineers who are planning to take their PE exams. Because effective April 2015, the new PE exam specifications were implemented. In the March and April issues, we discussed in detail the new specifications for the “Construction Module” and “Geotechnical Module.” This month we discuss the “Water Resources and Environmental Module” afternoon depth exams.
PE Civil exam basics:
- Offered twice a year; in April and October.
- Designed for engineers with FE (EIT) certificates who have at least four years of post-college work experience in their chosen engi-neering discipline.
- Lasts 8 hours and consists of multiple choice questions. Every problem on the PE exam is standalone (there is only one question per problem).
- Split into a morning and an afternoon session (4 hours each; 40 multiple choice questions each).
- Both sessions use SI units and the US Customary System (USCS).
- Morning and afternoon session exam results are combined with breath results for final score.
- The February issue of our column details the morning breath session of the exam.
- The afternoon depth section focuses on a single area of practice in civil engineering to test an engineer’s ability to practice competently in one of the five sub-disciplines of the civil engineering.
- The exam is scored based on the afternoon module selected during registration.
PE Civil Water Resources and Environmental – Afternoon Depth Exam Specifications
The afternoon session of the PE Civil Water Resources and Environmental depth session includes questions that require a variety of approaches and methodologies, including design, analysis, and application. Some problems in the afternoon session may require knowledge of engineering economics.
A typical breakdown with approximate number of questions:
- Analysis and Design: 4 questions,
- Hydraulics–Closed Conduit: 5 questions,
- Hydraulics–Open Channel: 5 questions,
- Hydrology: 7 questions,
- Groundwater and Wells: 3 questions,
- Wastewater Collection and Treatment: 6 questions,
- Water Quality: 3 questions,
- Drinking Water Distribution and Treatment: 6 questions,
- Engineering Economics Analysis: 1 question.
The exam is open-book. According to NCEES, you can bring bound reference material, loose paper bound with ring binders, plastic snap binders, and spiral-bound notebooks. All paper must remain bound during the exam, and sticky notes and flags must remain attached to book pages. Do not bring any kind of graph paper with you into the exam. You can write only on the exam materials from NCEES.
According to former students who recently took the PE exam, make sure you review how to use the Darcy-Weisbach, Hazen-Williams equations, and the Moody Diagram. Don’t be surprised when you see some structural, geotechnical and transportation problems as well.
As we always remind our readers, these are very fast-paced exams and you will have little time to look up information. Therefore, make sure you are familiar with your reference material and begin with the subject areas you know best. This will give you more time and build your confidence. To help prepare for the exam, here is this month’s problem set.
Remember, it is always good idea to consider reverse engineering the problems by substituting the answers and seeing which one works. It is also important to remember that every problem on the PE exam is standalone. There are no problem statements with many related questions.
And finally, stay relaxed and confident. Always keep a good attitude and remind yourself that you are going to do your best!
Until next time,
Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., (Dr. Z.)
NCS Congratulates Dr. Zeytinci on his 2015 National Society of Professional Engineers/Professional Engineers in Higher Education/Sustaining University Program Engineering Education Excellence Award!