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Practicing Problems for PE, FE, and SE Exam Shown to "Get Brain Juices Flowing"

  • 29 July, 2019

Is practicing problems for your FE, PE, or SE exam part of your study plan? You may spend time attending online lectures, reading, and making notes in your reference material, but studies have shown that merely reviewing material won't cut it for a thorough exam preparation.

You've probably heard the phrase "Get those brain juices flowing.." and it makes sense that the flowing of said "brain juices" would be beneficial in studying for the FE Civil, PE Mechanical, or SE Vertical exam, right? So, what is the best way to promote information consolidation? Our answer: Practicing Problems.

Actually practicing a set of problems may seem simple enough, but psychological studies have proven that there is a lot of science behind what makes practicing problems effective. In fact, practicing has been found to be one of the most effective techniques for studying because of the boost in cognitive functionality when doing so.

How Research Supports the Claim of Practicing Problems in Accordance with Brain Functionality

A study done by Tufts University does show the correlation between practicing problems for an exam and the increase of brain power/ memory consolidation. Researchers time matched two groups of participants: participants who merely studied without practicing problems and participants who used practice problems as part of their study methods. According to Amanda Smith, a psychology graduate who worked on the research project, those who actually practiced problems during their study sessions performed much better on their exams when compared to the other group. "It's not a matter of how much or how long you study," she said, "it's a matter of how you study."i

So why does practicing problems help in preparing for an exam? Though there are many factors that can come into play, actual physical changes in the brain that are caused by practicing can be attributed towards the positive results.

According to Annie Bolser and Don Greene, who spoke on the subject matter in a TED-ED presentation, practicing something over and over can change the physical structure of your brain.

When practicing something, such as practice problems for an NCEES exam, myelin begins to build up around axons in the brain, thereby improving overall insulation. Scientists and neurologists believe that the extra insulation that myelin provides can increase overall axon functionality. As axons are responsible for sending electrical signals throughout the brain, it makes sense that the extra insulation can increase brain functionality and even help an individual to recall information quickly in an exam environment.ii

How We Can Help Get Those Brain Juices Flowing

If you're looking to take an NCEES exam in the near future, we can get your brain juices flowing by assisting you in our FE, PE, or SE exam prep courses. Our courses include practice problem and solutions sheets, so you can sufficiently prepare for your chosen exam (and grow some myelin)!


i Thomas, A., & Smith, A. (Researchers). Practice makes perfect: Learning by taking practice tests protects memory against stress [Video file]. Retrieved from

ii Bosler, A., & Greene, D. (Educators). How to Practice Effectively [Video File]. Retrieved from

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