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Understanding the PE Civil Exam: Breadth and Depth

  • 26 March, 2020

The PE Civil exam is an eight-hour, open-book exam containing 40 breadth questions in the morning portion and 40 depth questions in the afternoon portion.

The breadth part of the exam is the same for all examinees. Its purpose is to test general knowledge without going into great detail on segmented specialties. The breadth exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering the following topics:

  • Project Planning
  • Means and Methods
  • Soil Mechanics
  • Structural Mechanics
  • Hydraulics and Hydrology
  • Geometrics
  • Materials
  • Site Development

Examinees then go on to take their chosen depth exam in the afternoon, which tests the specific knowledge of the depth disciplines. When registering for the PE Civil exam, examinees must choose one of five possible depth topics on which to be tested:

  • Construction
  • Transportation
  • Geotechnical
  • Water Resources and Environmental
  • Structural

It is recommended that examinees register for the depth exam that best aligns with their career goals. For example, if you want to focus on environmental civil engineering, you should register for the Water Resources and Environmental depth.

Understanding the PE Civil Exam: Breadth and Depth

Preparing for two different parts of an eight-hour exam can be overwhelming, but School of PE is here to help! Our comprehensive PE Civil exam review course consists of 84 hours of comprehensive lectures and practice sessions and is designed using NCEES specifications. The course is split into two sections: 56 hours dedicated to the breadth exam and 28 hours dedicated to the depth section of your choosing. Contact School of PE for more information on available course formats and pricing.

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