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Are You Ready to Pass the Mechanical PE Exam? Here is What it Takes

  • 26 April, 2021

The Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Exam is different from what you have seen with the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam. The PE Exam is much more practical, focusing on actual engineering scenarios that you may encounter in your career and industry. You need to be able to make decisions and be mindful of allocating your time differently for each question. Some questions you will see and immediately know the answer, while other questions require some thought and longer process steps. Remember, that it is okay to take a little longer with certain questions; the key is to stay cool and recognize that you do not need to solve out every questions and attain a perfect score to pass the PE Exam.

There is a "Cut Score" which determines your Pass/Fail result (similar to the FE Exam, there is no true letter grade or percentage assigned to you). I believe the PE Exam is also relevant towards current industry events, so you should see the PE Exam as an opportunity to learn, not a hurdle that you must overcome. By studying and learning you will find the PE Exam to be a much more fruitful experience, and that is how you can reach the next level. Since you need Licensed PE References, you should chat with those individuals about their study habits and methodology. I found the PE Exam to be more about becoming familiar with the subject matter and knowing where to find specific reference information, rather than trying to memorize certain equations and process steps. Many of the topics overlap and all mix together, so you may notice hints within questions. Remember too, that the PE Exam questions must be realistic; if you are using parameters such as the density of water and Earth's gravity, then the other parameters and solutions must also be realistic. You may even encounter a question or two where you can immediately identify the solution based on the most realistic answer choice. The Mechanical PE Exam is entirely multiple choice, so you are not being graded directly on your methodology and showing your work on scratch paper; you need to demonstrate that you can approach an engineering situation appropriately for the good of public welfare.

Are You Ready to Pass the Mechanical PE Exam? Here is What it Takes

You should not dwell or ruminate over certain questions you may not fully understand. I passed the Chemical FE, so when I saw questions from the Morning General section on Mechanics of Materials, I was certainly taken aback! There is a good chance that many other candidates in the exam room are encountering similar questions, but you should focus solely on playing your own game. I would recommend taking the first couple minutes to look through the exam before starting on the first question; this will give you a better idea of how the exam will flow, from the one topic to the next. You can make mental notes of which topics you will need for certain questions. Fluid Mechanics covers flow, and you will need to be in control of your own pace and flow during the PE Exam!

Become familiar with your Unit Conversions; many questions can be systematically solved by cancelling out units and understanding the unit convention. You will need to co-exist with the different unit systems (e.g., SI, U.S. Customary). Different equations can be used to solve for different parameters, such as heat transfer (Q). The "Q" value can be obtained from different methods, so always be on the lookout for another angle. There is no universal study habit or equation that solves every question.

Preparation is vital. I do feel that most failures and incidents occur due to a lack of preparation. This applies not just to the PE Exam, but also holds true for the engineering industry. It is true that many workplace and accidents could have been avoided if there was better planning and preparation. Be sure that you are taking the time to prepare so that you feel good about the upcoming examination. Again, it is not just about passing the PE Exam, so you have the licensed credentials; it is also an excellent opportunity to learn and expand your knowledge.
About the Author: Gregory Nicosia

Gregory Nicosia, PE is an engineer who has been practicing in the industry for eight years. His background includes natural gas, utilities, mechanical, and civil engineering. He earned his chemical engineering undergraduate degree at Drexel University (2014) and master's in business administration (MBA) from Penn State Harrisburg (2018). He received his EIT designation in 2014 and PE license in 2018. Mr. Nicosia firmly believes in continuing to grow his skillset to become a more well-rounded engineer and adapt to an ever-changing world.

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