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Don't Waste Your Time: Why You Should Take a Review Course for Your Engineering Exam

  • 10 June, 2022

If you plan on taking the FE or PE exam, chances are you've at least considered a review course. There's also a chance that you have written courses off because you feel confident in your engineering knowledge or ability to study alone. You may also have concerns about the pricing of a review course. These are valid factors to account for, but consider this: you can't be too sure when preparing for a FE/PE exam-it's a big exam-and the benefits of a good review course far outweigh cost concerns (especially considering the potential for reimbursement). But don't just take my word for it; let's get into exactly why a review course is so useful for optimal exam prep.

Don't Waste Your Time: Why You Should Take a Review Course for Your Engineering Exam

1. Studying Is Key

That may seem like the most obvious statement for any exam-it is. But when it comes to FE/PE exams, many aspiring engineers underestimate exactly how much studying they'll need to do. Some people come out of graduation and believe that their school knowledge mixed with a minimal amount of studying will get them by. Others may cram weeks before the exam. For some, this may work, but success with these methods is rare. Being prepared for these exams takes a hefty amount of study time. Engineers who have passed the PE exam report putting in an average of 215-230 hours of study time, with the max (and probably optimal) time being around 300 hours. (You may not need quite as much time for the FE exam but probably still close to the same amount-you can never be too prepared!) So, if you want to pass your FE/PE exam, you should probably mimic these successful engineers, but there's still more to it than just studying a lot. This leads to my main point:
You absolutely do not want to waste up to 300 hours of study time before your exam.
What you do want is to make the most of that time and pass your exam. So, the quality of your studying matters just as much as the quantity of hours. This is where a review course is useful. A good review course gives you the information you need in a concise manner so you're not wasting valuable time studying irrelevant content. Additionally, courses often come with study materials like flashcards, practice quizzes, and other online resources to make sure you're as prepared as possible for exam day. Flashcards and practice quizzes are both proven to be especially useful study tools: flashcards are a convenient way to enhance memory while revealing gaps in knowledge, and practice quizzes do the same while also increasing exam-taking confidence. Luckily, School of PE's FE/PE exam review courses feature both of these materials and more to help you make the most of your study time.

2. Having a Study Plan Is Crucial

One of the most important ways to avoid wasting valuable study time is to have a plan. If you're going to shoot for the necessary 200+ hours of study time, you will need to establish what you're studying and when you're studying it. For the chronic procrastinators, having Live Online classes at set times creates a rigid schedule while establishing what you'll be studying during those times-the plan is lined up for you. If you don't have set class times, like with an Ondemand course, you will still have access to tools that will help you create a study schedule and keep you accountable along the way. School of PE's Ondemand review courses utilize a Personalized Study Plan that does just that. No matter what, your plan will be airtight-you will know exactly what you're studying and when you're studying it. Additionally, study plans help create motivation. For many, going into heavy studying without a plan is overwhelming and leads to more procrastination because their attention is focused on figuring out what to study and how to study it. During this time, you need that focus on the studying itself. A study plan is a great way to keep that focus and ensure that you are studying as efficiently as possible.

3. Studying with Others is Beneficial

Whether it is a live class (online or in person) or Ondemand, there are advantages to both learning from a professor and studying with peers. It's helpful to have an expert instructor guide the focus of your studying while being able to ask questions any time along the way. It also helps to hear/see questions and comments from peers during a class. You don't know what you don't know, so you may receive answers to questions you didn't know you had or gain unexpected additional insight on a concept. Also, studies show that studying with peers often enhances learning; being able to ask questions and discuss concepts with peers is a useful tool to increase your understanding of difficult concepts. This can also apply to Ondemand courses with peer-focused resources like School of PE's Study Hub and discussion forums. Teaching others in a discussion forum is especially effective because it solidifies your knowledge and retention as found by Nobel prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman. (Side tip: Feynman's technique is the most effective when you give a simple explanation, so even though you're talking to other engineers, avoid using too much jargon, and keep it detailed yet simple.)

4. A Good Review Course Increases Your Chance of Passing

Just in case you want more reasons to go with a review course, let's allow the statistics to speak for themselves. As you may know, the likelihood of passing certain PE exams is pretty low-down to 58% for the PE Electrical and Computer: Power exam as of December 2021, according to the NCEES. And that drops to 47% for repeat attempts. Even with exams that have a much higher pass rate, it's always good to boost your chance so that you can be more likely to pass. Focusing your study time with a good review course significantly increases your chance of passing. After taking School of PE's PE Electrical: Power review course, for example, the average pass rate (based on students who have attended all classes or watched all recordings) is 87%-76% for repeat takers, which is still much better than 47%. Some other examples include the PE Petroleum exam review course at an 84% pass rate (while the current national average is 56%) and the PE Civil Construction review course at 91% (with the current national average being 53%). Staying on the PE Civil Construction exam, the current national average pass rate for repeat takers is 37%, but School of PE's review course raises that to 73%-a 36% increase! This further solidifies how beneficial passing an engineering exam the first time is and how a review course can make that happen. But this also shows that repeat exam takers should not get discouraged. You can still give yourself a solid chance at passing on a repeat attempt if you truly apply yourself in a review course.

There are many reasons to use review courses, some major reasons being that they increase your likelihood of passing and help you use your time efficiently. Still, I recognize that there will still be some who feel like they can study better alone without a course. I encourage those of you that feel that way to at least consider these factors before deciding. This is an important exam, so you'll want to use your time effectively and increase your chance of passing-and your wallet will thank you later when you don't have to pay to retake it.

If you do choose to utilize a review course, School of PE provides comprehensive courses that equip you with everything you need for exam prep while delivering concise content to ensure that you're not wasting any of your study time.

About the Author: Austin Martin

Austin Martin is a content writer from Columbus, Ohio. He has a BA in English from The Ohio State University with experience in English tutoring, marketing, and editing. When he is not writing, Austin enjoys producing music and nerding out over comic book movies.

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