Setting a Course For The PE Exam

I recently exercised my corporate spending privileges and acquired myself a plethora of study materials for the Electrical PE Power Exam.  I’m not ready to take it just yet, of course, but I’ve decided to do what’s worked so well for me in the past: over-prepare.

electrical_pe_powerGiven my somewhat erratic employment history of late, I don’t think I even meet the requirements for the PE exam.  My last company had no professional engineers to work under.  There was in reality one, but not only was he a different discipline, he was a remote employee working over 600 miles away.  I don’t think I can count much of the first two years of my professional life as experience in this regard.  (Not that I’d really want to anyway… but that’s a story for previous times)

However, my current employer being the awesome place it is, not only has innumerable professional engineers on staff, but my team alone has (at least, and soon to be more than) five, all within a few feet of my desk.  Oh yeah, just a couple are in electrical power.  Plus, as I alluded to above, the company is more than willing to cover the cost of professional study materials, as well as courses, exam fees, and license renewals.

So, I’m in a pretty great situation.  More than a few events in the last few months have compelled me toward taking the exam as soon as possible.  I remember the FE– I can’t believe it was almost two years ago already.  It was hell.  In order to make the PE less awful, I’m going to start studying now.  I gave myself three months to study for the FE and it seemed to be more than enough.  The first PE exam I could take is likely October 2015.  That’s over 14 months… I should be okay.

I’m so excited for this.  Things are about to get real.



2 thoughts on “Setting a Course For The PE Exam”

  1. Jake, good luck with your PE Exam preparation and your career. From the information provided in your post, it appears that your employment thus far – although probably educational – would not count towards your 4 years of required practice under direct supervision from a registered engineer. But it looks like you’re on the right path by joining a firm with multiple engineers on staff.

    I was a consulting engineer for 20+ years before I found my passion … writing study material and online practice testing for EIT’s preparing to take their PE Exam.

    In your exam preparation, I recommend the following:

    1. Going through each of the topics listed at under Electrical Power and coming up with your own “practice test.” This will force you to think like a test-question writer.

    2. Not studying yourself into a frenzy. With the exams having 80 questions over an 8 hour exam time, that’s only 6 minutes per question. Focus on shoring up those areas where you are already proficient and then spend time learning, re-learning, and reviewing the other topics. You don’t need to get 100% of the questions right. Play the odds.

    3. Not buying every resource you can get your hands on. There are plenty of resources that read like text books and will fill your head with lots of unnecessary information that’s not needed on the exam. And be wary of review courses where you are part of a group listening to a college professor spout wisdom. These classes tend to spend way too much time working through very involved problems. Remember, you can’t work a 20 minute problem in 6 minutes.

    4. Spending the majority of your time working through sample problems. I’ve helped many people successfully pass their exams and this is the method I use almost exclusively. To get you started, here’s a link to 20 sample questions:

    5. Assembling a Test-Day Resource Library. When I took my PE Exam I sat in amazement as I watched person after person wheel in boxes and boxes of materials. One guy even brought in an actual book shelf that he set up with all his references. With only 6 minutes per question, you have to think efficiency not quantity.

    And finally, here’s a post I wrote on the best ways to prepare for the exam.

    To Your Success …

    Jeff Setzer, PE
    Setzer Media Group
    Facility Solutions, Inc.

    1. Jeff, out here in California, with an accredited 4-year engineering degree, only 2 years of working experience under a PE are required. My current timeline might be a bit short (~20 months) but I’ll have to see what’s acceptable experience by the board when the time comes.

      Anyway, thanks so much for giving me this advice and for your support. I’ll certainly be keeping it in mind over the next year as the exam approaches.


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