Additionally, I’ve also created an ever-expanding library of free videos covering the specialty Power PE topics. A library which is full of great content and doesn’t waste your time…or money. This is consistently being updated, and we take requests for video topics (so if you are struggling with a concept, let me know and I’ll try to make a video for it). The link to these free videos is here:
All the best,
Aram (August 5, 2011)
I wanted to talk a little more about the study material for the Electrical Engineering PE exam. Remember, I had almost zero background in electrical engineering in school. It’s all about doing what it takes to pass the test and not wasting time on a bunch of stuff that won’t help on the exam. Like I said before, a lot of this material will help you become more knowledgeable as an engineer, but always keep in mind that you are trying to pass a test.That being said, there isn’t a lot of good material out there, there’s almost none. So I don’t know what advice to give you. The book by Chelapati is great if you can find it. The official NCEES practice test is good, but once you take it, that’s it for that. I saved the NCEES exam until the very end of my studying.Those are the only 2 things that I thought were worthwhile. All the other books and stuff I came across were mediocre at best.
I realize that I’m bragging here a little bit about passing my PE exams on the first try, but 90% of my intentions here are to explain my methods, and I’m using a mere 10% to show off. My main point is that it helps to approach the PE exam with a bit of a cynical mindset, because there seems to be an “air” around the PE test that makes it harder than it should be. I really think that the PE is an easy test, but it’s really hard to find good, efficient study sources whether it is classes, books, practice tests, etc. A bad study source will make the test much harder than it actually is because you have to filter through all the crap (which is a lot) to learn the information that will help you pass the test. 90% of the material out there is incorrectly intended to help you learn electrical engineering in general. But it just doesn’t help on the test that much. It’s similar to how you use different muscles for different sports. Let’s say you wanted to get in shape for a basketball league. You start running a couple of miles a day thinking it will help you build up your endurance for the basketball court. You do this for a few months, then you play basketball and you get winded in 10 minutes. Why? The reason is that it’s a different kind of running in basketball—short little sprints, a little bit of jumping in between, changing directions, etc. Same thing with the PE exam, you want to study content that is going to be similar to the exam and actively ignore or filter out what doesn’t apply, however useful it is to you in your electrical engineering career.
Here’s a little more background about that book that I mentioned. When I was studying, I called Chelapati asking about these books. Chelapati now runs an entire university in Irvine that holds classes for these exams and other subjects. One of his administrators told me that they stopped the electrical part of their program a long time ago because there were too few people enrolling in it to have it be profitable.
The book is titled “PE (Electrical) License Review Manual”. For my copy, I’ve done some modifications to it so it’s easier to navigate quickly. I feel that this one book alone can get you by 50% of the PE questions even if you have no background in electrical engineering (but a decent mathematical background, which all engineering majors should have). There’s a second volume which I was never able to get which covers all the non-power questions you might encounter in the morning section (controls, transistors, electronics, etc.) and if it is as well-written as the Power volume that I have, you’d have that PE test in the bag for sure. Honestly, I probably blindly guessed on all of the non-power problems, and I still passed, so I can only imagine how confident I would have been had I had that second volume. I don’t know what my score was, but I’m assuming I was pretty close to the cutoff for passing. The bottom line is that you want good, applicable study materials…of which there are really none, besides one accurate study test that I’ve come across.
It’s sad that the best study manual I found was from the early 90′s. Yet, people keep getting that Reference Manual book like it’s the must-have book for this test. It’s not. I know all of you are still going to get that PPI Reference Manual, but I just want to say that I highly disapprove of that book and think it’s a waste of time (see below):Regardless of how good a test-taker you are or how academically proficient you are, I still truly believe that there is almost no good review material out there for the PE test specifically. There are dozens of good electrical engineering books, but they won’t help you pass the test because they will throw a lot of non-applicable information at you and you won’t even know it’s not applicable until you take the test a time or two. I’ll list the best review material out there:
- The NCEES practice exam
- This exam is just like the real thing. Unfortunately, it’s only one exam, and once you take it, it’s basically used up unless you have an extremely poor memory (and you have more problems to worry about if that’s the case).
- Chelapati’s PE Electrical License Review
- This is an excellent book for studying the power portion. You will probably not find this anywhere, unfortunately. But if you study this book well, you will have a significant portion of the test covered (I say at least 50%).
- Electrical Engineering: 360 Problems & Solutions for the PE Exam (Kaplan)
- This is not a very good book because the solutions have a lot (and I mean A LOT) of errors, and they skip so many math steps in the solutions that it’s almost impossible to follow. The only good thing about this book is that the problems are vaguely similar to actual PE problems. I probably shouldn’t recommend this book at all.
- National Electric Code
- If you are not familiar with the NEC, it will be fairly difficult to use it for the test.This is one of the few things where experience really comes in handy on the PE exam. To blindly flip through the NEC would waste a lot of time on the test. You sort of have to have an idea of what you’re looking for. That being said, you can probably not study the NEC at all and still pass the test. Not saying that’s a good thing, it’s just a fact.
That’s pretty much it! Your only other hope is to take all your electrical engineering books from school and familiarize yourself with them, so you can find any equation or concept quickly. That’s what a lot of people do by bringing in loads of books to the exam. But you don’t have to do this if you study with the right strategy.