What to Consider When Purchasing Material for the Exam


Today I purchased my initial batch of study materials for the PE exam. I was hesitant of what to buy because I am unsure of which afternoon depth option to take and the study material is so expensive (I am cheap like most engineers).

The obvious book to get, which basically everyone gets, is the Civil Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam by Michael R. Lindeburg (CERM). I used his manual on the FE/EIT exam and passed the first time so I do not doubt the book’s ability to pass me on the PE. However, the PE is different from the FE in that I am taking this book into the test with me, AND there is the breadth vs. depth aspect to consider.

Lindeburg/PPI offers books for every depth option, and the packages on their website really aim to get you to purchase a breadth and depth package. This just seems like overkill to me, especially since I aim to minimize the number of references I bring to the test.

A far more attractive option to my cheap mind is Civil Engineering All-In-One PE Exam Guide: Breadth and Depth (All-In-One (McGraw Hill)), which I found on Amazon. It’s cheaper, and claims to cover every depth option. This is invaluable to me because I have not chosen a depth option at this point. The reviews of the book are good overall. The general sense I get is that this book does not replace the CERM entirely for study, but on the test many people used this for 50-75% of the breadth and depth portions. Sold.

After some time spent on Amazon, PPI2Pass, and Ebay I realize that the resale value on all the exam material is quite high. A brand new CERM goes for $192 and used for $188 (likely to change in the future). That is amazing. Even if a used CERM goes for $160 when you are done for the test, you basically rented the book for $30. Well worth it to pass. To quote my wife, “You can’t afford NOT to buy it.”

In the end, my first batch of study material consists of the All-in-One (AIO?), CERM, and the Practice Problems for the Civil Engineering PE Exam: A Companion to the Civil Engineering Reference Manual. I will check out the depth portions more closely in the All-in-One, and am fairly confident I will use the book on the test. The CERM I will try out. If I don’t like studying with it I will be happy to sell it for the 97% [!] of purchase price that I see today. Practice problems are a no brainer; it appears to me that none of the PE reference materials contain practice problems.



About Conrad

I am a Civil Engineer. I work in San Diego and am preparing to take the PE Exam. I am interested in surfing, business, travelling, and spending time with my wife. Thanks!

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