What is the Structural Engineering Exam?

Structural Engineering can often scare away students because of the sheer amount of learning material. The SE conducted by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) is one of the most intense exams offered by the organization. Students can appear for the exam in either April or October. The exam occurs over a period of two days with different sessions. Overall, the exam takes about 16 hours.

structural engineering exam

Structural Engineering courses teach students about designing bridges and buildings. Students learn how forces like gravity and wind can affect the design of a building. The SE exam tests students thoroughly on these concepts to check their proficiency. Students can choose to appear for both the modules separately, provided they do so within a period of five years.

For those considering the SE engineering exam, here is some information on how to prepare for it.

You Can Bring a Reference Manual

The SE engineering exam is an open-book exam where students can bring their reference materials. However, the bind the material together with a binder, file, etc. This does not mean you will be able to take answers to all the possible questions on the exam. It simply means that you will be able to take review notes from your prep as well as important formulae and concept.

Online and On Demand Study Courses

While preparing for this exam, students find that online and on demand study courses are a huge help. All leading course providers, including Kaplan, School of PE, and ASCE, offer Structural Engineering courses. Online study material, live lectures, as well as access to practice exams are the biggest plus points of these courses.  It might prove to be a little expensive. However, passing the SE exam will require considerable time and resources.

Budget Your Time from the Beginning

Schedule your study time in three steps. First, get an overall estimate of how much you need to study. You can look up the topics on the NCEES website to see what exactly you need to study. Second, create a day-to-day schedule and stick to it. This will be vital if you want to finish studying on time. Third, dedicate 3-4 hours in the day to focus on studying. Turn off your phone and lock the door if you must.

Practice Exams and Review Sessions

As mentioned before, a study schedule is important. Make time for full-length practice exams while you are studying. Also, ensure you add time for review sessions at the end. Students often fail to account for these two things and end up scrambling for time before the exam. The full-length tests will help you determine how far you have gotten in your studying.

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What is SE Structural Engineering Exam and How to Prepare for it

The SE Structural Engineering exam determines the ability of an engineer. The ability to build safe structures, especially in areas of high seismic and high wind.

Civil Engineer At Construction Site

Exam basics

This 16-hour exam takes place for 2 whole days, with 8 hours modules per day. There are 4-hours each of morning and afternoon sessions each day.

Exam type and schedule

There are two components to the exam in breadth and depth style.

The morning sessions test the breadth modules. This consists of 40 multiple-choice questions. The depth module is essay type and requires the students to write in detail.

The SE structural engineering exams occur twice a year. Once in April and once in October. Students can register for the same on the NCEES website. They can also decide on the suitable exam date.

Completing both the components

It is not necessary to complete both the components in two consecutive days. An engineer must complete both components within a span of 5 years. This ensures success and the license for practice.

Reference materials

The SE Structural Engineering exam is open book style. This indicates that students can take their own references to the exam hall. The only requirement is that all reference papers must be in binders.

Preparation technique

This detailed exam needs a great effort to clear both the components. The website talks about the knowledge areas/blueprint required in attempting the exam through all four sessions. These blueprints work as an excellent guide to your prep sessions.

There are good review courses too, that help with preparing the topics. These courses also provide reference materials and lecture notes. They also conduct workshops for practicing different problems to aid solving them easily. This is a great way to refresh theories and to work with a planned approach. For people who have lost touch with the basics and need a refresher, review classes are an easy way out.

SE Structural exam pass percentage

The pass percentage for this exam is generally less than 50%. In 2016, the pass percentage is around

  • 35 for lateral force bridges
  • 38 for lateral force buildings
  • 67 for vertical force bridges, and
  • 45 for vertical force buildings

This clearly shows the need for thorough study and enough time to prepare for the exam. The multiple-choice questions are machine graded while subject-matter experts grade the essay type questions. The examinees receive their results in 10-12 weeks of time.

SE Structural exam is highly competitive and needs careful planning. You need the right approach to clear both the components. To score well in the finals you must

  • Prepare from the right reference materials
  • Solve the practice problems regularly from a variety of popular books
  • Keep taking mock exams