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
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