The SE exam conducted by the NCEES is something you should pass for you to be able to practice as a structural engineer in any state. Here is a practical guide for you to register, prepare, and write the SE examination.
- Get all information on the exam
Visit the NCEES website and go through all information under the structural engineering section. You can collect all details including registration deadlines, special accommodation procedure, exam specification and other details. The better informed you are before the exam, the easier will it be to prepare.
Keep referring the website regularly and if there are any changes or information passed on, you will be up-to-date on it.
- Know more about the exam pattern
Understand the depth of the exam to get an idea of how much you will need to prepare. This is a 16- hour test and it is quite tedious. You will have 4 modules of 4 hours each and questions in vertical and lateral forces. The morning session for both forces will be multiple-choice questions while the afternoon sessions would require you to answer in depth.
The exam specifications give you the details of the weightage of individual topics. Keep this as a base and prepare.
- Get hold of the right materials
Make sure you study with the right SE exam study materials. This is an open-book exam. It means that you can bring your own sources and refer from them. Therefore, the better and more structured your references are, the easier will it be to find the right information.
Reference books with detailed indexes and references that cover all topics important are intelligent choices.
- Study the right way
Start creating a pattern when you study. Use tabs and labels throughout the references to ensure you are quickly able to reach the right topic. Have your own notes that will give you an overall compressed version of all information you have prepared on. Use the same books to study and to refer during the final exam.
The in-depth structural engineering exam questions require you to understand concepts in detail. Make sure you are clear on what you study. If you feel like you need extra help, do not hesitate to join a prep course. It is good to be fully prepared.
- Practice and practice more
Spend considerable time on practicing sample questions. You can find sample questions and answers online and you can even buy few full-length tests and try taking them. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will get and the faster you will be during the final examination.
The pass percentage for SE exam has been average compared to other streams. Lateral forces have around 35-38% while vertical forces are slightly better. This means that you will need to plan right and give it your best shot. Keep track of time, read the questions completely, and be confident.