We wanted to post a quick review of the newest civil PE review manual out there, School of PE's PE Civil Exam Review Guide - Breadth.
We had a lot of positives and a few things we'd like to see improved, so let's get right to it. If a video is more your style, then you'll find that below too. To help cut right to the chase on things we liked and didn't, we created this nice pros/cons list
School of PE's PE Civil Exam Review Guide: Breadth
The newest manual in the PE study arena is a good one. I like the professional look and layout of the book. With tabs already colored and the material tailored to just what you need for the breadth exam, I think it's worthy of your money and an excellent resource to have in your back pocket. There's plenty of practice problems within the book, so even if you picked it up for that, you'd have more questions at your disposal. I'm personally waiting for their depth specific books, and with that and this book, you'll probably have a real competitor to the CERM.
Video Review of Book
School of PE's new book is a worthy weapon to have at your disposal when studying for the PE exam. If you've read above, you already know my pros and cons about it, so here I'll kind of flesh out some of those ideas, so you know what you are getting yourself.
First off, let's talk about the fact that this book is specifically for the breadth portion of the exam. School of PE will be releasing depth books, which I look forward too but for this book, you'll get just the breadth stuff. It's a bit pricey at $240 to get breadth material, but it is what it is.
The beautiful thing is that you get just what you need to study as it gives you precisely what the NCEES specifications provide. Nothing extra. A common complaint of the PE Civil Reference Manual (the CERM) from PPI was that it offered too much information that wasn't even on the exam. Now you have a manual that you might say provides too little.
Having just what you need doesn't bother me, though. It's a nice change to see something like this.
Are Total AR Codes the Future?
This new manual makes the use of TotalAR codes. What are these you say? AR stands for augmented reality, and it's a feature of the book that they try to put to good use. Once you download the TotalAR app, you can find these AR codes throughout the book that give you additional information or help. Check out the review video above to get a better look at them and check out the video below to see them in action.
You can scan codes to do the following:
- 1Lists all the AR codes in the book.
- 2Errata list to find any errors in the book.
- 3Provide feedback on the book.
- 4Flash cards the review important terms
- 5NCEES links that take you right to NCEES
- 6Meet the author that allows you to see a brief video from the author
- 7Quiz allows you to test your knowledge of the concepts covered
- 8Search allows you to find content in the book
- 9Unit conversion allows you to a unit conversion tool they give you
- 10Video lectures. This is paid additonal content you can scan and get.
- 11Questions to subject matter experts. This is also addtional paid content.
- 12Tutoring. You can scan this and get one on one tutoring with a instructor. This is also paid content.
Tabbed Up For You
One of the more helpful things about this book is that it has color in it. Color is such a refreshing change from looking at everything in black and white (cough...CERM). You'll notice right from the get-go that every subject in the book is color-coded so you don't have to worry about even tabbing it up if you don't want to (I'm sure you still will), but having this colored helps to find things just that much more comfortable and I like that.
Another thing that I think is nice is that many different authors write this book. When I first received the book, the TotalAR app didn't work for me to scan 'meet the author,' but a few days later, it has been working, and I got to say I like it. It's nice to put a name with a face and to hear their backgrounds, etc. It just brings more life to the book, and I thought that was nice.
Learning a New Book
Okay, here comes some negatives. We all know that everyone that studies for the civil PE exam is going to get their hands on the CERM one way or another. So having to learn another appendix and what's in it can be a bit of a downer, but that's not reflective of the book itself, it's just the nature of having to study so much!
That goes for any review manual - everything is compared to the CERM, and thus learning a new manual is going to take effort and work to learn it. In the end, you'll have to make a call on whether you want make an effort to learn a new manual, study from it, and bring it with you into the exam (at least until 2023 when the PE goes computer-based!)
We can't leave this review without talking about the cost of this thing. It's $240 plus shipping and handling! The CERM right from the site is $300, but you get so much more material with it, and you can often find discount codes to get the book for a better deal. In fact, use our own discount code of CIVAC and receive 15% any book you order there! Doing that brings the cost down to $255, and now it's just not even a comparison.
The biggest problem with this book right now is the cost. If they could get this down to around say $180 and then when the depth books come out, then we might have a good comparison. I feel like the cost for a breadth only review manual would be less than the cost of the CERM (with a discount code applied). It's still a great book, but the cost might make you take a second opinion on it.
Even so, if it's something you want, you can grab a copy right here.
I think this a great book in the world of civil PE review manuals. I love that it's all in color and that it gives you just what the NCEES specifications ask for. The use of TotalAR codes is up in the air for me, but some features of it are lovely. I liked to meet the author, and scanning to go to their quizzes only adds more problems to your arsenal, which is nice.
The biggest downfall of it is the cost as discussed, but if money isn't an issue and you want great resources, then you should check it out. I want to wait for the time School of PE releases the depth review books they plan on doing, and then we'll have some competition in the marketplace.
What do you think of this book? Would you get it? Do you have it? What do or don't you like about it? Please shoot me an email at [email protected] or leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you.