Are you taking the construction depth section on the PE exam? Then this is for you! Today, we break down the specifications, detailing everything you need to know about it. From the construction topics you need to internalize to the codes and standards you need to get familiar with.
Tune in to Learn:
- What the PE Construction Exam looks like
- The 8 topics of the breadth portion of the exam and what they entail
- The 7 topics you'll need to internalize for the construction depth portion of the exam
- The codes and standards you'll need to know for the construction depth exam
- What are the pass rates for the PE Construction Exam?
NCEES Website – https://ncees.org/
NCEES YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/NCEESMedia
Construction Specs – https://ncees.org/wp-content/uploads/Civ-Con-April-2022_r2.pdf
OSHA – https://www.osha.gov/
U.S. Department of Labor – https://www.dol.gov/
Website – https://civilengineeringacademy.com
The Ultimate Civil FE Review Course – https://civilfereviewcourse.com
The Ultimate Civil PE Review Course – https://civilpereviewcourse.com
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Reach out to Isaac – [email protected]
Transcript of Show
You can get our transcript of the show below!
Isaac Oakeson: Hey, what's up everybody? Isaac here with Civil Engineering Academy. Today, we are going to do a series of podcast episode YouTube videos, I guess, of a deeper dive into the specifications for each depth exam. Because I get many questions for people that are just starting this journey about becoming a civil engineer, and I want to be able to provide them from the ground level what they're getting into. So today we're gonna talk about, you know, what the exam is about. We'll cover what the specification is for each particular depth exam.
Isaac Oakeson: And today I'm gonna focus on the construction depth exam. So if you are taking the construction depth exam or you're considering taking the construction depth exam, this one's gonna be for you. We're gonna dive into what the exam is about. We'll dive into the specifications. We'll dive into the codes that are required. We'll talk about why I think you should take this or why I think you shouldn't take it. We'll also talk about the pass rates for this particular exam.
Isaac Oakeson: And today is gonna be construction. So it's all about construction. And the later ones, we'll do the rest of them. So, if you are gonna take construction, this one's for you. If you're not gonna take it, maybe wait for the one that's coming out next time.
Isaac Oakeson: So with that, we're excited to share this with you. If you need additional resources that are gonna help you with the construction depth exam, maybe consider what we have at civilengineeringacademy.com, where we have practice exams, we have a course, we have all the good stuff. And definitely check out our YouTube channel where we're always publishing problems for free for people. So definitely check that out too.
Isaac Oakeson: Anyway, with that, let's get started. We're gonna do a deep dive into the construction depth exam. So it's gonna be coming up right after this.
Isaac Oakeson: All right. First thing we're gonna talk about is the exam itself. So the exam itself is a CBT exam. It's computer-based, right? It used to be paper-based. Everything is going computer based, and it's been computer-based for about a year now. So, that was all accelerated due to COVID and here we are. So, you gotta register for that exam. It's offered year-round in different quarters. So each quarter you can take that exam.
Isaac Oakeson: And the exam's actually scheduled for nine hours. With that, you actually get eight hours specific to taking the exam. It is still broken up. Well, sort of. The spec has all of the material listed out in sequential order, but there is still a breakup of AM questions and PM questions. And the AM questions are the same among all the specifications. And that is the first eight sections that we're gonna go through in the specification. So that's what's going on with your exam.
Isaac Oakeson: You also have a tutorial on how to take the exam, which they give you additional minutes for. I believe that's eight minutes. And then they also have a scheduled 50-minute break in between the two halves of the exam, or close to the two halves of the exam. So with all of that added up, that's that nine -hour period. But, you know, comparing the old paper-based to the computer-based, it's still an eight-hour exam, and it's still a grind. So that's what's going on with the exam. I wanna make sure we understand that first before we dive into anything else.
Isaac Oakeson: Okay. The other thing I think is really important is knowing how much this thing is gonna cost you. So right now, the exam itself is $375 that you will be making a checkout or paying via their website to the NCEES. Now, other things to keep in mind with that is that, if you keep rescheduling and kicking this exam down the road, it's gonna cost you money to reschedule. You don't want to do that. The exam's already expensive. You gotta get a bunch of material to help you on this journey, and that's all expensive. So, you know, we're trying to keep our costs down, right? I mean, we're engineers. We're tight. So watch out for that.
Isaac Oakeson: Okay? And that should wrap up everything about the exam itself. If you have questions about that, feel free to email me, [email protected].
Isaac Oakeson: But let's dive now into sharing my screen. Let's go do a quick review of the specifications. I'm gonna talk about each area, and we'll also dive into the codes and standards that you will need to take this exam. So let's do that right now.
Isaac Oakeson: All right. Let's go ahead and do a deeper dive into the construction specifications. So, if you go to the NCEES website, you'll find the construction specifications. So these topics have not changed since April of 2015, when they were originally published. They made these effective on January 1st, 2022. So I find that interesting. So, you know, they might be due for an update, but right now they're just worried about getting all this stuff into CBT mode.
Isaac Oakeson: So obviously the exam is closed-book, except for the reference handbook and the standards you're provided. So keep that in mind. Again, you have nine hours to complete the exam, which includes what we already talked about, a tutorial, a break, and a non-nondisclosure agreement.
Isaac Oakeson: I find this interesting, as well that the exam uses both SI units and US Customary units. And one of those things you want to keep in mind, at least from feedback from many others, is that, typically, the exams are typically all in US units. But it's interesting that they put that on there so they can ask stuff in SI units.
Isaac Oakeson: And, again, the exams are developed with questions that require a variety of approaches and methodologies, including design analysis and application. I mean, they can ask these in a variety of ways. If you do any research on the NCEES and you know these are CBT, you know that not all problems are necessarily multiple choice. The majority still are, but they can start throwing different types of problems at you, like drag-and-drop, fill-in-the blank, point-and-click. These alternative item types.
Isaac Oakeson: So I'd encourage you to go to their website and go research what Alternative Item Type problems are, and you can go check those out for yourself. So just keep that in mind. But for the majority of the exam, it's still multiple choice. You're probably only gonna see a few that might be different than that.
Isaac Oakeson: Okay, so we got that down. And the other thing is that the example specified in this are not exclusive or exhaustive. So basically, what they're saying is they can ask you anything they want, but typically they will stick to what they've got in the specification. So don't be too worried about that.
Isaac Oakeson: All right. Let's get a little closer here. So project planning. We're gonna be dealing with quantity, takeoff methods, cost estimating, project schedules, and activity identification and sequencing. You will have four to six questions related to that topic.
Isaac Oakeson: The second one is means and methods, and that's construction loads, construction methods, as well as temporary structures. So three to five questions there.
Isaac Oakeson: Third one is soil mechanics, dealing with lateral pressures, soil consolidation, effective and total stresses, bearing capacities, foundation settlement, and slope stability. Five to eight questions on that guy.
Isaac Oakeson: Fourth is structural mechanics. Five to eight questions. Which is your dead and live loads, trusses, bending moments, sheer diagrams, axle loads, combined stresses, deflections, beams, column, slabs. All found under structural mechanics. Also, they include footings as well as retaining walls in that section.
Isaac Oakeson: A bigger section is the hydraulics. This is section five: Hydraulics and hydrology section. Six to nine questions found there. This is one of the bigger ones that you're gonna wanna study up on. So that includes open channel flow, stormwater collection and drainage. So culverts, inlets, and gutter flow. Storm characteristics, like storm frequencies, runoff analysis, detention and retention ponds, pressure conduits, as well as the energy equation.
Isaac Oakeson: So this again, is a big topic. It's six to nine questions and one you're definitely gonna want to hit. These are AM questions. The first eight topics here are AM type questions. And what I mean by that is that the first eight subjects here are the same among all specifications. So just keep that in mind.
Isaac Oakeson: Geometrics, which is our fancy term for Transportation. It used to be called "transportation", and it used to be a lot bigger. So it's been reduced to just three sections. That's circular curves, vertical curves, and traffic volume, which is a variety of questions that deal with mix and flow and speed that you're dealing with in traffic scenarios. But as part of that, you've got three to five questions dealing with transportation or geometrics.
Isaac Oakeson: So number seven is Materials. So you're gonna deal with soil classification. So you're gonna have a boring log interpretation, something that you might see. You know, getting an inspection done, you have a boring log and how to interpret those results. You have soil properties, which deal with strength, permeability or phase relationships. You have concrete that you're gonna be dealing with. Structural steel. As well as material test methods and compaction. And that is five to eight questions for materials. So that's a lot of geotech found within that, but they wrap that into materials.
Isaac Oakeson: Then you have site development. So number eight here is site development. Four to six questions that you'll find on this one. And that deals with excavation and embankment, which is cut and fills. And then you have construction site layout and control, which is surveying. Then you have temporary and permanent soil erosion and control. So permits and sediment transports. Then you have impact of construction adjacent facilities, which could be noise or blasting. And then you also have safety topics, which you will have to deal with as well. Four to six questions with that.
Isaac Oakeson: After those first eight sections, then we dive into your depth section of choice. So specifically for what you are watching and going into with me is the construction. Now we're gonna dive into more about a specific area.
Isaac Oakeson: So number nine is Earthwork Construction and Layout. Again, we're going deeper now, and that's excavation embankment. So more cut and fill problems. More complicated. Borrow pit problems, which people love, dealing with removing soil from its native area, taking it out where it gets fluffy, putting it back and compacting it. You have to deal with site layout and control, which is surveying. Earthwork and mass diagrams, hall distances, and site surface investigations. You have five to eight questions dealing with Earthwork Construction and Layout. So again, we're going deeper now into these subjects.
Isaac Oakeson: Number 10 is Estimating Quantities and Costs. So now we're going further into that. So quantity takeoff methods again. Cost estimating, cost analysis for resources, as well as work measurement and productivity. How many men you gotta do a certain job, things of that nature. That's five to eight questions there.
Isaac Oakeson: Then you jump into Construction Operations and Methods for number 11, which is six to nine questions. So it's a larger topic. So lifting and rigging, crane stability, dewatering and pumping, equipment operations, as well as deep foundation installations.
Isaac Oakeson: Number 12 is Scheduling. There's five to eight questions on that guy. And you're gonna be dealing with construction sequencing, activity, time analysis, cpm or critical path methods, resource scheduling and leveling, and time cost trade-off. So everything to do with your PM topics, your project management topics. There's five to eight questions within that one for scheduling.
Isaac Oakeson: Number 13 is Material Quality Control and Production. Five to eight questions. This deals with material properties and testing, which can include soil, concrete, or asphalt. You also have welding and bolt installation, QA/QC processes, construction, concrete proportioning and placement, as well as concrete maturity, maturity and early strength evaluation. Knowing the early strength of concrete. Five to eight questions for that section.
Isaac Oakeson: We're almost there. Number 14 is Temporary Structures. It's six to nine questions for that. You're dealing with construction loads and codes, formwork, falsework, scaffolding, shoring, bracing, temporary support. Anything that's temporary there to help build your structure, you're gonna be dealing with these 6 to 9 questions. So there's quite a few questions there.
Isaac Oakeson: And lastly, you've got Health and Safety. So you've got OSHA regulations, safety management, statistics, and work zone, and public safety. So these are all OSHA type questions, and there's three to five questions found within that.
Isaac Oakeson: So that was a little bit of a dive into the specs and the exact problems and questions that they're gonna ask you. I highly recommend grabbing a copy of the specifications because that is your guiding document as to what you need to study for your exam. So now let's dive into your codes.
Isaac Oakeson: All right. Diving into the codes. So effective beginning January of 2022, again, you're gonna have the handbook at your disposal for the whole exam and the codes. Although the codes will not necessarily be needed for the AM portion of the exam, you will still have access to them. Construction is one of the bigger ones for more codes required, and I highly recommend go and check out the NCEES YouTube videos, which kind of give you a rundown of how the exam is presented, how it looks, as well as, you know, the environment that you're going into.
Isaac Oakeson: We actually created a CBT exam simulator that will be live very shortly. So go check it out at civilengineeringacademy.com. But it will also give you that same look and fill, and we actually have access to it to those in our course. So if you want that, go check it out civilpereviewcourse.com.
Isaac Oakeson: So again, the handbook and design standards are gonna be available to you for the entire exam, though. Design standards are not needed for the breath portion.
Isaac Oakeson: Okay, the other thing to note here is that solutions to the exam are based on these standards and codes. So these are the ones you're gonna wanna get, beg, borrow, steal, whatever you need to do to grab these, because these are the years or the versions that they are testing you on. So they might have newer versions already out, but this is what's on the exam, okay? And the NCEES does not sell these things. You gotta go find them.
Isaac Oakeson: So the first one that you're gonna be dealing with is the ACI 347R, which is your guide to formwork for concrete. This is 2014. So formwork that you're gonna be dealing with. And you have the ACI SP-4, which is formwork for concrete. Again, 2014, eighth edition. You have the AISC code, which is really the steel bible when it comes to this stuff. The 14th edition is what they're using, which came out in 2011. So you'll want a copy of that.
Isaac Oakeson: You also need a copy of the ASCE 37-14, which is Design Loads on Structures During Construction. You'll want the second edition, 2015, for that. Then you have, the CMWB, which is the Council for Masonry Wall Bracing. This standard is called the Standard Practice for Bracing Masonry Walls Under Construction, 2012 edition is what you want there. And then you have the MUTCD-Pt 6, which is the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways—Part 6. So you'll wanna get that copy, probably can get that at FHWA.
Isaac Oakeson: And then we dive into what's the CFR titles are. So CFR Title 29, which is the US Department of Labor, they have these different parts that you're gonna wanna pull, which is 1903, 1904, and 1926. So 1903 deals with inspections and citations. 1904 deals with recording and reporting incidences. And 1926 is safety and health regulations. So we wanna understand what they're asking here as part of OSHA.
Isaac Oakeson: And the last one is the PCA EB001, which is Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures from Portland Cement Association. Those are things that you're definitely gonna wanna get.
Isaac Oakeson: So beg, borrow, steal those. Whatever you gotta do to get those. Just kidding. I don't endorse stealing, but you're gonna need a copy of those things so that you can really take this thing off and get going. So hopefully that was helpful. That was a quick dive into the spec as well as the standards that you will definitely need for this.
Isaac Oakeson: All right. The last thing I really wanna mention and talk about is the pass rates. So obviously we know, again, this is computer-based testing. Some other little highlights that the NCEES has as they share their pass rates is that, for these exams, the pass rates are typically updated in November. So I'll just read some of this. But it says, "some PE exams are administered year-round, which is our computer-based test. For these exams, pass rates are shown for the January through June, or the June through December population, updated in July and January respectively.
Isaac Oakeson: So the latest ones here were updated in June. And if I dive down into the pass rates for construction, the volume of test-takers was 786 people. That is not the most people that take this exam. So, that's something to keep in mind that this is not the highest volume of people. But the other thing, it's also not the the least. So 786. The one that's least is geotech. But, let's look at the pass rates.
Isaac Oakeson: So for first-time test-takers, the pass rate for this is 49% during that time period. And repeat takers, there was only 33 people and the pass rate dropped down to 45%. So these are really low numbers. When this was paper-based, these would typically be in the 65 to 70% range, and now we're down to 49%. And I'm sure they want that higher.
Isaac Oakeson: So, you know, that's not great for a first-time test-taker. And again, that kind of relates to the thing I talked about earlier, which is that a lot of people go into taking this exam and think it's gonna be the easier exam, and it's usually not. You know, they test you on broad topics and they go deep into specific construction stuff. And a lot of people feel like it's tricky in the way that they ask questions and word things. So just keep that in mind. I'm not here to discourage this exam by any means because they're all difficult. But that's just what's going on with construction.
Isaac Oakeson: As a repeat taker, it did drop down to 45%, which is also maybe disheartening. But I would say with both of these, don't lose hope and don't be discouraged. Your best foot forward on the first exam is gonna be your best, but continue to march forward as you're taking the exam, and I promise you'll get through it. So I wanted to highlight that for the passing rates.
Isaac Oakeson: Again, this was typically, you know, around 50% for first-time takers and it dropped down to 45% for repeat takers. I imagine hopefully those numbers come up to be more like the other exams, which is between, you know, 60 to 65% for first-time test-takers and then lower for repeat. So that was just the last group that took that test and just something to keep in mind. So remember that as you're taking this exam. Definitely wanted to touch upon that.
Isaac Oakeson: All right. So that was a deeper dive into the construction depth exam. For those that are considering this particular exam, I'm gonna lean towards people that are already in the construction world. Maybe you want to go into project management or maybe you're in a discipline that works on a wide variety of things. I myself work in the transmission engineering world, in the utility industry, and there are many people that go into construction because it does touch upon a lot of different areas that we do as transmission engineers.
Isaac Oakeson: But I myself actually took the Geotech Depth Exam because I wanted to do more in foundation work and felt like that was a better thing for my career and as I wanted to know more understanding of that because I felt like it was gonna help my career out.
Isaac Oakeson: So anyway, we covered pass rates. We covered the specification. We covered why you should be taking this thing. And I think that's gonna be it. So if you have any questions about this particular depth exam, please let me know. Shoot me an email, isaac@civil engineering academy.com. And if you need any more tips and advice, including a full-blown course on passing these things, check us out at civilengineeringacademy.com or our course, The Ultimate Civil PE Review Course, which is at civilpereviewcourse.com as well.
Isaac Oakeson: Anyway, we're excited for you. Taking this is a long journey, doesn't matter if it's your first time or your fifth time taking this exam, we're gonna be here to help you every step of the way and encourage you to do so. So you can get there. I promise you can do this. Construction depth exam is a good one, so definitely check it out.
Isaac Oakeson: Anyway, hopefully these tips helped you as we went to a deep dive into the construction depth exam. We'll see you on the next one. Bye!
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