Many wonder if taking a civil engineering PE review course is worth it. There is a lot of pressure to pass the test and so a lot of people justify that with paying a huge amount of money for a review of the material.
To help you make this decision, we reviewed some of the most common courses out there, including the one that we BUILT and discuss the pros and cons of each course.
If you know of another PE exam prep course, then please let me know and share your thoughts on it. I'll get this updated to better help other students coming through!
Isaac's Notes: I want to be fully transparent about the links below. Some of the links provided are affiliate links. What does that mean? Well, at no cost to you I receive a small payment in the event that you end up using a link and making a purchase with the companies websites listed below!
Isaac Oakeson - founder
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Best PE Prep Courses
Let's start off with probably the biggest company in the civil PE exam world - ppi2pass. These guys pretty much own anyone that is going to study for the PE exam and rightfully so. Their material is awesome. You can buy all of their reference books, which are great, and they introduced both live and online study courses.
A good PE review course can cost quite a bit of money, but you will find it worth it as it sets you up on a structured path that leads to success. I myself took this course when I was studying and found it very helpful. The course costs $2140, but it includes a lot of extra material. It includes all of your books and even structural material. They meet two times a week for a couple of hours which totals about 50 hours over 13 weeks. The course covers the 5 major categories found on the PE exam, and the instructors assign homework and use all of their own PPI reference material in the lectures.
The entire course covers your breadth exam questions in detail. It will help with your depth section, too, but with the limited time to cover all material it's probably not as deep as you hope, but still worth it. They offer courses that are discipline-specific so if you need more for your depth they have it.
A Sweet Discount Code
You do have a guarantee that if you fail the exam that you can take the review course again for free (1 time only) which is pretty sweet. So it's pretty much access for 1 year if you fail the first time. This course is good and if you can afford it then I recommend it to you. You can get more details about the PE review course below.
Also, if you simply decide to get books there please use the discount code of CIVAC to receive 15% off of your order! We've teamed up with ppi2pass to offer that to you!
School of PE
This is another giant elephant in civil PE review course room. They offer either an in-class option, depending on your location, or an on-live online class option. This baby is also expensive - $1490. However, they do offer a $300 dollar discount with early registration. Not bad! Most people taking this get more value by attending the in-class course, but the drawback is that it isn't offered in all locations. You have to look it up to see if it is available where you live.
Here are some key benefits:
1) Their PE exam prep course is 84 hours (56 hours for breadth review and 28 hours for depth).
2) In addition to Onsite and Live Online options they offer Ondemand ($1190), which provides access to notes and recordings as soon as you register. Access is immediate. Perfect to study at your own pace.
3) Their weekday Live Online option takes place on Mon-Thurs evenings.
4) They offer a repeat option for free. If someone actively participates in the course and does not pass they can take the course again. Not too shabby.
I've heard nothing but good things from them, except complaints about the time commitment. Classes are typically on weekends but they do offer a weekday option now as noted above.
The weekend option is 8 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday (say by to your weekends, which you'll do anyway when studying for the PE!). They use references out of the Civil Engineering Reference Manual, too, so that helps a alot. Check them out below!
Testmasters is very similar to School of PE. In fact, I'd go so far as to say they are pretty much the same. They provide their own material with the course and then encourage everyone to get the Civil Engineering Reference Manual from ppi2pass as well. There's an implicit guarantee to pass because they allow you to repeat the course if you attend every class and do what is asked of you. The only drawback here is the price again. This PE exam prep course will set you back $1700.
Testmasters offers an online and an in-class option. The in-class option is only available in certain areas, though, so you'll have to look that up. It's a good course, but very costly.
The American Society of Civil Engineers is a membership group. You are typically a member of it if you are a civil engineer. They provide various benefits for being a paying member and they are now offering a PE review course for civil engineers. They offer a 22-part review session that also includes a depth review as part of the course (nice!) but you pay for it. The total cost for members to take this is $1995 and for non-members it rises to a hefty $2545....ouch.
It does have a depth review course as part of it, so maybe that's worth it to you. I don't know much about the ASCE review course but I'm sure it incorporates some of their own handouts as part of the course. You will need to buy the Civil Engineering Reference manual and any additional resources you want to study from. It all adds up quickly, but it might be worth it to you.
Smart Pros runs a site called www.pereviewcourse.com that offers an online only PE exam prep course that covers the 5 major categories of the PE exam. The price is definitely more reasonable at $995. It's entirely online and they give you access to charts, graphs, etc. that correspond to the lectures. They offer a 7-day money back guarantee, so if you don't like what you are registered for, you can back out within that time. Not bad.
They also offer an option for $525 that includes course material, a practice exam, and access to an instructor via phone or email. Maybe not a bad option. I don't know much about the material or the course but it might be worth looking into.
Civil PE Registration Review by TAMU
This site is totally free. Yep. Free. It's a course put on by Texas A&M and you'll probably get some value out of it. The major issue with this free course is that it is really, really, old. You most likely will want something more relevant to current topics, standards, and changes, but this is a good review to get your butt in gear thinking about the PE. And you can't beat that price.
Kaplan Engineering Education
Kaplan offers an online-only PE review course at $549 for 6 months of access. You can also buy their own review books, practice problems, and practice exam for an extra $165. I'm not quite sure how this course fares, but it seems reasonable for the price. The course includes about 16 hours of instruction that covers the breadth section topics only.
The Ultimate Civil PE Review Course
We saved the BEST for last. There are currently 3 options for this course. A month-to-month payment option, a 6-month access option, and a 1-year access option. Each come with different bonuses depending on what access level you are interested in. The course is 10 modules that covers the current NCEES specifications. It is completely online so you have access to it whenever and wherever you'd like.
You will also gain access to a private Facebook group with other students that have joined the course. This community will help you to answer questions, push you, and encourage you to pass the test with flying colors. We also include The Ultimate Study Planner to hammer out a schedule for you based on the material found in the Civil Engineering Reference Manual as well as the Civil Engineering Practice Problems book associated with the CERM. It comes with breadth practice exams and much more.
We feel like it's the best PE prep course (we might be biased, but still)!
Check out more at www.civilpereviewcourse.com. We think you'll enjoy it and we would really appreciate your feedback on it.
In short, it's really up to you as to what level of review you need to get through the PE exam.
Do you need a complete A-Z course that reviews all the topics found in civil engineering again? Do you need just a refresher because you know you can go it alone and figure this stuff out?
The courses are as different as the individuals taking the test, but I do think they are worth it. They will help you to navigate the treacherous terrain of the PE exam and get you on the path of success.
Put some time into figuring out who brings the most value to the table and go for it. It can be quite a bit of money to do it, but I think it's worth it to get that passing grade.
Good luck in the decision and let me know if you know of another PE exam prep course - I'd be happy to post about it!
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