What is the Structural Engineering (SE) Exam and Why Should You Take it?

Are You Ready for the SE Exam?

Are you ready to pass the Structural Engineering Exam for the first time? Are you ready to put those two power letters of SE on your title after your name? Good news! Civil engineering Academy has partnered with PPI as an affiliate to offer you the best course you can get for the SE. Check it out here! ​

The SE exam is offered in April and October. Start studying now to get in 6 months of preparation time before the April Exam!


Isaac's Notes

Obtaining the SE is not for everyone.  If you are in the construction world building bridges and buildings then obviously this is the route to go, but I'm betting the majority of civil engineers are shooting for the PE only and that's just fine.  Even with the PE, state's allow for designing up to a certain risk category and height, but you'll have to check with your individual one.  Others require the SE for any building.  My point in all of this is that you need to be aware of what your state requires!

What is the SE Exam and Why should I take it? 

Besides having SE on your title, passing the SE Exam could mean a promotion. Also, after all those hours of studying and becoming more knowledgeable, your confidence will grow because you passed a difficult test!

The Structural Engineering exam is designed for engineers who practice in states that license structural engineers separately from other professional engineers (SE vs PE after your name). This exam uses separate vertical and lateral components to test your ability to safely design buildings or bridges, especially in areas of high seismicity and high wind. The total experience if fairly intense as you can imagine.

A few years back, states started passing laws that required anyone designing anything more than 2 stories to have a SE and they grandfathered those that could prove structural experience as being an SE. If you were one of those lucky people, good for you. If not, then read on.

This open-book test is a 16 hour exam. Sounds fun right? But worth it! It is split into two days and will be on a Friday and a Saturday. The 8-hour Vertical Forces exam is offered only on a Friday. It focuses on gravity loads and lateral earth pressures. The 8-hour Lateral Forces component is offered only on a Saturday (Yay! Two 8 - hour exams!). It focuses on wind and earthquake loads.

The breadth exams are in the morning and cover a wide range of structural engineering topics. These morning exams are multiple-choice. The depth exams are in the afternoon and will be in essay form. The depth exams focus on a single area of practice in structural engineering. You will choose either buildings or bridges. You must work the same topic area on both components.

Did you know that you are NOT required to pass both 8-hour components in a single exam administration? You can pass one component and then pass the second component at a later date. You must pass both components within a five year period to pass the SE Exam.

What SE Exam Review Courses are out there?


The School of PE offers offers structural engineering review courses for both Vertical and Lateral Forces. Students can attend one at a time or both of them at the same time. The 60-hour Vertical Forces review course and the 60-hour Lateral Forces review consist of refresher classes and workshops.

The refresher classes cover topics that are critical for the exam and will be taught in 36 hours for either vertical or lateral forces. The workshops consist of solving problems and will be taught in a 24 hour time period for either vertical or lateral forces. Review courses are taught by multiple instructors who specialize in their fields.

There are two types of courses offered: Live Online or OnDemand. Live Online courses are led by instructors and are taken online at a scheduled time. The classes are recorded and then that recording is available until the day of the exam. The Live Online course is a good way to keep yourself on target since classes are scheduled out.

The Ondemand courses use the same recording from the Live Online Classes. Students may begin immediately and may study at their own pace.

Key Features:

Recordings of Class Lectures
Send Questions to Instructors
Discussion Forum Access
Free Calculator Training
Free Repeat Registration

School of PE Course Prices: SE Lateral Program + SE Vertical Program

OnDemand Course Fee: $1,190 + $1,190 = $2,380
Live Online Course Fee: $1,490 + $1,490 = $2,980


The ASCE SE Exam Review offers a 11-part live course. You will benefit from instructor assistance during the live webinars with free on-demand recordings available until the exam date.

Individual Rate: Provides access to the course for 1 individual from 1 computer and includes access to the on-demand recordings anywhere and anytime.

Group Rate: Any number of participants can attend the sessions at a single location. It does not permit you to have access from multiple sites or to transmit to another site.

ASCE Individual Guarantee: With this guarantee, if you do not pass your exam, you will be enrolled in the next course for free after proof of exam results is provided.

Classes are every Monday and Wednesday and vary on topic and professor.  Start times are a couple times a year but you have to check their site to make sure to catch it at the right time before the exam.  Classes typically last just over a month so you get a fast paced.

Individal: $1,295.00 for Members and $1,895.00 for Nonmembers
Group Rate: $1,845.00 for Members and $2,345.00 for Nonmembers

Which SE Exam Course Do We Recommend?

This is really an easy decision.  PPI2Pass!  PPI is the world leader on helping engineers take and pass their SE exams.

Here are the top 10 reasons to choose PPI2Pass when it comes to the SE Review Course:

#1 Proven Pass Rates

PPI has proven pass rates for the course. The average NCEES SE test taker passes 40% of the time, while those that take the PPI2Pass SE Course pass at a rate of 90%!!

You can check that out here!

Compare this to the School of PE:

#2 The Price is Right

The SE Prep Course provides full coverage of both the Vertical Forces and Lateral Forces exams, and is available as a Live Online or OnDemand course you also get all the PPI resource book you need for full coverage.  Plus their pass rates are 40% higher than the NCEES pass rate!

Check out the course here.


Choose between 60, 90, or 180 days of course access. Your OnDemand prep course begins upon purchase and can be extended at any time.

Access Time
Prep Course Price
Included Study Materials Price
Total Course Bundle Price
60-Day Access (2 months)
$1,350 $1,150
$486 $413
$1,836 $1,563
90-Day Access (3 months)
$1,470 $1,250
$486 $413
$1,956 $1,663
180-Day Access (6 months)
$1,705 $1,450
$486 $413
$2,191 $1,863



Compare that to School of PE:

OnDemand Course Fee: $1,190 + $1,190 = $2,380
Live Online Course Fee: $1,490 + $1,490 = $2,980

#3 Passing Score Guarantee

PPI2Pass is so confident that you’ll pass your exam that If you don’t pass, you can come back at any time and take the 90-Day OnDemand prep course for free. Both the Live Online and OnDemand courses qualify for the guarantee.

#4 Support and Access to Instructors

Your Instructors are ready and willing to answer your questions during class, on the Course Forum, during live office hours, and through email. You will be able to get to know your instructor and classmates and get the help you need.

#5 Extra Materials Provided

Prep course bundles include homework materials, extra practice materials, and helpful resources and tools. PPI2Pass knows that practice problems are key to passing and have supplemented their courses with the #1 exam prep books and study tools.

You will receive:

Structural Engineering Reference Manual
16-Hour Structural Engineering Practice Exam for Buildings
Six-Minute Solutions for Structural Engineering
Bridge Problems for the Structural Engineering Exam
Structural Engineering Solved Problems
NCEES Structural Engineering Practice Exam
A Casio FX-115 ES calculator
Book tabs for all your awesome material!
Plus . . bonus reference cheat sheets and tools!

#6 Structure

A structured homework syllabus and course schedule is provided to help you to stay on track and meet your goals.

#7 Prep Time

Courses are spread out over multiple months to ensure you have an appropriate amount of time to prepare for the exam.

#8 Up-to-date

Lectures are always updated to current NCEES exam specs and codes so that you can focus on what you really need to know.

#9 Free OnDemand Lectures

You can get started on your exam prep right away with access to lectures anywhere you have the internet.

#10 Free Calculator Video Lessons

PPI2Pass provides free calculator video lessons on knowing your Casio FX-115 ES Plus Calculator. Every second counts on the exam which is why PPI2Pass has provided you with the training, tips, and shortcuts necessary for exam success.

Buy the complete bundle and Save 15% on your order (discount built into price)!

Go here and check it out!

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