So here is the biggest problem with the CERM: there is a ton of background content that, while useful as reference, isn't really needed for the civil engineering PE exam placed by the NCEES organization.
Now you might be angry with that because this book is really expensive! But I can tell you from experience that those extra chapters/content are very nice when you need a refresher in something while at your workplace. You will end up keeping this reference for the rest of your career because there just isn't anything really comparable to it.
So you are probably asking what chapters are the useless ones, especially for the breadth portion of the exam. Before I dive into that I want to talk about how you should be studying. If you bought this book, broke it open with chapter one and started studying your way through it, you are wasting your time. You need to print off the guidelines from the NCEES.org website (found here) and start working problems that cover those specifically suggested topics. Practice, practice, practice! Check out my videos for help with that.
So now that that is out of the way, here are the subjects that I find useless for the civil engineering breadth portion of the PE exam. I will break them down by each major topic. It is possible that the NCEES organization could change things at anytime, but here are my two cents on the topics found in the book:
1) Background and Support: This is just what it states. This is background material and other support material that you covered in college and on the FE exam but it won't be tested on in the PE exam. It is here for your review but it isn't needed.
2) Water Resources: Inorganic Chemistry? Organic Chemistry? Really? I know there are environmental engineers out there but I am sure these subjects are covered more on their particular depth section, but I don't think you should be doing much in these sections at all. The NCEES organization says you need know about collection systems, distribution loading, and hydraulic loading which could be a theory question or a unit conversion type of problem. Both can be solved with a little thought, and of course, the book will help on the theory stuff.
3) Environmental: Most of this isn't tested on in the morning as called out by the NCEES organization. You need to know wastewater but I don't see any need for biochemistry, biology, bacteriology, etc. There isn't a lot in this section I think you need to cover but the poo plant stuff unless your are taking a depth subject heavy in environmental. Then you'll need it.
4) Systems, Management, and Professional: The electrical portion of this section is non-existent on the NCEES outline. We aren't electrical engineers and I don't think you ever see on of these on the morning exam. Services, law, and ethics are good sections but just keep your book handy. I can only see a theory question coming from those.
And there you have it. You might find after the exam that a lot more sections are not needed but because the test can change at any time I've only listed sections that are specifically not called out by the NCEES orgainization.
What do you think? Are there sections of the CERM you found useless to you, especially on the breadth portion of the exam? Let me know!