If you’ve passed the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam, you’re probably wondering what’s next? To create more opportunities and grow your engineering career, a Professional Engineer (PE) license is the answer.
This means you’ll need to study and review to pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, otherwise known as the PE exam. It’s put on by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) and requires you to demonstrate competence in a variety of skills, such as:
- Analytical reasoning
- Quantitative deduction
- Discipline-specific concepts
The PE course is held twice annually with the purpose of professional licensure. It’s a challenging test and something you must work hard to prepare for.
So, where do you start?
Enrolling in a top-rated professional engineering exam prep course is your best bet to pass the first time around. You should consider a number of factors when looking for the best review site.
- Practice questions and exams
- Length of access
- Price and guarantee
- Certificate of Completion
- Dynamic content (e.g. videos and podcasts)
- Student support
- Live instruction
2021’s Best PE Exam Review Courses
Ultimately, you want to look for something that best suits your learning process and schedule. With that in mind, these are the five best sites offering the top PE review courses today:
- School of PE
- PPI2Pass PE Review
- Ultimate Civil PE Review
- Capstone Learning Associates PE Review
- EET PE Review Course
- TestMasters PE Review
Here is how these courses can help you prepare:
#1 School of PE Review Course
If you need a comprehensive study plan, The School of PE is a great start. Just as the name implies, they have a robust catalog that rivals most traditional educational institutions. They have several different channels for learning, which include:
- OnDemand Review Courses (Good for asynchronous studying)
- Live Online Review Courses (Similar to a traditional lecture course)
- Onsite Review Courses (Civil PE Only)
School of PE has been in test prep for a long time. Since 2004 they have trained individuals and employees from more than 6,000 organizations. People choose them over the competition because of their engineering focused subject matter experts who specialize in their fields, but also from these helpful features*:
- Refresher sessions focus on teaching and reviewing engineering concepts.
- Workshop sessions focus on providing exam practice through problem solving.
- Their Study Hub provides access to lecture videos, eBooks, Practice Portal Pro, flash cards, and more.
- Their Personalized Study Plan creates a custom study plan based on student availability.
- Their Practice Portal Pro contains a bank of practice problems and solutions to work through.
- *Not all features available for each course, double check their website below for exact details
Regardless of your chosen field, your required Professional Engineer exam is covered at this school. And you’ll be able to work with an impressive curriculum, including thousands of practice questions and nearly 100 hours of video lectures.
Thanks to a highly customizable study planner, students enrolled in School of PE boast a passing rate of 80-90% for first-time exam takers. And if you’re stuck on specific parts of your study guide, you can always use their Study Hub to ask questions directly to the instructors. Another big perk is that they offer virtual one-on-one tutoring sessions for students who need guidance or support.
Unfortunately, you will be limited to online courses for most disciplines. Despite it’s name, School of PE is primarily web-based and has limited onsite instruction. This shouldn’t be an issue for most students, but if that’s your learning style it could be.
The Bottom Line: School of PE’s comprehensive lectures, study tools, and expert instructors edge out the competition and make School of PE our number one pick!
#2 PPI2Pass PE Review
PPI2Pass provides some of the most extensive review programs available for engineering. A partner of Kaplan, the company was founded by Michael Lindeburg who authored the original review course for the Civil PE. All materials are consistently updated to current exam specs.
PPI2Pass PE review stands out for its comprehensive resources and mix-and-match flexibility. A student is not limited to specific bundles. You can access materials that guide you the best.
To start, simply enter the exam date and take a quick diagnostics test. The system will then create a plan to meet your specific needs. This includes items like:
- Reference manual
- Practice problems
- Realistic practice exams
- Book tabs
- And more!
Also, you might want to take advantage of their early-bird pricing. If you enroll in the Live Review course and find out you passed the exam, you get a 100% refund.
Alternatively, if you happen to fail the exam after enrolling in a Live Review course, PPI offers a 90-day guarantee OnDemand course for free.
Worried about whether or not your PE exam prep course is up-to-date? PPI2Pass just updated their curriculum with a new live course, hundreds of new practice questions, and three additional diagnostic exams.
This content is based entirely around the new Computer-Based Testing (CBT) format for the exam. Consequently, you’re guaranteed to have the most recent and relevant materials available when you sign up!
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#3 Ultimate Civil PE Test Prep
The Ultimate Civil PE Review comes with 10 modules that cover 8 topics found on the civil PE breadth exam. It’s a very focused course that is continuously updated to meet specifications. In addition to the Introduction and Conclusion module, their review course will cover:
- Project Planning
- Means and Methods
- Soil Mechanics
- Structural Mechanics
- Hydraulics and Hydrology
- Site Development
The Ultimate Civil PE Review also includes over 150 video practice problems, 2 full-length breadth practice exams, a depth exam of your choice, and 20 theory questions.
The entire course references the PE Civil Reference Manual. It’s the most used tool in the industry, so it’s a great resource for them to pull from. (Quick tip: If you don’t have the CERM then get it at PPI’s store and use their discount code of CIVAC to get 15% off.)
Additionally, this is a terrific option for students who want to save some money on their PE test prep. That’s because this company has extremely flexible pricing built out between 1-month, 6-month, and yearly subscriptions.
However, keep in mind this course is solely offered for Civil Engineering. Other practices, like Chemical, Environmental, Mechanical, and others aren’t covered.
#4 Capstone Learning Associates
Another fantastic resource for students preparing to take the PE exam comes from Capstone. This company offers a wide range of study materials geared specifically toward future engineers, so you can rest assured this topic fits securely in their wheelhouse.
If you’re looking for a guided experience similar to a traditional classroom setting, most of their PE review courses come with over 30 hours of narration to guide you along core engineering concepts. Additionally, the 250+ sample questions ensure you’ve got plenty of practice testing yourself on these concepts so you can confidently walk into the testing center on exam day.
Check out these options for PE students in Capstone’s course catalog:
- Chemical PE Review
- Mechanical PE Review
- Systems and Materials
- Thermal and Fluid Systems
- Civil PE Structural Review
- Electrical and Computer Power Review
However, there are some disappointing aspects of Capstone that keep it from earning a higher ranking. One of these is the lack of any real live instruction, either through a livestream or in-person. Fortunately, the costs of many products in their catalogs reflect these absences, offering an affordable alternative to some of the pricier options available.
#5 EET PE Exam Prep
Engineering Education and Training offers a variety of professional and comprehensive review classes to pass the PE exam. They have a high success rate (80-85%) and great feedback from students and test-takers. If you do not pass after your first review session, you can repeat the class for free in the following season.
Additionally, EET’s interactive review classes are designed to fully engage class participants. Students work to solve problems while receiving continuous feedback. All instructors are experts in exam preparation with practical insight into the PE exam. They work to combine the fundamentals of the subject matter and problem-solving techniques to fully equip people for exams.
EET offers review classes in the field of Civil Engineering. This includes:
- Fundamentals of Engineering
- Civil PE
- Environmental (Water Resources)
- Structural Engineering
- California Specific PE
The cost of the Civil PE courses depends on the option you choose: OnDemand Webinar, Live Webinar, or Live Seminar. It also depends on the type of engineering— Structural, Construction, Geotechnical, and more. All in all, the cost is very affordable with prices in the range of $550-$650.
However, it should be noted that the EET PE review is solely for licensure in the state of California and only covers certain types of engineering. Therefore, students looking for licensure in other jurisdictions should look elsewhere or simply take advantage of their other appealing features.
#6 TestMasters PE Review
TestMasters PE Review
TestMasters offers three different ways to learn with their courses. This includes:
- Live In-Person – Traditional classroom teaching and instruction.
- Live Online – Web-based (Cisco WebEx) teaching in real-time with live instruction.
- OnDemand – Learning through pre-recorded videos at your own pace.
All of their review courses come with customized course manuals that were developed by experienced instructors. They guarantee that if you attend every class and view all the required materials, you will pass the test. However, if you don’t succeed the first time, TestMasters allows you to retake the course again for free.
TestMasters comes with a variety of course materials, including 72 hours of instruction that are focused on helping you pass. But the unfortunate truth is that TestMasters doesn’t offer courses for every PE exam. Instead, they cover the following:
- Civil Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Environmental Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
Of particular note is that the TestMasters PE binder and reference notes get rave reviews online. In fact, many engineering students have reported that they use this as a sole study resource. It’s much more practical than hauling a bag of books and it gets straight to what’s essential for passing the exam.
Keep in mind that unlike the other review courses on this list, TestMasters does not come with any practice exams. So if this is a resource you need to pass, you may want to choose another review site. Still, the excellent reference notes and enticing guarantee make this an option well worth your consideration.
Which PE exam is the easiest?
According to the latest data published by the NCEES, the easiest PE exam to pass is Mechanical: HVAC and Refrigeration (75% pass rate).
Is the PE exam harder than the FE?
Since the PE exam is intended to be the next step after completing the FE exam, it is a tougher test that takes approximately twice as long to finish. However, pass rates are higher for PE exams than they are for FE exams due to the majority of test takers being experienced professionals who are already familiar with the NCEES exam structure and environment.
How long should I study for the PE exam?
You should set aside three months at the bare minimum to study for the PE exam; this is the typical length of time it would take to work through a PE review course. You can spend more time studying if you need to, but try to avoid taking longer than a year to prepare since you’ll end up missing the NCEES testing window for that year.
What percentage do you need to pass PE?
NCEES doesn’t publish the passing scores for any of their exams, including PE. They state that the percentage needed to pass will vary depending on the specific discipline you’re taking. However, they also mention that you will not lose points for incorrect answers— so your best chance to pass is to avoid leaving any questions unanswered!