Things You Shouldn’t Do When Taking the PE Civil Exam

Many engineers regardless of how well they prepare for the PE Civil exam fail to pass because of a few mistakes they make during the exam. If you have registered for the PE exam it’s important to know what these mistakes are and how you can avoid them!

When you talk to candidates who took the PE exam before you, they might tell you certain things they wish they didn’t do during the exam. These small errors can sometimes make a big difference in your career. Understanding what these mistakes are will help you increase your chances of passing the PE exam.

This is why along with the PE exam prep & FE exam prep that includes your course learning, you should also focus on figuring out how to go about the exam carefully. If you want to find out the answers, you are in the right place.

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Allow us to guide you through a few things you shouldn’t do when taking the PE exam. When you keep these things in mind, you automatically benefit your cause. Check out the points given below:

  • Get Overconfident

One of the common mistakes that need to be talked about more is the candidate being overconfident. You cannot walk into that exam hall thinking that you know it all because you probably don’t. Even if you are a brilliant engineer and academically on top, give this exam the respect it deserves. After registering, you need to allow yourself to be a beginner at learning and prepare with integrity.

It’s good to have trust in your skills, but you shouldn’t get carried away. While you are working on the problems, treat every question as equally challenging as any. It will let you be true to the process and avoid making basic mistakes that eventually can cost you the PE title. Know that the PE exam is the ultimate engineering exam and it is not like any other competitive test in the country.

  • Fail to Manage Your Time

After months of preparation, you probably won’t want to miss out on being a professional engineer due to poor time management. A lot of engineers during their PE exam prep don’t give enough attention to time management which could cost them passing the PE exam. You must understand how much time you could give to a single question during the exam. As it is the only way to complete everything on time.

This is why you are recommended to solve NCEES-based practice papers at home. When you work on practice tests, you get an idea of how much time you are taking to solve a problem. With each practice paper, you will get better at time management and hence might complete the exam on time. In case, a particular problem is taking more time than you can give, skip it and move to the next. You could come back to that problem at the end when other answers are done.

  • Leave the Exam Early

Improving your time management skills for the PE Civil exam is not for you to complete the test early and leave. Instead, you should make the most of every minute you have. If you are someone who is relatively faster, use this skill to your benefit. After you complete the test, look back and revise every answer if you can or work on the problems you couldn’t before.

The key to finishing all the questions you are confident about first and then focusing on the questions that may not be your strong area. Double-check everything and don’t leave anything if possible. Your day-in and day-out preparation all comes down to the final 8 hours so don’t waste this time. Use every second to give yourself a chance to pass the PE exam.

  • Carry Too Many References

You might think that NCEES allowing you to carry reference materials along for the PE exam is a great thing. However, we think it’s not. When you take too much reference material with you to the exam hall, you might end up getting more confused than using them to your aid. It has happened to candidates before, and it could happen to you.

The trick is to organize your references carefully during your PE exam prep. Gather and store all the important information in one folder so that you don’t have to keep looking through the references. These reference materials are supposed to make things easier for you and not waste your time. Make sure you manage and use your references smartly in a way that they prove vital in the exam room and not as a distraction.

  • Trying to be Perfect

If you think you can be perfect by completing the PE review course and practice exams, you are mistaken. You need to realize that everyone has weak areas and you might have them too. Do not run after perfection when solving the test. Try to be effective instead and you will surely do better.

After you start the test, read through and see the problems that you are more confident about solving. Then start with those and complete them as quickly as possible so that you can secure marks for those. Then you can try and do other problems. Knowing your limitation is not a weakness but a strength that goes a long way in helping you shape your career as a professional engineer.


When taking the PE Civil exam, any relevant information you could get might help you. This is why these given mistakes that you shouldn’t make in the exam hall are some common information that can prove vital. Although, before you focus on what not to do in the exam hall, make sure you carry out a comprehensive preparation for 3 to 4 months.

If you are looking to join an experienced PE review course online, visit Civil Engineering Academy. They provide a different range of courses with extensive study materials. You can also reach out to Civil Engineering Academy for NCEES-based practice exams to strengthen your preparation, and more.

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