February 17, 2022

Florida PE Exam: Advice From Engineers

The Florida Principles & Practice of Engineering (PE) exam is one of the most important milestones in an engineer’s career. Taking the exam is exciting, nerve-wracking, challenging, and emotional for every professional. In the early stages of an engineer’s career, it’s the moment your future as an engineer is secured. Heeding the advice of engineers who have gone through the exam and now work in the industry is invaluable. Read below to hear JBPro’s advice on the PE exam, told through the lense of our President and Principal Engineer — Jay Brown, PE.

The Keys to Success 

My name is Jay Brown, and I’m an established engineer and the founder of JBPro. Giving back to the younger engineers in my community is such an important part of what I do. I took my own PE exam in 1991 and was fortunate enough to pass on the first try — it certainly helped my career path and opened doors for me. Many engineers have different experiences — some take it too lightly, and others are not great test takers even though they are good engineers. But over the years, I’ve observed many engineers in exam planning, and the following are the absolute keys to success.

Be Ready. 

This sounds simple, but you must be in the right mindset and committed to successfully passing the exam.

“The sooner you take the exam once you graduate, the better. I had to wait for my experience years before registering to take the exam. When you’re not conditioned for a test like that, studying and taking the test puts a real strain on you mentally.” – Logan Peters, PE

Do Your Research.

Talk to others who took and passed the exam. Find out how they prepared, what they studied, and if they took a preparation course. Did they study individually or in a group setting? What materials did they use? Figure out what works best for you.

“Although the PE exam is open book, you need reference familiarity. The test covers significant material, and it’s key to have a broad understanding. Several questions reference specific tables, charts, and figures. Developing a process to tab or mark information increases your ability to locate information quickly while familiarizing yourself with the reference material.” – Chris Potts, PE, LEED GA.

“Take a review course. It is expensive, but it is completely worth it.” – Christina Griggs, EI.

You Must Prepare.

Preparation is key to most things in life. You have to know what to study, including what to learn and refresh. You must regularly set aside a generous amount of time to accomplish it.

“Studying in college vs. studying while working full-time are two totally different things.” – Kyle Willems, PE.

“Make sure to give yourself enough time to study and know the material. The more familiar you are with it, the more comfortable you will be during the exam.” – Logan Peters, PE.

Practice, Practice, and More Practice.

Create practice test simulations and perform practice problems under self-imposed conditions similar to the exam. This makes the exam time much more comfortable and easier.

“Take 3-4 Saturdays, and wake up at exam time and do a full exam. Then the next day, go through it all, study each section you got wrong, and rework the problems. It’s time-consuming but well worth it.” -Tim Boehlein, PE, LEED GA.

“Start studying earlier than you think you need to. I studied for 10 weeks — twice a day and on weekends — and I wish that I would have had double the time I had.” – Kyle Willems, PE.

Be Confident.

Self-doubt is harmful on test day. Have a satisfying meal and get ample rest the night before. Wake up with a positive attitude knowing that you prepared and will do well. A great attitude lets your mind be free to do your best work at test time.

“My exam was Tuesday, and I stopped any preparation the Friday before. I went early on Monday and got a hotel next to the exam site. I relaxed, played some golf, walked some trails, had a nice dinner, and made sure I got a lot of sleep.” -Tim Boehlein, PE, LEED GA.

The Bottom Line? Preparation Is Key. 

Over the years, I have seen young engineers unprepared to take the exam who took it lightly and were unprepared or unconfident. The time spent was unfocused, and they never really felt ready to pass the exam.  

Don’t fall into the trap of not giving it your best effort. If you don’t feel ready to give it your all, then don’t sign up and waste your time. Take the exam when you are fully committed and ready to put the time in and succeed. Almost every engineer who made it through a difficult engineering curriculum and earned their degree can pass the PE exam on the first try — they just need to implement the keys to success listed above. 

If you have to retake the test, forget about the other attempts. You have to prepare better the next time, but you also have to stay confident. One bad result does not mean it will happen again. Prepare the right way, be confident in your abilities, and you will succeed.

The last thing I’ll say is that a big part of passing the PE exam is getting the right support from the company you work for. It affords you the opportunity to study as much as you need, and the best companies provide financial and educational support to their employees as well. This ensures young engineers have the best chance of success at one of the most important milestones in their engineering careers. 

JBPro Is Here to Guide Young Engineers 

JBPro has served clients in Gainesville and the surrounding communities for almost 4 decades. If you’re looking for an established, respected firm to start your engineering career, look no further than our job listings. Or, if you need expert engineering services, contact us and find out what a difference experience makes for your project.