It's always a bit of a wild ride between March and May around here publishing the new edition of the PE Prep Guide. Each year I go through all of the prior year's feedback, make the updates I want, and then wait for the official SFPE list of required references to make any changes and publish.
Good & Bad News
The good news is for 2019 that the books are here a whole month earlier than I was anticipating - thanks to SFPE's early posting of the 2019 required reference list in early April. If you order a copy with our current sale, we'll get it headed your way in less than 24 hours.
The bad news is that SFPE has also just revised the required reference list again just last week, well after their usual April posting and also after I sent the 2019 edition to the publisher. I guess this isn't really bad news at the latest update just took NFPA 25 from the 2014 edition to the 2014 OR 2017 edition, and NFPA 92 from the 2012 edition to the 2012 OR 2015 edition.
The 2019 Edition is now the 4th and largest edition of the PE Prep Guide.
I don't know for sure, but I suspect that this change was based on recent feedback SFPE gathered about introducing older standards to the exam than what they've previously used. I'm guessing it was in good faith to not force examinees to go hunt down older versions of these standards while not materially affecting this exam.
Regardless, this week I was happy to receive the largest shipment of books we've ever had (a FedEx Freight semi-truck dropped off a 480 pound pallet of books at our home Thursday) and we've already shipped over three dozen books in the last 24 hours.
An annual tradition around here is pre-packaging the shipment of books as they come in for quick turn-arounds. This year we received our largest shipment to date - a nearly 500 pound pallet of hardcover books.
PE Guide Growth
If you're in the hunt for the PE Exam this year, you might consider getting a copy of the PE Prep Guide. Last year over 2 out of every 3 examinee had the 2018 edition in hand, and many of the last 1/3rd had prior editions of the guide. It's quickly becoming the go-to resource for the Fire Protection PE Exam and is well beyond what I could ever have hoped would happen when I put the first guide together in 2016.
Weekly Exam Prep Series
If you already have the 2018 Edition, you might consider the Weekly Exam Prep Series. It's a 20-week set of mini-exams that simulate the pace and difficulty of the actual PE Exam, with a bank of on-demand questions as well.
For the numbers we're still gathering from last year's users of the Weekly Exam Series, we're having tremendous success with those who are taking the exam for the 2nd or 3rd time with a pass rate double the average of all repeat examinees. Check it out especially if you're a repeat examinee.
The feedback and growth for the Weekly Exam Series has also been great - there's already as many people signed up for this year as we did all of 2018.
Thank you for the feedback and interest so far - I can't wait to get these books out to everyone and get the summer of study rolling. Any questions/concerns - I'm always here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should it be called "preparing" or "prepping" for the PE (Principles and Practice of Engineering) Exam?
If you've studied for the exam and spent hours and hours covering thousands of pages of material - it just might feel more like "prepping" for doomsday more than anything else. The required references for 2019 alone now cover 9 different books, 12 volumes and over 6,500 pages.
This week I'm covering a review of the 2018 exam and some updates to 2019 for the Fire Protection PE Exam.
Discouraging 2018 Results
The overall results from all 241 examinees came in December, and the results were not great.
Pass rates for first-time examinees fell to 56%, the lowest this decade. The pass rate for repeat takers also fell to 28%, the lowest rate since 2015. These results are published annually by NCEES.
4th Toughest Exam for First-Timers
We once again maintain a distinction for having one of the most difficult exams to pass. The 56% pass rate for first time examinees ranks 4th toughest of the 24 different PE disciplines, behind only software, civil (construction), and power systems.
The overall pass rate (first-time and repeat takers combined) isn't much better with fire protection having the 7th most difficult pass rate.
On a related note one of the adjacent fields where some people working in fire protection get their PE is mechanical and architectural. Architectural used to have an overall pass rate above 80%, but that appears to no longer be the case. The Mechanical PE on Thermal & Fluid Systems has an overall pass rate of 60%, higher than fire protection but not by a large degree.
Raw Cut Score about 70%
With the popularity of the Weekly Exam Series (a 20-week series of mini-exams for Fire Protection PE examinees), I've gathered significantly better analytics on the difficulty of the actual exam and how well studying translates to passing the exam.
We're now able to better estimate the raw cut score (the percentage of questions correct to pass the exam), and how the difficulty of the Weekly Exams compares to the actual exam.
From the 2018 exam, we've estimated an overall raw cut score of 69-70%.
MeyerFire User Pass Rates
The statistic I love and get asked about more than anything is what the pass rates are for people buying the PE Prep Guide and what the pass rates are for people doing the Weekly Exams.
In short, it is very difficult to calculate this value now that the Prep Guide has become so popular. Consider this - on the 2018 exam over 2 out of every 3 examinees had the 2018 edition in their hand when they took the exam. Many who didn't have the 2018 edition brought a copy of the 2017.
In concept, if nearly everyone has a copy of the book on the actual exam, then it becomes more of a prerequisite to taking the exam than it does a boost only to the person using it. Where I have found differentiation, though, is between examinees who get a copy, study early, and study thoroughly. Somewhat obviously - the best prepared tend to do better on the actual exam.
As for pass rates of the Weekly Exam - I'm trying hard to get those exact values. If you used the Weekly Exam Series in 2018, I would be very grateful to hear from you and how the test went.
While I've reached out to everyone, I still haven't heard from the following users: Pepe Sylvia, GingerSnap, RoundONE, JT, Ginger, AB, JDB Falcon, onebadshark, MAXCRYPT, Senior, Old Guy, Ryan, Tip Top, na, dot dot dot, and yeass. [if you can't tell, we have a lot of fun on the Weekly Exam Series]
If you're one of these people, please shoot me an email at email@example.com. Your input helps craft future editions and support success for others going forward.
A Checklist of Resources
Are you planning to take the 2019 exam? If so, you'll want to see our list of every resource we know to be available to you. The list includes formula sheets, practice exams, reference materials, Prep Books, Study Communities, and Courses. It's all here: https://www.meyerfire.com/pe-tools.html
Changes to the 2019 PE Exam
Once again the exam writers can't help but make tweaks between each edition of the PE Exam. While published articles as old as five years ago suggested a narrowing of required references down to just the NFPA and SFPE handbooks, the actual exam references have done anything but condense.
For 2019, there's a few notable changes from the 2018 Exam (as published by SFPE):
Here's the year to year changes, with edition, additions or subtracted changes highlighted.
The 2019 PE Prep Guide Release
Fortunately this year, SFPE released the required references earlier than in years past. As a result the 2019 PE Prep Guide, which usually would ship in June, will ship earlier. At this time I'm estimating a mid-may shipment of these editions for anyone who pre-orders a copy. Of course if you'd rather get a copy in your hands now, we still have the 2018 edition available.
Weekly Exam Prep Series
Back for a third year the Weekly Exam Prep Series will kick off June 3rd. If you're looking to get as much regular practice as is available anywhere in a fun exam-simulated pace, then this is for you. See where you rank and get access to over 400 questions with the Weekly Exams. Learn more about the Weekly Exam Prep Series here.
2019 vs. 2020 Exam
Big changes are ahead for the 2020 exam. Not only will the Fire Protection PE Exam transition to a computer-based exam, but the legacy of bringing in volumes and volumes of references will go away as well. As we understand it today, there will be a single, condensed reference book with formulas and charts that can be used on the exam - and that's it. It'll be a different delivery, different problem types, and a different reference.
It'll be a big change and without a doubt make 2020 examinees feel like guinea pigs in the sense of trying out something new to everyone involved (examinees, the exam writers, and prep material producers). That could be intimidating or could be an opportunity depending upon how you look at it.
Know someone interested in taking the PE Exam? Feel free to send them this article today.
Are you "prepping" for the 2019 PE Exam? Here's some related past articles on the topic:
A 2018 PE Exam Summer in Review
Updates for the 2018 Fire Protection PE Exam
Thoughts on the 2017 PE Prep Season
5 Tips to Crush P.E. Exam Prep
Fire P.E. Exam Ranked 3rd Toughest, 6th Overall
Collaborate with Others Studying for the PE Exam
It's that time of year to find someone who is taking the PE Exam and give them a hug. Or don't, because that's kind of unprofessional, but do be very empathetic.
It's always clear from my end that there are so many people who are spending lots of time preparing for the big day on October 26th.
Interest Way Up
Thanks in large part to word of mouth from those who had purchased the PE Prep Guide and Weekly Exam series in past years and the use of the guide in the 2018 SFPE Online Course, I've seen a major uptick in interest this year.
As an estimate from the overall participation in last year's exam, roughly 2/3rds of all examinees this year will walk into the exam room with the 2018 Edition of the Prep Guide. That's very encouraging and I thank you all who have promoted the book and continue to give feedback to help make it better for others.
I'm shipping copies daily with even more in inventory, so if you're looking to get a copy you can still get one today.
Big Impact with Weekly Exam
This year was the first summer I've been able to use data from last year's users to refine and improve the questions. It's been a major improvement over last year and I am glad to continue to get positive feedback and interest. The Leaderboard posted weekly on the Daily page shows these all-stars at work. I think each year the folks studying seem to get better and better in their preparation and this year is no exception.
We've had some requests for even more problems (above the 300 in the weekly exams and the on-demand series), so I've just opened 4-hour and 8-hour exams that mixes old problems from weeks 1-18 to test yourself again. If you're a Weekly Exam user you can see those here.
Checklist of Resources
Occasionally around this time of year I hear from a few people that don't know about some of the available prep materials. Here's a short list to make sure you're taking advantage of everything available.
1. A list of all Fire Protection PE Exam materials I know
2. Join the free private Facebook group with many great discussions and questions about the exam
3. Daily PE Exam Problems (over 90 to date)
4. PE Prep Guide and Weekly Exam Series, with Errata
Last Exam Tips
If you have a copy of the Prep Guide you already know there's quite a bit of detail on exam advice passed down through the years included in the book.
For this summer I'd just like to say to remember that no matter how hard you've prepped, there will be questions that seem to come completely out of left field, are over-emphasized in the exam, or are worded poorly. Not only do some of these questions not even end up graded, but remember that everyone else taking the exam will have a similar experiences. All you can do is your best and forget the rest!
SFPE Releases 2018 Required References
This week the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) released the required references for this fall's Principles of Engineering (PE) Exam. Interestingly enough, NFPA 72 is back on the list of required references after being removed for the 2017 exam.
Changes to Weights of Topics for 201
One other important update from last year's exam is the weighting of problems overall. SFPE has adjusted the number of questions dedicated to each topic, which has been a point of focus to modernize the exam for SFPE's Professional Qualifications Committee.
The 2018 Fire Protection PE Exam incorporates changes in topic weighting to better match industry expectations.
Thoughts on Adjusted Exam Weighting
If you plan to take the exam this year, what does this mean? Not much in the big-picture. The bulk of the content is still very closely related to what was in the exam before. The weighting of the questions isn't a firm barrier but more of a loose goal for each year's exam anyways.
I believe the most noticeable difference might be the number of special hazard questions, which has been reduced by half to now make up only 5% of the exam.
Fire Protection Remains 3rd Toughest Exam for First-Timers
Of 24 different PE Exam disciplines, Fire Protection remains one of the most difficult for first-time test takers to pass.
Why is this? Primarily, it's because the Fire Protection PE Exam covers such a variety of topics (active systems, smoke control, fire dynamics fundamentals, and life safety) that any one individual is unlikely to have depth in. It can be easy to underestimate the exam when taking it for the first time.
Pass Rate for Repeat Examinees Improves
If there's reason for hope, the pass rate for repeat-test examinees was the highest in 2017 that it's been in recent years, at 48%. The interest in obtaining a Fire Protection PE has also grown, up to 266 examiness marking a 23% growth in just two years.
Weekly Exam Series Returning
The best source for extra problems and practice is also returning this summer. The Weekly Exam Series incorporates 20 weeks of 10-question, 1-hour mini exams that simulate the pace and difficulty of the actual exam. If you don't pass with this tool you'll get it free the following year.
I'm excited to add additional practice to the Weekly Exam Series this year - for no additional cost, you'll be able to take unlimited 1-hour mini exams on-demand. These mini exams are only limited by the total bank of questions, but will offer flexibility and simply far more opportunity to practice questions than available before. This new feature begins in July.
See more about the Weekly Exam Series here.
After having a difficult experience taking the PE Exam several years ago with a lack of great resources, I decided to do something about it and begin providing resources that created a better experience for examinees.
See all the resources (good and bad) I've found on the PE Tools page and free daily practice on the Daily page.
If you haven't felt that tinge of anxiousness in the air, then you probably aren't spending time near someone taking the 2017 PE Exam.
This Friday over 200 professionals throughout the world will sit for the eight-hour Fire Protection P.E. Exam. It's a recognized mark of competency and for those taking the exam, a major milestone in his or her career.
In May of this year we published the 2017 MeyerFire PE Prep Guide, which introduced over 100 new questions, additional tips and references, and major revisions to the 2016 Guide. It was nothing short of a monstrous effort to compile the new 376-page volume. In addition, in June we launched a 20-week Weekly Exam Series in an effort to provide more practice while simulating actual exam conditions. This was joined by our continued free Daily PE Problems throughout the summer.
While this year was a big step up in involvement, it also was a very positive experience. We have had probably our most involved group of test takers to date, both in the number of questions posed, comments on the daily problems, and lively discussions in the PE Prep Facebook Group. A handful of last year's examinees provided real-time feedback in the Facebook discussions and a couple helped us compile new daily problems for this year.
There have been some learning curves on my end that cropped up this summer - namely needing better editing on my part as we had (in my opinion) too many errata updates to the 376-page guide. We will be incorporating all of those updates in the 2018 Guide. Another improvement I'm wanting for 2018 is to open up my availability late in the fall (September & October) better one-on-one help. I'll be exploring ways to better share and discuss content between now and next summer in that regard.
This summer I have again been impressed by how hard and thorough so many test takers are in their preparation. We've had some of the most in-depth content discussions around prep material of any summer to date. It seems as though the more problems and content we're able to distribute, the more discussion and depth everyone is able to soak up. It's certainly a good thing from a learning perspective.
For those taking the exam this week, remember that each year there's always some subject that appears completely out of nowhere. Just remember that those are just as surprising to everyone else taking the exam, and, some of those questions may not even be scored but rather trial questions for future exams. Do your best and forget the rest.
For those not taking the exam but know someone that is, give him or her a hug. Or don't, because that creeps people out - but do encourage beforehand and help celebrate with them afterwards. It's a big effort and for many an anxious time, but can be just as rewarding as well.
We are very excited to announce that the MeyerFire 2017 PE Prep Guide is now available in our Store or on Amazon!
The 2017 Edition improves upon the highly-rated 2016 PE Prep Guide with all internal references updated to the 2017 PE Exam specifications (including the 5th Edition of the SFPE Handbooks), has our top exam-passing strategies based on interviews of past examinees, and has one-hundred additional peer-reviewed practice problems alongside the full-length practice exam.
Read more about the 2017 PE Prep Guide including feedback received from buyers of the 2016 Edition.
On Wednesday, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (organization who handles PE Exam development and test writing), released the required references and editions for the 2017 P.E. Exam.
Items in question since last year's exam included whether the 4th Edition of the SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering and 2014 Edition of NFPA 25 would still be utilized. Both were removed, as well as NFPA 72 (National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code) altogether. Here's the required references for the 2017 Fire Protection PE Exam:
NFPA Fire Protection Handbook, 20th Edition (Amazon, NFPA)
NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, 2016 Edition (Amazon, Free Access)
NFPA 25: Inspection, Testing, & Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, 2017 Edition (Amazon | Free Access)
NFPA 30: Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code, 2015 Edition (Amazon | Free Access)
NFPA 101: Life Safety Code, 2015 Edition (Amazon | Free Access)
SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering, 5th Edition (Amazon)
In recent years developers of the Fire Protection PE Exam have stressed the importance of moving the exam away from code and standard recitation and instead towards fundamentals of the fire protection engineering as outlined primarily in the NFPA and SFPE Handbooks. That appears to certainly be the case in this year's update with the removal of NFPA 72 as part of the requirement materials.
Here at MeyerFire we're keeping busy with just a month left before our launch of the 2017 MeyerFire PE Prep Guide. The new edition of the guide will match all of the required references for this year's exam with a full-length peer-reviewed practice exam and 100 additional practice questions. You can Pre-Order the Guide now for our best price and for arrival before the end of May.
When I was prepping for the P.E. Exam, I did what most of us do - ask anyone and everyone within about five cubicles who had recently taken the exam and what they did to pass. After taking the exam, I crafted a few ideas of my own and later even surveyed our users about their tips.
While there's a variety in the responses, this is the best of what we found:
As the last post alluded, there's now over 6,000 pages of reference material ranging a handful of different topics spread out over seven references in ten volumes. That is a ton of information.
Do I actually need to read everything?
No, definitely not. Not only is it difficult to digest every page, but study time can be much more effective elsewhere.
What is important is to organize the information for yourself so that you understand where to find critical information quickly. This has been done by creating a flow diagram which organizes references by topic, by using a formula sheet as your organizing tool, or it can be as simple as studying the table of contents from each reference.
The end goal with organization is that you feel comfortable knowing where material is located so that you can quickly get to it on the exam.
Congratulations, you have bragging rights over those pesky mechanicals.
NCEES recently published the latest P.E. Exam pass rates across each exam discipline, and fire protection tied for 3rd out of 24 disciplines for the lowest pass rate for first-time exam takers and 6th lowest overall. The passing rate of 61% for first-time fire protection trailed only software (56%) and nuclear (58%) engineering disciplines.
Overall passing rates rank fire protection 6th most difficult, trailing nuclear (42%), software (47%), environmental (49%), civil - geotechnical (49%), and civil - construction (49%). These numbers include repeat takers.
Looking to post questions or collaborate with others studying for the Fire Protection P.E. Exam? Get tips on errors within review materials, questions on problems, or peer-to-peer questions? Join our new private Facebook group available exclusively, for free, to those studying for this exam. Go to this link and 'Request to Join': https://www.facebook.com/groups/fireprotectionpeexam/
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Joseph Meyer, PE, is a Fire Protection Engineer in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.