What a weird year for 2020.
Last year I thought this would be somewhat of a wild year for Fire Protection PE Prep - with the major computer-based changes, references changes, and question styling changes. That prediction ended up being too modest as we've had a total of 12 changes to the exam references (either removing, adding, or changing year editions) that shook up the prep space.
Yet, that of course was hardly the biggest shuffle this year. For the first time, the Fire Protection PE Exam is getting a second day in January (January 12th, 2021) due to limited capacities (re: Covid) in the testing centers on the original October 22nd date.
For those who are preparing for the exam and are in the PE Prep Series, all of the access for those exams are now extended through January 2021.
Thoughts on 2020 Prep Season
If you know someone taking the exam this year (...or in January), send them some flowers or ice cream or chocolate... if they're like many I've spoken with they probably feel like guinea pigs with all the changes, plus the uncertainty of actually being able to take the test, all on top of the normal uncertainty of whether all the preparation over the summer has been enough. That's rough.
Around here there's been so many changes due to the exam. The Prep Series was pretty much overhauled, as was the 2020 PE Prep Guide. Just this year over 150 questions were written or re-written to match the new exam specifications.
Along with those overhauls comes the pain of errors in those questions. I've been thankful for the loads of input and feedback since I first wrote the guide in 2016. Each year up until now the number of errors and tweaks found in the books has gone down... up until the 2020 edition. It's discouraging on my end when we find errors in the material, but that's nothing compared to the frustration for an examinee that doesn't have reliable content. My goal when I started the Prep Guide was to continually improve it year over year, and try to be as open and transparent as possible when it comes to getting the material right.
If you have a Prep Guide and haven't seen it yet, I've posted errata and have made updates to it throughout the year. It's located here: www.meyerfire.com/errata
I very much appreciate the feedback from examinees, especially with so many changes to the guide and online content this year.
Next Year & Continuing the PE Prep
Helping with PE Prep materials has been extremely rewarding for me. I saw a positive review online the other day that said the value of the materials is well beyond the cost. The review mentioned they hope I don't raise prices to match other content out there...
I got a good laugh and am very happy to report that I have no intent to raise prices for future years.
The whole goal here from getting into PE Prep a few years ago was to be sure that there is quality, affordable content for Fire Protection examinees. It was extremely frustrating to me when I took the exam that the materials were so expensive and that there just wasn't a lot of great content at the time. My whole goal here it to try and mend that gap with helpful material that is reasonably priced. I certainly hope that's the case now and the case going forward.
Frequently Asked Questions on Scoring Correlations
I've gotten maybe half a dozen questions asking about how close question difficulty comes into play, and how a score on a MeyerFire exam compares to scores on the actual PE Exam.
There's a ton to discuss here, but I'll try and pick off a few key points. First, is that with the data I've compiled, the average score for an examinee across the 20-weeks of the PE Prep Series is typically close to the raw score on the actual PE Exam. Meaning - if someone has averaged a 7.5 out of 10 on the PE Prep Series questions, they tend to score roughly 75% on the actual exam.
Historically I've connected these points from examinees who have reported their scores back and matched it up with the different data points taken in the PE Prep Series.
In general, exam day will feel closer to a new PE Prep Series exam or the full-length exam in the Prep Guide than it will to the 4-hour review exam or the 8.5-hour review exam in the Prep Series. In both of those longer online exams, the questions are review-only and you've already seen content that is the same or similar. There's a noticeable boost to your score on those review exams that aren't reflected in the PE Exam.
Also, just because we typically see a matching range on average Prep Series scores to the actual exam doesn't mean that it is always the case. There are always exceptions here both ways (people scoring much higher than the Prep Series, and people scoring lower).
All that to say - regardless of how you've tested so far - don't be discouraged by your scores. Go into exam day with confidence that you're going to give it your best effort and just see what happens from there.
Oh, where has Joe been for the last few months? Other than question writing and posts on the Daily Forum page - I've been working on an awesome project that has just debuted - if you haven't seen it check it out here.
My hope in the coming weeks as the PE prep settles down is to hop right back in and continue to work on some new tools and tool improvements around the website going forward.
Hope you and yours are safe and healthy and that you have a great week.
If you are taking the Fire Protection PE Exam this year - good news. I've partnered with Chris Campbell at the Building Code Blog to help you pass the exam with the PE Roadmap, and he's extended the sale through tomorrow, July 10th.
It's a focused study plan with schedule, reading references, locations for practice content, and more analytics to help you study more effectively.
Chris has extended the sale through today - check it out all the details here.
Another summer on its way, and another year of feedback says that the Fire Protection PE (Principles and Practices of Engineering) Exam ranks as one of the toughest disciplines based on pass rate.
Here are some figures for first-time examinees from the Fall of 2019:
And here's what we saw for repeat examinees:
Why So Tough?
Why is the Fire Protection PE a tough one to crack? Most people say its the variety of subjects that the exam covers. While many might think of "sprinkler systems" when they think "fire protection", the industry isn't limited to just NFPA 13.
The representative exam covers fire dynamics, water-based suppression, special hazards, detection & alarm, smoke control systems, explosion protection and prevention, passive building systems, means of egress, and human behavior.
If you're like me, your day job might not cover the wide breadth that the fire protection industry represents. Studying for the exam usually involves a multi-month process of learning parts of the trade with otherwise little to no experience in it. I can say firsthand, it's tough!
What's New in 2020?
This is a big year for the Fire Protection PE Exam. The long-awaited transition to computer-based testing has shaken up the exam with plenty of new offerings, new standards, new questions styles, and stirred up the prep-community too.
I'll start with the exam first - this fall will mark the first Fire Protection PE Exam that's computer-based. They'll be given on a single-day this fall (October 22, 2020) at Pearson-Vue test centers.
The exam is moving from an 8-hour, 80-question, multiple-choice only question style to an 8.5-hour, 85-question, varied question style exam.
Why the change? The exam will start to feature "alternative item type" questions that have shown to better test knowledge than the multiple-choice style questions. The can consist of multiple-correct answer questions, point and click, sequencing, drag and drop, or fill in the blank style answers.
While there isn't an expectation that all the exam questions will be this style, it'll be introduced for the first time this fall and should become more prevalent in future exams going forward.
Gone are the days of lugging 75-pound suitcases full of hardcover books into the exam room. I say definitively say 75-pounds, because that was the limit the airline accepted when I took the exam.
The new exam features ready-access to PDF versions of multiple standards, and a new NCEES supplied reference manual. Here are the changes across the board, by year:
In 2020, we're seeing a total of eleven references for the exam. This now consists of ten different standards, but pulls out the two largest volumes with the SFPE and NFPA Handbooks from the exam.
While this is opposite of the direction we've been told the exam would take for a long time, it will do a good job of reducing the sheer quantity of content that's referenced by the exam into more practical deliverables.
New 2020 Prep Guide & PE Prep Series
The MeyerFire PE Prep Guide is getting an overhaul, as it does most years, to update to the latest exam standards. This year is taking some extra work and we're still looking to ship out by the end of May. The 2020 Prep Guide incorporates all the standard changes and has some new question styles, too.
Each year is a bit of a writer's jam between when the exam standards are published and when I get the 2020 PE Prep Guide out for printing. This year has been especially busy and I sincerely appreciate the patience while I get this edition updated so that it's helpful for you, the user. If you've pre-ordered a copy and are dying to get started studying, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see if I can set you up with materials in the interim. Thanks again for your patience.
The PE Prep Series will start the first week of June. It's our most adaptive and robust series of questions we have - the difficulty is closely monitored to help mirror the actual exam, all of the questions are timed, it's entirely computer-based, and it incorporates the question styles of the exam itself. Learn more about that here.
New PE Roadmap
The prep-space is updating as well. One of the frequent requests I've gotten the past few years is about studying - what should I study? When should I study? Am I on the right track? How do I keep myself accountable?
In the past there's only been a study course or two to help with this.
I'm now proud to say there is another option for those looking to go beyond the PE Prep Guide & online questions, but who might not be a good fit for a full-fledged course. It's the PE Roadmap by Chris Campbell. He's an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Maryland, a Senior Fire Protection Engineer, the writer at the Building Code Blog, and a great guy.
With the PE Roadmap, he's building on the book and the online questions I've written with his own guidance on when & how to study with study schedules, guidance on study content, and one-on-one personal check-in calls. Check the full offering here: www.buildingcode.blog/pe-roadmap
Thanks & have a great week!
If you know someone taking the PE Exam this week, it's time to give them a hug. Maybe not an actual hug; don't be a creeper, but maybe a kind supportive attaboy wouldn't be a bad idea.
Final Call for the PE Exam
This Friday is the day for the 2019 Fire Protection PE Exam... the same exam that at least two hundred fire protection professionals have been honing in on the past few months.
This year marks the last year of the written examination. Major changes are on the horizon for the Fire Protection PE in 2020, including question style, references, and going to a computer-based environment. The biggest change may be that no longer will any resource be allowed in the exam room. There'll be plenty to cover on the 2020 exam later on.
Perhaps because of the big looming changes, we've seen a major uptick around here in the interest in the Fire Protection PE Exam. I would guess that this year will set the record for the number of examinees. That's a great thing. I'm thrilled that the fire protection industry as a whole is growing, and I hear almost weekly about how rare Fire Protection Engineers are in our industry.
What is the PE Exam?
For those who don't know, the PE Exam is the Principles and Practice of Engineering examination which is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The exam is the major milestone to getting a license to practice as a Professional Engineer in the United States. In order to take the PE Exam, examinees must typically first complete a four-year ABET accredited engineering program and a Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam as well as accruing four years of experience working with a licensed engineer. Of course the requirements vary by state but that is the most common requirement.
Last Minute Exam Advice
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.
Regardless of how many hours you've spent studying (whether two or two hundred), there will always be topics that are over-emphasized, poorly worded questions, and niche questions that seem to have no basis in any reference materials. Keep calm and exam on! Skip and come back to questions later. Some of these questions are just on trial for future exams and others will get disputed and thrown out. All you can do is your best. Don't worry about surprises you can't control but focus on what you know and give it your best effort. Best of luck, you've got this!
Updates for 2020 PE Exam
If you have sent in information on the 2019 Edition for suggestions or potential updates, thank you! With all that's happened around here this summer I haven't been as responsive to PE Exam emails as I've tried to be in the past. Please know that I go through all of these and make updates for future examinees, and I greatly appreciate your time in sending suggestions in.
New Feature on Quick-Response Remote Area Reduction
I've had a pet peeve about one of my own tools. Awhile back I created a calculator that will determine the allowable reduction in the hydraulically remote area based on the use of quick response sprinklers. It's a quick-hitter and one I use often.
Each time I use it, though, I still end up using the reduced area and punching in 1.2 times the square root of the new area in order to lay out my hydraulically remote area.
Being that I'm all about convenience (ie: laziness) and efficiency, I've now added that basic calculation in the tool as well. You can see the new feature here.
If you have similar nuances on how these tools can be improved, let me know! I'm always happy to entertain new ideas. You can always reach me at email@example.com.
Have a great week!
Some big news on the MeyerFire front –
With the growth of the community here at meyerfire.com, I’ll be transitioning next week to support this venture full-time and begin my own design practice.
This is a very big and exciting step for me, and I cannot express how thankful I am to have you be a part of the community here. It is because of your support and interest that’s made this possible.
This week’s quick post is a collection of Q&As that I’ve gotten recently that I’m happy to share.
What’s different now?
Two big developments have come through in the last couple months.
You may have noticed the website sponsorships that started in September. There is a good handful of interested organizations that serve the same audience and want to support our efforts at MeyerFire. Sharing their message has helped open up time I can contribute to site resources. I'd encourage you to click sponsor's messages as I both vet and have personal connections with each sponsor organization.
The second big development is still in the works. It involves a major publication with a renowned fire sprinkler organization. I’ll be sure to relay information in time, but for now I’m excited to partner with an expert group and help bring more resources to the industry. This should be a complete volume by the middle of next year.
Will the website change?
Since July I’ve spent about 8 hours a week on the site. That includes developing content, writing for the blog, developing tools, helping Toolkit users, and supporting PE Examinees. This shift to full-time independence will open the potential to increase support for all these things. My hope is that you’ll continue to get better content and more useful tools with every new post.
So this whole website thing is a lead-magnet for your design practice?
Nope. MeyerFire.com will stay and keep the name and continue on where it is.
I’ll continue to design because it’s what I love to do and it keeps me firmly entrenched in the industry’s hot issues. While it will launch this upcoming Monday the 21st, the new website for the design side of things will be www.MeyerFPE.com. My intent is to focus in on only a few specific small-business clients and support them extremely well. It’s also not my intent to hire any employees (see last week’s I’m terrible at management article). Of course business is fluid and change is constant, but that’s my initial intent.
So How Much You Makin’ Off This-Here Website?
When I started writing regularly about two years ago, I had about twenty subscribers. I would guess half of them had my last name. If I looked I would have bet three of them were just different emails my mom used.
Since then (due to your support and sharing posts on LinkedIn & Facebook), the number of subscribers has grown dramatically. Those first few months in 2017 I was over the moon when three new people subscribed on the month. Now, somedays, there will be a dozen or so new interested professionals each day. It’s never about how many people tune in but about the impact of sharing best practices. The growth is well on the up and up and the distribution now approaches that of some of the leading fire protection organizations. You’ve made that possible and I can’t thank you enough for it.
So money - the three revenue sources, if you will, are website sponsorships, PE Exam Prep content, and the Toolkit software package. The site sponsorships have just kicked off in September and have lots of interest. The PE Prep Guide is now technically the bestselling Fire Protection PE Exam book on the market, and there are now over 200 active MeyerFire Toolkit users.
All of this combined still doesn’t make up a full-time income, but the impact that the combined effort is having has been incredibly positive. Not pursuing these in greater capacity would be something I’d otherwise live to regret.
A Few Notes
The transition to full time developer is a big step and a big transition for me and my family. It’s not without a lot of thought, nervousness, and a lot of excitement. Of course this is all really the beginning, but there are several people I’d like to thank just making it to this point.
I’d like to thank the incredible team at SSC Engineering in St. Louis. They have a supportive and sharp group and I am so fortunate to have learned under the best these past few years. If you’re ever in the market for MEP, FP, or Structural design services, I would recommend the crew wholeheartedly.
I’d like to thank some bigtime supporters and mentors for me. Far too many people to name, but those that have really stood out over the years are Mike Auld, Drew Robinson, Adam Hilton, Cindy Gier, Jeff Dunkel, Chris Cornett, Angie Grant, David Stacy, Aaron Johnson, Ed Long, and Mike Lonigro. You all rock.
I'd also like to thank YOU for being a part of this community and being an advocate for better fire protection. I’m excited about what we’re going to build together.
For the contractor clients I work with I regularly look over jobs pre-bid. I’ll review drawings, read specifications, and compile all my notes looking for red flags that could impact the job from a design standpoint. (The cheatsheets that I use to breakdown a job is now all in the Toolkit)
Last month I reviewed an apartment complex job for a bid where the code summary had conflicts. The IBC Chapter 5 summary indicated and NFPA 13 system while the IBC Chapter 9 indicated an NFPA 13R system. There were no other references to a fire sprinkler system in the rest of the documents or specifications.
These are the projects that I blame my hair loss on. It's another bad example of project documentation. Regardless, the question of NFPA 13 versus NFPA 13R is something that comes up regularly and is the topic of this and next week's article.
Why Does it Matter?
NFPA 13R is not built with the same intent as an NFPA 13 system.
NFPA 13R systems are designed to “prevent flashover (total involvement) in the room of fire origin”. By doing so, they intend to improve the ability for occupants to survive a fire by evacuation. 13R design is primarily concerned with protecting areas of residential buildings where fires cause loss of life. It is not as concerned with fires in areas where fatal fires in residential occupancies do not originate. (Reference IBC 903.3.1.2 Annex)
NFPA 13 systems, however, intend to provide a “reasonable degree of protection for life and property”. In a general sense, NFPA 13 systems are concerned with both life safety and property protection. The goal is to suppress a fire near its' point of origin, regardless of the level of risk to life safety.
Cost can be largely impacted by the NFPA 13 vs. NFPA 13R decision -
especially in wood construction buildings with attic spaces and overhangs.
Aside from having different purposes, NFPA 13 vs. 13R decisions can have major implications on system cost.
NPFA 13R systems allow sprinkler omission in a handful of areas which 13 does not. These include small closets, exterior balcony closets, concealed spaces, elevator machine rooms, garages, carports, attached porches, and attic spaces. I've summarized these with a cheatsheet here.
For wood-construction (a mainstay in residential design), attic sprinkler systems under NFPA 13 can command a major cost premium. These attic systems need dry valves, air compressors, use of steel in lieu of CPVC, special application sprinklers, and design requirements that can require large diameter pipe.
Testing and maintenance is also a long-term ownership concern. Not only do dry attic systems require regular low-point drainage, but they often corrode faster than wet systems .
Attic systems are one area of a building that can be a huge difference between NFPA 13 and 13R.
That said, I’ve also worked on projects where 13R has little to no impact on the project price. A flat-roof building built with non-combustible structure, for instance, offers no major difference. The only impact was the lower density permitted for residential-style sprinklers. Using the 0.05 gpm/sqft in lieu of 0.10 gpm/sqft of NFPA 13 resulted in smaller pipe diameters for an NFPA 13R system.
Buildings must be residential, four stories or less, 60 feet in height or less,
and not use any code exemptions for an NFPA 13 system in order to use NFPA 13R.
When Can I Use NFPA 13R?
There are four global limitations where an NFPA 13R system can be used. These include:
"My project is design/build with deferred submittals. Can’t the contractor determine this?"
No - and I can’t stress this enough – please do not leave this determination to a contractor.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an architect, mechanical engineer, or the expert code consultant. There are a number of code exceptions that can only practically be determined by the design team. The sprinkler contractor is an expert on suppression – not on architectural design decisions and the code paths for those decisions.
What are the building code exemptions that require an NFPA 13 system?
The code exceptions show up for building height increases, building area increases, egress widths, travel distance limitations, occupancy separations, corridor wall ratings, hazardous material increases, inclusion of atriums, unlimited area buildings, allowable area of openings, vertical separation of openings, draftstopping, interior finishes, floor finishes, manual fire alarm systems, and several others.
Sounds like a lot? It is. Fortunately I’ve got a cheatsheet coming next week where I’ll explore these differences in more detail. If you’re interested in getting a copy, subscribe here and it’ll be emailed directly to you.
A couple weeks I posted a link on this month’s sponsor Engineered Corrosion Solution’s whitepapers. Many of you have already checked it out, but if you haven't there's a MeyerFire welcome page here: https://www.ecscorrosion.com/meyerfire-welcome
I had a couple people ask about the whitepapers, so here’s a direct link to them. Specifically, be sure to check out "Industry Myths Regarding Corrosion in Fire Sprinkler Systems" and "Six Reasons Why Galvanized Steel Piping Should NOT be used in Dry and Preaction Fire Sprinkler Systems."
PE Prep Guide 2019 Selling Out
There's been a ton of interest this year in the PE Prep Guide. I genuinely appreciate every single person who's checked out the book for this year's exam - there has been more interest than ever before and I suspect the exam turnout could be the most ever for the Fire Protection P.E. Exam.
Next year's exam in 2020 will go computer-based and have major changes, so the PE Prep Guide will undergo big changes as well. This year's shipment of the 2019 Edition is just about out, and because of the big changes next year I won't be ordering extra copies. We currently have 16 copies available, so the 2019 edition will likely sell out by October's PE Exam. If you'd like to get a copy of the 2019 PE Prep Guide, please consider doing so now.
After the 2019 Edition sells out we'll still have 2018 PE Prep Guides available, and I'll ship an errata list with it. Any questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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Joseph Meyer, PE, owns/operates his own Fire Protection Engineering practice in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.