Civil PE Exam – Exam Specifications

Civil PE Exam – Exam Specifications

General

The Civil PE Exam covers the Civil Engineering discipline of engineering, and it includes five sub disciplines which includes Transportation Engineering, Structural Engineering, Construction Engineering, Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, and Geotechnical Engineering.  For those of you that have been around a while, you may know that the Construction module was added in 2010, and the Water Resources and Environmental Engineering modules were combined into on*

Breadth and Depth Format
The Civil PE Exam is one of the disciplines that uses a ‘Breadth and Depth’ Format on the Exam.  This means that part of the exam covers all five sub discipline areas, and part of the exam emphasizes your chosen area of practice  The morning part of the exam is the same for everyone, and it covers the breadth exam, while the afternoon module of the exam covers the depth portion.   Currently, you must select which depth module you will be taking when you register for the exam.

What will be on The PE Exam?
The exam specifications are provided by the NCEES committee creating the exam, and this specification provides an outline of the exam topics.  The following outline is provided by the NCEES committee.  A few general notes are summarized, followed but the exam specifications for the breadth exams and then the depth exams.

Principles and Practice of Engineering Civil PE Exam Specifications
By the NCEES as of April 2012

A few general points noted about the exam, which are followed by the detailed specifications.

General Notes:

The civil exam is a breadth and depth examination. This means that examinees work the breadth (AM) exam and one of the five depth (PM) exams.

The five areas covered in the civil examination are construction, geotechnical, structural, transportation, and water resources and environmental. The breadth exam contains questions from all five areas of civil engineering. The depth exams focus more closely on a single area of practice in civil engineering.

Examinees work all questions in the morning session and all questions in the afternoon module they have chosen. Depth results are combined with breadth results for final score.

The exam is an 8-hour open-book exam. It contains 40 multiple-choice questions in the 4-hour AM session, and 40 multiple-choice questions in the 4-hour PM session.

The exam uses both the International System of Units (SI) and the US Customary System (USCS).

The exam is developed with questions that will require a variety of approaches and methodologies, including design, analysis, and application. Some problems may require knowledge of engineering economics.

The knowledge areas specified as examples of kinds of knowledge are not exclusive or exhaustive categories.

So, the first part is the Breadth Exam Specifications, followed by the Depth Area Specifications.  You need not review all depth areas, just jump to the depth area applicable and follow those requirements.

Part 1:  CIVIL BREADTH Exam Specifications
Covers the 40 morning questions

I. Construction         20% of AM Exam
A. Earthwork Construction and Layout
1. Excavation and embankment (cut and fill) 2. Borrow pit volumes
3. Site layout and control
B.  Estimating Quantities and Costs 1. Quantity take-off methods 2. Cost estimating
C.  Scheduling
1.  Construction sequencing 2. Resource scheduling
3. Time-cost trade-off
D.  Material Quality Control and Production
1.  Material testing (e.g., concrete, soil, asphalt)
E.  Temporary Structures
1. Construction loads

II.    Geotechnical 20% of AM Exam
A.    Subsurface Exploration and Sampling
1. Soil classification
2. Boring log interpretation (e.g., soil profile)
B.    Engineering Properties of Soils and Materials 1. Permeability
2. Pavement design criteria
C.    Soil Mechanics Analysis 1. Pressure distribution 2. Lateral earth pressure 3. Consolidation 
4. Compaction 
5. Effective and total stresses
D.    Earth Structures 
1. Slope stability 
2. Slabs-on-grade
E.    Shallow Foundations 
1. Bearing capacity 
2. Settlement
F.    Earth Retaining Structures 
1. Gravity walls
2. Cantilever walls
3. Stability analysis
4. Braced and anchored excavations
III.    Structural 20% 
A. Loadings
1. Dead loads 
2. Live loads 
3. Construction loads
B.    Analysis 
1. Determinate analysis
C.    Mechanics of Materials 
1. Shear diagrams
2. Moment diagrams 3. Flexure
4. Shear
5. Tension
6. Compression
7. Combined stresses 8. Deflection
D.    Materials
1. Concrete (plain, reinforced)
2. Structural steel (structural, light gage, reinforcing)
E.    Member Design
1. Beams 
2. Slabs
3. Footings
IV. Transportation 20%  of AM Exam
A. Geometric Design
1. Horizontal curves
2. Vertical curves
3. Sight distance
4. Superelevation
5. Vertical and/or horizontal clearances 6. Acceleration and deceleration

V. Water Resources and Environmental 20%  of AM Exam
A.    Hydraulics – Closed Conduit
1. Energy and/or continuity equation (e.g., Bernoulli)
2. Pressure conduit (e.g., single pipe, force mains)
3. Closed pipe flow equations including Hazen-Williams, 
Darcy-Weisbach Equation
4. Friction and/or minor losses
5. Pipe network analysis (e.g., pipeline design, branch networks, 
loop networks)
6. Pump application and analysis
B.    Hydraulics – Open Channel
1. Open-channel flow (e.g., Manning’s equation)
2. Culvert design
3. Spillway capacity
4. Energy dissipation (e.g., hydraulic jump, velocity control)
5. Stormwater collection (e.g., stormwater inlets, gutter flow, street flow, 
storm sewer pipes)
6. Flood plains/floodways
7. Flow measurement – open channel
C.    Hydrology
1. Storm characterization (e.g., rainfall measurement and distribution) 2. Storm frequency
3. Hydrographs application
4. Rainfall intensity, duration, and frequency (IDF) curves
5. Time of concentration
6. Runoff analysis including Rational and SCS methods
7. Erosion
8. Detention/retention ponds
D.    Wastewater Treatment
1. Collection systems (e.g., lift stations, sewer networks, infiltration, inflow)
E.    Water Treatment
1. Hydraulic loading
2. Distribution systems

Part 2  Civil Depth Exam Outline
Covers 40 Questions in Afternoon
You Must choose One Depth Area in one of the following areas
(Construction, Geotechnical, Transportation, Water Resources and Environmental, and Structural)

2A. CIVIL PE EXAM:  CONSTRUCTION DEPTH Exam Specifications

I.    Earthwork Construction and Layout 10% of Constr. Depth Exam
A. Excavation and embankment (cut and fill) B. Borrow pit volumes
C. Site layout and control
D. Earthwork mass diagrams
II.    Estimating Quantities and Costs 17.5%  of Constr. Depth Exam
A. Quantity take-off methods B. Cost estimating
C. Engineering economics
1. Value engineering and costing
III.    Construction Operations and Methods 15%  of Constr. Depth Exam
A. Lifting and rigging
B. Crane selection, erection, and stability C. Dewatering and pumping
D. Equipment production
E. Productivity analysis and improvement F. Temporary erosion control
IV.    Scheduling 17.5% 
A. Construction sequencing B. CPM network analysis C. Activity time analysis
D. Resource scheduling 
E. Time-cost trade-off
V.    Material Quality Control and Production 10%  of Constr. Depth Exam
A. Material testing (e.g., concrete, soil, asphalt) B. Welding and bolting testing
C. Quality control process (QA/QC)
D. Concrete mix design
VI.    Temporary Structures 12.5%  of Constr. Depth Exam
A. Construction loads
B. Formwork
C. Falsework and scaffolding
D. Shoring and reshoring
E. Concrete maturity and early strength evaluation
F. Bracing
G. Anchorage
H. Cofferdams(systemsfortemporaryexcavationsupport)
I. Codes and standards [e.g., American Society of Civil Engineers 
(ASCE 37), American Concrete Institute (ACI 347), American Forest and Paper Association-NDS, Masonry Wall Bracing Standard]
4
Civil–Construction Depth Exam Specifications Continued
VII.    Worker Health, Safety, and Environment 7.5%  of Constr. Depth Exam
A. OSHA regulations
B. Safety management
C. Safety statistics (e.g., incident rate, EMR)
VIII.    Other Topics 10%  of Constr. Depth Exam
A.    Groundwater and well fields
1. Groundwater control including drainage, construction dewatering
B.    Subsurface exploration and sampling 1. Drilling and sampling procedures
C.    Earth retaining structures
1. Mechanically stabilized earth wall 2. Soil and rock anchors
D.    Deep foundations 1. Pile load test
2. Pile installation
E.    Loadings
1. Wind loads 2. Snow loads 3. Load paths
F.    Mechanics of materials 1. Progressive collapse
G.    Materials
1. Concrete (prestressed, post-tensioned) 2. Timber
H.    Traffic safety
1. Work zone safety

Design Standards Specified for Construction Depth Module
Per the NCEES as of April 2012

Note:  If taking the construction depth module, you will want to obtain as many, or all of these references as a part of your library.  Some problems, such as steel problems simply cannot be solved without the reference.  This is true, for example, for steel problems.  If you are not taking the construction exam, then some of these references may be useful as well.

ASCE 37-02:        Design Loads on Structures During Construction, 2002, American Society of Civil Engineers
NDS:            National Design Specification for Wood Construction, 2005, American Forest & Paper Association/American Wood Council
CMWB:        Standard Practice for Bracing Masonry Walls During Construction, 2001, Council for Masonry Wall Bracing, Mason Contractors Association of America
AISC:            Steel Construction Manual, 13th ed., American Institute of Steel Construction, Inc., Chicago, IL, www.aisc.org.
ACI318-08:        Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete, 2008, American Concrete Institute
ACI SP-4:        Formwork for Concrete, 7th ed., 2005, American Concrete Institute (Includes ACI 347-04)
ACI 347-04:        Guide to Formwork for Concrete, 2004, American Concrete Institute (in ACI SP-4, 7th edition appendix).
OSHA:        Occupational Safety and Health Standards for the Construction Industry, 29 CFR Part 1926 (US federal version), US Department of Labor
MUTCD-Pt 6        Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices – Part 6 Temporary Traffic Control, 2009, US Federal Highway Administration
REFERENCE CATEGORIES FOR CONSTRUCTION DEPTH MODULE
Note:  For construction depth module, the NCEES provides ‘reference categories’ in addition to the cited references.  It may be worth taking note of these references and ensuring you are covered in these categories both in your review and in your reference library.

Construction surveying
Construction estimating
Construction planning and scheduling
Construction equipment and methods
Construction materials
Construction design standards (see above)

2B. CIVIL PE EXAM:  GEOTECHNICAL DEPTH OUTLINE
I. Subsurface Exploration and Sampling 7.5% of Geotech Depth Exam
A. Drilling and sampling procedures
B. Soil classification
C. General rock characterization (e.g., RQD, description, joints and fractures) D. Boring log interpretation (e.g., soil profile)
E. In situ testing
II. Engineering Properties of Soils and Materials 12.5% of Geotech Depth Exam
A. Index properties
B. Phase relationships
C. Permeability
D. Geosynthetics
E. Pavement design criteria F. Shear strength properties G. Frost susceptibility
III.  Soil Mechanics Analysis 12.5% of Geotech Depth Exam
A. Pressure distribution B. Lateral earth pressure C. Consolidation
D. Compaction 
E. Expansive soils
F. Effective and total stresses
IV.Earthquake Engineering 5% of Geotech Depth Exam
A. Liquefaction
B. Pseudo-static analysis and earthquake loadings
C. Seismic site characterization
V.  Earth Structures 10% of Geotech Depth Exam
A. Slope stability
B. Slabs-on-grade
C. Earth dams
D. Techniques and suitability of ground modification
VI. Shallow Foundations  15% of Geotech Depth Exam
A. Bearing capacity
B. Settlement
C. Mat and raft foundations

VII.Earth Retaining Structures, Including Temporary Structures 17.5% of Geotech Depth Exam
A. Gravity walls and cofferdams
B. Cantilever walls
C. Stability analysis
D. Mechanically stabilized earth walls E. Braced and anchored excavations F. Soil and rock anchors 
G. Temporary structures, including shoring and re-shoring
VIII.    Deep Foundations 10% 
A. Axial capacity (single pile/drilled shaft)
B. Lateral capacity and deflections (single pile/drilled shaft)
C. Settlement
D. Behavior of pile and/or drilled shaft group
E. Pile load test
F. Pile installation
G. Pile dynamics (e.g., wave equation, high-strain dynamic testing)
IX.    Other Topics 10% of Geotech Depth Exam

A. Groundwater and well fields
1. Well logging and subsurface properties
2. Aquifers (e.g., characterization)
3. Groundwater flow including Darcy’s Law and seepage analysis
4. Well analysis (steady flow only)
5. Groundwater control, including drainage, construction dewatering,
and pumping
6. Seepage (e.g., exit gradient, drain fields, seepage forces, flow nets)
B.  Construction operations and methods
* Quality control process (QA/QC) (e.g., when digging, confirming quality; writing QA processes)
* Concrete maturity and early strength evaluation
* Worker health, safety, and environment, including OSHA regulations

Design Standards Specified for Construction Depth Module
Note:  No specific References have been specified for the Geotechnical Depth Exam

2C. CIVIL PE EXAM:  STRUCTURAL DEPTH Exam Specifications

I. Loadings  (12.5% of Structural Depth Exam)
A. Dead loads
B. Live loads
C. Construction loads
D. Wind loads
E. Earthquake loads, including liquefaction, site characterization, 
and pseudo-static analysis F. Moving loads
G. Snow loads
H. Impact loads
I. Load paths
J. Load combinations

II.  Analysis (12.5% of Structural Depth Exam)
A. Determinate analysis B. Indeterminate analysis
III.  Mechanics of Materials (12.5% of Structural Depth Exam)
A. Shear diagrams
B. Moment diagrams
C. Flexure
D. Shear
E. Tension
F. Compression
G. Combined stresses H. Deflection
I. Progressive collapse J. Torsion
K. Buckling
L. Fatigue
M. Thermal deformation

IV. Materials (12.5% of Structural Depth Exam)
A. Concrete (plain, reinforced)
B. Concrete (prestressed, post-tension)
C. Structural steel (structural, light gage, reinforcing) D. Timber
E. Masonry (brick veneer, CMU)
F. Composite construction

V. Member Design (25% of Structural Depth Exam)
A. Beams
B. Slabs
C. Footings
D. Columns
E. Trusses
F. Braces
G. Frames
H. Connections(bolted,welded,embedded,anchored)
I. Shear walls 
J. Diaphragms (horizontal, vertical, flexible, rigid)
K. Bearing walls

VI. Design Criteria  (12.5% of Structural Depth Exam)
A. International Building Code (IBC)
B. American Concrete Institute (ACI-318, 530)
C. Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI Design Handbook) D. Manual of Steel Construction (AISC) including AISC 341
E. National Design Specification for Wood Construction (NDS)
F. Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges (AASHTO)
G. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE-7)
H. AmericanWeldingSociety(AWSD1.1,D1.2,andD1.4)

VII. Other Topics (12.5% of Structural Depth Exam)
A. Engineering properties of soils and materials
1. Index properties (e.g., plasticity index; interpretation and how
to use them)
B.  Soil mechanics analysis
* Expansive soils (12.5% of Structural Depth Exam)
C.  Shallow foundations
1. Mat and raft foundations
D. Deep foundations
1. Axial capacity (single pile/drilled shaft)
2. Lateral capacity and deflections (single pile/drilled shaft) 3. Settlement
4. Behavior of pile and/or drilled shaft group
E. Engineering Economics
1. Value engineering and costing
F. Material Quality Control and Production
1. Welding and bolting testing
G. Temporary Structures
1. Formwork 
2. Falsework and scaffolding
3. Shoring and reshoring
4. Concrete maturity and early strength evaluation 5. Bracing
6. Anchorage
H. WorkerHealth,Safety and Environment
1. OSHA regulations
2. Safety management

Design Standards for the Structural Depth Module of the Civil PE Exam –  (1)
Taken from NCEES as of April 2012
If taking the structural depth module, you will want to obtain as many, or all of these references as a part of your library.  Some problems, such as steel problems simply cannot be solved without the reference.  This is true, for example, for steel problems.  If you are not taking the structural depth module, then some of these references may be useful as well.

AASHTO        AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications, 5th edition, 2010, American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, Washington, DC.
2009 IBC         International Building Code, 2009 edition (without supplements), International Code Council, Falls Church, VA.
ASCE7-05        Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, 2005, American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, VA.
ACI318-08 (2)    Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete, 2008, American Concrete Institute, Farmington Hills, MI.
ACI 530 (3)        Building Code Requirements and Specifications for Masonry Structures (and related commentaries), 2008; (also known as TMS 402, ACI 530/ 530.1-08, and ASCE/SEI 5/6-08)
AISC 13th         Steel Construction Manual, 13th edition, American Institute of Steel Construction, Inc., Chicago, IL. (e)
NDS-05 (4)        National Design Specification for Wood Construction ASD/LRFD, 2005 edition & National Design Specification Supplement, American Forest & Paper Association
PCI            PCI Design Handbook: Precast and Prestressed Concrete, 6th edition, 2004, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, Chicago, IL.

Notes regarding the standards for structural depth
1     The solutions must use the referenced standards, and are based on English Units only.
2    Appendix C is not permitted for Concrete design (related to alternate load combinations)
3    Use Appendix C for masonry problems except that out of plane wall loads may use strength design per Section 3.3.5
4    Use only ASD for Wood Design
Also:    ASD or LRFD design may be used for steel problems

1D. CIVIL PE EXAM:  TRANSPORTATION DEPTH Exam Specifications

I.  Traffic Analysis 22.5%  of Trans. Depth Exam)
A. Traffic capacity studies B. Traffic signals
C. Speed studies
D. Intersection analysis
E. Traffic volume studies
F. Sight distance evaluation G. Traffic control devices H. Pedestrianfacilities 
I. Driver behavior and/or performance

II. Geometric Design (30% of Trans. Depth Exam) 
A. Horizontal curves B. Vertical curves
C. Sight distance
D. Superelevation 
E. Vertical and/or horizontal clearances F. Acceleration and deceleration
G. Intersections and/or interchanges

III.    Transportation Planning (7.5% of Trans. Depth Exam)
A. Optimization and/or cost analysis (e.g., transportation route A or transportation route B)
B. Traffic impact studies
C. Capacity analysis (future conditions)

IV. Traffic Safety 15%  of Trans. Depth Exam)
A. Roadside clearance analysis B. Conflict analysis
C. Work zone safety
D. Accident analysis

V. Other Topics (25% of Trans. Depth Exam) 
A. Hydraulics
1. Culvert design
2. Open channel – subcritical and supercritical flow
B. Hydrology
1. Hydrograph development and synthetic hydrographs
C. Engineering properties of soils and materials (e.g., index properties, identification of types of soils, suitable or unsuitable soil, boring logs)
D.Soil mechanics analysis (e.g., soil behavior, soil classification, soil compaction)
E.Engineering economics
1. Value engineering and costing
F.Construction operations and methods (e.g., erosion control measures, excavation/embankment)
G.Pavement structures (e.g., flexible and rigid pavement design)

Design Standards Specified for the Transportation Depth Module of the Civil PE Exam

Note:  If taking the transportation depth module, you will want to obtain as many, or all of these references as a part of your library.  Many of the transportation problems cannot be solved without the reference.  If you are not taking the transportation depth module, you may have of this information on the breadth part of the exam also, and some of these references may be useful as well.

AASHTO     A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, 2004 edition (5th edition), American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials
AASHTO     AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures (GDPS-4-M) 1993, and 1998 supplement, American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials
AASHTO     Roadside Design Guide, 3rd edition with 2006 Chapter 6 Update, American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials
AI         The Asphalt Handbook (MS-4), 2007, 7th edition, Asphalt Institute
HCM (1)      Highway Capacity Manual (HCM 2000), 2000 edition, Transportation Research Board—National Research Council
MUTCD     Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, 2009, U.S. Department of Transportation—Federal Highway Administration
PCA         Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures, 2002 (rev. 2008), 14th edition, Portland Cement Association
ITE         Traffic Engineering Handbook, 2009, 6th edition, Institute of Transportation Engineers

Note 1:  Includes adopted changes through November 2007)

1E. CIVIL PE EXAM:  WATER RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL (WRE) DEPTH OUTLINE

I. Hydraulics – Closed Conduit (15% of WRE Depth Exam)
A. Energy and/or continuity equation (e.g., Bernoulli) B. Pressure conduit (e.g., single pipe, force mains)
C. Closed pipe flow equations including 
Hazen-Williams, Darcy-Weisbach Equation
D. Friction and/or minor losses
E. Pipe network analysis (e.g., pipeline design, branch 
networks, loop networks)
F. Pump application and analysis
G. Cavitation
H. Transient analysis(e.g.,waterhammer)
I. Flow measurement – closed conduits
J. Momentum equation (e.g., thrust blocks, pipeline restraints)

II.    Hydraulics – Open Channel (15% of WRE Depth Exam) 
A. Open-channel flow (e.g., Manning’s equation)
B. Culvert design
C. Spillway capacity
D. Energy dissipation (e.g., hydraulic jump, velocity control) E. Stormwater collection including stormwater inlets, gutter 
flow, street flow, storm sewer pipes F. Flood plain/floodway
G. Subcritical and supercritical flow H. Flowmeasurement–openchannel I. Gradually varied flow

III.  Hydrology (15% of WRE Depth Exam)
A.  Storm characterization including rainfall measurement and distribution
B.  Storm frequency
C.  Hydrographs application
D.  Hydrograph development and synthetic hydrographs
E.  Rainfall intensity, duration, and frequency (IDF) curves
F.  Time of concentration
G.  Runoff analysis including Rational and SCS methods
H.  Gauging stations including runoff frequency analysis and flow calculations
I.  Depletions (e.g., transpiration, evaporation, infiltration)
J.  Sedimentation
K.  Erosion
L.  Detention/retention ponds

IV. Groundwater and Well Fields (7.5% of WRE Depth Exam)  
A. Aquifers (e.g., characterization)
B. Groundwater flow including Darcy’s Law and seepage analysis
C. Well analysis (steady flow only)
D. Groundwater control including drainage, construction dewatering E. Water quality analysis
F. Groundwater contamination

V. Wastewater Treatment (15% of WRE Depth Exam)  
A. Wastewater flow rates (e.g., municipal, industrial, commercial) B. Unit operations and processes
C. Primary treatment (e.g., bar screens, clarification)
D. Secondary clarification 
E. Chemical treatment
F. Collection systems (e.g., lift stations, sewer network, 
infiltration, inflow)
G. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System 
(NPDES) permitting
H. Effluent limits
I. Biological treatment
J. Physical treatment
K. Solids handling (e.g., thickening, drying processes)
L. Digesters
M. Disinfection
N. Nitrification and/or denitrification
O. Operations (e.g., odor control, corrosion control, compliance)
P. Advanced treatment (e.g., nutrient removal, filtration, wetlands) Q. Beneficial reuse (e.g., liquids, biosolids, gas)

VI.  Water Quality (15% of WRE Depth Exam)
A.  Stream degradation (e.g., thermal, base flow, TDS, TSS, BOD, COD)
B.  Oxygen dynamics (e.g., oxygenation, deoxygenation, oxygen sag curve)
C.  Risk assessment and management
D.  Toxicity
E.  Biological contaminants (e.g., algae, mussels)
F.  Chemical contaminants (e.g., organics, heavy metals)
G.  Bioaccumulation
H.  Eutrophication
I.  Indicator organisms and testing
J.  Sampling and monitoring (e.g., QA/QC, laboratory procedures)

VII. Water Treatment  (15% of WRE Depth Exam)
A. Demands
B. Hydraulic loading
C. Storage (raw and treated water) D. Sedimentation
E. Taste and odor control
F. Rapid mixing
G. Coagulation and flocculation
H.  Filtration
I.  Disinfection
J.  Softening
K. Advanced treatment (e.g., membranes, activated carbon, desalination)
L.    Distribution systems
VIII. Engineering Economics
A. Life-cycle modeling
B. Value engineering and costing

____End of Civil PE Exam Specifications_____

 

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