Wednesday, April 25, 2012

FE Tips

There have been several things on my mind recently, but the biggest one is some advice for the FE. I took it on April 14, and want to help out future FE-takers while everything is still fresh on my mind. Also, I found out that tomorrow is the sign-up day at my university for the fall exam, so I thought the timing might be appropriate as students get ready to start studying for next fall's exam.

--Get the Casio fx115ES-plus. It was just under $18 at Walmart, it's available at Staples for $19, and  I'm sure you can find it at any office store or online. It's legal and does so much! There are about 9 or 10 different modes that include basic math, complex numbers, base-N (for decimal, hexadecimal, octal, etc), matrices, vectors, and quite a bit more. The main advantage is that it saved me about 20 minutes because I was able to type in some numbers and it popped out the answer. Made it very easy, especially since anything beyond a dot product or finding the determinant of a 2x2 matrix was something that I only wanted to put effort into when I was in physics and calculus. Also, since I bought this calculator, I have started using it day-to-day more often than my beloved TI-89.

--For the morning session, study with Michael Lindeberg's FE Review book. It's big, fat, yellow, and incredibly helpful. I started going through it in January and was finished in mid-March. I did a chapter a day though I took some days off, but towards the end, I did 3-4 chapters for a few days. The problems in it were definitely harder than what was on the actual FE. Also, it helped me learn the handbook since I used it while going through the book. Bottom line: I highly recommend it.

--For the afternoon session, I used Lindeberg's discipline-specific review book. Be forewarned, it's only practice exams and solutions instead of explanatory chapters, but mine was very helpful.

--Take 2 calculators. Hopefully they're only for peace of mind, but if you need a 2nd calculator, it's nice to have one on hand.

--Take 2 straight-edges. I took an engineering scale and a protractor, but I really only used them to mark my place in the handbook. Since civil engineering was spread across fluid mechanics, civil engineering, and environmental engineering, it was handy to stick a straight-edge in the section and be able to flip back to it easily and quickly.

--Take a CLEAR water bottle into the exam. I know the contract says that you can have non-alcoholic beverages and that implies you can bring coffee with you...if you have a drink, it needs to be in a clear container.

I hope this helps!

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