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Best Review Books for the Mechanical PE Exam

Updated on January 19, 2015
The distribution of where mechanical engineers find jobs. Pass the PE, and doors open.
The distribution of where mechanical engineers find jobs. Pass the PE, and doors open. | Source

Best Package to Review for the Mechanical PE Exam

To review for the Mechanical PE exam, the list of best review materials is easy to compile. These are the three mechanical PE exam review books most referred by friends to friends:

  1. Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual
  2. Practice Problems for the Mechanical Engineering PE Exam
  3. NCEES Sample questions and Solutions (three versions for three Mechanical topics)

Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam, 13th Ed
Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam, 13th Ed

This is the must-have book for the Mechanical PE review.

 

Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam

This book is the #1 best seller in the Fluid Dynamics category on Amazon. And, it has a 4.9 average rating from those who've purchased a copy. The author is Michael R. Lindeburg. He's been producing PE exam materials for longer than any other author. And, he's only gotten better with each new edition. The Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual was published April, 2013- it's current. Best price for this title is consistently Amazon.

Practice Problems for the Mechanical Engineering PE Exam

In my experience, more examinees prepare with this book than use the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual. The reason for this is obvious: it is a great value.

There are more than 300 multiple choice mechanical review problems. These are designed to be solved in six minutes or less. Basically, there is a "Six Minute Solutions" book included in this title. Total, there are more than 850 practice problems here.

Both the practice problems and reference manual books were published on April 15, 2013. Clearly, they were developed together. (And the title says so, too.)

Because this book is such a great value, some examinees will be tempted to purchase only this book. But, my recommendation is that you remember 28% fail the Mechanical PE exam. Those who make additional attempts then pass at just 41%. (But, keep trying if you fail. Never give up!)

Retaking a professional exam is not a big deal. But, you must write another check. Be sure to pass on the first try. Buy the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual and the accompanying solutions book.

Be sure to learn the pass rates in your state. Though the national mechanical PE exam pass rate is 72%, the Texas rate is 57%. The test is based on the needs of the engineering profession, not on what your college curriculum taught.

If you studied in a state with a low pass rate, you will need longer study times and more references. Do not delay purchasing your books, tabs, calculator, binder, and anything else you will need.

April, 2014 Pass Rates for Mechanical PE Exam

230 registered; 215 finished and submitted exam for scoring; 123 passed; 92 failed; 57.2% passed in TX; 72% passed nationally
230 registered; 215 finished and submitted exam for scoring; 123 passed; 92 failed; 57.2% passed in TX; 72% passed nationally | Source

Accounting Tip:

Professional books purchased during your career are tax deductible. My tax adviser told me to include these with office supply purchases. So, that is what I have been doing for several years. So, you will recover some of the cost of your review books and materials. This will be in the form of tax savings.

Additionally, any mechanical engineering review books you don't feel will serve you in the long term, you can resell.

PE Mechanical Engineering: Mechanical Systems and Materials Practice Exam
PE Mechanical Engineering: Mechanical Systems and Materials Practice Exam

This one is rated a wee bit below average for these NCEES sample questions and solutions books. But, it remains a great rating compared to ratings for PE exam review books. If you plan to take the Mechanical Systems and Materials exam, buy this one.

 

NCEES Sample Problems and Solutions Books

Consistently, reviews for PE exam preparation books contain phrases like, "The problems inside are more difficult than those on the actual exam." or "The problems on the exam were easier than the problems in this book." More difficult problems are preferable to easy problems. Unrepresentatively easy problems can instill a false security. It remains better to find problems as close to the style of actual exam questions as possible.

NCEES provides practice exams with truly representative practice PE problems. They're not trying to surprise you. They want to test your knowledge base, your ability to apply knowledge to unique applications, and your knowledge of design standards. The problems in these books are similar to the problems on the actual Mechanical PE exams and other PE exams. They are not the exact problems in advance. They are similar in difficulty and scope.

These books typically have 80 problems. All are solved.

There are three versions of the Mechanical PE depth exam. All three topics are covered in the morning breadth examination. The three modules are:

  • Mechanical Systems and Materials
  • Thermal and Fluids Systems
  • HVAC and Refrigeration

Usually, the morning breadth examples are the same. Only the afternoon example questions are unique to the module type. Definitely buy the sample book corresponding to the module you plan to take on examination day. But, do not buy all three. You'll have 3 copies of the morning exam, one set of relevant afternoon problems, and two sets which are more detailed and more specific than will help you on the morning exam.

If you are undecided as to which module of the Mechanical PE exam you want to take, purchasing three books makes sense. (Don't mark the two extra copies. Resell them on Amazon.)

Content Breakdown

Each of the three NCEES Sample Problems and Solutions titles for the Mechanical exams has 40 sample problems for the morning breadth exam. There are 40 more for the afternoon specific exam.

The thermal and fluids systems title actually has a 5-star review. You just have to ignore the single 3-star review. That reviewer deducted two stars because he didn't like the price + shipping total. He said the cost at the NCEES site is the same when total cost plus shipping is considered.

Not true. Even when the prices are close, NCEES offers 10-day shipping. Amazon's free shipping is faster. And, if you have Amazon Prime, it's a 2-day ship for free.

PE Mechanical: HVAC and Refrigeration

I've known some great guys over the years in this line of work. However, the HVAC and Refrigeration option seems to be the least popular of the three three modules. There are still no reviews.

This one was published in November of 2010, so it addresses the current codes. 92 pages and the standard 80 problems is what you get.

Additional Mechanical PE Exam Review Books

The above options are the ones most highly recommended in forums and by reviewers. However, there are other options with high reviews.

The best Mechanical Review materials in one place.
The best Mechanical Review materials in one place. | Source

HVAC and Refrigeration- Six Minute Solutions

The Six Minute Solutions books can be hit or miss. It depends on the author. This author, Keith Elder, PE, seems to have hit the mark.

Reviewers give this one an average 4.2 stars. That is great in the PE review book category. One reviewer says:

Lindeburg's MERM is very light on HVAC topics but this six-minute book fills that void. - Eddie (on Amazon.com)

So, if the HVAC and Refrigeration option is the Mechanical PE module you will take, consider Eddie's advice and balance your study materials with this well-reviewed book.

The other Six-Minute Solutions books for the remaining Mechanical modules are duds. The Thermal and Fluids Systems version has a 2.2 review average. But, two of those are a 1 and a 2. Avoid. Reviewers say the sample questions are vague and confusing. Written by a PhD, hmm...

The Six-Minute Solutions option for the Mechanical Systems module is no better. It has 4 1-star reviews and only 3 that are higher than 1-star. Problems cited by reviewers include analytical, theoretical and incorrect solution errors. One buyer threw his copy into the trash, frustrated.

All have different authors. The HVAC and Refrigeration option seems to be fabulous, but the others... not so much.

Which version of the Mechanical PE exam will you take?

See results

Exam Tip: Use a Box!

Carry your books into the exam in a box. Place the box on your table top for an instant mini-shelf. This will save you time finding books and will keep your work space organized as it is easy to replace books to the box shelf.
Carry your books into the exam in a box. Place the box on your table top for an instant mini-shelf. This will save you time finding books and will keep your work space organized as it is easy to replace books to the box shelf. | Source

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