ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Structural Engineering Exam Practice Problem Books

Updated on January 16, 2016

Structure of Problems on the SE Exam

The new (since 2011) 16-hour structural engineering exam has a simple format. You have one choice to make: Buildings or Bridges. Either way, the exam format is the same.

There are four, 4-hour exam sections. Morning vertical and afternoon vertical are on Friday. On Saturday, two more 4-hour exams are taken. These are morning lateral and afternoon lateral. The morning portions are multiple-choice, 40 questions. This is the same as the PE exam and works out to 6 minutes per question. The afternoon portions are essay format. If taking the bridges exam, one question is 2 hours and the remaining two are each 1 hour. If sitting for the building option, there are four 1-hour essay questions.

Friday Afternoon Depth Questions:

There are 4 written response questions. There will be one each from the following:

  • Steel Structure
  • Concrete Structure
  • Wood Structure
  • Masonry Structure

Saturday Afternoon Depth Questions:

Again, NCEES poses four questions. Wind and seismic lateral forces constitute Saturday afternoon's subject matter. The four areas are:

  • Steel
  • Concrete
  • Wood and/or Masonry
  • General Analysis

NCEES provides examples of what the general analysis questions might be. These examples follow: "existing structures, secondary structures, nonbuilding structures, and/or computer verification."

Types of Problems on the SE Exam

There are two types of problems you need to practice for the SE. First, problems similar in format to the EIT and PE exams make up the first half of each day. These are 6-minute questions with 4 hours allotted to work them. The answers are best-answer, multiple choice. Answers are marked onto Scantron forms and machine graded. Staff rescore some of the Scantron forms to ensure accuracy of the process. Second, there are long response questions. These are 1-hour or 2-hour questions. These are all reviewed and scored by hand. (This is likely the reason the SE costs $1,020 to register.)

Do not waste the valuable time you have to review and study by searching for free sample problems for the NCEES Structural Engineering exam. Order some books. Pass rates are extremely low for the SE exam. Only about 2 in 5 pass the building exams. A little less than 1 in 2 pass the bridge exams. You need to prepare aggressively. That includes taking practice exams and learning the layout of reference manuals. You will need to work lots of problems.

After all, there is no such thing as a free lunch. As the Romans used to say, "nullum gratuitum prandium."

Toughest Portion of the SE Exam?

Which of the 4 parts of the SE exam will be most challenging?

See results

FREE Sample Problems and Solutions from AISC

Free: 928 pages of example problems and solutions. All these are geared toward using AISC 360. But, remember, nothing is free. They have a link there to purchase the Steel Construction Manual for $350. Use the Amazon link on this page to get cheaper options. You will save about $125.

See link at bottom of page.

16-Hour Structural Engineering (SE) Practice Exam for Buildings

16-Hour Structural Engineering (SE) Practice Exam for Buildings, 2nd Ed
16-Hour Structural Engineering (SE) Practice Exam for Buildings, 2nd Ed

The top pick for the SE exam. Whichever review books you choose, be sure to include example exams. Practice for the actual event as close as you can. This means taking practice SE exams.


Which SE Exam will You Take?

Buildings or Bridges?

See results

16-Hour Structural Engineering Practice Exam

This is a practice exam for buildings. If you will take the SE exam for bridges, this is not the title for you. However, if you have registered, or plan to register, for the SE lateral and vertical loads exam for buildings, this is a top pick.

Part of every examinees exam prep package are review books. This is mandatory. The code books and the other references used by NCEES to create the exam are also needed. But, learning the engineering from the code books is too cruel a thing to put upon anyone, especially yourself.

The 16-hour building SE exam practice test includes two 40-hour practice exams and two 4-essay exams. The format is created to match the content of the actual SE exam. Problems average out to 6 minutes to solve, each. The essays are designed for one hour each.

More than half of those who reviewed this exam prep book gave it the full 5 stars. The overall score is unfairly weighted down by one 2-star review notes that the code books referenced are already out of sync with the exam. However, the latest edition is published in May, 2014 and NCEES updated the references for the April and October 2015 exams. But, this is a still moot point. None of the code publishers updated their manuals for the 2015 exam update. In other words, this reviewer seems to be clueless.

This is the top pick for the SE exam. Whichever review books you choose, be sure to include example exams. Practice for the actual event as close as you can. This means taking practice SE exams.

The Best Structural Engineering Exam Sample Problems

The best SE exam sample problems will come from NCEES itself. About every six years, the NCEES board cycles out the old questions and brings in new questions. The questions are selected so as to best represent the current demands of the engineering profession.

The most representative questions will be found in the Sample Problems and Solutions book.

NCEES Structural Engineering Sample Problems

Structural Engineering Sample Questions and Solutions
Structural Engineering Sample Questions and Solutions

NCEES uses old exam problems to create the Sample Problem books the sell. This book provides "40 multiple-choice questions and 7 essay questions for each of the two exam components."


NCEES Sample Questions and Solutions

This is just simple wisdom. Buy this review book. Other authors and publishers typically provide questions either easier or more difficult than the actual exam problems. Often, the difference is reported by those who recently took exams as more difficult for the morning session (so the real problems feel easier.) They also say the afternoon problems were more difficult to solve than those they practiced.

This should not be the case for those who use the NCEES Sample Problems books. These typically have fewer examples. But, because they provide an excellent approximation of the difficulty level, content, and style of the problems, this is one review book you add to your list.

Concrete Problems for the SE Exam

Concrete Design for the Civil PE and Structural SE Exams, 2nd Edition
Concrete Design for the Civil PE and Structural SE Exams, 2nd Edition

The top-reviewed SE review book for the NCEES exam.


Concrete Design for the Civil PE and Structural SE Exams

This one is written by a PhD. So, we can hope Mr. Buckner's depth of knowledge transfers well to the book he authored for examinees. According to the reviews, he did just that. An average 4.8 stars really says something when the book is in the engineering category. (Engineers are tough reviewers, it seems.)

Concrete design is either something you do or don't do often. If, like most structural engineers, you only design foundations to support your steel and wood buildings, then this title is for you. If you are a reinforced concrete design pro, this remains a valuable addition to your shelf. And, it just might provide that uncommon bit of knowledge you need to round up your essay response to full points.

October 2014 SE Exam Pass Rates- First Time Takers

SE Lateral Forces Bridges
SE Lateral Forces Buildings
SE Vertical Forces Bridges
SE Vertical Forces Buildings
This table shows the number of people who took the SE for the first time, and their pass rate.

Best Price for AISC Steel Construction Manual, 14th Edition

Steel Construction Manual
Steel Construction Manual

Use this link to see a price comparison of what is available on Amazon.


AISC 360, 14th Edition

NCEES recently updated to the 14th Edition for their exams. Be sure you understand how to use every last table and all the lettered sections when you walk into the exam. The tables really save time.

Here is an SE exam sample problem which uses AISC Table 4-22 to save a lot of time in determining the axial capacity of a column. All the properties of steel sections are provided in Section 1. You are promised one steel problem on the SE exm, so the tables will be a valuable time saver.

October 2014 SE Exam Pass Rates - Repeat Takers

SE Lateral Forces Bridges
SE Lateral Forces Buildings
SE Vertical Forces Bridges
SE Vertical Forces Buildings
Pass rates for people who took the SE exam more than once.

Structural Engineering Reference Manual

Structural Engineering Reference Manual, 7th Ed
Structural Engineering Reference Manual, 7th Ed

432 page, 2.2 pounds (1 kilo). You get your money's worth. From the sales description, here are the eight topical areas covered in the SERM:

• reinforced concrete design

• foundations and retaining structures

• prestressed concrete design

• structural steel design

• timber design

• reinforced masonry design

• lateral forces (wind and seismic)

• bridge design


Topics Covered in the Structural Engineering Reference Manual

From the sales description, here are the eight topical areas covered in the SERM:

  • Reinforced concrete
  • Foundations and retaining structures
  • Prestressed concrete
  • Structural steel
  • Timber
  • Reinforced masonry
  • Lateral forces (both wind and seismic)
  • bridge design

Reference Books for SE Exam Updated January 5, 2015

This is the January 2015 reference book update from NCEES. All exams taken after this date require the following code books. Remember: answers given using the incorrect reference book or code book will not receive points. (See the note at the bottom of this list from the NCEES website.)

SE Exam Reference Books (January 5, 2015)

Design Standards for the Structural Engineering Exam, 2015.
Design Standards for the Structural Engineering Exam, 2015. | Source

Updated Standards for 2015 Exams

Not all the standards are changed. Note the following:

PCI Design Handbook

AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design

ACI 318



How the SE Exam is Scored


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)