Becoming a professional engineer in BC is a very worthy goal to attain. According to a recent APEGBC survey, engineers enjoy less than 1% unemployment rate and more than 85% currently achieve full-time employment status. Beyond strong employment rates, engineers have solid benefits, pay and enjoy the ability to apply math and science to solve everyday challenges. As a result of all of these perks, the path to becoming a Professional Engineering (P.Eng.) is not easy. One of the requirements to being a P.Eng. in B.C. is to pass your Professional Practice Exam (PPE). This applies to all aspiring engineers – immigrants, residents and Canadian Citizens alike. Passing your PPE comes with an understanding of the content, good writing skills and proper preparation.
The PPE is composed of two parts. Part A is made up of 100 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) that must be answered in 2 hours. Part B is a demanding 1 hour essay question where you will have to respond to a situation by supporting your position with sound judgement. An exam writer will write both parts at the same time and will have one of the following outcomes:
- pass both parts
- fail both parts
- pass Part A and fail Part B
- fail Part A and pass Part B
If you fail either or both parts you will need to re-write only the parts that you have failed. You have 3 attempts to pass both parts. If you are still not successful after 3 tries, you will be forced to wait 12 months until you can try a forth time.
Although failing is possible, the vast majority of students pass on their first try so with the proper preparation and practice this can be a reality for you too. Let’s look at a few points that will get you more familiar with both sections of the exam.
Part A: 100 MCQs
- Timing is everything: You are given 100 MCQs and have 2 hours to answer everything. That works out to 72 seconds per question.
- Move on: Since this is a timed exam, if you get stumped on a question, just put a star beside it and move on to the next one. A later question may help you remember the correct answer for the one you were stuck on.
- Don’t look at the possible answers: Read the question and then try to come up with the answer before looking at the 4 choices given. Once you have decided on your answer, match it with the best choice provided.
- Study the syllabus: Don’t wasting time by reading or practicing questions that are not on the exam syllabus. Practice and study only what will be tested on.
- What it takes: A passing grade for Part A is 65 out of 100.
After writing Part A you will be given a 15-minute break before you start Part B.
Part B: Essay
- Pick your favourite topic: You are typically given 3 essay topics but you only need to select one to write about. Make sure that you select the question/topic that you feel most comfortable writing about.
- Avoid hand writing: Printing will be much more legible for the reviewer who will be grading your essay. Practice printing before you write the exam and ask your friends or co-workers if they can read your writing.
- Answer format: Aim for an answer that is 2 to 4 pages hand printed on every other line. Respond using the long answer question APA style. This format follows the following pattern:
- Introduction – 1 paragraph
- Analysis – 3-5 paragraphs demonstrating your knowledge on the topic and discussing 1 argument per paragraph.
- Conclusion – 1 paragraph to revisit the content of the introduction and analysis section.
- What it takes: An evaluator will read your response and assign you a mark between 1 to 10. You need 6 out of 100 to pass this part.
Making your way from aspiring engineer to licensed engineer can be a long yet rewarding process. After you review the exam syllabus, you may come across a few topics that are foreign to you. Read up about these topics and consider getting a mentor through the SPEATBC Mentorship Program to help give you a Canadian context if needed. Practicing sample questions will also give you instant feedback and help you identify any areas of weakness you may have. Understand what is required of you for this exam so you’ll be better prepared when you go to study and write. Take the first step towards becoming an engineer and schedule your PPE today!
This article is courtesy of Gavin Simone, P.Eng. who is the content developer from www.PracticePPEexams.ca.