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Civil Engineering Academy Review
Our detailed review and honest thoughts of the Ultimate Civil FE & PE Review Courses from Civil Engineering Academy
If you’re gearing up for the FE or PE exam and looking around for a review course to help you prep, you might be shocked by the prices. Many of the biggest prep providers in the space charge north of $2,000 for a comprehensive review course. Yikes. Then you come across Civil Engineering Academy’s FE and PE review courses, with a price tag of just under $700. And naturally, everybody’s next question is: is this review course good? We answer just that question in our detailed review and analysis below.
As this is a long and detail-packed review, find jump-to links above to help you quickly navigate this article.
Civil Engineering Academy Video Review
In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team walks you through what you need to know about the Civil Engineering Academy FE and PE prep courses. Of course, you can always keep reading for more details.
Please note that our review covers both the FE and PE courses from Civil Engineering Academy. Though obviously very different exams, because Civil Engineering Academy’s approach to prep and course design is nearly identical for both, we thought it made sense to do one combined review. We will of course call out any differences between the two courses.
Without a doubt, the thing that first sucks you in with Civil Engineering Academy is their pricing. I mean, there’s just no denying that they offer the most bang for your buck in both the FE and PE prep spaces. Major competitors that offer some of the better exam prep courses we’ve reviewed, like PPI and School of PE, charge anywhere from $1,500 up to $3,000 for their comprehensive review courses.
And then you’ve got Civil Engineering Academy’s Ultimate Civil FE & PE Review Courses with a price tag of just under $700. It’s seriously less than half the cost of others, and in some cases, one-third. So yes, without a doubt, Civil Engineering Academy is the best value around, especially for everything you get (more on this below).
Pricing and course options current as of date of publication.
Our Thoughts: The Ultimate Civil FE & PE Review Courses
Before I dive straight into what I think of the Civil Engineering Academy course and materials, you first need to know what you get. So here’s a quick roster of everything they’ll give you when you sign up:
Lecture Modules (14 for FE / 10 For PE)
Practice Problem Video Solutions (300+ for FE / 200+ For PE)
Full-Length Practice Exams (2 FE/2 PE)
Equation Reference Guide
Bonus Theory Questions
It’s actually a pretty impressive set of materials for the cost. And in terms of the quality of these resources, for me, it all starts with their video solutions to the practice problems. Course founder Isaac (or occasionally his brother Mark) walks you through sample problems in quick hit, 2- to 6-minute videos.
He starts with a quick reference to the Civil Engineering Reference Manual (CERM) to find the right equation you’ll need, then breaks it down from there. Isaac walks you through the exact steps you need to follow to solve the problem, and notes traps and caution points along the way. He’s always going out of his way to note the issues that most often trip individuals up for the given problem type being tested.
For many engineers, the best way of learning (or maybe re-learning) something is to just do it and review the problem. This video solutions are the perfect companion to this style of learning, and I personally think they add a ton of value. With over 300 of these short video solutions for the FE and 200+ for the PE, you get coverage across just about every topic on both exams (including breadth and depth sections for PE).
Beyond the problem solutions though, the course is mainly built around a series of learning modules: 14 for FE and 10 for PE. Each module covers an overarching, discrete topic tested on the FE or PE exam, and within them, there are usually 4 to 10 sub-modules (if you want to call them that). Each sub-module is built around a video lecture where Isaac (or on occasion Mark) breaks down the topic at hand. He covers everything from high level theory, to notes about the applicable equations, to working sample problems.
Though I would just note that the video lectures lean much more heavily towards the practice aspect over theory, which I liked. You’re not taking a college class, you’re learning how to pass a very narrow exam. So I think the focus on practice, with emphasis on just essential theory, is the right approach.
Where the video solutions are a little shorter in nature, these video lectures are generally longer, usually in the 15-40 minute range. I found these lectures to be really, really helpful. They don’t go as deep as some of the other video lessons I’ve seen with mega-providers, but they’re very effective. And in fact, in some instances, I like that they’re not as long or don’t go as deep.
And that’s because instead of getting into stuff you generally don’t need to know (or is rarely tested on the exam), Isaac streamlines the content being conveyed and only gives you what you need to know. So if you like efficiency and cutting out fluff, you’ll likely dig these lectures.
The production quality in these videos isn’t the best I’ve seen, but they’re still pretty dang good in terms of content. And at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. Isaac knows his stuff and does a great job breaking down all the topics you need to master for the exam.
Then around the video lectures in the modules, you work a bunch of practice problems. These problems aren’t crafted by CEA directly. Rather, they’re from PPI. In short, Civil Engineering Academy leverages PPI’s industry standard materials by having you purchase the CERM and accompanying practice problems directly from PPI.
At first, I wasn’t crazy about this. I was like “why I am paying for Civil Engineering Academy to use PPI’s materials?” But the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. There’s no real point for Civil Engineering Academy to design their own CERM or practice problems, when everyone already uses the PPI materials anyway.
So while it kind of stinks you need buy the CERM and problems from PPI (another added cost), it’s not a huge deal. You’re getting the gold standard of reference manuals and problems that directly tie to it. So you can’t complain at all about the quality of the material.
And finally, there’s Civil Engineering Academy’s practice exams. In short, you get 2 FE practice exams, and for the PE, you get 2 exams for the breadth section and 1 for your depth exam topic. In my opinion, their simulated exams are awesome. They are very close to the real thing, and you get the same trademark problem solutions with the full-length practice tests. For experiential type of learners (i.e. learn by doing), this again is going to be a major value add.
So all in all, I really like the package Civil Engineering Academy has put together with their Ultimate Civil FE & PE Review Courses. Between the rock solid video solutions, prerecorded module lectures, realistic practice tests, and strong written materials from PPI, there’s a lot to like. The only real complaint I have with Civil Engineering Academy is that there’s no live classes.
For some PE exam candidates that have been out of school for a few years and for whom the FE exam is a thing of the distant past, live classes can be super beneficial. They keep you accountable and give your studies structure. But if you’re not in need of that sort of commitment and do just fine with self-paced learning, then I really don’t have much bad to say about Civil Engineering Academy.
True, their curriculum and materials aren’t as robust or deep as those from PPI or School of PE, but again, I’m not sure you need them to be. Isaac does a great job cutting out fluff and rarely tested material, and just focuses on what you need in a streamlined and efficient package.
Support and Other Features
In addition to the core features of the Ultimate Civil FE & PE Review Courses, you also get bonus theory questions, occasional live practice study sessions, a homework planner, an equation reference guide, and support through social channels and email. It’s quite a roster of extras given the low price point.
But my favorite feature is probably the homework planner. A lot of people like myself need to be told exactly what to study and when. And the homework planner does a great job of guiding your day-to-day studies. It plans out your study calendar for you, and keeps you on track.
I would also just mention the equation reference guide. This cheat sheet is awesome for quickly finding what chapter of the CERM the equation you’re looking for is located in. It’s great for keeping you efficient and not wasting your time looking through indexes.
Is There A Money Back Guarantee?
While Civil Engineering Academy doesn’t provide any guarantee that you’ll pass, they do provide a 15-day money back satisfaction guarantee. So sort of a bummer they don’t guarantee a pass (it would be a nice insurance policy), but the 15-day grace period is pretty nice. In any event, Civil Engineering Academy does self-report that 85% of their students pass the PE exam after using their prep materials.
Verdict: Ultimate Civil FE & PE Review Courses
Despite being a fraction of the cost of the review courses from major companies like PPI, Civil Engineering Academy’s Ultimate Civil FE & PE Review Courses offer a ton of value. Their video solutions are some of the best I’ve seen, with quick hit walkthroughs of exactly how to solve problems. And the video lectures, while maybe lacking a little in the production department, are packed with killer content. I think a true strength of this course is its ability to cut out fluff and unnecessary filler material, and deliver you exactly what you need to know in a streamlined and digestible manner.
If you need live classes to keep you motivated and on track, Civil Engineering Academy like isn’t a great fit. But if you’re looking for a self-paced, budget-conscious FE or PE review course with video lessons, full-length practice exams, and practice problem video solutions, it is really hard to beat Civil Engineering Academy’s Ultimate Civil FE & PE Review Courses. Especially at their price point.
Is Civil Engineering Academy worth it?
In our team’s opinion, yes, Civil Engineering Academy’s Ultimate Civil FE & PE Review Courses are worth it. These courses offer a ton of solid resources at a great price point.
What is the best FE & PE prep course?
Which exam prep course is best depends a lot on your personal situation and needs. The Ultimate Civil FE & PE Review Courses from Civil Engineering Academy are a great, budget-friendly study option.
What is the best way to study for the FE & PE exams?
For many engineers, the best means of studying for the FE & PE is to hammer practice problems and review the answers. Civil Engineering Academy offers great tools and resources for this.