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School of PE Review (FE & PE)
We cover the major pros and cons of the FE & PE review courses from the School of PE
When it comes to preparing for the FE exam and PE exam, many engineering students and professionals turn to School of PE. With a popular Study Hub that gives you access to video lectures, annotated notes, class handouts, practice problems, and more, School of PE seems to have it all. But the question is always the same: is School of PE more efficient and effective at getting you ready to sit for the exam than competitors? In this detailed review, we break down everything you need to know about this prep course before diving in.
Since this is a lengthy, detailed review, we’ve added helpful jump-to links above for your convenience.
School of PE Video Review
In the above video, John (from the Test Prep Insight team) breaks down the most important features of the School of PE program and details our thoughts on this course as a whole. For more detail, please continue reading below.
Background For This Review
Just so we’re all on the same page in terms of context for this review, I took the FE Civil On Demand course from School of PE. That being said, while I only took the FE Civil course, my analysis and thoughts on the program as a whole nonetheless apply to other FE disciplines, as well as the PE courses.
At the same time that I was studying for and taking the FE Civil exam, my good friend from school was taking the FE Mechanical exam and studying with School of PE as well. His FE Mechanical materials and overall package were essentially identical to my Civil course (accounting for the difference in underlying substantive content, of course).
Moreover, others I know from school and work confirmed that the PE exam prep package from School of PE is the same as well. Thus, although School of PE covers both of the major exams and the different disciplines, their teaching framework and approach is the same across the board. As a result, while many of my comments in this review are specific to the FE Civil review package, it is still applicable to other FE disciplines and the PE exam.
With that disclosure out of the way, let’s briefly cover what School of PE costs before diving into my full breakdown.
School of PE Pricing
The School of PE prep course is delivered in one of two ways: you can take it as an on demand package, or with live online classes. And although that might sound like vastly different experiences, the truth is that the course is the same either way.
The video lectures that make up the heart of the on demand package are simply recorded lectures from the live classes. Similarly, the live classes that make up the backbone of the live online package are recorded and posted online. So the only real difference is whether you want the structure and accountability that comes with a regular class schedule, or the flexibility to study when and where you want.
For me personally, the on demand package fit my schedule better, so that’s what I took.
Either way though, the cost is roughly the same for the two packages. I paid roughly $1,300 for my on demand package, which was just $100 less than the equivalent live online class. That said, the live online classes are frequently discounted by $300 (if you can snag an early registration discount), so it could end up being cheaper for you if you time it right signing up for the live class version.
The same is true for other FE disciplines, as well as the PE. No matter what exam you’re studying for, or whether you take the class on demand or with live classes, you’re looking at around $1,000 to $1,500 for your School of PE course.
That said, the one caveat here is that School of PE does have a monthly subscription package, which typically costs around $300 per month, if you’d rather pay by the drink. Though do note that many features aren’t available under the monthly package.
Putting this all in perspective, School of PE courses are about $1,000 cheaper than equivalent PPI courses, but a few hundred bucks more expensive than budget alternatives like Civil Engineering Academy. All in all, I personally think School of PE is a strong value for what you get (as explained further below).
Evaluation of School of PE’s Coursework
Let’s now get into the meat and potatoes of this review – my detailed evaluation. Everything with School of PE revolves around their Study Hub. Whether you plan to take the On Demand package or Live Online package, it all starts and stops with this student portal.
From the dashboard, all of your materials and tools are neatly organized along a navigation bar on the left side. Of these different tabs, however, the one where you’ll spend 98% of your time is called “Course Material.” You can probably guess what is housed under this tab.
All of your substantive content and review material is neatly bucketed into sections under this tab based on topic. For example, in the FE Civil course, you’ve got folders for Statics, Dynamics, and Fluids, just to name a few. Personally, I love this neat and orderly approach. For an OCD mind like mine that likes everything organized, it was a godsend.
In terms of what’s under these folders, you can think of each as a learning module for that particular topic. Each module generally consists of five core learning elements:
Workshop Problems & Solutions
How many of each component you’ll have generally depends on the topic. Sometimes you’ll have just one set of notes, one set of workshop problems, one quiz, and one set of flashcards. However, at other times, you’ll have multiple quizzes and note sets to review. For example, under the Survey, Materials & Construction Engineering module, you get three separate quizzes and sets of flashcards. It all just depends.
Either way, let me quickly run down what each component looks like.
These are essentially instructor handouts for class. They mainly consist of key teaching points, content review and sample problems. In my opinion, these were about the most valuable asset of any that I received.
They neatly sum up everything you need to know for that topic in 30-50 pages. But they’re not dense textbook-like pages. They are mostly bullet points, key formulas and problems demonstrating the teaching points. I love these note sets.
Workshop Problems & Solutions
This tool is pretty self-explanatory. These PDFs consist of a series of targeted practice questions, as well as matching solutions. I thought the solutions that School of PE provides were sufficiently detailed for the most part (with a few exceptions), and I liked the visuals. Most of the solutions include demonstrative visual breakdowns where it made sense, which I appreciated as a visual learner.
As mentioned above, the heart and soul of your learning will come through recorded lecture videos. If you’re an On Demand student, these will be accessible at any time, as they were pre-recorded during previous classes. If you’re a Live Online student, however, these will be added right after class ends, and you can re-watch them for review (or watch for the first time if you had to miss class).
These videos (and the real-time classes for that matter) generally take the form of a slideshow style class. A static picture of your instructor, almost like a profile picture, appears in the upper left corner, and the main teaching is done onscreen with slides. The instructor will mark the slides up with a stylus and voice their lesson over the onscreen text.
It’s a pretty classic and effective teaching method that I’m sure most people will be used to if they ever took an online class during college. The one thing worth nothing here is that if you’re an On Demand student, you can’t ask a question in real time. You can pause and replay, but there’s no chance for interaction.
By contrast, Live Online students can ask questions in class at any time using the chat feature. Just pop a question in to the chat box and the instructor will take breaks at intervals to catch up on questions. Though I will say, as an On Demand student, a couple times that I did have questions but couldn’t ask, I was on the same wave length as someone from the pre-recorded class and they would ask exactly what I was thinking. So sometimes you get saved in that regard.
This is another fairly self-explanatory feature. Following your refresher notes, workshop problems and video lectures, you then test what you just learned through a targeted quiz. In my experience, each of these quizzes contain about 30 questions.
They’re not necessarily in exam format, but rather designed to test your knowledge. On the one hand, I found them to be very useful for putting what I just learned to practice and making me think critically. However, on the other hand, I actually wouldn’t mind if they were more exam-like in nature and were designed to be realistic of what you’d see on test day.
In the end though, they are just another helpful learning tool.
The final piece of each learning module is a set of flashcards. To be clear, these are digital flashcards, not print.
These flashcards generally come in two forms. The primary type of flashcard that I saw was the classic style with a term or concept on the front, and a corresponding definition on the back. However, some flashcards contain short multiple-choice questions on the front with the answer to the question on the back.
I like this format variety and found these flashcards to be useful for letting material sink in. They are a nice cherry on top for each topic before moving onto the next unit. Plus, if you want a quick refresher, you can always circle back to them for a quick review session.
On that point of reviews, that is actually a good opportunity to mention that every so often during the course of your studies, you’ll be prompted to refresh your learnings to that point. The default in the program is a review at 25%, 50%, 75% and at the end of course completion.
These review sessions prompt you to review notes and work practice problems. I personally found these to be really helpful.
For the FE Civil exam, School of PE recommends close to 300 hours of study time. So as you can imagine, when you get around the 50% mark, you’re close to 150 hours into the course and there’s a good chance you’ve long forgotten what you learned in week 1.
These review sessions give you a great opportunity to quickly refresh that material in 10 or so hours, and help it sink into your long term memory.
Additionally, if you want further practice, you can always jump in to the practice portal to work a quiz. This tool allows you to build custom quizzes based on question topic, difficulty, and other parameters. For me, I found this useful for working narrowly targeted problems where I was weak.
These problems (unlike most quizzes) are exam-like in nature, and I found them to be excellent replicas of real exam problems in terms of content, difficulty and length.
School of PE Books
Finally, in addition to the digital Study Hub materials, you also get a hardbound School of PE Review Guide. In my case, it was the School of PE FE Civil Exam Review Guide. But of course, there are separate review guides for the different disciplines, as well as the PE.
This hardcopy textbook generally tracks with and supplements the primary digital materials. It contains key notes, formulas, cross-references to the NCEES Reference Handbook, and sample problems.
I’d say my favorite feature of this book is that alongside each practice problem in the book there is a QR code that you can scan on your mobile app and get a detailed problem solution. Basically, they tie the hardcopy book back into the digital material and everything is integrated through these nifty QR codes, scannable through the app. The Review Guide is definitely a worthwhile tool as a complement to the primary digital resources.
And that’s more or less the main body of coursework in a nutshell. In total, you’re looking at close to 300 hours of study time across a dozen or so different modules, with each made up of a variety of exercises and tools.
However, wrapped around this primary curriculum, there are a few other tools and features.
In addition to the video lectures, live classes (if you go that route), notes, and practice problems, you also get some nice extras with School of PE.
These include discussion forums, calculator trainings, an ask-a-question communication line, and a personal study plan. They’re all nice to have, but clearly the most relevant and useful is the personal study plan (PSP).
At the outset of the course, School of PE asks you a series of questions about your topic strengths, schedule availability, and exam timing. From there, their program builds a tailored study plan for you. This breaks down your ideal study schedule in calendar form.
For those like me who enjoy order and having a plan, this will be a blessing. If you can stick to it every day, you’ll be golden. This is especially true for On Demand students. Those taking the Live Online version naturally get more structure, so this tool comes in real handy for those driving their own studies.
The length of your access to the School of PE materials is directly tied to your package. The On Demand package is available in 4-, 6- and 12-month increments, as well as monthly pay-as-you-go. The Live Online package is directly tied to the length of your course. In short, School of PE has a bunch of different length packages to fit your needs, so content access period isn’t generally a big concern with them.
Yes, School of PE does have a mobile app, and it’s actually quite good. I didn’t personally use it too much, as I prefer working on my 24” screen at home. But I could definitely see it being heavily used by people if you’re trying to squeeze in studying on a lunch break or during a commute.
The app is sleek, responsive and intuitively laid out. It didn’t feel clunky or dated at all. And you can access all of your course materials so long as you have internet access, which is pretty nice.
School of PE Pass Guarantees
There are two features with School of PE that offer protection: the risk-free enrollment and the free repeat policy. For the risk-free enrollment, essentially, if you’re waiting for approval to come through from the state board and it doesn’t, or you come to find out you didn’t pass a prerequisite exam, they’ll refund your money in full. You’ll likely never use it, but it is nice protection if you’d like to enroll early to catch a discount yet have a contingency hanging out there.
The free repeat policy is more or less what it sounds like. If you meet some basic requirements after using the School of PE prep course and fail your exam, you can repeat the course at no extra cost. It’s perhaps not as good as money-back guarantee, but it’s not bad. Together, these are a couple nice insurance policies.
Verdict: School of PE Review
All in all, School of PE is a rock solid prep resource. I found their materials to be top-notch in terms of quality, but not over the top in terms of volume (one of my few complaints with PPI). I love how the primary coursework is streamlined through learning modules that consist of video lectures, refresher notes, problem sets and quizzes, among other features. Plus, the personal study plan and hardcopy review guide is great. In short, there’s a lot to like.
I do have a couple minor complaints with this package, such as some problem explanations being thin compared to others, but by and large, I think there’s good reason why so many people rely on School of PE. Overall, this is a fantastic review course that I believe offers tremendous value for the price tag and will help boost your chances of passing.
Yes, after taking the School of PE review course for my FE Civil prep and having a chance to fully review it, I can say without a doubt that it is worth it. Between the strong video lectures, practice material and written study materials, there’s a lot to like.
What is the School of PE pass rate?
School of PE’s pass rates typically hover around the 90% mark, beating the national average for first-time takers by a wide margin. In fact, among repeat takers, School of PE’s pass rates sometimes more than double the national average.
How much does School of PE cost?
Whether you’re studying for the FE or PE, School of PE packages typically range from around $1,000 up to $1,500. The only exception to this is their monthly pay-as-you-go subscription, which normally goes for around $300/month.