This review is from: Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam, 13th Ed (Hardcover)
I just recently passed the mechanical PE exam (fluids discipline), and I thought I would share the studying strategy that seemed to work for me. The very first thing you should do is purchase this book, the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual (MERM), even if you do not plan to take the PE for several years. This is an excellent book that is useful for any mechanical engineer to have. Plus, if you begin to use it now, it will only help to make you more comfortable with it for the exam.
Begin your study about 56 months before the exam. At this point you should also purchase the associated Practice Problems for the MERM. Each day, read a chapter and then try to work the practice problems from that chapter. This will take you about 12 hours per day. The key is to not burn yourself out, so begin early and only do a set amount per day. On some days when the chapter is short, or you have extra time you could read and work problems for an extra chapter or two. Also, I decided to skip the math and statistics chapters because I felt like I still remembered the basics and there are no general math questions on the exam. So if you feel the same way, you can eliminate 1213 chapters right off the bat. At this pace, in about 3 months you will have read the entire book (around 1500 pages) and at least attempted every single practice problem. At this point you will be in full panic mode, because you wonât feel comfortable with any of the practice problems because as I said, they are much harder than what is on the exam. Relax! The practice problems for the MERM are infinitely more complicated than what you will encounter on the exam. So do not worry too much if you donât exactly know how to do them. Just try to work each problem, if you get stuck just read through the solution and try to understand. Keep in mind that no one can work all the problems in that book, so you are no different. Just do your best. When you have finished the book, it should be right about the time that you have to choose your specific mechanical discipline for the exam. Since you have seen all the types of problems, you should be able to make an informed decision on which of the three that you are best at.
As a general rule of thumb for the exam, anything you can think of that will save you any time is worth it. The MERM is absolutely jampacked with charts, tables, graphs, etc. As you are reading through and working problems, you will start to notice you refer to some of them fairly often. Itâs a good idea to put a tab on the page where the useful information is located. By the time I took the exam, my MERM had tons of tabs.
When you have finished the MERM and its practice problems, purchase ALL THREE (fluids, mechanical systems, HVAC) sample problems and solution booklets from the NCEES. The first 40 questions are exactly the same in the three booklets, but the next 40 will be different. Itâs still worth it to buy all three, because in the morning session of the exam, you could encounter any of these problems. Make yourself out a schedule where you work 1015 problems per day. This time, you will need to actually be able to do the problems, unlike the MERM problems. These problems are designed to represent what is on the test, and also to be able to be completed in 6 minutes. You will start to feel a lot more comfortable at this point because the questions are much easier than what youâve seen so far. Work all 160 questions over and over in groups of 1015 per day until the day of the exam. By now you should be very comfortable, and ready to tackle whatever they throw at you.
Update in response to some questions: On test day, you will see people walk into the exam with dozens of books. Some even stand up all the books vertically on their table like a little library bookshelf. You will immediately wonder if you did not bring enough material. Rest assured! If you go into the test relying on this many books, then you are in trouble. There simply isn’t enough time to think about which book to open and then search for the answer. I went into the exam with only the following materials and it was more than enough:
Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual Practice Problems for the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual NCEES Sample Questions and Solutions (Thermal and Fluids Systems) NCEES Sample Questions and Solutions (Mechanical Systems and Materials) NCEES Sample Questions and Solutions (HVAC and Refrigeration) A 1″ Three Ring Binder of helpful equations, saturation tables, and conversion factors that I accumulated during the study process
I hope this has helped, and most importantly, good luck!
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The first of these four resources, of which this review concerns, is by far the most essential. I repeatedly used Lindeburg’s Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual during the actual test. While the other three resources were helpful, and I recommend that you purchase and use them, the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual was by far the most helpful. Most of the chapters contain material that is “fair game” on the exam. You can compare what the exam covers versus the chapters in this book. You will notice that some chapters contain material that is no longer covered on the exam. I skipped these chapters. For the chapters that did contain material on the exam (which was a majority of the book), I read them completely, and I worked through all examples. Most example problems have solutions in both S.I. and U.S. systems, and this is helpful because the exam can use either system. I switched back and forth: if I solved one example problem using S.I., then I would solve the next using the U.S. system. Furthermore, to get extra studying time, I studied during my lunch break at work. I ate for about 15 minutes and studied for about 45 minutes. If you do this 5 days per week, then that is an extra 3.75 hours of study per week that you did not have to do at home. Plus, when you bring a really big book to work and read it, people will look and think you look really smart.
I will also review the other three resources listed in this review. In my opinion, the afternoon exam is orders of magnitude harder than the morning exam, so prepare for the afternoon exam even more than the morning exam. Best of luck, I wish you well!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
This review is from: Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam, 13th Ed (Hardcover)
Great preparation guide and a great general reference. Spend time with it before the exam so you know where everything (generally) is, and tab out the book so you know how to get to places you need to use. A good rule of thumb that I used was, any time I took a practice exam and used the MERM for a lookup, I stickynoted that page, knowing that I needed to tab it later.
The book takes you back to first principles, and derives many of the equations you will need to find and use on the exam. It also rigorously uses constants of gravity in the USCS versions of equations. This may inspire you to needlessly divide a poundforce by a poundmass just for the sake of clearing out units. However, this may be useful to you should gravity not be a constant in the particular problem you’re working.
It treated me well as my lastditch effort to get an equation I needed – and in fact it saved my butt at least a couple of times. However, getting those equations to work for me took some trial and error because they weren’t in the final form I needed to use.
Cameron Hydraulic Data and the ASHRAE Pocket Guide may serve you better for equations that are ready to use right away. Cameron Hydraulic Data especially has a number of equations that you just insert your flowrate in GPM and your pipe size in inches, and out pops your velocity in FPM or your velocity head in feet. Shortcut equations, easy. Not a strong point of the MERM. I went into the test with Cameron, ASHRAE Pocket Guide, ASHRAE Handbook 4pack, my favorite Thermodynamics textbook (Cengel & Boles 4e from college), Property Tables from Cengel and Boles, and about 2030 pages of my own handwritten thermo, fluids and HVAC notes. That was enough, I don’t think the MERM alone would have been.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
Essential Reference for Every Engineer,
Begin your study about 56 months before the exam. At this point you should also purchase the associated Practice Problems for the MERM. Each day, read a chapter and then try to work the practice problems from that chapter. This will take you about 12 hours per day. The key is to not burn yourself out, so begin early and only do a set amount per day. On some days when the chapter is short, or you have extra time you could read and work problems for an extra chapter or two. Also, I decided to skip the math and statistics chapters because I felt like I still remembered the basics and there are no general math questions on the exam. So if you feel the same way, you can eliminate 1213 chapters right off the bat. At this pace, in about 3 months you will have read the entire book (around 1500 pages) and at least attempted every single practice problem. At this point you will be in full panic mode, because you wonât feel comfortable with any of the practice problems because as I said, they are much harder than what is on the exam. Relax! The practice problems for the MERM are infinitely more complicated than what you will encounter on the exam. So do not worry too much if you donât exactly know how to do them. Just try to work each problem, if you get stuck just read through the solution and try to understand. Keep in mind that no one can work all the problems in that book, so you are no different. Just do your best. When you have finished the book, it should be right about the time that you have to choose your specific mechanical discipline for the exam. Since you have seen all the types of problems, you should be able to make an informed decision on which of the three that you are best at.
As a general rule of thumb for the exam, anything you can think of that will save you any time is worth it. The MERM is absolutely jampacked with charts, tables, graphs, etc. As you are reading through and working problems, you will start to notice you refer to some of them fairly often. Itâs a good idea to put a tab on the page where the useful information is located. By the time I took the exam, my MERM had tons of tabs.
When you have finished the MERM and its practice problems, purchase ALL THREE (fluids, mechanical systems, HVAC) sample problems and solution booklets from the NCEES. The first 40 questions are exactly the same in the three booklets, but the next 40 will be different. Itâs still worth it to buy all three, because in the morning session of the exam, you could encounter any of these problems. Make yourself out a schedule where you work 1015 problems per day. This time, you will need to actually be able to do the problems, unlike the MERM problems. These problems are designed to represent what is on the test, and also to be able to be completed in 6 minutes. You will start to feel a lot more comfortable at this point because the questions are much easier than what youâve seen so far. Work all 160 questions over and over in groups of 1015 per day until the day of the exam. By now you should be very comfortable, and ready to tackle whatever they throw at you.
Update in response to some questions: On test day, you will see people walk into the exam with dozens of books. Some even stand up all the books vertically on their table like a little library bookshelf. You will immediately wonder if you did not bring enough material. Rest assured! If you go into the test relying on this many books, then you are in trouble. There simply isn’t enough time to think about which book to open and then search for the answer. I went into the exam with only the following materials and it was more than enough:
Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual
Practice Problems for the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual
NCEES Sample Questions and Solutions (Thermal and Fluids Systems)
NCEES Sample Questions and Solutions (Mechanical Systems and Materials)
NCEES Sample Questions and Solutions (HVAC and Refrigeration)
A 1″ Three Ring Binder of helpful equations, saturation tables, and conversion factors that I accumulated during the study process
I hope this has helped, and most importantly, good luck!
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Tips to pass the Mechanical Engineering PE Exam,
(1) Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam, 13th Ed
(2) PE Exam Review for Mechanical Systems and Materials: PE Review Book for ME
(3) PE Mechanical Engineering: Mechanical Systems and Materials Practice Exam
(4) SixMinute Solutions for Mechanical PE Exam Mechanical Systems and Materials Problems, 2nd Ed
The first of these four resources, of which this review concerns, is by far the most essential. I repeatedly used Lindeburg’s Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual during the actual test. While the other three resources were helpful, and I recommend that you purchase and use them, the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual was by far the most helpful. Most of the chapters contain material that is “fair game” on the exam. You can compare what the exam covers versus the chapters in this book. You will notice that some chapters contain material that is no longer covered on the exam. I skipped these chapters. For the chapters that did contain material on the exam (which was a majority of the book), I read them completely, and I worked through all examples. Most example problems have solutions in both S.I. and U.S. systems, and this is helpful because the exam can use either system. I switched back and forth: if I solved one example problem using S.I., then I would solve the next using the U.S. system. Furthermore, to get extra studying time, I studied during my lunch break at work. I ate for about 15 minutes and studied for about 45 minutes. If you do this 5 days per week, then that is an extra 3.75 hours of study per week that you did not have to do at home. Plus, when you bring a really big book to work and read it, people will look and think you look really smart.
I will also review the other three resources listed in this review. In my opinion, the afternoon exam is orders of magnitude harder than the morning exam, so prepare for the afternoon exam even more than the morning exam. Best of luck, I wish you well!
Was this review helpful to you?

Take this to the PE, along with a few others…,
The book takes you back to first principles, and derives many of the equations you will need to find and use on the exam. It also rigorously uses constants of gravity in the USCS versions of equations. This may inspire you to needlessly divide a poundforce by a poundmass just for the sake of clearing out units. However, this may be useful to you should gravity not be a constant in the particular problem you’re working.
It treated me well as my lastditch effort to get an equation I needed – and in fact it saved my butt at least a couple of times. However, getting those equations to work for me took some trial and error because they weren’t in the final form I needed to use.
Cameron Hydraulic Data and the ASHRAE Pocket Guide may serve you better for equations that are ready to use right away. Cameron Hydraulic Data especially has a number of equations that you just insert your flowrate in GPM and your pipe size in inches, and out pops your velocity in FPM or your velocity head in feet. Shortcut equations, easy. Not a strong point of the MERM. I went into the test with Cameron, ASHRAE Pocket Guide, ASHRAE Handbook 4pack, my favorite Thermodynamics textbook (Cengel & Boles 4e from college), Property Tables from Cengel and Boles, and about 2030 pages of my own handwritten thermo, fluids and HVAC notes. That was enough, I don’t think the MERM alone would have been.
Was this review helpful to you?
