Practice, Prepare, Pass!
Part of your preparation for the Mechanical PE should include taking at least one practice test. The two sources of practice tests for the mechanical PE that I know of are from PPI as a take home exam and from IIT as a mock in person exam. That leaves everyone outside of the Chicago area with the option of PPIís exam. So how should you use this practice exam to itís maximum potential? Just dive in and start working the problems? Not quite. Here are my recommendations for you.
Timing is Everything
The first thing youíll want to figure out is what point in your studies you should be taking this exam. Youíll want to have a good base of studying with your reference materials and practice questions before you attempt to take the practice exam. I wouldnít recommend taking this exam first thing during your studies. Youíll want to accurately test your knowledge and skills here. Another thing to consider is to leave yourself some time to evaluate any weaknesses that show up during the practice exam. Donít take the practice exam a week before the real one. You want to use this practice test as a tool to improve your studies, not just an evaluation on how well youíre going to do on the real thing. Iíd recommend you take the practice test around the second third of your study calendar. That way youíll be able to accurately guage where you are and what you need to improve on.
The second thing to take into consideration in regards to timing is what time of the day youíre taking this exam. Take it during the same hours the real exam will be. Youíll want to wake up early and take the morning half of the test in a four hour block of time, give yourself a hour lunch and then go right back for the second four hour block. Donít break this practice exam into different sessions. Donít take it in the afternoon when your schedule might be open. You want an accurate test of your skills, so try and replicate all the variables youíll see on the day of the test. This will help you guage how well your brain functions early in the morning. Youíll find out whether you need to get up and take a break during the four hours or not. This will help condition your mind and your body to what it will see on exam day.
Bring only what you need
To make this practice exam as real as possible, only bring the reference materials and calculators youíll have on test day. Donít rely on any outside information or notes which you will not have on exam test day. You want to make this practice test as close to the real thing as possible
Location, Location, Location
The final recommendation I have is to take the practice exam in the same environment as the real one will be in. This means a quiet, somewhat cold environment with hard chairs. Libraries work great for this. Youíll put your body in the same situation as it will experience on exam day. Do you normally study in a loud coffee house style environment? Then focusing might be difficult for you in the cold quiet surroundings. Do you always sit in a nice comfy desk chair when studying? Youíll find out how long you can stand to sit in some cold hard chairs.
In ClosingThe main idea you should take away here is that you should try and create the exam day experience as closely as possible for your practice PE exam. Use the practice PE exam as a tool in your studies, not just an evaluation of your skills. This brings me to my final point, if after you take the practice test you find that youíre needing improvement in a large variety of areas, donít worry. If youíve given yourself enough time before the real PE exam youíll be able to effectively use the results of this practice test to know where to study. Be happy that you found these areas BEFORE the real exam and can now improve on them. Youíll do great, Iím sure of it.