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Building your endurance before taking the FE Exam

Even if you studied thoroughly and you feel confident that you understand most of the material, if you do not have enough endurance to sit for 5 hours and 20 minutes to complete the 110 questions, all the material you learned isn’t really helping you guarantee a successful outcome. A balance of knowing the material and building your endurance is key to having a successful outcome.

For example, if you get tired and burn out somewhere in the middle of the exam, your problem-solving abilities will be sacrificed, ultimately reducing your chances of passing.

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Building your endurance will take time. It won’t happen in a week or a month. Like preparing for a marathon. You would never choose to run a marathon after preparing for one day, or even one week. You will need to gradually build your stamina and endurance by training at a realistic rate that works best for you. On top of that, cramming and running a full marathon every day of race week will only burn you out. Preparing for the FE exam is no different. In this case, we are mainly training our mental capacity and endurance months before the exam.

Here is a strategy I would recommend:

1) Determine your baseline

How long are you currently comfortable sitting and studying? How long does it take until you start feeling drained or tired—after 50 or 60 minutes?

2) Gradually begin training and building your endurance

Once your baseline study time has been determined, gradually begin training and building your endurance to become comfortable sitting and studying for a duration slightly longer than your baseline study time. Let’s say your baseline is 60 minutes. Whatever topic you’re supposed to study for the day, make sure that for 60 minutes, you concentrate and study as if you were taking the exam. That means no distractions—no cellphone, no water, no snacks.

After 60 minutes, you can take a 10-minute break. This 10-minute break comes out to the same fraction of break time (25 minutes) you’ll get on the actual exam, assuming you spend 160 minutes on the first section.

3) Set a high-performance standard by aiming for the ultimate goal

Work at your own pace, increase your study time, and maintain a high standard of performance for yourself.

When you get to the point where you feel comfortable studying for 60 minutes with a 10-minute break and another 60 minutes with another 10-minute break, try to crank it up to a full 2-hour (120 minute) study session with a 20 minute break.

The ultimate goal is to be able to sit for a consecutive 2 hour (120 minutes) or 2.5 hour-10 minute session (160 minutes). This may seem quite drastic, but this is the approximate time you will need to allocate for the “first section” topics before taking the 25-minute break when taking the real exam.

Remember, what you are doing here is increasing your mental endurance during your study session. This will carry over when you are ready to take a FULL-LENGTH practice exam. Preferably, 1 at the midpoint of your study session (this one does not have to be timed) and 1 weeks before your exam (timed and mimicking the testing environment as much as possible). 

FE Civil Exam Prep Course

If you are looking for a full, in-depth Civil FE review course that will not only save you time but also teach you the step-by-step problem-solving strategies you can employ today, just check my 2022 Civil Review course. This course will help increase your endurance by allowing you to focus on maintaining quality study time instead of jumping from place to place trying to figure out what to study or how to solve problems.

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