Update (December 2016): Information presented here is very likely useless. Take this advice at your own peril 🙂
Update (June 2012): I put together this assessment on Power PE exam approximately two years ago. Take this advice at your own peril 🙂

My recommendation:

  • Buy the NCEES issued sample exam paper. Make sure you have the latest publication.
  • Buy the NEC’s NFPA 70 digest. Buying the latest version is not required.
  • Buy the Electromechanical Energy devices and Power Systems by Zia A. Yamayee and Juan L. Bala. Take my word on this one.
  • Buy sample PE exam paper published by authors like John Camara to practice solving more problems.

It is not necessary that you buy every book listed above. If your friend or someone in the office has one, then borrow it. You can even try finding them at your community library. As for the book revision, you can live with the older books as long as it covers topics listed in the latest syllabus. If you are missing whole bunch of topics then you should definitely buy the latest revs. From what I have seen, there has been a huge change in syllabus in the Power PE exam since April 2009. The syllabus is field specific now. No more general section. Most reference books in the market these days still refer to topics in the old syllabus. Your only respite comes from the sample exam paper from NCEES and the book by Zia.

Why buy – Electromechanical Energy devices and Power Systems by Zia A. Yamayee and Juan L. Bala – book?

You can count the number of topics that are fundamental to understanding power systems and are crucial to passing the Power PE exam.

  1. Circuits: KVL, KCL, current division, voltage division, Ohms law. Basic circuit reduction skill which can help you calculate currents, voltages and impedances for a given network.
  2. Per Unit Systems: Underlying assumptions to per unit systems, base quantities, per unit quantities (I’s, V’s & Z’s). Knowing how each quantity changes when you cross a transformer (forming zones).
  3. Symmetrical Components: Characteristics of positive sequence, negative sequence, and zero sequence, the equivalent network for each and how they tie up for single line to ground, line to line, and double line to ground faults.
  4. Odds & Ends: Power factor correction, sizing cables & protective devices using NFPA 70, and short circuit & open circuit tests for transformers and motors.

Barring the problems related to NFPA 70, I found no other book that covers all the topics described above as well as Zia’s book does. The books I have initially referred to varied from Lewis Blackburn to Glover & Sarma to John Camara. The first two textbooks are great in their own right. You can learn certain topics from each book but that can be a huge inconvenience when you are looking to revise topics at the last minute. Unless you maintain notes or cheatsheets for later revision, you will probably end up fidgeting and biting your nail trying to locate topics in different books.

Another great thing about Zia’s book is that it doesn’t delve too much into details. You can quickly learn the concept, learn the equations, tab the page and move on. This book is also great for plug-and-chug questions. I personally came across atleast two questions I had no clue on but could answer them correctly (pretty sure on this) by pinpointing the right equations in the textbook by randomly flipping pages.

Bottom Line: Get Zia, Get NCEES practice problem book. Get two to three sample exam papers. You are set. All the best for your exam.

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4 Responses to How to Pass the Power System PE exam

  1. zuproc66 says:

    can a foreigner allowed to take a PE. i am from the Philippines

  2. Rob says:

    Roughly how far in advance should one begin studying for the PE? I know my FE is good for 10 years, but I’d like to take the PE four years from now.

  3. Shawn Park says:

    Thanks for the help on the PE, will be taking it in October

  4. Ismail says:

    Helpful information Guru, keep it up

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