Although I took the civil PE test more than 20 years ago, I can give you some helpful tips:

-- Don't over-study and don't under-study. Overfilling the old cranium creates stress and reduces clear thinking. I don't need to explain the "benefits" of under-studying. Plan a study strategy that walks this tightrope. I actually didn't study for the EIT since I was in or had just had all the relevant classes. Worked like a charm. For the PE, I bought Lindburg's book, which at that time had 18 chapters. I got the book with 19 weeks to go before the test. I did a chapter a week (2 hrs on Tuesday evening to read the chapter; 2 hours on Thursday evening to work the example problems; and 2 hours on Saturday to work the problems at the end of the chapter) with the last week reserved for a skimming review. I walked in feeling properly prepared and completely unstressed.

-- Don't study the day before. If you don't know it at least TWO days before the test, I doubt you're ever going to know it (at least for the purposes of the test). Relax, and spend the day before doing something fun.

-- Get enough sleep the night before. In high school, I took the SAT on only 4 hours of sleep (at the pizza parlor with my girlfirend--now wife--until 2:00 am after a football game). I scored at least 100 points lower than classmates I had bested the year before on the PSAT. That didn't affect my choice of colleges, but I knew I could have done much better.

-- Remember that the goal of any test is "maximum points in minimum time." Based on this maxim, I used the following strategy for the EIT (which is similar to the newer PE tests). Before I even started the test, I created four classifications for the problems I would encounter:

(1) Problems I could solve immediately without cracking a book.

(2) Problems for which I could quickly find the necessary formula or number in one of my books, then solve quickly.

(3) Problems I knew I could solve, but it would require a bit more research in my books and more thinking.

(4) Problems best left untouched.

Start at the top of the test and quickly decide what type of problem it is. If it's a 1, do it and move to the next problem. If it's a 2, 3, or 4, write that number next to the problem then skip it. Actually, you could decide to also do some or all of the 2s at this time, skipping only 3s and 4s. Your first pass through the test should consist of only answering 1s (or 1s and 2s). Then go back and start on the 2s, if you have any, then do another pass for the 3s. Try the 4s only if you have time left or you feel the need to punish yourself. On the EIT, I marked random A-B-C-D-E answers for my 4s. My PE was structured differently (you had to show your work like an engineering final), but I only had to do 8 ten point problems of the 21 in the book. I ranked the problems in order of difficulty and started with the easiest and worked my way down until I had enough worked out. For my PE, I also estimated the score for each problem. I knew well before I had all eight problems done that I had passed. When I walked out, I figured I had about a 73 out of 80, and the cut score was around 56.

--If you get stuck, don't be afraid to stop and stare at the clock for 60 seconds. During my EIT, I had a brain freeze about the area of a circle! Like an idiot, I kept trying pi*d^2. I got ahold of myself, watched the second hand go around, thenm got back to work. That break cleared my head. I actually finished the afternoon part 1.5 hours early.

--So far, I haven't talked about engineering, even though that is what you really asked about. I had my HP-41CV stuffed full of programs I had written for things I did all the time (mostly hydraulics). As a result, one of my problems took less than two minutes to solve, and my test was 8 problems in 8 hours. Having 58 minutes of slack time does wonders for your confidence. Of course, your test is structured differently, so you need to figure out what formulas will help you the most, then start keying them in.

I have pontificated long enough. Good luck on your test, and let us know when you pass.

Fred