You are probably thinking right about now that there is way to much up front groundwork to the actual real preparation for the Engineer in Training exam. I know, but from going through the process, hear me out. It’s typical for us Engineers to think this way, to want to jump past all the “fluff” and get on to meat of the business; hold that thought.
Think about the times that you were successful in your past Engineering projects. I am sure for the most part, all the engineering projects we have worked on were of some success or another. But were they completed efficiently and in productive manner? For the ones that were, I bet there was a common characteristic that was shared; that being solid scheduling.
When we sit back and brainstorm how to get from point A to point B, we are setting ourselves up with a greater probability for success. By scheduling, we have the opportunity to expose possible obstacles, processes, and other restraints that are ineffective in getting the job down. We are able to effectively weed out the “fluff” that will really bog up the end result.
Preparing for the Engineer in Training exam is no different, scheduling how you are going to get from being uncertified to a certified EIT is worth your time.
Define practical milestones for your study schedule:
So far we have determined that we want to:
A. Start Studying for the Engineer in Training exam
B. Take the EIT exam and pass.
This is our starting and ending point, but dang, there is a lot of space in between, we need to define realistic steps for success. The most logical way to define milestones while studying for the Engineer in Training exam, and the way I did it, is by using the chapters in Michael Lindeburg’s FE Review Manual. This defines for us 17 steps that we have to work with, starting with “Units and Fundamental Constants” to “Engineering Ethics”. Reaching success of a goal is always easier when broken up in to increments. Could you imagine doing a Marathon without first testing yourself in a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, etc?
Fill in your schedule:
Now that you have defined your milestones, you can move forward with filling in the space between your start and end points. How you complete this step can vary and is mostly dependent on the amount of time you have until your exam date. For simple explanation purposes, I am going to propose we use 4 months (16 weeks) as our time between point A and point B.
In most cases, the Engineer in Training exam is on a Saturday. I wouldn’t suggest any studying be done the day before the exam, so run your schedule back a bit so your Point B falls on that Thursday prior to the exam. This gives you 16 full weeks (Thursday to Thursday) open for studying. Use the 17 milestones, as explained above, to fill in each block (week) of time, further defining what material will be covered in your studies during each period. For example:
Week 1: Units of Fundamental Constants and Conversion Factors
Week 2: Mathematics
Week 3: Statics
Week 4: Dynamics
Week 5: Mechanics of Materials
And so on…
Continue until you have filled in your schedule through the Thursday prior to your exam date.
Producing a schedule like this will not only put the task at hand in to perspective, but help you maintain a grasp on your progress. It will give you a tangible product that you can gauge against, helping you adjust or reinforce your focus if you fall behind or get slightly ahead. This also releases the mind from worry, reassuring you that you have the time scheduled to cover all the subjects prior to the exam.
Defining your studies graphically on a calendar, spreadsheet, or any other document is the way to put massive tasks in to perspective. Being able to break down your journey in to a number of smaller milestones allows you to stay focused on your priorities, calm when difficulties arise, and productive for longer periods of time. It also ensures that time is being used most effectively, and allows you to recognize when you need to adjust without wasting too much time spinning your wheels.
Take a baseline practice exam at the beginning of you preparation. I guarantee when you go to take that final practice exam before the test, you will feel a lot better going through it, giving you the added confidence you need going in to the Engineer in Training exam.