Geotechnical Depth References

Geotechnical Depth References

Why Collect Geotechnical Depth References?

One of the intents of this website is to gather the information that I wish that I had when I was preparing for my PE Exam. While browsing Reddit, I found that an Engineer in Training (EIT) was looking to find Geotechnical Depth References. If this EIT is looking for help in selected references, then there may be more people with the same question.

I did a search of my own for applicable references and I can see why there may be some confusion. One website lists recommended references but give no justification for selection. A second site offers an expensive bundle of references — certainly expensive enough to want a second opinion. A third result is for a practice test that was panned by all the reviewers. So you can see the frustration that a lot of engineers are facing. Therefore I hope that I can provide a better standard of service here. I also hope to save you hours of research that could be devoted to studying instead.


  1. The PE exam that I took was Mechanical: Thermal & Fluid Systems
  2. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This is at no additional cost to you. If you found this information valuable, then you can support my efforts by using the links I’ve provided. Thanks for your support!

Methodology for Selecting References

One of the most valuable resources that I had when taking my PE exam was the NCEES practice exam. Why? Because these practice exams contain retired questions from the NCEES question bank. These questions best reflect the content and difficulty of the actual exam, compared to other practice problems that I’ve encountered and heard about.

Because I am interested in the reasons Professional Engineers recommend each resource, I went to Amazon so that I could read their reviews. I also reviewed comments on Reddit and Engineer Boards.

After finding the Geotechnical practice exam, I scrolled down to the section that reads “Customers who bought this item also bought”. Then I reviewed the few pages of products and compiled them. For my list, I excluded things like calculators and references specifically for other exams.


Reference Books

TitlePrice ($)#ReviewsRating

Civil Engineering All-In-One
PE Exam Guide: Breadth and Depth,
3rd Edition

Geotechnical Engineers
Portable Handbook, 2nd Edition

PE Civil Reference Manual,
16th Edition

Many engineers call all these references as must-haves. I know the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual was a must-have for me. The 15th edition of the CERM received high marks, but I didn’t list it above due to the newer edition being available.

As for the Portable Handbook, reviewers say that this is helpful for answering qualitative questions on your exam.

Another nice thing about the “All-In-One” book is the number of example problems that you can work. So you could potentially skip buying additional practice problem books. However, as Dr. Goswami says, his problems aren’t intended for exam purposes, but to help you understand the material covered in each chapter.

Practice Problems

Title Price ($)#ReviewsRating
Geotechnical (NCEES, 2014)6715
Geotechnical Depth Version A2764.2
2 Full Breadth Exams
(Civil CE Practice)
Core Concepts
for the Civil PE Exam:
Morning Breadth
Civil Breadth Version A2793.8
Civil Breadth Version B27114.5
Civil Breadth Version C2724

If you need practice problems that will help you prepare for the PE Exam, then I recommend picking some of the above.

I certainly recommend buying the latest copy of the NCEES practice exam. This is simply because NCEES places retired test question in these practice books. This way, you’ll know approximately the style, content, and difficulty of real exam problems.

As for the rest of the books, this will depend on your need and budget. For example, do you need more practice with breadth, depth, or both? Have you already worked all the problems you have but feel like you need more problems? Questions like these should help you to decide.

Also Considered, but not recommended

The following references also appeared in my search but I don’t recommend them because one or more reasons:

  • Insufficient number of reviews
  • Unreliable reviews, such as those written by the author or reviews from compensated reviewers
  • Far too expensive
  • Redundant information
  • Unfavorable reviews
  • Difficulty/Complexity of practice problems do not match NCEES style and may cause frustration
  • Solutions to practice problems too difficult to follow
Ruwan’s Civil PE Morning Breadth Exam Handbook
PE Exam Depth Guide, Geotechnical
Civil Engineering Solved Problems (Lindeburg, 8)
Practice Exam: Geotechnical (NCEES, 2010)
Quick Reference for the C.E. PE Exam (16)
Practice Exam: Breadth + Geotechnical Depth (2)
Practice Exam: Breadth + Geotechnical Depth (1)
Practice Exam: Geotechnical Depth (Wolle)
Six-Minute Solutions
Practice Exam: 2 Full Breadth Exams (Goswami, 2013)

Conclusion: Recommended References for the Geotechnical Depth Exam for Civil Engineers

In conclusion, I recommend purchasing must-have reference books and the NCEEs practice exam. If you need additional practice, select one more set of practice problems at a time as desired.

Now, once you have these references in hand you can put together a study plan as I demonstrated in my previous post.

And if you like the idea of choosing your own references or even making up your own, then you’ll want to know why now is the best time to take your PE Exam.

What do you think of these recommendations? Is there anything you would like to suggest or dispute? Please let me know in the comments!

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