PE Exam – Tips on reference books

Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual

Should you use the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam?

For most mechanical engineers planning to take the PE exam, the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual (also called the MERM) is the most common reference book.  Click the link below to save 15% on the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual using promo code MPA15.
mechanical engineering reference manual
In fact, to many engineers preparing for the exam the MERM is considered essential. Some people believe that the MERM is a required book for the PE exam (that is not true by the way). So why am I even writing this blog to question using the MERM? Frankly, because the MERM may not be the best option for everyone.
Let me start by saying I do think the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual is a good and complete reference manual for the PE exam, and I do own a copy. I am also not telling you that you should or should not use it for the PE exam. Personally I did not use it for the PE exam. In fact, I didn’t even take it with me to the exam. I barely used it to prepare for the PE exam.

Why didn’t I use the MERM?

Let me explain my reasoning. Prior to taking the exam I spent several years in academics teaching undergraduate engineering courses. In that time I became VERY familiar with a LOT of different textbooks! The PE exam requires finding information from reference books very quickly. For me, I could find information in the textbooks I used over and over again much faster than I could find information in the MERM. To the point… using the MERM for the exam would have actually slowed me down in working problems.

What is the moral of this story?

OK… so what is the point of this blog?
I am basically trying to tell you that you should not feel like you absolutely must use the MERM for the PE exam. If you like it… use it. If you don’t like it… don’t use it.  Just know you have options.
You can use other reference books during the exam, and you can use study guides or other materials (such as review courses) to help you prepare for the exam. In the end, you need to use reference books during the exam that allow you to find information quickly. Use old textbooks if you like them. Use other engineering handbooks. Collect information from the web and use it for the exam. You need to pick what is best for you.  I will say that the MERM is a GREAT option for most people, but not the only option.

Tell me your story

I know this blog may be a bit controversial. I may get some bad comments about not personally using the MERM. Did you use the MERM for the exam? If you are currently preparing for the exam, are you using the MERM? What are pros and cons of using the MERM? Let’s start a friendly debate.


4 comments on “Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual

  1. My experience was quite the opposite. During my time studying with the MERM, I became very familiar with it’s layout and it was the only book I used when taking the exam. I saw other with small libraries and couldn’t imagine flipping through them. In the end your point is valid, use whatever method allows you to access what you need most efficiently.

  2. Pingback: Pass the PE Exam the First Time - Mechanical PE Academy

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