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Successful candidates share advice on preparing for and sitting the exam below.
Be patient – do not take the exam until you have at least 6-7 years’ experience in the industry – there is no substitute for working experience. (Marko)
Sit full mocks in exam conditions – no phone, bring a lunch and everything you need. Select a number of years and do not look at them before you sit down, so you can recreate the environment of opening up a new exam paper on the day. I think I did four of these. Not fun, but it made the actual day run like clockwork - I didn't have a problem sticking to my time, and had 15 mins to review at the end as planned. (Niall)
Ask someone to review your practise attempts and give you feedback. It’s important to know that you are expressing your ideas and knowledge in an understandable way. It’s no use knowing good solutions if you can't present them well under the time pressure. (James)
Practise different methods/styles of sketching and drawing schemes, plans and details under time pressure. Certain sized buildings/ scales of drawing require different techniques to present your ideas in a clear fashion and within the time available. Get some coloured pens and practise with them. (James)
Attend a preparation course. I think this was invaluable. (James)
Start collating your design notes in a paper file early in your career. The temptation these days is to rely on digital copies but you won't have access to these in the exam. (James)
Keep a notepad of things you need to research, etc. I found this an invaluable tool. As I did questions, I constantly wrote notes of things I needed to read up on, then tried to spend one evening a week researching them. Lots of things repeat themselves in questions so patterns do emerge. (Niall)
Study past papers, set yourself a programme to answer each part of the question and train to answer each section under time constraints. For example, you need to be able to provide a conceptual design for one solution including sketches and explanation of your concept in under one hour. (Romain)
Practise, practise and practise! I looked at all the bridge questions in the past papers. You can't answer them in their entirety, but you can work parts of them. (Romain)
Provide clear, neat and coloured sketches which help the examiners to clearly understand your concept. (Romain)
Structure your answer by providing titles with numbering for each section in the same fashion as you would write a technical report for a client. (Romain)
Timing is crucial. Plan out your day, write this down and take it into the exam with you. Allow for 10 to 15 minutes to think through your solutions. You don't want to decide part way through your answer you have picked the wrong solution. Allow some time for checking. (Chris)
Take a watch to the exam - you can't always see the clock depending on where you sit in the exam room. (Chris)
Rule of thumb, simple equations and design charts are very handy, as you will have very limited time to prepare your calculations. Condense and compile them in an orderly manner for easy access. (Kenny)
Play to your strengths and experience. I think it’s better to tackle a structure you are familiar with, even if it has tough aspects, than tackle a simpler looking question. (James)
Don't panic! If you think you're running behind and won't finish, just get the essential points down and keep going. Make sure you have a stab at all parts even if it’s just a few notes. (Jonathan)
Make sure you have plenty of water for the day and food for lunchtime. Don't eat too much if it makes you drowsy! (Chris)
Know you will make mistakes. Only recalculate serious blunders. if you spot a minor error, write a note to explain the impact. (Chris)
Other organisations provide advice regarding our exams. You may find these resources useful, but IStructE does not authorise this material.
Statistics show that if you attend an exam preparation course you will have a much higher chance of passing our membership exams.
A must-attend for anyone who is preparing to sit The Institution of Structural Engineers Chartered Membership Exam.
Report on the results, questions, and general issues encountered by candidates during the Chartered Membership exam sat on 03 January 2019.
Including questions on a new manufacturing facility, mixed use building, canal footbridge, city-centre hotel and temporary site offices.
This paper includes a question on a new link bridge for an offshore platform.
Report on the results, questions, and general issues encountered by candidates during the Chartered Membership exam of 05 July 2018.
Including questions on a residential development, a bird sanctuary viewing centre, a road bridge over a canal, and an observation walkway over a racetrack.
Including questions on a car auction facility, a mixed-use development, a road crossing over a river, and a supermarket over a railway.
Report on the results, questions, and general issues encountered by candidates during the Chartered Membership exam sat on 04 January 2018.
Past papers are useful study aides if you are planning to sit the exam.
Including questions on a covered market, a science park development and a canal bridge over a shipping channel.
Report on the results, questions, and general issues encountered by candidates during the Chartered Membership exam sat on 07 July 2017.
This paper includes a question on a five-storey education building in a town with high seismicity.
This paper includes a question on a subsea structure.
Including questions on a hotel, a boatyard maintenance shed, a station footbridge and a theatre building.
Including questions on a steel fabrication unit, an airport control tower, a railway viaduct, a supermarket deck, and protection for an ancient building.
Report on the results, questions, and general issues encountered by candidates during the Chartered Membership exam sat on 06 January 2017.
This paper includes a question on an exhibition centre in an area of high seismicity.
This paper includes a question on a new module for an offshore platform.
Including questions on a distribution warehouse, a lakeside development, a replacement footbridge, a multi-storey office and a floating studio.
Report on the results, questions, and general issues encountered by candidates during the Chartered Membership exam sat on 08 July 2016.