FE Electrical | PE Power – 7 Ways to Improve Retention

The FE Electrical and Computer Exam and PE Power exam have a vast syllabus that requires a lot of time and effort to cover. The process can take months and, often, when students reach the end of the syllabus, they forget a lot of what they had learned. This can be extremely frustrating, therefore we have covered 7 ways to improve retention for FE and PE exams which will help you mitigate the problem and improve your retention.

Just like the how the essential skills of time management and focus can be improved, so can your memory.

How Does Our Memory Work?

We have two types of memory – short-term working memory and long-term memory. Paying attention and hearing the information is carried about by the short-term memory, but unless we make a concious effort to “lock it in” and transfer it to long-term storage, the memory soon disappears. That’s why taking notes and writing things down is so helpful.

Additionally, your brain works by forming associations. The more impressive, vivid, and emotional your thought, the more the encoding (conversion of short term to long-term memory) is enhanced. Therefore, the more you participate physically, mentally, and emotionally while learning, the easier it will be to recall the information later. That’s why its so important to eliminate distractions and learn in an active manner.

Why You Think Your Memory Isn’t Great

Some of us find it very difficult to pay attention. We’re uninvolved, passive, and just simply unobservant. We could glance at our watch and be unable to tell someone the time. We could open the fridge and forget what we were looking for. Some of us wouldn’t be able to direct someone to the nearest coffee shop even if we walk past it everyday. You may think this is a clear indication of weak memory skills, but it is much more an indication of weak listening skills. You can’t expect to recall something you never quite paid attention to. It simply wasnt transferred to your long-term memory in the first place. Through inefficient listening, distraction, or disruption, it may have never registered in your brain.

In this blog, we’ll go over 7 ways to improve your memory using strategies that will optimize your efficiency in both learning, recalling, and improving your brain function.

#1: Summarize the Content

Summarize the Content

Summarizing what you learn causes your brain to actively work in recalling what you learned. This improves your focus, learning efficiency, retention, and recall. Additionally, summarizing forces you to discern the most important parts of what you’re learning, which allows you to focus on the high-yield content, this is a point we’ll discuss further in this blog.

#2: Avoid Multitasking While Preparing for FE and PE Exam

Avoid Multitasking While Preparing for FE and PE Exam

Multitasking is needlessly taxing the brain. It overexerts your short-term memory as multiple different pieces of information overload the brain as you switch back and forth between tasks. So if you are preparing for FE Exam or the PE Power exam, no matter how tempted you might be to study while engaging in a conversation, or while the TV is playing nearby, you should always make sure your study space allows you to focus on one task at a time.

For More Pro Tips Like these, enroll in my FE Course. To get started check out the FREE Webinar now!

#3: Focus on the High-Yield Content

Focus on the High-Yield Content

This one might be self-explanatory. You should avoid studying the unnecessary details, re-reading textbooks or reviewing things you already understand extremely well as these are all low-yield tasks.

Instead, if you focus on the things that are likely to be tested, such as reviewing important concepts that are often found on the FE practice exams, doing practice problems and focusing on weaknesses, you will reap the benefits of understanding the high-yield content very well.

These are the things you will have to recall most often, so if you understand these well, it will be as if you can recall almost anything. You can check out a really helpful blog on this topic by clicking here.

It is also important to remember that you don’t need to memorize formulas, values, etc. Since all the information is available in the FE Reference Handbook.

#4: Know Which Strategies to Use for the Content You’re Learning

Know Which Strategies to Use for the Content You’re Learning

If you’re learning deep concepts that need understanding such as circuit analysis, there’s little use in using a strategy such as making flash cards. Instead, you should focus on doing problems or explaining the concept to yourself/other people. Additionally, you can utilize a technique known as the Feynman Method to help you understand deep concepts such as this.

On the other hand, if you’re learning surface level topics such as Ethics, Engineering Economics, or Computer Networks, it may be helpful to make flash cards as those will help in recalling organized facts.

#5: Eliminate Disruptions

Eliminate Disruptions

When you sit down to study the books for the FE exam, for the first few minutes or so, your brain is just getting a feel of the new task and not actively focusing.

After anywhere depending on 5 minutes to hour, you enter something called a flow state, where you focus deeply, are completely immersed in the task and can absorb material with maximum attention and retention. However, if you pick up your phone to check Whatsapp, or browse through social media for a few minutes, you will interrupt your flow state.

Your brain is not designed to switch back and forth between tasks, it is designed to focus intently on one thing at a time. That’s why you should eliminate all distractions and disruptions as they will significantly lower your output during your study sessions.

For More Pro Tips Like these, enroll into my FE Course. To get started checkout the FREE Webinar now!

#6: Exercise


There are a few things in life that cannot be improved or enhanced as a result of physical exercise. However, in the middle of extremely stressful times, it can be easy to neglect something so simple and yet so powerfully helpful. In terms of improving memory, exercise improves blood flow to the brain and provides it with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at its peak.

#7: Lower Stress While Preparing for FE Electrical or PE Power Exam

Lower Stress While Preparing for FE Electrical or PE Power Exam

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called Cortisol which weakens the part of your brain involved in short-term memory. This one is easier said than done, but giving yourself time to relax and sleep well can work wonders in lowering your stress. You can also try taking deep breaths, particularly on test day, to relax your mind and improve your recall during the exam.

#8: Mindset


When you repeatedly forget things you studied and get questions wrong, it can be easy to get disheartened and think the problem is something you can’t control – but it is important to remember that the situation is always in your control. There is always something you can do to change and improve your situation.

Additionally, older students that have spent 20+ years in the workforce might think their age is a disadvantage, but that is actually far from the truth, and you should avoid using your age as an excuse to procrastinate in taking the exam or giving up hope.

In a major study carried out a few years ago, seniors that actively took measures to keep their body and mind healthy performed better on a memory test than people in their twenties and thirties.

Additionally, they were able to use that information 30% more effectively in decision-making as compared to the youngsters, which is an essential skill for the PE Power and FE Electrical exam.

Wasim Asghar – P.E, P.ENG, M.ENG

Licensed Professional Engineer in Texas (PE), Florida (PE) and Ontario (P. Eng) with consulting experience in design, commissioning and plant engineering for clients in Energy, Mining and Infrastructure.