Our Tips for Structural Engineers Undertaking the IStructE Exam

Firstly, we at here LSY Engineering Consultants Ltd would like to wish all the structural engineers studying and preparing for the upcoming exam the very best of luck. As you will know, the exam has been postponed until September 2020 due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, which can only add to the stress of preparing/taking an exam but we hope this article will be of some assistance in preparing/taking the exam.

For those of you not familiar with the exam, it is the most prestigious exam worldwide for structural engineers which spans over a full day. It is a two-stage process which involves an interview and a full day exam. The exam pass rate can be around the 30% mark which involves answering a question which lasts 7 hours and involves providing 2 viable schemes for a structure, producing a letter to a client, calculations, drawings, a method statement and developing a construction programme.

Tips from us here at LSY

Prior to the Exam:

  • Do as many past exam papers as possible
  • Make sure to practice under exam conditions and exam timings
  • Get your exam practice papers corrected by a member of the Institution; this is a great way of finding out which areas you need to work on
  • Attend an exam preparation course
  • Have your exam folder as organised as possible and also use this as much as possible during your practice exams
  • Get a mentor
  • Have stickers for your code references, candidate number, exam centre and date of exam for the day. This will save you a lot of time and save you from having to write anymore than you will be under the 7-hour exam
  • Have everything you require on the day packed the week before and develop a checklist which is useful for the day before
  • Bring spares of the critical items, i.e. the calculator, pencils and pens
  • During the exam, make sure you bring your ID
  • Use tracing paper for initial scheming
  • Stick to your timings and attempt every section of the exam; this is critical
  • If you fail first, second, third, fourth or however many times go again

The below timings may be useful:


09.15-09.30 – Read the Questions

09:30 – 09.45 – Read the Questions

Part A – Preparing 2no. schemes as a proposal – Total Time – (160 mins) (40 marks)

09.45 – 11.05 – Scheme 1 (80 mins) —————————— 20 marks

11.05 – 12.25 – Scheme 2 (80 mins) —————————— 20 marks

Part C – Design calculation for Chosen Scheme – Total Time- (80 mins ) – (20 marks)

12.25. – 1pm – Calculations (35 mins) ———————- ——- 9 marks

1pm – 1.30pm Lunch —— NB Read through Paper that you have already completed!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1.30pm – 2.15pm Calculations (45 mins) ————————— 11 marks

Part D – General Arrangement Drawings, plans, sections, elevations, dimensions and critical details – Total Time- (80 mins ) – (20 marks)

2.15pm – 3.35pm – Drawings (80 mins) —————————- 20 marks

Part B – Letter to Client Total Time- (40 mins ) ——————— 10 marks

3.35pm – 4.15pm -Letter (40 mins) ——————————– 10 marks

Part E – Programme and Method Statement – Total Time- (40 mins ) (10 marks)

4.15pm – 4.35pm – Method Statement (20 mins) ——————– 5 marks

4.35pm – 4.55pm – Programme (20 mins) ————————— 5 marks

Naturally, there will be some sections where through experience you will work faster than the others, so if you feel confident to reduce the time from one section, then you should redistribute that time into your weaker sections.


LSY Engineering Consultants Ltd are always looking to speak to chartered civil structural engineers. If anyone needs some help or advice on the exam please feel free to get in touch with us either by phone 0203 368 8856 or, alternatively, email us at info@lsyconsultants.com.

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