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Chartered Structural Engineer - Part 3 Exam

-Personal view point

Date February 18th 2014

Bharat Khatri
B E Civil (Hons), CEng, MIStructE

What is the CM examination?

It is truly a test of your understanding and
application of engineering principles
.under very testing conditions.!!
It is an opportunity to collate all your
knowledge and experience, organise it and
demonstrate it on the examination day

Preparation for the Exam

Prepare a time table of studies and mock exams.

3 to 4 months of focused and dedicated efforts
Aim to do 3 to 5 mock exams.
Avoid practicing a full mock exam in the last week before
the exam.
Practice free hand sketching as much as possible for the
office work
In the office, try to get as much concept design work as
possible to help you practice

Standard pattern for the solution

Establish a pattern for the solution

Follow the pattern throughout the preparation

period so that it becomes your second nature..!!

Standard pattern for the solution

My pattern included:
Assumptions, constraints, ground conditions, head-rooms
Possible solution 1
Load paths

Possible solution 2
Load paths

- Choice of the solution with reasons

Standard pattern for the solution

My pattern included:
Assumptions, constraints, ground conditions, head-rooms
Possible solution 1
Load paths

Possible solution 2
Load paths

- Choice of the solution with reasons

Standard pattern for the solution

- Design calculations
- 5 to 6 principal elements
- Letter and Sketch for the letter
- Method statement
- Program

Prepare a references folder

Collect all the reference charts, tables etc. in a folder
Use these charts/tables all the time either in office or at
Keep pre-prepared notes for advantages and
disadvantages of various materials
Keep standard design calculations of elements
Keep refining the folder as you continue practicing
My folder was 3 inches thick
Using only one folder for all your work will save you
a lot of time on the exam day..!!

Study the Exam CD

This is the single source of the most useful
knowledge to pass this exam
Listen to the audio program several times
Note down the important points
Refer to the possible solutions provided in the CD
Do not get carried away by the beautiful and
colourful sketches. They are not done under exam

Before every Mock Exam

Practice past questions
Practice under timed condition
Practice to choose the right question
Think through all parts of the solution before you
decide to go for it.
Collate all your key ideas in the first 30 minutes,
before you put down your solution.

After every mock up exam

Read examiners report.
List down the areas of improvement.
Discuss your solution with others.
Add key points for the questions to a list cut the
thinking time

My reference Books:

Time allocation
Allocate 4 minutes for every mark no
My allocation was
9.15 to 9.30

Read the questions and

choose one
9.30 to 9.50

- Put down the ideas to

paper for all parts

9.50 to 11.05

- Option 1

11.05 to 12.20 - Option 2

12.20 to 13.00 - Choice of option and

The Exam- Choosing the right question

Glance through the questions that are within your
Can you quickly think of two Distinct and Viable
Rule out the rest of questions.
Think through all parts of the solution before you
make up your mind to go for the question.
You are not allowed to write before 9:30

You need minimum 20 marks from each section to


Decoding the clients Brief

Pick up the
key words
and write their

This will show

the examiner
your thought

Part 1a - Clients Brief

Write down all the assumptions/constraints
Write down possible options/materials
You may rule out the materials one by giving quick
bullet reasons.
The constraints will guide you to the desired
Answer the question as given
Dont alter the brief to suit you - instant failure
Dont apply specialist engineering
Aim for securing passing marks

Draw only the following

functional framing,
load transfer
stability aspects
Nothing more!!

Functional Framing
one plan and one section is required. Free hand, quick and
proportionate sketches, conveying the information are

Functional Framing and Load Transfer

Part a - Stability

Part 1-a
Describe your scheme even though you think it is very
simple. Examiner does not know you.
Approximate size of the slab-columns and beams are
If you have a transfer beam, you need to use rule of
thumb and make sure beam depth is sufficient, probably
shear is more important than bending.
Make sure you foundation is doable, it is good to size it
Rule of thumbs are sufficient for this section
Do not forget to address robustness, Fire rating,

Part 1-a
Discuss the foundation selected, try to have two distinct
option. i.e. large diameter bored piles and small diameter
CFA piles are two distinct options.
Discuss your basement strategy and show it on section.
Are you using the retaining wall for permanent use.
Scheme No.2 to be developed with same detail as
scheme No. 1
Try to use the different grid
Try to use different material
Try to use different foundation type
Try to use different stability system

Part 1-a---Advantages and Disadvantages

Use pre prepared material for pros and cons of different
materials and different construction methods (refer to
Roger Flemings presentation).
Although you are using ready made material for pros and
cons but you need to address some pros and cons
specific to your question and this is how you get the
mark. i.e. site is in city centre with limited access then
delivery of pre fabricated steel element would be difficult,
or question ask you to reduce the noise and pollution
then you may use pre cast and pre fabricated steel
rather than concrete.

Part 1b-The Letter

List down the main points in pencil as your rough notes.
make a little sketch to describe your thoughts on the
Write the letter concisely, covering the given issues
Use only positive language
Include cost and time impact
Highlight if there can be contractual implications
Remain anonymous with your signature
Mark copies to the affected stakeholders
This is your opportunity to score easy marks..!!
you do not need to include this change into your
scheme, client will decide later.

Quick Sketch for the letter-

Part 2C-Design

Choose 5 to 6 primary elements for design

Provide sufficient calculations for sizing the elements
Provide checks against bending, shear and deflections
Provide crack width checks for water retaining elements
Lateral load resisting system is principal element and
hence it shall be sized/designed
Wind load has to be calculated.

Part 2C-Design
Do not overspend time on this sections..!!
If you are running out of time, just write a note for
the examiner, write down steps/formulae and move
It is better to spend time on a new section than
complete the calculation to nth degree..!!

Part 2C-Design
I would say following is required:
Loading and wind load
Transfer structure
Shear wall or moment frame
Critical beam, column and slab
Pile cap
Retaining wall
If you manage to design 5 important elements then you
have done great
My personal preference was to sacrifice design of an
element and go on to spend more time on drawings

Part 2d-Drawings
Drawings should include:
General notes and quantities
3 plans foundation, ground and typical floor
One section
Details of transfer structure
One or two details (connection or waterproofing detail )
Drawings are submitted for quantity estimate if you have
a deep cantilever beam with un usual reinforcement then
using standard kg/m^3 tonnage will not earn any marks

Part 2d-Drawings
See the sample attached- you must do better than this

Part 2e-Method statement

Site set up, clearing the site, hoardings
Plant to be provided-cranes, excavators etc
Sequence of the work
Identify working sequence
Brief description of each activity
Methods for reducing any H&S risks-CDM regulation
Detailed consideration
Temporary work (false work to support existing faade or transfer
Temporary bracings

Part 2e-Program
Do not forget
Underground drain and ground slab
Fire proofing for steel
Cladding panels
Brick work partition and internal finishes
External work (landscape)
Clear the site
My understanding is that in the program you need to address activities
for all the disciplines.

Happy to answer your queries sent to:
All the best!!