How To Ace The PEO Exam - Updated For 2024

Mike Grossman
Professional Engineer
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February 3, 2022
How To Ace The PEO Exam - Updated For 2024

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We strive to help you make smarter exam preparation decisions. We adhere to an editorial integrity, so this article does not contain references to affiliate products or services.

Important: The information is this article is for the old PEO PPE exam. Please follow this link to the new PEO NPPE Exam.  

Three times each year, typically in April, August, and December, Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) offer the Professional Practice Examination (PPE) to engineers that wish to be licensed in Ontario.

Although many other Associations across Canada choose to use the NPPE exam, created by APEGA, PEO offers its own essay-format and short answer version of the exam.

The content of the PEO exam is the same as the NPPE, but the PEO PPE tests the individual’s ability to communicate effectively through the written essays as well as conceptual knowledge.

With proper study notes there one can get through the PEO material in a weekend.  It goes quite quick. However the real power is in the exam questions.  

Exam Tip: Do not make study notes on the suggested material list.  It is critical to ensure you make study notes based on the syllabus to save substantial time.  

Exam questions: The real power

Again, the real power is in the exam questions.  The second biggest mistake in preparation for these PEO exams is to simply read and review the material.  

Exam Tip: Do not simply read and review the material.  You must grab paper and work through exam questions as you will during the actual exam.  

For exams this challenging, the majority of preparation time must be spent working through problems.  Reading and reviewing problems just does not get you "hands on" enough.  

One must start with a question and a blank sheet of paper and work through the steps, stopping to get more information as required to continue.  This is the only way to ensure a solid understanding.  This is the only way to ensure you'll do well on the exam.  

Education requirements

In order for PEO to ensure that only qualified individuals can practice within Ontario, it requires strict guidelines for licensure. The first requirement is a degree at a university that is accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) or equivalent education approved by the Canadian Engineering Qualification Board (CEQB).

If the individual’s education is found to be lacking in a certain area, PEO may assign technical exams in the deficient area. International engineers will have to provide documentation of academic qualifications and verifiable, acceptable experience and be of good character to be considered for professional licensure.

Experience Requirements

Along with the proper education, PEO requires the candidate to have the Canadian standard of four years of relevant experience working under a licensed professional, with at least one year working in Canada.

The Canadian experience is to ensure that the individual has adequate exposure to Canadian laws and practices.


One of the final steps to be licensed in Ontario, the engineer, must be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the laws and ethics that govern the profession through the PEO PPE.

Unlike the multiple-choice NPPE, the three-hour, closed-book PEO exam is an essay format consisting of two parts. Part A tests the individual’s knowledge of Professional Practice and Ethics and Part B covers Engineering Law and Professional Liability.

Each part consist of 4 questions, with 25 points per question, totaling 100 points per section. The exam is evaluated on a pass/fail basis, and, because the Association expects the Professional members to have a strong understanding of both parts, a total of 50 points on EACH section is required to pass.

However, if an individual fails one portion, he or she is only required to rewrite the failed section. Because a Professional must be able to communicate effectively, the answers will not only be evaluated on the content, but also the ability to clearly write in correct English.

Part A: Professional practice and ethics

Part A of the exam tests the individual’s understanding of the Professional Practices and Ethics that are required of a Professional Engineer. This portion covers sections 72 (Professional Misconduct) and 77 (Code of Ethics) of Ontario Regulation 941/90, which is provided in the exam.

A thorough understanding of the following topics, among others will be tested:

  • Main objective of PEO
  • Definition of a Professional Engineer
  • Enforcement and penalties of misconduct
  • Complaints against license holders and resulting discipline
  • Liability insurance
  • Use of an engineer seal
  • Conflict of interest
  • Ethical dilemmas

When answering the questions that relate to a particular section of Regulation 941, it is expected that the relevant clause is referenced as well as how it pertains to the case at hand.

The ethics questions not only asks the examinee to determine if the individual acted ethically, but require for the examinee to thoroughly describe how each individual involved should act in the particular situation.

Part B: Engineering law and professional liability

The second portion of the exam covers the laws that govern the profession as well as liability in cases of negligence. The examinee will be tested on such areas as:

  • Legal concepts
  • Basic structure of the Canadian legal system
  • Business organization basics
  • Principles of tort law and determining liability for negligence
  • Contract law, including the principles, essential elements, interpretation, and breach of contract
  • Engineering and other specific types of contracts
  • The regulatory aspects of the Professional Engineers Act
  • Construction liens
  • Employment laws
  • Human Rights Code Prohibition against Discrimination and Sexual Harassment

Professional members licensed under a different Canadian jurisdiction will have to register with PEO in order to practice within Ontario. However, the professional may not have to take the PEO PPE if he or she has passed the PPE in his or her jurisdiction, has the proper qualifications and is in good standing.

The essay format of the PEO exam may be more challenging than the exams in other provinces and territories that use a multiple-choice format. However, because of the format, the PEO PPE ensures that the engineer, architect or geoscientist has the knowledge of the laws, regulations, and ethics as well as the strong communication skills are required of the profession.

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