PS Exam Info

All About the Principles and Practices of Surveying Exam

The Principals and Practices of Surveying Exam is governed by NCEES and generally administered to practicing Surveyors-in-Training who have between 2 and 4 years of practical experience; however, check your state’s licensing requirements as they vary individually. 

The PS Exam consists of 100 questions and the entire examination time takes 7 hours, with 60 minutes dedicated to an optional break and other test day requirements. 

You can take this exam at anytime throughout the year at an NCEES-approved Pearson Vue Testing Center

The Principles and Practices of Surveying Exam requires examinees to demonstrate a variety of approaches and methodologies that include design, analysis, and applications. All mathematics on the PS Exam uses the US Customary System of Units (USCS). For your convenience, we have provided the PS Exam section specifications below.

Not sure where to start or wondering the best strategies to pass the FS exam? Schedule a free 15-minute consultation call with Dr. Tony Nettleman, he is more than happy to discuss the PS Exam and how obtaining your PLS will boost your professional career as a surveyor.

PS CBT Exam Specifications Effective January 1st, 2019

  1. Legal Principles  –  18-27 Questions
    1. Principles of Evidence
      1. How to search for data and for physical evidence to evaluate data
      2. How to evaluate data
      3. Parol evidence
      4. Prescriptive rights
      5. Adverse possession
      6. Acquiescence
      7. Controlling elements
      8. Easement rights
    2. Common Law Boundary Principles
      1. Historical and current common law principles
      2. Riparian and littoral Rights
      3. Sovereign rights, including both navigable waters and eminent domain
      4. Sovereign land grants
    3. Sequential and Simultaneous Conveyance Concepts
      1. Types of conveyances
      2. Junior/senior rights
      3. Record and physical evidence
    4. Legal Descriptions for Real Property Transactions
      1. Preparation and interpretation of legal descriptions
      2. Controlling elements and how they impact the description
      3. Unwritten rights and how they impact the description
      4. Encumbrances and how they impact the description
      5. Easements and how they impact the description
    5. Evidence for the perpetuation of the U.S. PLSS
  2. Professional Surveying Practices  –  22-33 Questions
    1. Public/Private Record Sources
      1. Resources for private and public records
      2.  Local public records indexing and filing system
      3. Local survey office records
    2. Documentation, Supervision, and Clear Communication of Field Procedures
      1.  Field surveying techniques
      2. Field surveying practices
      3. Data collection protocols
    3. GPS/GNSS including satellite constellations, static GPS, RTK, PPP, and virtual networks
    4. Surveying Principles and Computations
      1. Technical computations
      2. Applicable software
    5. Monumentation Standards
      1. Applicable monumentation criteria
      2. Monument types
    6. Land Development Solutions
      1. Regulatory land development criteria
      2. Construction criteria
      3. Land development implementation procedures
    7. Survey Maps/Plats/Reports
      1. Communication options
    8. GIS
      1. GIS spatial databases and metadata
      2. Datums and projections related to GIS
  3. Standards and Specifications
    1. BLM Manual of Surveying Instructions
    2. ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Standards
      1. Current ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Standards
      2. State statutes regarding boundary surveys in conjunction with ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys
    3. FEMA Requirements
      1. FEMA specifications and instructions
      2. Horizontal and vertical datums related to FEMA flood zones
      3. Current FEMA elevation certificate
      4. FEMA Flood Insurance Study
  4. Business Practices  –  13-19 Questions
    1. General Business Practies and Procedures
      1. Project planning and project management
      2. Deliverables
      3. Costs, budgets, and contracts
      4. Types of surveys
      5. Site features and conditions
      6. Scope of services
      7. Appropriate equipment and instruments
    2. Risk Management Procedures
      1. Safety procedures
      2. QA/QC methods
      3. Risk management in contracts
      4. Insurance needs and requirements
      5. Potential liabilities
    3. Professional Conduct
    4. Communication with Clients, Staff, Related Professions, and the Public
      1. Different forms of communication
      2. Appropriate Type of communication to convey concepts
      3. Related professions and their impact on client needs and deliverables
  5. Areas of Practice  –  24-36
    1. ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys
      1. Legal documents, such as deeds, easements, and agreements
      2. Zoning information as applied to ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys
      3. Title insurance commitment letters and policies
      4. Underground features as applied to ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys
    2. Control Networks and Geodetic Network Surveys
      1. Datums and reference frames relative to control networks
      2. difference between local datums and geodetic datums
      3. Equipment appropriate for control surveys
      4. The Federal Geographic Data Committee Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standards
      5. The National Geospatial PRograms (NGP) Standards and Specifications – Digital Data Standards
    3. Construction Surveys
      1. Construction plan reading
      2. Construction calculations including slopes, grades, and plan details
      3. construction techniques and activities
      4. Horizontal and vertical positioning relative to a plan or datum
    4. Boundary Surveys
      1. Physical boundary evidence
      2. Boundary reconciliations
      3. Historical measurement accuracy, equipment, and techniques
      4. Legal principles related to boundary surveys
    5. Route Surveys for Alignments and Utilities
      1. Route alignment stationing practices
      2. Reading and interpreting roadway and utility plans
    6. Topographic
      1. Topographic/planimetric mapping and control standards
      2. Interpretation, reconciliation, and adjustment of topographic survey data
      3. QA/QC procedures as applied to topographic surveys
      4. Gound, hydrographic, and remote sensing equipment 
      5. The U.S. National Map Accuracy Standards as applied to topographic surveys
      6. Tools and techniques required to perform hydrographic, bathymetric, and remote sensing surveys
      7. Nomenclature related to utilities
    7. Surveys to Establish New Parcels, Lots, or Units
      1. Types of subdivisions
      2. Platting
      3. Condominiums and associations
      4. Deed restrictions and restrictive covenants
      5. Zoning and subdivision ordinances
    8. As-Built/Record Drawing Surveys
      1. As-Built/record drawing calculations including slopes, grades, and plan details
      2. As-built/record drawing techniques and activities
      3. horizontal and vertical as-built/record drawing positions relative to a plan or datum
    9. Consultation Services
      1. Site topography and slow for development purposes
      2. Site access for development purposes
      3. Zoning standard related to new projects
      4. Floodplains as related to land development

About our PS Exam Test Prep Materials

Are you interested in obtaining your professional surveyor license? The path to professional licensure involves passing the difficult Principles and Practices of Surveying Exam. This strenuous exam is expensive and time-consuming. Wouldn’t it be great to pass the PS Exam on the first try and become a professionally licensed surveyor as quickly as possible? Our PS Exam prep material is designed to do just that. Most of our past students have passed on their first try using our Principals and Practices of Surveying Exam prep material and online courses.

We offer Pre-Programmed HP-35 Calculators loaded with 15+ land surveying programs that make the PS Exam math sections a breeze. These calculators are approved for use during the exam and they seriously cut down on time needed to perform calculations. We also provide a user manual as well as plenty of videos on how to use your calculator efficiently and effectively.

Our Full-Length PS Practice Exam was designed based on NCEES specifications and also Dr. Tony Nettleman’s 20 years of experience as a PLS. This full-length practice exam will give you ample practice for what to expect on the day of the exam.

NLC Prep’s Online PS Prep Course Bundle was designed by Dr. Nettleman to best present and explain the material on each section of the PS Exam. The online course includes quizzes, videos, explanations, and other PS Exam tips and tricks to ensure you obtain a passing score on your first try. Dr. Nettleman is so sure of NLC Prep’s PS Online Course Bundle, he guarantees it with the NLC Pass Guarantee. Students who do not pass their land survey exam on the first try will be able to access the online course for an additional year, receive coaching from Dr. Nettleman, and receive 24 credit hours of additional lessons in any area that is in need of improvement. The PS Exam Online Course Bundle is frequently updated to stay current with industry standards and NCEES revisions.

You can also maximize your test day potential with the PS Exam Combo. Our PS Exam Combo includes the Pre-Programmed HP-35 calculator, PS Full-Length Practice Exam, the PS Exam Online Course Bundle, Boundaries and Landmarks: A Practical Manual by A.C. Mulford (1912), and the ACSM/NSPS Definitions of Surveying and Associated Terms (2005). The PS Exam Combo is, without-a-doubt, the best tool for passing your exam; not to mention it is also the best value, combining all three of our most popular PS Exam test products into one bundle.

Not sure where to start or wondering if a career as a professional surveyor is right for you? Schedule a free 15-minute consultation call with Dr. Tony Nettleman, he is more than happy to discuss the PS Exam and how obtaining your PLS will boost your professional career as a surveyor.