IStructE Exam: Reference Material

Reference material

To help you with the preparation, here are a few books that can be very useful, either to take in to the exam with you, or to help learn some of the engineering knowledge that you may need in the exam: (Some of these are referral links, which means Amazon will pay us a small commission if you buy anything – this helps us to keep the site running.)

Structural engineer's pocket book

This book is stuffed full of useful rules of thumb and design shortcuts that are perfect to use in the exam to get to an answer quickly, especially for section 1a, the scheme design section where you need to estimate member sizes. This book covers all the main materials and soil mechanics, and is essential reading not just for the IStructE exam but for structural engineers generally. Chance are you already have / have read this book.

Architect's pocket book

This book can also be useful to structural engineers.


Economic Concrete Frame Elements to Eurocode 2

This book has load / span table for different types of concrete slab, to give slab depth based on different spans and loads. Very useful for initial sizing if you intend to design a concrete frame

As this is an open book exam, you can take in any books and written information that you like. Great! But you must think very carefully about what you actually decide to bring with you. It's no good stuffing your bag full of books that you think might come in handy, if you then have to spend ages sifting through them all to find the piece of information you need. In the exam every minute is precious.

Therefore what you should do is copy just the pages from a book or a design code that you will need, and put them all into your exam reference folder, which will be carefully curated and indexed by you – we'll talk about this on the next page.

If you want to bring a whole book into the exam, you should know it inside out, so that you know exactly what information it contains, when you might need it, and where to find it.

For the same reason it's usually not a good idea to take in a huge pile of design codes with you. If there are particular sections of the codes that you will need to refer to whilst producing your calculations, print them off separately and put them in you exam folder.

Structural Foundation Designers' Manual

Recommended by our IStructE exam preparation course specialist Bob Wilson, this book contains an important chapter on contaminated soil, and is the all-round choice for foundation design. It's not cheap, but it's a worthwhile investment.