COVID-19 Update: PEO adopted the National Professional Practice Examination (NPPE) which you can write from home in June. For more information, please head over to our NPPE Total Prep Course page.  

Cheat sheets are a handy study tool that we have all used to get us through university calculus, chemistry or physics courses.
Here is how you can build a great cheat sheet for your Professional Practice Exam (PPE) with PEO. If you prefer to use mine, you can download a free copy of it. Details are at the end of this post. It should save you 8 hours of time making one.

Now that you are working as an aspiring professional, you may not use cheat sheets all that often.

But that doesn't mean you should discount their power for this exam.

PEO PPE Scope & Syllabus

PEO PPE Scope bullseyeThe first thing you want to do is look at the current PEO Scope and Syllabus found here. This will help you focus your studying as you must know where each topic is found in the different study materials.

It covers over 30 topics between Ethics (Part A) and Law (Part B). In my cheat sheet, I'll show you exactly where to find the content for each of those topics.

To pass this exam, you need to master the following four things:

  1. Understanding key concepts
  2. Learning key definitions
  3. Answering short answer questions effectively
  4. Providing quality responses to long answer questions

Let's take a look at each topic individually.

Understanding Key PPE Concepts

professional practice exam conceptsThink of key concepts as the exam themes. It is a list that PEO has provided in its syllabus (linked to above). Things like Canadian legal system structure, conflict of interest and use of the engineer's seal.

The best way to master these 30-40 items is to find the references to them (e.g. textbook or other literature) and then read those sections carefully. Our cheat sheet tells you exactly where these page references are.

In addition to reading, you'll want to understand the concepts at a deeper level; discussing the key concepts with someone else studying for the exam or practice sample PPE questions are both valid approaches.

Learn the Key PPE Definitions

PPE definitionsSo if PEO outlined the key concepts so nicely for us, why can't they just tell us all the definitions to study too?

Well, it's not that easy. But there are a few tricks you can apply.

Trick #1 - The definitions are likely to come from within the key concepts above. So if we look at something like 'Canadian legal system structure', we could go to the reading sections (listed in my cheat sheet as 4th ed. Law text page 3-7). Once there, you would find some definitions/terms that you need to learn including civil law, common law, the Charter, Canadian Court System, labour law, competition act, and the constitution.

Trick #2 - Buy a whole bunch of old exams when you register for your PEO PPE and then make a list of definitions/terms that have appeared on previous exams (Note: I have already done this in the PPE Total Prep Online Course).

If you have sufficient time before the exam, I would recommend using both approaches. If you are time constrained, Trick #2 should do just fine.

Short Answer PPE Questions (Law & Ethics)

short answer PPE questionsThe short answer questions for both parts are worth a total of 50 marks (25 x 2) or 25% of the exam's total, so it is well worth your time to learn how to answer them properly.

Essentially, you want to apply what you have learned from the Key Concepts and Key Definitions to answer the questions here.

For the Ethics questions, you can expect about 4-6 short questions.   The Law short answer questions allow you to pick 5 of 8 terms to define or explain. Ensure you pick the ones that you know the most about and are the easiest for you to write about.

Write clearly and legibly and avoid 'yes' or 'no' answers.

Long Answer PPE Questions (Law & Ethics)

long answer professional practice exam questionsThe long answer questions are worth 75% of your exam, so you really need to know how to answer them.

There will be 3 questions to answer. Based on previous exams, you should expect any of these 4 frequently appearing topics:


  1. Ethical Obligations
  2. Conflict of Interest
  3. Moonlighting
  4. Non-qualified workers



  1. Tort Law
  2. Equitable Estoppel
  3. Tendering Contact A
  4. Breach of Contract


For the Ethics questions, you'll want to use sections 72 (professional misconduct) and 77 (Code of Ethics) to support your arguments.  These sections can be found in Regulation 941 and will be provided in your exam. You still need to know them well enough to apply them, so be sure to practice sample questions to get the hang of it.

The law questions are more straightforward in that you simply use your learned concepts and definitions to answer the questions. You also need to cite case precedents to support your arguments.

Beyond a PEO PPE Cheat Sheet

studying beyond a cheat sheetWe know that a cheat sheet is a handy resource that can clarify what is on the exam and what to expect. Take 5 seconds to download my PEO PPE cheat sheet.

However, cheat sheets are not where your studying should end.

You'll need to practice with sample questions and compare your answers with a trustworthy source. For up to 4 full sample exams with reliable solutions and a step-by-step study approach, consider our PPE "Total Prep" Online Course for PEO writers.

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1 Comment

  1. Gavin Simone on September 27, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Cheat sheets have been on of my favourite ways to study. What method of learning the professional practice exam content do you use as a study aid?

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