For better or worse, with the new computer-based exam format, the NCEES Reference Handbook will be your only reference during the exam. So becoming as familiar as possible with what is in it and how to find what you need should be top priority.
You don’t need to know where everything is, but you should be very familiar with how it’s organized, which chapters are relevant to your exam, what general topics are covered, and where important charts are located. The Reference Handbook is not organized the way the courses you took in school were organized. So even though you’ll be using the search feature to find what you need most of the time, understanding how it’s organized could come in handy.
Take some time to browse through the chapters associated with your exam and see what’s there. You might even want to consider printing out the those chapters so that you can review them in printed form, make notes and highlight important equations.
Yes, there are a lot of pages, and most of the pages you will linger on for only a few seconds. However, as you go through this exercise, you will discover all that is provided in this very large and extensive reference.
You might have a pad handy to write down pages you want to come back to and spend more time with or print out to review more closely.
Learn to use the table of contents of the Reference Handbook as you would an Index, which the Reference Handbook does not have.
And definitely go through all the sections of Basic Engineering Practice, maybe spending a bit more time there as these pages are probably the most valuable. A key word in a question could take you to the right page and there is the answer. You want to make this resource a familiar friend. – Dr. Tom