Modified: July 17, 2021

Seismic Design Review Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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The California Civil Seismic Principles (CSP) Exam

  • What exams are required to be licensed as a Civil Engineer in California?
    • In order to be licensed as a Civil engineer in the State of California, applicants must take and pass all of the following:

      1. 1. 8-hour NCEES Principles & Practice (P&P) Examination – multiple choice, 8 hrs. in length
      2. 2. California P.E. State Laws & Board Rules Exam (Take Home Exam)
      3. 3. California Special Civil Engineering Surveying (CES) Principles Exam – multiple choice, 2.5 hrs. in length
      4. 4. California Special Civil Seismic Principles (CSP) Exam – multiple choice, 2.5 hrs. in length

      Exams do not have to be passed concurrently, they may be passed separately. Applicants licensed as a professional civil engineer in another State may apply for Comity, and typically are only required to take and pass the CA Special Civil Engineer exams (i.e., CES and CSP exams), and the Take Home exam.

  • What books should I have to prepare for the CA Special Civil Seismic Principles (CSP) exam?
    • Besides the SDR Workbook, it is recommended that participants also have access to ASCE 7-16: Minimum Design Loads and Associated Criteria for Buildings and Other Structures,, and either the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) OR the 2019 California Building Code (CBC) - Volume 2.

  • Beginning with the Spring 2020 exam cycle, BPELSG lists the 2019 California Building Code (CBC) as the building code reference for the CA Special Civil Seismic Principles (CSP) exam. Can I use the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) instead of the 2019 CBC?
    • Yes, BUT you need to understand that actual questions on the Seismic Principles exam will refer to 2019 CBC sections, tables and figures. These are essentially identical to the very same sections, tables and figures found in the 2018 IBC, BUT they DO NOT share the same page numbers. The advantage to using the 2018 IBC is that it is simpler (i.e., one volume instead of two volumes) and it is less than half the cost of the 2019 CBC.

  • I already have the 2015 IBC and/or ASCE 7-10, do I need to purchase the 2018 IBC or 2019 CBC and ASCE 7-16?
    • That is strongly recommended, not only because the seismic principles exam uses the 2019 CBC/2018 IBC and ASCE 7-16 as references, but also because the (new) SDR Workbook is based on those as well.

  • I previosuly purchased the SDR Workbook based on the 2015 IBC and ASCE 7-10. Do I need to purchase the new SDR Workbook based on the 2018 IBC and ASCE 7-16?
    • You can certainly attempt to pass the exam using the previous SDR Workbook. But if you do not pass the exam, you strongly should consider purchasing the NEW SDR Workbook. Also, do not use the previous SDR Workbook with the 2018 IBC (or 2019 CBC) and ASCE 7-16 or any of the NEW Live Webinars, Live Seminars, or On-Demand Webinars since the material will not match up.

Seismic Design Review – General

  • How long has SDR been providing seismic design review products?
    • Seismic Design Review has been providing Live Seminars since 1990 — more than thirty years. The Live Webinar and On-Demand Webinar options were added prior to the April 2011 Civil P.E. examinations.

  • Are continuing education units (CEU's) or professional development hours (PDH's) available for any of the Seismic Design Review training options?
    • No, currently there are no CEU's or PDH's issued for attending or participating in the Live Seminars, Live Webinars, or On-Demand Webinars. These courses are not intended for continuing education or professional development, but rather are intended to prepare examinees for the CA Special Civil Seismic Principles (CSP) exam only. But a completion certificate may be requested, when the course is completed, which will note the dates of the course, the cost, and total hours which may be submitted and accepted by some states as satisfying CEU or PDH requirements.

  • What are the seismic topics covered in the Live Seminars, Live Webinars, and the On-Demand Webinars?
    • All courses address the topics that fall under the six primary content areas of the Seismic Principles Test Plan:

      1. I. Seismic Data and Seismic Design Criteria
      2. II. Seismic Characteristics of Engineered System
      3. III. Seismic Forces: Building Structures
      4. IV. Seismic Forces: Non-Building Structures, Components, and Equipment
      5. V. Seismic Analysis Procedures
      6. VI. Seismic Detailing and Construction Quality Control
  • What forms of payment do you accept for seminar and webinar registration and/or workbook purchases?
    • Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover Card) or PayPal are available for all on-line purchases. Mail-in course registrations and mail-in workbook orders may use personal checks, cashier/bank checks, or money orders only.

      State or Federal Agencies may contact us directly for additional payment options that may be accepted.

  • I have submitted my application to BPELSG to take the CA Civil Seismic Principles (CSP) exam. I have not received approval yet. Should I sign up for one of your courses before receiving approval?
    • We strongly recommend that you ONLY sign up for one of the courses AFTER you have received approval to sit for the exam. There are too many unknowns at stake, and you may find that you are not approved to take the exam for many exam cycles (even years) if BPELSG has any issues with your qualifying experience. Typical exceptions to this can be applicants who are applying for comity from another state where they have had their Civil PE license for several years.

  • I understand that I can apply to take the CA Civil Seismic Principles (CSP) exam and CA Civil Engineering Surveying (CES) exam in the same quarter or different quarters. What do you recommend?
    • We recommend that you DO NOT take the two exams in the same quarter. Or if you do, stagger them as far apart as possible (e.g., CES exam early in the quarter, CSP exam late in the quarter) so you are NOT studying for both exams at the same time. Too often applicants take on too much and find that they fail BOTH exams when they study and take them too close together.

  • I took your course when it was based on the 2015 IBC/2016 CBC and ASCE 7-10 and have yet to take the exam (or did not pass the exam). Now that the 2018 IBC/2019 CBC and ASCE 7-16 are the exam references, do I need to repurchase the entire course again?
    • Not necessarily. We estimate that the changes to the IBC and ASCE 7 are significant for about 10% to 15% of the material ... so there is a difference. You could always make another attempt at the exam by using the 2015 IBC, ASCE 7-10, and the SDR Workbook based on those references since much of the material does not change. If you don't pass, then for the next quarter, consider purchasing the new SDR Workbook and/or take the course (or another course) with updated materials. For those who previously participated in either the Live Seminars, Live Webinars, or On-Demand Webinars (ALL Lectures), there is a code update series of webinar videos that are specifically geared to the differences between the 2015 IBC/2016 CBC/ASCE 7-10 and the 2018 IBC/2019 CBC/ASCE 7-16. This option includes all updated handouts and access to the new online CBT sample exam.

Seismic Design Review – Live Seminars

  • Who is the instructor for the Live Seminars?
  • When and where are the Live Seminars offered?
    • The Live Seminars are typically offered twice a year in Northern California (Pleasanton) and once a year in Southern California (Irvine). Currently COVID-19 closures are impacting the offering of ALL Live Seminars.

  • What are the Live Seminar attendee passing statistics?
    • Since April 2004, the passing percentage of SDR Live Seminar attendees has been approximately twice the passing percentage of all other examinees as shown on the SDR Passing Stats page.

  • Do you guarantee that all Live Seminar attendees will pass the exam?
    • No. But we feel strongly that “IF” you attend all the lectures, complete all of the assignments, and closely follow the recommendations for preparing and taking the seismic principles exam, that your chances of passing the exam will be greatly increased (see SDR Passing Statistics).

  • I have heard that the Live Seminars can fill up quickly. Can I reserve a space by phone or email?
    • No. Spaces are filled by either receiving registration from the Credit Card/Paypal option, or by receiving a mail-in enrollment form with payment (personal check, cashier/bank check, or money order). See the Live Seminar web page.

  • My employer will provide reimbursement for this course but requires a certificate or proof of completion. Do you provide that for the Live Seminars?
    • Yes, completion certificates are provided at the end of the last lecture for Live Seminar attendees. The completion certificates note the dates, total hours, and cost of the course.

  • What is your refund policy for the Live Seminars?
    • A 100% refund will be provided with notification of a cancellation at least two weeks before the first lecture. An 80% refund will be provided with notification from two weeks to the day before the first lecture. No refunds will be given on or after the first lecture.

  • I attended your course previously and did not pass the exam. Can I attend the course for free, or at a discount?
    • There are no discounts available for repeating the Live Seminars (or signing up for the Live Webinars or On-Demand Webinars). For this reason, we strongly encourage that you do not sign up for any seminar or webinar until you have been approved by BPELSG to take the CSP (seismic) exam “AND” you are fully prepared to put in an adequate amount of time to study the material before the exam (typically estimated at a “minimum” of 50 hours in addition to the lecture time).

  • Are there group discounts available for attendees registering from the same company or agency?
    • No, there are no group discounts available.

  • I previously purchased a copy of the SDR Workbook, can I receive a discount in the enrollment fee for the Live Seminar?
    • There is no workbook discount available for enrollment in the Live Seminars. BUT if you purchased the SDR Workbook using a Credit Card/PayPal, it can be returned within 60 days of the order date (as long as the book is still in new condition and free of any markings). A Credit Card/PayPal refund will be provided, less the cost of the original shipping charge.

      Attendees that end up with multiple copies of the SDR Workbook (likely with different printing dates) should consider offering one of those copies for sale on any number of engineering exam forums. An asking price of $70 to $80 is fairly common for the resale of the SDR Workbook.

  • If I register for the Live Seminar, do I also receive FREE access to the On-Demand Webinars?
    • No, but Live Seminar attendees can purchase access to any of the On-Demand Webinars a la carte if they feel they feel that viewing the lecture again would be useful.

  • If I am unable to attend one of the scheduled Live Seminar dates, what options are available to make up that missed class?
    • If you have a conflict with one of the Live Seminar dates, access to the same On-Demand Webinar lecture can be provided if we are notified in advance, or if due to an illness or emergency.

  • What additional materials will I receive with the Live Seminar?
    • Besides the FREE SDR Workbook ($110.00 value) provided at the first lecture, attendees will also be provided handouts and other valuable test preparation/reference materials. The handouts will be provided as email attachments or downloadable files from webpage links provided through the duration of the course.

  • What is the difference between the Live Seminars, the Live Webinars, and the On-Demand Webinars?
    • The Live Seminars require that the attendees travel to a particular location (i.e., Irvine, CA or Pleasanton, CA) to participate in all of the scheduled lectures. The Live Seminars cover all of the topics on the Special Civil Seismic Principles Test Plan, but they DO NOT cover this material in the same order as in the Test Plan. The Live Seminars cover the topics essentially in the order as it is presented in the SDR Workbook in what we feel is the easiest to understand and most logical order.

      For the Live Webinars, it is not necessary for the attendee to travel since their participation will be via online access of a web seminar from their desktop/laptop computer (PC or Mac) or tablet device, but the attendee must be available for the date and time of the scheduled webinars. The On-Demand Webinars provide for the added convenience of 24/7 access to view the purchased content (i.e., no need to be available at a certain date and time as is the case for the Live Webinars).

Seismic Design Review – Webinars (Live and On-Demand)

  • Who is the presenter of the Live and On-Demand Webinars?
  • Is the SDR Workbook included with the purchase of Live or On-Demand Webinars?
    • No, it is not. Live and On-Demand participants may purchase the SDR Workbook separately from the SDR Workbook page.

  • Are printable pdf's of the slides provided to the On-Demand participants?
    • Many online seminars (webinars) provide printable pdf's of their presentation slides, sometimes 2 slides per page, or up to 6 to 10 slides per page. SDR does not provide pdf's of the slides for several reasons. First, most webinars are only 1 to 2 hours long with maybe one hundred slides while the On-Demand ALL Lectures is closer to 30 hours long and several thousand slides. Second, most of the slides come directly out of the material in the lecture notes in the workbook and many of those that do not are animated in some fashion that a pdf hard-copy would be of little use to try and explain the material on that slide. Lastly, anyone expecting to refer to thousands of slides during the CSP (seismic) exam could easily be setting themselves up to fail as the exam is extremely fast paced where there is very little time to refer to notes or references, at least on most of the problems.

      That being said, you can certainly take a screen capture of any slides you would like to have in hard-copy form (i.e., paste into a word document, etc.) and create your own binder of those slides. BUT again, you should be very selective as to what slides you do that with as you are not going to have much time in the exam to try and find them.

  • My employer will provide reimbursement for this course but requires a certificate or proof of completion. Do you provide that for the Live Webinar or On-Demand Webinar attendees?
    • Yes, at the request of the Live Webinar or On-Demand Webinar attendee, completion certificates can be provided (via email attachment) in pdf format at the end of the course. The completion certificates note the total number of lectures, total hours, and cost of the course. For On-Demand Webinar participants, please provide your On-Demand account username and password, or a screenshot of your On-Demand account page, so that we can verify that you have used up most of your purchased content.

  • If I register for the Live Webinars, do I also receive FREE access to the On-Demand Webinar Library?
    • Yes. Currently the Live Webinar participants are provided access to all On-Demand Webinar lectures and the actual Live Webinars are used to answer questions about the lecture content and homework assignments, not to present the content.

  • What if I am unable to attend one of the purchased Live Webinar sessions?
    • Please let us know in advance. You may be provided access to the recorded webinar(s) you miss, up to a maximum of two webinars missed of the total of ten webinars.

  • What are the Live Webinar and On-Demand Webinar participant passing statistics?
    • The Live and On-Demand Webinar options were first offered prior to the April 2011 examination. But it was not until approximately 2015 that SDR began to routinely survey the Live and On-Demand Webinar participants on their exam results. Most recently in 2020, based on the responses received by those who participated in the exam surveys, the passing rate for the Live Webinars is higher than the On-Demand Webinars which is higher than the Live Seminar attendees as shown in the passing statistics.

  • What is the difference between the Live Webinars and the On-Demand Webinars?
    • The current On-Demand Webinar content consists of the recorded end edited Live Webinars offered in January/February 2020. The main advantage to the Live Webinars is that they allow attendees to interact live with the presenter and ask questions about the On-Demand lectures and homework assignments during any of the ten Q&A Live Webinars. The main advantage to the On-Demand Webinars is that the participant can watch (stream) the content on their own schedule (24/7), and cover the content at their own pace rather than having to keep with the pace of the Live Webinars.

  • How long are the Live and On-Demand Webinars?
    • The On-Demand Webinars are recorded from the Winter 2020 Live Webinars, edited and bundled into lectures that correspond to the very same material presented in the Live Seminar lectures (i.e., 4 lectures consisting of 8 videos per lecture). The On-Demand Webinars - ALL Lectures provides 40 hours of streaming access to a total of 32.5 hours of video content.

  • Can I register for Live Webinar modules, or On-Demand Webinars, that cover just the content areas where I feel I need the most help?
    • Only for the On-Demand Webinars (refer to the A la carte section on the On-Demand webpage), and this approach may be preferred for examinees who receive a Diagnostic Report that is “Deficient” or “Marginal” in any of the content areas noted below:

      1. •  SP-I: Seismic Data and Seismic Design Criteria
      2. •  SP-II: Seismic Characteristics of Engineered System
      3. •  SP-III: Seismic Forces: Building Structures
      4. •  SP-IV: Seismic Forces: Non-Building Structures, Components, and Equipment
      5. •  SP-V: Seismic Analysis Procedures
      6. •  SP-VI: Seismic Detailing and Construction Quality Control
  • What are the system requirements for the Live Webinars?
    • Please refer to this GoToWebinar link for system requirements for Windows operating systems, Mac operating systems, iOS devices, and Android devices.

      Participants wishing to connect to audio using VoIP will need a fast Internet connection and speakers (a USB headset is recommended). A microphone is not a necessity.

  • What are the system requirements for the On-Demand Webinars?
    • The On-Demand Webinar content is streamed using an HTML5 player or Flash player using a PC, Mac, or tablet device.

  • How long will I have access to my purchased On-Demand Webinar content?
    • You will have 24/7 access to the number of hours of content that you have purchased for as long as you have time remaining in your On-Demand account.

  • How do I access previously purchased On-Demand Webinar content?
    • When you purchased your webinar content you were asked to create a Username and Password, with those two items you can log in to access your purchased content by clicking on the button at the bottom of the Webinars page or by clicking here.

      If you have forgotten your Username and/or Password you can request that they be e-mailed to you from the Returning Users page.

  • Are there restrictions on how many times an On-Demand Webinar video may be viewed?
    • The limit on how many times a particular video (or portion of a video) may be viewed is entirely related to how many viewing hours are remaining in your account. For the Live Webinars, and On-Demand Webinars - All Lectures, you start with 40 hours of streaming access to 32 videos which add up to a total of 32.5 hours. As you watch each video, time will count down from your account accordingly. "IF" you were to watch all the videos at normal speed, you should have 7.5 hours remaining in your On-Demand account to go back and re-watch portions of previosuly viewed videos. Most people view the videos at a faster playback speed like 1.25x, or 1.4x, or 1.5x, etc. The video player has built-in playback speed options of normal, 1.25x or 1.5x. You can install a Video Speed Controller to your browser (watch the On-Demand Demo video) to fine tune the playback to 1.2x, 1.3x, 1.4x, 1.5x, etc. If you use a playback speed to 1.4x, you should be able to watch at least three fourths of the 32 videos a second time.

      Please be aware that it is NOT viewing videos multiple times that will give you the knowledge, accuracy AND speed needed to pass the CSP (seismic) exam. It will be solving lots and lots and lots of problems. That includes the Part 2 - Example Problems, the Part 3 - Multiple Choice Problems, Appendix E & G sample exams, the online CBT sample exam, AND other practice exams that you may want to include such as by AEI, PPI, PE Prepared, etc. Most people will need to spend 2x or 3x as much time solving problems than watching videos, so you should plan your study time accordingly.

  • I can't remember my Username and/or Password to access my On-Demand content. How can I get access to my content?
    • If you have forgotten your Username and/or Password you can request that they be e-mailed to the e-mail address that you provided at the time of registration from the Returning Users page.

Seismic Design Review Workbook

  • Do you offer a discount for multiple workbook purchases?
    • No, there are no discounts for multiple workbook orders other than a savings in the shipping charge. Please contact us to determine the applicable shipping charge for multiple workbook orders.

  • Can you ship the book to an international customer?
    • Yes, but please contact us to determine the applicable shipping charge prior to placing the workbook order.

  • I purchased a prior version of the SDR workbook, is there an Errata available?
    • If you purchased the SDR Workbook previously, please visit the SDR Workbook Errata web page for posted errata. Due to the extensive revisions required on the SDR Workbook - 2015 IBC version, there will be no more errata posted applicable to any previous versions (i.e., SDR Workbook - 2012 IBC version).