How To Pass The Fe Exam

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How To Pass The Fe Exam

How To Pass The Fe Exam (The Second Time)

Have you ever heard someone say: I’m a good test taker? What does that mean? If you know the information, you should be able to pass a test, right? Not necessarily.

You may be very knowledgeable in your field, can explain hard concepts to others, and do actual hands-on work, but being a good test taker is a completely different skill than actually knowing the subject matter.

College courses require you to take a lot of tests, but none of them quite prepare you for how to effectively study for and take these tests. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to passing the FE exam.

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How Difficult Is The Fe Exam

  • The first time pass rate across all disciplines is 71% and 35% for repeat exam takers. Its not the most difficult, but you have to account for the disciplines, which varies.
  • Environmental & Mechanical had the highest first-time pass rate Industrial & Systems had the lowest.
  • Exam takers with engineering degrees have a 9% higher passing rate than exam takers who dont have a degree, or arent working towards one.
  • If you plan to take the FE exam soon, make sure you do everything you can to pass on the first try. Free and paid resources are available for you to prepare for the PE exam.
  • The majority of engineers who hold a bachelors degree dont take the FE Exam.

The purpose of these findings is to highlight different variables associated with FE Exam pass rates, so you can give yourself the highest probability of attaining a passing rate when you take the exam.

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How Can You Prepare For The Fe Exam

Here’s a recap on some of the aspects of the FE exam that make it difficult and how you can be prepared for it.

Breadth of content

You are required to know the fundamentals from all your undergraduate engineering courses or at least enough to pass.

You don’t have to remember everything. Drilling on the same types of problems you’ll see on the exam will train your muscle memory. Focus on your strengths and weaknesses and strategize your FE review time.

Exam duration

Over 5 hours long. 110 engineering problems. The FE exam is arduous.

Tip: Do extended study sessions before your exam and get used to problem solving over a few hours. Try taking the NCEES Practice Exam in one sitting.

Problem timing

Just under 3 minutes per problem.

Tip: Time management is key. Practice timed exams, know your FE Reference Handbook in and out, and be familiar with calculator tricks.

Section timing

You can move from the first half of the exam to the second half when you’re ready. But rushing the first half or spending too much time on it can be detrimental to your overall exam timing.

35% of examinees run out of time.

Pass rates

The FE exam is difficult by nature, and the pass rates show it.

Tip: The best takeaway from the NCEES reports are that examinees who take their exam near the end of their engineering degree or within 12 months after have a much higher success rate!

How Do I Effectively Use The Fe Exam Practice Test

You dont have to Ace every Subject to Pass the FE Exam

A solid FE Exam practice test will be a vital part of any complete course to achieve your best exam result and passing score.

There are many ways that you can approach this one.

In my experience, the best way to get the most out of your practice test is to use them at strategic points during your FE exam prep.

When I was studying for the engineering FE Exam, I utilized a practice exam at two strategic points.

The first practice exam came right at the onset of my studies, before I even flipped to the first page in my FE review manual.

Using only the NCEES FE reference handbook and NCEES approved calculator, I went at the whole practice exam in one shot.

I bombed it.

I was far from prepared, but looking back, I now understand how necessary this was because it helped me establish a baseline for what I needed to focus on when I got in to my course material.

How else would I have known that I needed a heavy dose of Engineering Economics and Statics?

After making it through all my study materials and a week before sitting for the exam, I took the same exact NCEES practice exam as I had at the onset.

My exam results on this go were much better, but were still a bit sketchy and I struggled mightily on things such as time management and problem comprehension.

This should be expected though, as most all engineering courses or any amount of practice problems can dial you in on test taking skills.

And thats what we are all after.

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What Is The Fe Exam Reference Handbook

The FE Exam Reference Handbook is a critical resource necessary in passing the FE. This reference handbook is a 300 page PDF of equations used on the exam. This PDF is for ALL engineering disciplines, so there will be Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, Industrial, Environmental, and Chemical Engineering, etc all in the same book. You will only use about 50-100 pages of this PDF. Thankfully the exam allows you to and search text in the PDF Reference Handbook.

Spend some time getting familiar with the Handbook, and what sections you will be using. For the Mechanical Engineering exam, I referenced the Mechanical Engineering section and the Engineering Economic Section the most. I could ignore all the Chemical Engineering and Civil Engineering sections, because they didnt relate to my exam.

Learn what section your engineering discipline covers and get a mental range of page numbers you will be working in.

Use Practice Questions With Your Material Review

Nothing feels worse than spending time and effort studying a topic in great detail, only to find out that the FE Exam doesnt really ask for those details, or you need to think about the topic in a different way. This when doing updated and relevant FE practice questions becomes so important.

This exam is not based on just pure memorization or even just applying engineering formulas. Over years, the NCEES is making sure they are testing:

  • fundamental concepts behind certain equations
  • fundamental concepts behind the laws of physics
  • practical engineering applications
  • application of equations or formulas with proper unit conversions

From this list, let us just say this exam will test your ability to apply your knowledge of engineering concepts with corresponding formulas that can be applied to different engineering design/analysis scenarios while forcing you to think critically about the given information. Practice problems are the best way to hone these skills.

Take your time, build your own problem-solving ability by working and struggling through practice problems.

You will need to do hundreds if not thousands of FE practice problems to develop your problem solving muscle memory. Get your hands on as much Relevant FE Exam practice questions as you can, and use them not for assessment purposes, but to help you see what details youre missing, and to practice test-taking strategies outside of practice tests.

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Who Administers The Fe Exam

The exam is discipline-specific and split into two sessions, each with approximately 55 questions . Keep in mind during any simulated tests throughout your FE exam review that the scheduled six hours of exam time includes a nondisclosure agreement, tutorial , the exam , a scheduled break , and a brief survey. The exam computer screens are 24 inches wide so there is enough room to display the exam questions and the NCEES Handbook side-by-side.

Arrive 40 Minutes Early

Your Start to Passing the FE Exam

Being late happens to the best of us, but it is NOT AN OPTION on FE test day. The best way to avoid being late is to be annoyingly early. Plan to sit in your car and eat breakfast while you get some last minute studying in. Even pack a breakfast to go the night before, so you dont have to worry about it in the early morning.

Finally, if you missed the last 2 posts in our FE exam series, we’ve included them below. We’re committed to you getting ALL the resources you need to pass this thing with flying colors!

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Take Advantage Of Your Calculators Advanced Features

Go ahead and buy an approved calculator for the exam. Get comfortable with it before the exam. We recommend the TI-36X Pro as it’s affordable, full of features, and many of us are used to TI calculators from our high school days. We also wrote an article where we show you how to use some of the more advanced calculator features such as integration, derivatives, and the equation solver. You can save yourself a lot of time during the exam by taking advantage of these calculator features.

How To Pass The Fundamentals Of Engineering Examby: Ike C Griffith Pecivil Engineeringchristian Brothers University

Civil Engineer at Memphis Light, Gas and Water


  • The practice exam will give you a good feel for what type of questions will be on the exam and will give you an idea on how to strategize and attack the exam.
  • The questions on the exam will require critical thinking but nothing dramatically difficult. There will be some straight forward questions but most will be challenging and will require you to think.
  • When taking the practice exam, refer to the reference manual for every single question. Even if you are confident about your process, REFER TO THE REFERENCE MANUAL unless you are 100% sure or pressed for time. Look for keywords in the questions and/or answers that could possibly be in the reference manual. If you cannot find your answer or formula needed in the reference manual for a question, answer the question to the best of your ability.
  • Throughout taking the practice exam, pay attention to the subjects you are strongest in, the subjects you struggled in , and the subjects in which you are weakest.
  • DO NOT CLICK END REVIEW ONCE YOU HAVE FINISHED THE PRACTICE EXAM. Even though you have finished the practice exam and reviewed the answers, you are still allowed to review the exam anytime you want within 60 days of your initial purchase.






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What Is Taking The Fe Exam Like What Is The Experience Like

You are given 5 hours and 20 minutes to solve 110 problems total. The 110 problems are split in half into two sections. After you complete the first section of the exam, which is 50-60 problems, you move on to the second section and are given an optional 25-minute break in between. The 25-minute break does not count against your allotted 5 hours and 20 minutes to take the exam. Similarly, not taking the break wont give you additional time to spend answering problems in the second half of the exam.

The FE exam takes place on a computer where you have access to the screen with the problems and a searchable pdf-like version of the FE Reference Handbook. The FE Reference Handbook is over 500 pages long and has all the equations you might need to solve the problems you could encounter. The FE Reference Handbook only has the formulas you might need for the exam, the Handbook does not include example problems. Do note that many conceptual-theoretical problems do not use equations, and therefore the FE Reference Handbook is of no help during the exam. We estimate roughly 15% of the problems you will face are conceptual-theoretical problems that do not require number calculations.

You are not allowed to take anything into the computer-lab exam room other than your FE-approved calculator. The person proctoring the exam will provide you with a spiral notebook and thin markers that you can use to perform hand calculations.

Finding #: Try To Pass On The First Try


As we can see above, there is a 36% drop in pass rates on the second attempt from 71% for first-time exam takers to only 35% for repeat exam takers. So basically, if you fail the first time, your probability of failure on the second attempt increases exponentially. However, a first-time pass rate of 71% indicates passing to be very doable if you put in the time to prepare.

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Top 8 Tips To Pass The Fe Civil Exam

Review the FE Reference Handbook:

NCEES tells you everything that is going to be on the exam in this handbook. The reference handbook can be downloaded for free from the official website. It lists 18 separate areas of topics and the number of questions you can expect per topic in the exam. You do not need to memorize the questions in this handbook, instead consider it as a general guide. Knowing the format of the handbook will help you save time in searching through it on the day of the exam.

Ensure to Get a Copy of the NCEES FE Exam Formula Book:

Now that you have access to the handbook, you would see that it includes a lot of math problems. So its better that you get a copy of the NCEES Formula book. You can find this on the official website and download it for free. This book consists of virtually every formula that will prove helpful to you. Once you get a copy of this book, you must make yourself familiar with the layout of the formulas and how it is used. Doing this exercise helps you save time in the exam as you would very well know what pages the formula that you need are on and do not need to waste time flipping through.

Brush up on General Math Skills:

Purchase Practice Tests:

Find the Right Books and Online Resources:

  • The Texas A& M University YouTube channel with over 45 videos
  • EITE YouTube channel with more than 85 videos and calculator tutorials
  • Daily FE Exam YouTube channel with 34 videos

Pairing With a Study Buddy:

Try the ABC Approach:

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Use Ncees For Practice Problems

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, or NCEES, offers many practice exams to help aspiring engineers prepare for their board exam. And while these sample questions cant exactly replicate what youll experience on test dayat least not yetthey are still a very valuable study tool and have been known to even nudge students into a passing score.

On top of offering sample questions, NCEES also has a comprehensive study guide that covers all 12 sections youll see on your exam. If you really want to ace your test, invest in these resources and use them as a complement to your other study tools like practice exams. When it comes time for test day, youll be ready!

What’s A Passing Score On The Fe

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NCEES does not officially state how many questions must be right to pass. Instead, NCEES claims that a passing score is based on psychometric statistical methods without revealing what the actual passing score is. What we can say empirically is that a third of people come out of the test room thinking they did well on the FE. Usually, those people tend to pass. About a third of test takers come out thinking they are on the fence of passing e.g. they got many questions right but they also guessed quite a bit. In this second group, the majority seem to still pass but a few do fail. And the last third is those who do not think they passed because they ran out of time and/or guessed on the majority of the questions, and those tend to fail the exam.

It’s often unofficially claimed you can pass if you score above approximately 50% on the exam, but we have not verified this.

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When Is The Best Time To Take The Fe Exam

The best time to take the FE Exam is during your senior year right after New Years. Your senior year will quickly be filled with more challenging classes, group design projects, and the new task of applying for full time jobs.

After your fall semester final exams begin preparing for the FE Exam.

Use the holiday break after final exams to your advantage. Use this 2 to 3 week down time as your study and test prep window of opportunity. The holidays are a busy time, but setting aside time each day over the winter break will allow you to fully prepare for the FE exam. Purchase and schedule to take your FE Exam the first week or two in January, before your final spring semester ramps up. If not, with senior design, graduation, and looking for full time jobs, you will not have time to take the FE Exam until after you graduate.

Now, because you are taking the test before graduation, you will not have covered all the material on the FE Exam. For me, I had not taken control theory yet. However, the FE Exam is structured so that if you haven’t covered a particular subject, you can still pass the exam by scoring higher in other categories. No engineer is strong in every subject. The FE Exam is diverse, and covers a broad range of engineering subjects.

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