Frequently Asked Questions about the FE Exam

Taking the NCEES FE exam is the first step toward becoming a licensed engineer. After you pass the FE exam, you are considered an “Engineer-in-Training." Choose your exam FAQ below to find essential information about your exam. If you have additional questions about the FE exam or would like to work with our Customer Support team, just contact us.

General FE FAQs

The current FE exam pass rates as of July 2020 are:

  • FE Chemical: 74%
  • FE Civil: 73%
  • FE Electrical and Computer: 73%
  • FE Environmental: 79%
  • FE Industrial: 70%
  • FE Mechanical: 79%
  • FE Other Disciplines: 75%

You can divide your time between the two sessions any way you’d like. For example, if you want to spend 4 hours in the first section, and 1 hour and 20 minutes in the second section, you could do so. Between sessions, you can take a 25-minute break. You can take less time if you would like, but you cannot work through the break, and the break time cannot be added to the time permitted for either session.

Once each session begins, you can leave your seat for personal reasons, but the “clock” does not stop for your absence. Unanswered questions are scored the same as questions answered incorrectly, so you should use the last few minutes of each session to guess at all unanswered questions.

The NCEES FE Exam is a 6-hour-long, computer-based exam given over two consecutive sessions separated by a break. There are 110 questions total, split evenly between the two sessions. Questions will be multiple choice or AITs (Alternative Item Types). Questions with the same exam-specified knowledge area may not be grouped together, but no knowledge area will span both sessions.  

You will have to register to take the exam beforehand on the NCEES website at NCEES.org. NCEES partners with Pearson VUE to administer their exams at their test centers. You may have to travel a long distance away from where you live to arrive at the closest one to you. In that case, it is recommended you get a hotel nearby. It is also highly recommended that you visit the testing center before exam day to ensure that day goes smoothly.

The exam includes a 2-minute nondisclosure agreement, an 8-minute tutorial, a 25-minute break between the two sessions, and a brief survey at the conclusion of the exam. You will have 5 hours and 20 minutes to actually answer the questions, working out to approximately 3 minutes per question. You may work through the problems in any sequence, and may return to questions within the same session. Once the session is submitted, you will not be able to return to those questions.

PPI’s FE Learning Hub is designed to mimic the exam-day experience and prepare you for the computer-based test format, so we recommend utilizing that resource before your exam day.

For more information about what to expect, see this article from our Resource Center.

A $175 exam fee is payable directly to NCEES. Some licensing boards may require you to file a separate application and pay an application fee as part of the approval process to qualify you for a seat for an NCEES exam. Your licensing board may have additional requirements. Special accommodations are available for examinees who meet certain eligibility criteria and sufficiently document their requests.
It really depends on the individual. The recommended advice is 12 to 14 weeks of serious study for a minimum of 3 hours a day.
If you need to cancel or reschedule your FE exam appointment, you can do this through your MyNCEES account. Depending on the date that you cancel or reschedule the exam, you may be entitled to a refund.
You will receive an email notification that your exam results are ready for viewing through your MyNCEES account 7 to 10 days after the exam. That email will also include instructions that you can use to proceed with your state licensing board. If you fail, you will be shown your percentage performance in each knowledge area. The diagnostic report may help you figure out what to study before taking the exam again. If you don’t pass the exam, you may take it again. NCEES’s policy is that examinees may take the exam once per testing window, up to three times per 12-month period. However, you should check with your state board to see whether it imposes any restrictions on the number and frequency of retakes.
While preparing for the FE Civil Exam or any other discipline, you will need to learn the SI system if you are not already familiar with it. Contrary to engineering practice in the United States, the FE exam primarily uses SI units. Customary US units are used for code-based structural topics, but for little else. The NCEES Handbook generally presents only dimensionally consistent equations. (For example, F ¼ ma is consistent with units of newtons, kilograms, meters, and seconds. However, it is not consistent for units of pounds-force, pounds-mass, feet, and seconds.) Although pound-based data is provided parallel to the SI data in most tables, many equations cannot use the pound-based data without including the gravitational constant.
To prevent unauthorized transcription and distribution of the exam questions, calculators with communicating and text editing capabilities have been banned by NCEES. You may love the reverse Polish notation of your HP 48GX, but you’ll have to get used to one of the calculators NCEES has approved. If you start using one of these approved calculators at the beginning of your review, you should be familiar enough with it by the time of the exam. NCEES approved calculators are listed at ppi2pass.com/calculators.

For some questions, you might have to look up a value, but in those cases, you must use the value in the NCEES Handbook. For example, you might know that the modulus of elasticity of steel is approximately 29 106 psi for soft steel and approximately 30 106 psi for hard steel. If you needed the modulus of elasticity for an elongation calculation, you would find the official NCEES Handbook value is “29 Mpsi.” Unless the question is specifically determining whether you can read a table or figure, all relevant values needed to solve the question are often included in the question statement. NCEES does not want the consequences of using correct methods with ambiguous data.
The NCEES Handbook was never intended to be something you study or learn from, so it is most definitely inadequate for that purpose. Background, preliminary and supporting material, explanations, extensions to the theory, and application rules are all missing from the NCEES Handbook. Many subtopics (e.g., contract law) listed in the exam specifications are not represented in the NCEES Handbook.
For all practical purposes, the NCEES Handbook will have everything that you need to reference during the exam. For example, if the NCEES Handbook covers only rectangular concrete columns, you won’t be asked to design a round concrete column. If the NCEES Handbook covers only the Rankine earth pressure theory, you won’t be expected to know the Coulomb earth pressure theory. If you take your preparation seriously, the NCEES Handbook is pretty much a guarantee that you won’t waste any time learning subjects that are not on the FE exam.
The NCEES FE exam is a “limited-reference exam.” So keep in mind during exam preparation that nothing except what is supplied by NCEES may be used during the exam. NCEES provides its own searchable, electronic version of the NCEES Handbook for use during 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.
The FE exam includes 110 questions. The exam appointment time is 6 hours and includes:
  • Nondisclosure agreement (2 minutes)
  • Tutorial (8 minutes)
  • Exam (5 hours and 20 minutes)
  • Scheduled break (25 minutes)
FE exam scores are based on the total number of questions answered correctly, with no deductions made for questions answered incorrectly. Raw scores may be adjusted slightly, and the adjusted scores are then scaled. In the past, NCEES has rarely announced a minimum required passing score for the FE exam, ostensibly because the average score changed slightly with each administration of the exam. However, inside information reports that the raw percentage of questions that must be answered correctly was low—hovering around 50%
The FE exam is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). This national nonprofit organization requires all potential examinees to read the NCEES Examinee Guide before registering for the exam. As of January 2016, FE exams are administered year-round.

The NCEES FE exam (Fundamentals of Engineering exam) is the first exam you will need to pass in order to become a professional licensed engineer (PE). You can take the FE exam as early as your last year in an undergraduate engineering degree program. Many exam candidates take the FE exam right after graduation.

FE Civil FAQs

The passing score varies, but we recommend aiming for at least 70% on exam day.

Based on PPI’s experience as exam prep providers, we have found that students typically need to score about 50-60% correct on exam day in order to pass. However, we highly encourage students to aim for at least 70% correct to maintain a comfortable passing buffer. 

All of PPI’s online products encourage you to aim for a 70% pass rate to keep you on track during your studies and best prepare you for exam day. We offer quizzes in which you can compare how you are doing against the 70% rate.

The FE CBT exam is closed-book aside from the NCEES FE Reference Handbook which is provided to you on-screen during the exam. You cannot bring any outside resources into the exam. Because of this, it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with the NCEES handbook before exam day. 

PPI’s Learning Hub allows you to upload your own copy of the NCEES Handbook PDF when you take quizzes and practice exams on the left of the screen to mimic what it will look like on exam day.

The exam is made up of multiple choice questions, as well as AIT’s, or alternative item types. AIT’s can include but are not limited to: multiple correct, point and click, drag and drop, and fill in the blank.

The FE Civil exam covers the following topics:

Mathematics and Statistics
Ethics and Professional Practice
Engineering Economics
Statics
Dynamics
Mechanics of Materials
Materials
Fluid Mechanics
Surveying
Water Resources and Environmental Engineering
Structural Engineering
Geotechnical Engineering
Transportation Engineering
Construction Engineering

Each topic has a range for the number of questions it will have on the exam. Therefore, it is highly recommended to tailor your studies to the weight of each topic. PPI’s study plans in the PPI Learning Hub do this for you automatically. We schedule out your studies to spend more time on topics that are more heavily covered on the exam.

When you click on a topic in the study plan that you wish to review within the PPI Learning Hub, you are brought to that chapter in the review manual and practice problems web book so that you can tailor your review easily to the topics you need more information or practice on. Additionally, in the quiz generator you can filter on which topics you want to receive questions about.

For more information on specifications for the exams that went into effect July 1, 2020, please view this PDF on the NCEES website.
The NCEES FE Exam is a 6-hour-long, computer-based exam given over two consecutive sessions separated by a break. There are 110 questions total, split evenly between the two sessions. Questions will be multiple choice or AITs (Alternative Item Types). Questions with the same exam-specified knowledge area may not be grouped together, but no knowledge area will span both sessions.  

You will have to register to take the exam beforehand on the NCEES website at NCEES.org. NCEES partners with Pearson VUE to administer their exams at their test centers. You may have to travel a long distance away from where you live to arrive at the closest one to you. In that case, it is recommended you get a hotel nearby. It is also highly recommended that you visit the testing center before exam day to ensure that day goes smoothly.

The exam includes a 2-minute nondisclosure agreement, an 8-minute tutorial, a 25-minute break between the two sessions, and a brief survey at the conclusion of the exam. You will have 5 hours and 20 minutes to actually answer the questions, working out to approximately 3 minutes per question. You may work through the problems in any sequence, and may return to questions within the same session. Once the session is submitted, you will not be able to return to those questions.

PPI’s FE Learning Hub is designed to mimic the exam-day experience and prepare you for the computer-based test format, so we recommend utilizing that resource before your exam day.

For more information about what to expect, see this article from our Resource Center.

FE Mechanical FAQs

The FE Mechanical exam covers the following topics:

  • Mathematics
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Ethics and Professional Practice
  • Engineering Economics
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Statics
  • Dynamics, Kinematics, and Vibrations
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Material Properties and Processing
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Heat Transfer
  • Measurements, Instrumentation, and Controls
  • Mechanical Design and Analysis
For more information on specifications for the exams effective July 1, 2020, please view this PDF.

The passing score varies, but we recommend aiming for at least 70% on exam day.
The FE exams are 6 hours long. They include a nondisclosure agreement, a tutorial of 8 minutes, the exam for 5 hours and 20 minutes, a scheduled break of 25 minutes, and a brief survey. 
Unfortunately, no. This exam is computer-based and considered a “limited reference exam,” which means that during the exam, the only reference material you can use is the NCEES FE Reference Handbook which is provided on screen. You can't bring any reference books to the exam. The FE Mechanical Review and FE Mechanical Practice books will prepare you for exam day by familiarizing you with the handbook.

FE Chemical FAQs

The passing score varies, but we recommend aiming for at least 70% on exam day.
The FE exams are 6 hours long. They include a nondisclosure agreement, a tutorial of 8 minutes, the exam for 5 hours and 20 minutes, a scheduled break of 25 minutes, and a brief survey.
Unfortunately, no. This exam is computer-based and considered a “limited reference exam,” which means that during the exam, the only reference material you can use is the NCEES FE Reference Handbook which is provided on screen. You can't bring any reference books to the exam. The FE Chemical Review and FE Chemical Practice books will prepare you for exam day by familiarizing you with the handbook.

The FE Chemical exam covers the following topics:

  • Mathematics
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Engineering Sciences
  • Materials Science
  • Chemistry and Biology
  • Fluid Mechanics/Dynamics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Material/Energy Balances
  • Heat Transfer
  • Mass Transfer and Separation
  • Solids Handling
  • Chemical Reaction Engineering
  • Economics
  • Process Design
  • Process Control
  • Safety, Health, and Environment
  • Ethics and Professional Practice
For more information on specifications for the exams effective July 1, 2020, please view this PDF.

FE Electrical & Computer FAQs

The passing score varies, but we recommend aiming for at least 70% on exam day.
The FE exams are 6 hours long. They include a nondisclosure agreement, a tutorial of 8 minutes, the exam for 5 hours and 20 minutes, a scheduled break of 25 minutes, and a brief survey. 
Unfortunately, no. This exam is computer-based and considered a “limited reference exam,” which means that during the exam, the only reference material you can use is the NCEES FE Reference Handbook which is provided on screen. You can't bring any reference books to the exam. The FE Electrical and Computer Review and FE Electrical and Computer Practice Problems books will prepare you for exam day by familiarizing you with the handbook.

The FE Electrical & Computer exam covers the following topics:

  • Mathematics
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Ethics and Professional Practice
  • Engineering Economics
  • Properties of Electrical Materials
  • Circuit Analysis
  • Linear Systems
  • Signal Processing
  • Electronics
  • Power Systems
  • Electromagnetics
  • Control Systems
  • Communications
  • Computer Networks
  • Digital Systems
  • Computer Systems
  • Software Engineering

For more information on specifications for the exams effective July 1, 2020, please view this PDF.

FE Industrial FAQs

The passing score varies, but we recommend aiming for at least 70% on exam day.
The FE exams are 6 hours long. They include a nondisclosure agreement, a tutorial of 8 minutes, the exam for 5 hours and 20 minutes, a scheduled break of 25 minutes, and a brief survey.   
Unfortunately, no. This exam is computer-based and considered a “limited reference exam,” which means that during the exam, the only reference material you can use is the NCEES FE Reference Handbook which is provided on screen. You can't bring any reference books to the exam. The FE Industrial Engineering Review and practice books will prepare you for exam day by familiarizing you with the handbook.
The FE Industrial exam covers the following topics:

 

  • Mathematics
  • Engineering Sciences
  • Ethics and Professional Practice
  • Engineering Economics
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Modeling and Quantitative Analysis
  • Engineering Management
  • Manufacturing, Service, and Other Production Systems
  • Facilities and Supply Chain
  • Human Factors, Ergonomics, and Safety
  • Work Design
  • Quality
  • Systems Engineering, Analysis, and Design
For more information on specifications for the exams effective July 1, 2020, please view this PDF.

FE Environmental FAQs

The passing score varies, but we recommend aiming for at least 70% on exam day.
The FE exams are 6 hours long. They include a nondisclosure agreement, a tutorial of 8 minutes, the exam for 5 hours and 20 minutes, a scheduled break of 25 minutes, and a brief survey. 
Unfortunately, no. This exam is computer-based and considered a “limited reference exam,” which means that during the exam, the only reference material you can use is the NCEES FE Reference Handbook which is provided on screen. You can't bring any reference books to the exam. The FE Review Manual and FE Environmental Practice books will prepare you for exam day by familiarizing you with the handbook.
The FE Environmental exam covers the following topics:

  • Mathematics
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Ethics and Professional Practice
  • Engineering Economics
  • Fundamental Principles
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health Hazards and Risk Assessment
  • Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Surface Water Resources and Hydrology
  • Groundwater, Soils, and Sediments
  • Water and Wastewater
  • Air Quality and Control
  • Solid and Hazardous Waste
  • Energy and Environment

For more information on specifications for the exams effective July 1, 2020, please view this PDF.

FE Other Disciplines FAQs

The FE Other Disciplines exam covers the following topics:

  • Mathematics
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Chemistry
  • Instrumentation and Controls
  • Engineering Ethics and Societal Impacts
  • Safety, Health, and Environment
  • Engineering Economics
  • Statics
  • Dynamics
  • Strength of Materials
  • Materials
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Basic Electrical Engineering
  • Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer
For more information on specifications for the exams effective July 1, 2020, please view this PDF
The passing score varies, but we recommend aiming for at least 70% on exam day.
The FE exams are 6 hours long. They include a nondisclosure agreement, a tutorial of 8 minutes, the exam for 5 hours and 20 minutes, a scheduled break of 25 minutes, and a brief survey.
Unfortunately, no. This exam is computer-based and considered a “limited reference exam,” which means that during the exam, the only reference material you can use is the NCEES FE Reference Handbook which is provided on screen. You can't bring any reference books to the exam. The FE Other Disciplines Review Manual and FE Other Disciplines Practice Problems books will prepare you for exam day by familiarizing you with the handbook.

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