Six Steps for Successful NCEES FE Exam Prep

1. Purchase the NCEES FE Reference Handbook

Get a copy of the NCEES Handbook. Use it alongside your FE Review Manual. You will want to know the sequence of the sections, what data is included, and the approximate locations of important figures and tables in the NCEES Handbook. You should also know the terminology (words and phrases) used in the NCEES Handbook to describe equations or subjects, because those are the terms you will have to look up during the exam. The NCEES Handbook is available both in printed and PDF format. The PDF version includes search functionality that is similar to what you’ll have available when taking the computer-based exam.

PPI Pro Tip


In order to find something using the NCEES Handbook PDF search function, your search term will have to match the content exactly (including punctuation).

2. Determine Which Knowledge Areas You Need More Help With

Use the diagnostic exams in your FE review manual to determine how much you should study in the various knowledge areas. 

PPI Pro Tip    

You can use diagnostic exams in two ways: before you begin studying to determine which subjects you should emphasize, or after you finish studying to determine if you are ready to move on.

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3. Make a Schedule Before You Start Reviewing

In order to complete your review of all examination subjects, you must develop and adhere to a review schedule. PPI provides a free, fully customizable, schedule when you register your review manual. If you want to pencil out a schedule on paper, a blank study schedule template is provided at the end of the introduction within your review manual. 

PPI Pro Tip    

Near the exam date, give yourself a week to take a realistic practice exam.

4. Work Through Everything

The NCEES has reduced the number of subjects you are expected to know and has made nothing optional. Keep in mind during your FE Exam review that skipping your weakest subjects is no longer a viable preparation strategy. You should study all examination knowledge areas, not just your specialty areas, and that means you study every chapter of your review book.

PPI Pro Tip    

Skip nothing. 

5. Be Thorough

Being thorough means really doing the work. During your FE Exam review, be sure to solve each numerical example using your calculator, read through the solution, and refer back to the equations, figures, and tables it references. Reading the instructional text is a “high value” activity. There isn’t much text to read in the first place, so the value per word is high.

PPI Pro Tip    

Everything your review book shows in blue is in the NCEES Handbook, so it has a high probability of showing up on the exam.

6. Complete as Many Practice Problems as Possible

You have less than an average of three minutes to answer each question on the exam. You must be able to recall solution procedures, formulas, and important data instinctively. The best way to develop fast recall is to work as many practice problems as you can find, solve every example in your review book and every problem in the companion practice book. For example, if you’re taking the FE Civil Exam, we recommend getting the FE Civil review bundle, which includes FE Civil Practice, as well as the review book, two practice exams, and more. Don’t skip any of them. All of the problems were written to illustrate key points.

PPI Pro Tip    

Develop fast recall by working through as many practice problems as you can find. 

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