What You Need to Know about the PE Electrical CBT Exam

In 2021, the PE Electrical and Computer exam will transition from a paper-and-pencil format to computer-based testing. Your last chance to take the paper-and-pencil PE Electrical and Computer exam will be in October 2020. If you’re planning on taking the exam in 2021, there are a few things you should be aware of. Take a look at this list to learn more about the changes being made.

5 Changes to the PE Electrical and Computer Exam in 2021

1. Your exam date depends on which discipline you are taking.

In 2021, the PE Electrical and Computer exam dates will change depending on which exam discipline you are taking. If you’re taking the PE Electrical and Computer: Power exam, you’ll be able to schedule your exam year-round beginning January 2, 2021. Registration for the computer-based exam will open on November 2, 2020. If you’re taking the Computer Engineering or the Electronics, Controls, and Communications discipline of the PE Electrical exam, your exam date will fall on a single day beginning in October 2021 (date TBD). Once you are authorized to take the exam, you will need to simply log in to MyNCEES to schedule it.

2. Your exam will be given at a Pearson Vue test center.

While registering for your exam on MyNCEES, you’ll be able to choose the location of a Pearson Vue testing center where you will take it. The Pearson Vue testing centers have specific test center rules and regulations that you’ll need to follow, including guidance for what you can bring to the test center and what’s needed to check in. You will no longer be able to take your own reference materials into the exam with you. Instead, you will be given access to a searchable PDF of the NCEES Reference Handbook on the screen next to the exam.

3. A linear-on-the-fly (LOFT) algorithm will create the Power exam.

For the Power discipline of the PE Electrical and Computer exam, what’s called a “linear-on-the-fly” or “LOFT” algorithm will be used to create your exam. This means that all examinees will complete the same number of questions on the same major topics, but no two exams will be the same. A unique exam will be administered to each candidate. The LOFT algorithm is designed to give an equal number of questions at the same level of difficulty on the same subjects. If you are taking the Computer Engineering or Electronics, Controls, and Communications disciplines, your exam will remain in the same format as the pencil-and-paper exam, which is a fixed format where all examinees see the same questions.

4. Question formats will consist of multiple-choice and alternative item types.

Traditional multiple-choice formats and alternative item type (AIT) formats will be used across all exams, regardless of which discipline you take. All questions will be scored as either correct or incorrect. AIT question types will consist of “multiple correct,” “point and click,” “drag and drop,” and “fill in the blank.” See detailed information on AIT questions here.

5. You will receive results 7–10 days after your exam.

Once your exam results are ready, you’ll receive an email from NCEES inviting you to view your results in your MyNCEES account. Your test result will either be “Pass” or “Fail.” If you fail the exam, a diagnostic report will be provided to you showing your performance on each exam topic.


Many examinees view having the opportunity to take the CBT version of the PE Electrical and Computer exam as a benefit because it offers more security and scheduling flexibility for the Power exam. If you’re planning on taking the last pencil-and-paper exam in October, being able to take your own reference materials into the exam might be of greater benefit to you. Regardless of what you choose, it always pays off to start preparing early. Ready to get a jump start on preparing? Take a look at PE Electrical and Computer exam prep materials here.


Preparing for the PE exam? Test your skills with a free PE Electrical sample quiz.