Find answers to all of your questions about engineering, architecture, and design exams, as well as subscriptions, course videos, and etextbooks below. If you have any additional questions or would like to work with our Customer Support team, just contact us.


FE Exam

The NCEES FE 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.
We use a process called continuous improvement to ensure our materials are always up-to-date with the latest exam specifications and handbook references. We are constantly reviewing and our revising our materials, and when a new handbook or new specifications come out, we specifically revise content related to that update. 
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)
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.
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.

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.

Our exam practice questions are exam-like, which means they reference the appropriate NCEES Handbook, they are a similar length to the real exam, and they use multiple-choice questions like the exam. Some questions may be a little easier or a little harder than the actual exam, but they are all designed to bring you success on exam day.
The current FE exam pass rates as of January 2022 are:

  • FE Chemical: 73%
  • FE Civil: 62%
  • FE Electrical and Computer: 73%
  • FE Environmental: 70%
  • FE Industrial: 62%
  • FE Mechanical: 71%
  • FE Other Disciplines: 65%

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

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.

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 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%
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

PE Exam

It is an 8-hour exam. It contains 80 total questions: 40 multiple-choice questions in the 4-hour AM session, and 40 multiple-choice questions in the 4-hour PM session.
Our exam practice questions are exam-like, which means they reference the appropriate NCEES Handbook, they are a similar length to the real exam, and they use multiple-choice questions like the exam. Some questions may be a little easier or a little harder than the actual exam, but they are all designed to bring you success on exam day.
The PE exam can be difficult. The exam tests your competency in all aspects of engineering and should not be taken lightly. You should plan on taking several weeks to prepare and study before sitting for the exam. To see the average pass rate of first time test takers during the last exam, click here.
The PE structural exam is the only open-book exam remaining. All other PE exams are now closed-book computer-based exams, commonly referred to as CBT.

The PE exams are not considered easy to pass, but the exam will become easier if the content reflects topics that you're familiar with from your current line of work. Think about your career goals when considering the PE exam. Are you seeking a promotion in your current role? You should select the exam that best supports your current career. Are you trying to switch industries? Choose the exam that will set you up for success in your new field. Rather than seek out the easiest PE exam, select the one that will support your goals. 

The PE exam tests for a minimum level of competency in engineering. You need a minimum of four years of post-college work experience to be able to sit for the exam.
We recommend 200 to 300 hours of study time in order to prepare for the PE exam. If you have a full time job, that would be five to seven months spending 10 to 15 hours per week studying. Six months is a good starting point.

ARE Exam

ARE 5.0 is a computer-based test and has content divided into six divisions that may be taken in any order. They are: 
  • Practice Management (80 items, 2 hours and 45 minutes test duration)
  • Project Management (90 items, 3 hours and 15 minutes test duration)
  • Programming & Analysis (95 items, 3 hours and 15 minutes test duration) 
  • Project Planning & Design (120 items, 4 hours and 15 minutes test duration)
  • Project Development & Documentation (120 items, 4 hours and 15 minutes test duration) 
  • Construction & Evaluation (95 items, 3 hours and 15 minutes test duration) 
For more information, you can visit the
All six divisional exams must be completed within a 5-year period, which begins on the date of the first division passed. According to NCARB, the average time frame to complete all six exams in 2018 was 2.2 years.
  • Practice Management: 51%
  • Project Management: 62% 
  • Programming & Analysis: 53% 
  • Project Planning & Design: 46% 
  • Project Development & Documentation: 53% 
  • Construction & Evaluation: 70%
NCARB recently launched the Approved Test Prep Provider Program in an effort to help candidates prepare for the ARE 5.0 exam. Through this program, companies submit their ARE 5.0 study materials to NCARB subject matters experts to review. These products are evaluated to determine whether the materials adequately address the content areas and objectives outlined in the NCARB ARE 5.0 Handbook to help candidates adequately prepare for ARE 5.0. PPI, a Kaplan Company, is proud to have designated NCARB-approved materials for ALL six divisions! 

To learn more about the Approved Test Prep Provider Program, please visit the NCARB website.
The Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) is a multi-division exam used to assess your knowledge and skills regarding the practice of architecture. The current version of the exam, ARE 5.0, is developed by NCARB and features six divisions. Completing the ARE 5.0 exam by passing all six divisions is required by all US jurisdictions as a key step on the path to earning a license. The division exams can be taken in any order but must be taken and passed within a five-year period in order to qualify for architecture licensure.  

ARE 5.0 has a mixture of item types. There is not a set percentage of any one type of item type on an exam. Here are the item types found on the ARE 5.0:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Check-All-That-Apply
  • Hotspot
  • Drag-and-Place
  • Quantitative Fill-in-the-Blank
  • Case Study
The tests are administered at Prometric test centers and must be scheduled three days in advance. 

In addition to testing, there are other education and work experience requirements that must be fulfilled to earn a license. For more information on additional requirements, exam policies, and eligibility, please visit the NCARB website.

There are five different item types utilized during each ARE 5.0 exam division. Here are the item types:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Check-All-That-Apply
  • Hotspot
  • Drag-and-Place
  • Quantitative Fill-in-the-Blank
To better assess your skills and abilities, each exam division contains two Case Studies. A Case Study presents a scenario that represents an architecture project and includes supporting resources. Using the information provided, you'll be asked to answer questions related to the scenario.
PPI, a Kaplan Company, has decades of experience helping millions of architects prepare for and pass their ARE 5.0 exam. We suggest you start by reading through our tips for exam review success (link to resource on the site) and then explore our PPI Learning Hub.


The Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX), Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX), and the Interior Design Practicum Exam (PRAC) exams are scored by computer.  Scores are reported on a scale ranging from 200 (0 correct) to 800 (all correct), with the passing point anchored at 500. Results for each exam are processed within 6-8 weeks of the close of the window. Candidates who sat for the exam will receive an email notification once the score has been processed and is available to view in MyNCIDQ. CIDQ takes this time to guarantee that all scores are fair and accurate.

In collaboration with interior designer practitioners, educators, and testing professionals, CIDQ has set a passing point (or cut score) for each NCIDQ Exam. Meeting the passing standard for all three exam sections and achieving NCIDQ certification demonstrates that a candidate is competent to practice in a way that protects the health, safety, and welfare of the public.  The passing point does not change based on your location, the number of candidates taking the exam, or the performance of other candidates taking the exam.

Please look at this infographic by CIDQ for further information 

The Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX) covers eight distinct areas that capture the core competencies of interior design: 

  • Programming and Site Analysis
  • Relationship between Human Behavior and the Designed Environment
  • Design Communication Techniques
  • Life Safety and Universal Design
  • Interior Building Materials and Finishes
  • Technical Specifications for Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment and Lighting
  • Construction Drawings, Schedules, and Specifications
  • Professional Development and Ethics

The Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX) covers seven distinct areas that capture the core competencies of interior design: 

  • Project Assessment and Sustainability
  • Project Process, Roles, and Coordination
  • Professional Business Practices
  • Code Requirements, Laws, Standards, and Regulations
  • Integration with Building Systems and Construction
  • Integration of Furniture, Fixtures, & Equipment
  • Contract Administration

The Interior Design Practicum Exam (PRAC) covers four distinct areas that capture the core competencies of interior design: 

  • Programming, Planning, and Analysis
  • Code Requirements, Laws, Standards, and Regulations
  • Integration with Building Systems and Construction
  • Contract Documents
For more detailed information on topics for this divisional exam, please visit the CIDQ website.
The Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) administers the NCIDQ Exam. CIDQ, which is composed of regulatory boards from across the United States and Canada, takes seriously its responsibility to protect the public. Accordingly, CIDQ specific education and work experience requirements exist to be eligible to sit for the NCIDQ Examination. You must have official education transcripts must include a minimum of 60 semester or 90 quarter credit hours of post-secondary interior design coursework that encompasses a certificate, degree, or diploma from an accredited institution to be eligible. Plus you must have 'experience'; Which is: up to 1,760 hours of interior design work experience, earned prior to graduation. Regardless, CIDQ also warns that meeting CIDQ's education and work experience requirements does not guarantee that a candidate will meet their jurisdiction's requirements to be a licensed  interior designer. Individuals are reminded to check with their jurisdiction regarding those specific requirements.
The NCIDQ exam is administered by the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) - the certifying organization for interior design professionals.

The NCIDQ exam is divided into three sections:

  • Interior Design Fundamentals Exam (IDFX),
  • Interior Design Professional Exam (IDPX), 
  • Interior Design Practicum Exam (PRAC), 
all administered by computer and machine graded. All three exams are available to take throughout the entire months of April and October.

For more detailed information on topics for this exam section, please visit the CIDQ website.
NCIDQ Certification is the industry's recognized indicator of proficiency in interior design principles and a designer's commitment to the profession.

To become a certified interior designer in the United States, you’ll need to take the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exam. The NCIDQ is administered by the CIDQ, which stands for Council of Interior Design Qualification, and is currently the only nationally-recognized competency exam for interior design. Obtaining your NCIDQ Certification recognizes your proficiency in interior design principles and your commitment to the profession.

The NCIDQ ensures the safety and wellbeing of the public by requiring that design professionals are held to the highest standards in the industry. The content of the exam represents the foundational knowledge you need to be able to branch out into a specialty design area afterwards. The NCIDQ exam consists of three sections: the Fundamentals Exam (IDFX), the Professional Exam (IDPX), and the Practicum Exam (PRAC). Each section focuses on public health, safety and welfare.
PPI, a Kaplan Company, has decades of experience helping thousands of designers prepare for and pass their NCIDQ exam. We suggest you start by reading through our resource pages and explore our Study Options.

PPI Subscription FAQs

No. There is not an option to cancel a partial subscription.  If you cancel your subscription, access to all products that are part of the subscription will end at the end of the term.
PPI subscriptions cannot be paused. Once a cycle has begun it will continue until the next renewal or the fixed expiration date.
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Currently PPI offers different levels of subscription access to different products. You can view details for all PPI Learning Hub subscriptions on our Subscription page.  Prep course related subscriptions can be found our on Courses page. 
Your credit card will automatically be charged on the first day of the new term, for every new term, until you cancel your renewing subscription.

PPI offers a variety of subscriptions that are paired up to work perfectly with your exam review. Each subscription has a predetermined length, that we refer to as the "subscription term". For weekly subscriptions, 1 term equals 1 week of access. For monthly subscriptions, 1 term equals 1 month of access. Your subscription term is communicated on the product page, in the shopping cart prior to checkout, and in your subscription details after purchase.

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PPI Course Video FAQs

You will need to be online to view recordings or to connect to a live course. Supplemental course materials such as Live Lecture Slides can be printed or saved for viewing offline. At this time, PPI does not offer any downloadable courses or videos, but we do sell eTextbooks that can be viewed offline.
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If you have previously taken a PPI Live course, we are happy to offer a repeat discount if you wish to repeat the same Live course at any time in the future. For questions, or to take advantage of a repeat discount, send an email to or call 650-593-9119.

Please visit our PPI Passing Guarantee page for the available options.
On your course home page you will see an orange "Join Live Lecture" button. Refer to your course schedule for dates/times of each live lecture.
Please visit our Product Enrollment Changes to view our "Risk-Free" transfer and cancel options.
We recommend you complete the reading and practice homework before each live session to be familiar with the topic and prepared to ask the Instructor questions. If you fall behind, no worries, you can submit the homework for feedback from the Instructor at any time prior to the last access day, which is published on your course schedule. All homework assignments are required to qualify for the Passing Guarantee.
Please visit our Product Enrollment Changes page for the available options.

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Email directly using our Contact Us tool or call (650) 593-9119. PPI Customer Service phone support is available Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., PT.
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At PPI, we are committed to providing the best possible experience for students. We do our best to provide classes on the date/time advertised, and to ensure that online systems are free from technical problems. That said, there may be a time when schedule changes or unresolvable technical issues arise. We will always notify you of any planned schedule changes as far in advance as possible.If unresolvable technical issues arise during class, PPI will reschedule the class as quickly as possible. All rescheduling notifications are communicated via your enrollment email address and will also be posted on the classroom discussion forum.

PPI eTextbook FAQs

You can access an eTextbook across 4 devices - 2 mobile and 2 desktop. If you want to access a 3rd mobile or desktop device, you will need to deactivate an older device.  For assistance visit VitalSource Support.
No. If you need access to a complete printed version you can buy the text from
PPI eTextbooks are non-returnable and non-refundable.
PPI eTextbooks cannot be shared. PPI's content delivered to you in an electronic format is protected by all applicable federal copyright laws. Use is not transferrable. Access is restricted to the user identified as the "enrollee" during check out. See our Privacy Policy for additional details.
No. You can access 100% of your eTextbooks without an internet connection. To access your eTextbook offline, you will need to download the Bookshelf app onto your computer, tablet, or mobile device.
No. PPI has implemented a Single Sign-on (SSO) feature that automatically links your PPI eTextbook purchase with VitalSource Bookshelf. If you created a VitalSource Bookshelf account or had one previously, you will need to log in to your PPI account and select the eTextbook option from the My Online Product Access dropdown to provision the eTextbook to your VitalSource account.  Another option is to log in to VitalSource My Account and look for the option to "complete your account setup".
The VitalSource Bookshelf application has the ability to use the built in Text to Speech function in Windows and Mac OS to have your books read aloud to you. Visit VitalSource Support for more information on this feature and other eTextbook accessibility options. If the book you are seeking is not currently available in the eTextbook format, please visit our ADA Policy for more information on accessibility and accommodation requests. PPI is committed to ensuring that persons with disabilities have full and equal access to our services as provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and implementing regulations.
VitalSource has detailed instructions for all kinds of devices.  Simply navigate to  VitalSource 24/7 Support and search "install Bookshelf on (device type)" and follow their instructions. They are available to support you 24/7.
This special promotional package includes both.  If you wish to return the print, your access to the eTextbook will be removed when you are issued a Return Authorization.  Once the returned book is received, a full refund will be processed.  If you want to keep the eTextbook, you should not return the print.
Visit VitalSource Support for a complete list of supported devices and system requirements.
PPI offers different levels of access for our eTextbooks. Visit the specific product page for the eTextbook you plan to purchase to confirm the access period.
PPI Customer Sales Support Team can assist you with your prior purchase. Contact Us.
For detailed technical information, video tutorials, and complete assistance with your eTextbook, visit VitalSource 24/7 Support.
PPI eTextbooks are digital versions of our printed books that you can access online, or you can download to your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone and view offline. Your eTextbooks are managed on your VitalSource Bookshelf. PPI updates our eTextbooks as needed to correct reported errata.
Bookshelf is a free application that downloads files to your device or lets you access your eTextbook online. Using the app, you can study at home, at work, flying in an airplane, or sitting on the beach. Bookshelf keeps everything in sync and at your fingertips.
PPI eTextbooks are offered through VitalSource using their Bookshelf ereader platform. Bookshelf is the most used digital content delivery platform in the world. PPI's Single Sign-On experience with VitalSource streamlines how you access your newly purchased content. PPI previously used Adobe Digital Editions, which is another well known ereader, but it required more effort to get to your content.
The access period starts on the date of purchase.  From that date of purchase, it cannot be delayed or extended.  If you want additional time, you will need to repurchase.
Download the free VitalSource Bookshelf application here

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