The FE exam
If you will be taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam in the coming months, there are few thing you might consider:
- The FE is a required test for those pursuing a professional engineering license. Many colleges and universities encourage students to take the FE exam as an outcome assessment tool upon the completion of the education coursework.
- The National Council for examiners for Engineering and Surveying is the administration body for this exam. All registrations and questions pertaining to the FE exam should be addressed to NCEES.
How to prepare
There are several resources available to help you prepare for the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. The NCEES offers both sample examinations and diagnostic tools prepared by engineering professionals and reviewed annually and revised as needed. View the complete listing of FE study materials or call the NCEES Customer Service Department at 1-800-250-3196 if you have questions about exam preparation materials.
Because books cannot be taken into the FE exam rooms, the NCEES provides a copy of the FE Supplied-Reference Handbook at the exam site, which is to be returned at the end of the exam. This is the only reference you will have during the exam.
The Reference Handbook contains only reference formulas and tables; no example questions are included. It is not designed to assist in all parts of the FE exam. For example, some of the basic theories, conversions, formulas, and definitions that you are expected to know have not been included.
You can obtain a Reference Handbook in advance of the exam for review, but the copy you purchase in advance cannot be brought to the exam. Some licensing boards furnish their applicants with a Reference Handbook that has been recycled from a previous administration. These recycled copies may or may not be the version used for the next exam administration.
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The exam is eight hours long altogether, split into two four-hour sessions with a 30 minute lunch break in between. Typically the morning session begins at 7:15 am, however, one hour passes between when time is called for the morning session to end until admission starts for the afternoon session.
The morning session is a 120-question general exam for which all examinees must sit, while the afternoon session consists of 60 questions and is more discipline-oriented.
For the second half, examinees choose one of the following seven tests: chemical engineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, or general engineering (similar in content to the morning exam, but far more detailed). The choice does not have to be made in advance, but rather on the day of the test.
The topics covered by the general exam are covered in the courses taken by engineering undergraduates, and include the following,
Mathematics | Chemistry | Computers | Statics | Dynamics | Strength of materials | Material science | Electrical circuits | Thermodynamics | Fluid mechanics | Engineering economics | Engineering Management Ethics |
Environmental Engineering | Biology (Afternoon only; general discipline) |
Those who pass the exam are designated Engineer In Training or given an equivalent designation, such as Engineer Intern, by their state’s licensure board for engineers, and are partway through the certification process. After completing an apprenticeship (the length of which is set by state law and based on the type of degree received) an EIT may qualify to take the Professional Engineer (PE) exam. Certification is awarded upon successful completion of the PE exam. The standard time of apprenticeship under a Professional Engineer is 5 years of work experience for graduates of an ABET-accredited engineering program.