How to Study for the FE Engineering Exam


The FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) is an exam that engineers take as a first step in obtaining an engineering license. Unless you have earned an advanced degree in engineering, or have a work experience exception, you will have to pass the exam at some point before you can become a licensed engineer.

The FE test is administered by the NCEES and consists of 180 multiple choice questions distributed over 8 hours. Because it is a marathon exam, it is important to study hard in the months before you take the FE. Follow the steps below so you can pass (or ace!) the FE the first time around.

Things You'll Need

  • NCEES study materials
  • Familiarize yourself with the content and structure of the exam. The 4-hour morning session of the FE exam has 120 questions in 12 subjects, including: mathematics, chemistry, physics, engineering, computers, and the business and economics of engineering. This part of the exam is common to all test takers.

    The 4-hour afternoon session has 60 questions that are discipline specific (DS). Thus, civil, electrical, chemical, industrial, environmental, mechanical, or general engineering candidates will all receive different questions sets for this half of the FE.

  • Buy the NCEES practice materials for your FE exam. On the website of the NCEES you can buy books of practice questions and half-length practice tests. In the afternoon, you have a choice between taking the general or a DS section, so it may be worth it to buy two sets study guides to see which is easier for you.

    Other options for books are Lindeburg's series. (see amazon link in resources)

  • The only resource you can bring into the testing center is the FE Supplied-Reference Handbook, available either in book form ($) or as a PDF (free). Order a copy from the NCEES and study the handbook before the exam. The reference will be much easier to use if you read it ahead of time.

  • Set up a realistic study schedule that you can stick to. Depending on how long you have been out of school, you may need more or less than 3 hours a week devoted to studying FE exam material. Half-way through your studies, take a practice test to gauge your progress.

    Don't take a practice test too early in your FE prep--tests are expensive and it is a waste if you do poorly.

  • Schedule the exam as soon as you know when you want to take it. You should take it soon after finishing school (or earlier) so that the material is fresh in your mind. The more time that passes between graduation and FE exam day, the more you need to study.

  • Remember that you have 2 minutes per question in the AM and 4 minutes per question in the PM. Use these guidelines when you time yourself. Don't spend too long on any one problem and do easier questions first, saving the hardest ones for last.

  • One or two weeks before exam day, take another practice test. Remember to time yourself accurately.

  • Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't pass the first time; about 25% of test takers have to retake the FE.

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