FE Exam Passing Score – It’s Either Pass or Fail

Passing the FE exam is one of the most nerve-wracking part after you graduate from an engineering program. It's because it is the first step in order to continue your journey to become a Professional Engineer. It may seem overwhelming because of the uncertainties of the score that you need to get in order to pass so I decided to share my thoughts about it. In this article, I will explain the FE exam passing score and how it is determined.

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NCEES Scores Your Ability Level

Unlike typical university or college exam scoring process, there is no exact way to determine how NCEES scores the FE Exam.

Based on the official website of NCEES, your exam results solely depends on the correct answers that you have chosen during the test. Unlike other people think, there are no deductions for any wrong answer. Each exam has no fixed percentage or number of examinees that should pass or fail. You should also remember that first time takers and repeat takers are graded the same way.

The results are based on the minimum ability level which has been established by experts of specific engineering disciplines. So, the ability level for FE Chemical is different from the FE Mechanical.

Basically, your scores after the exam are converted into scaled scores which corresponds to your ability level. If you meet the minimum level, then you pass the exam.

FE Exam Passing Score

Pass Rates are Updated Periodically

FE pass rates are determined by NCEES. It is based on two testing periods: January to June & July to December. It represents the examinees who took the exam for the first time. Aside from that, they are also within 12 months of graduation from an EAC / ABET - accredited engineering program. Basically, those people who graduated from a non-engineering program or from foreign country is not included in these rates.

Exam

Volume

Pass Rate

Format

Availability

Last Updated

FE Chemical

1,095

75%

CBT

Year-round

July 2019

FE Civil

6,531

68%

CBT

Year-round

July 2019

FE Electrical & Computer

1,477

69%

CBT

Year-round

July 2019

FE Environmental

871

80%

CBT

Year-round

July 2019

FE Industrial & Systems

367

59%

CBT

Year-round

July 2019

FE Mechanical

4,430

77%

CBT

Year-round

July 2019

FE Other Disciplines

1,270

78%

CBT

Year-round

July 2019

By the way, these pass rates are updated last July 2019. If you take a look at the table, FE Environmental has the highest pass rate which is 80%.

It is followed by FE Others and FE Mechanical with 78% and 77% respectively. FE Chemical has 75%, FE Electrical and Computer has 69%, FE Civil has 68%. The discipline with the lowest pass rate is FE Industrial & Systems with 59%.

Honestly, you shouldn't be discouraged if you see that your chosen discipline has low pass rate. It doesn't guarantee that if it has low pass rate, then it is difficult and impossible to pass. If you have the passion towards a specific discipline just go for it. Don't let the numbers dictate your decision.

FE Exam Results - It's Either Pass or Fail

After taking the test, your results typically arrive 7 to 10 days through email. You will receive a "NCEES notification of result release". The email will confirm that your recent NCEES exam results have been released. In order to access, just log into your MyNCEES account.

After logging in, click the Result Notice tab on the recent items. You will then see the results form.

In the form, you will find your name and NCEES ID. It also shows your type of test taken, date of exam, result and the engineering board on where you took your test.

There is also a verifiable link that you can use to share your FE exam result. Just copy and paste the link to allow others to verify your results. This can be helpful when applying for a job and including it in your resume.

By the way, there is no score included in the result form. It just shows if you pass or fail.

If you fail the exam, you will receive a diagnostic report that shows your performance for each topic on your test. This report will help you determine the areas that you still need to work on. It will also guide you about your strength and weaknesses.

For your reference, here is a sample diagnostic report.

Knowledge Area

It shows all the topics that is included on your FE exam.

Number of Items

This column presents the total number of items for each topic area.

Your Performance (Scaled Score)

In here, you will see your scaled score. The range is from 0 to 15. Remember that the number of questions that you answered correctly is not correlated to your scaled score.

Your Performance (Bar Graph)

The last column shows your performance based on the average of all the passing examinees. The solid line indicates your result and the dashed line is for the passing examinees. Basically, the smaller the difference between the solid and dashed line, the better performance you did for that specific area.

Just a reminder, you may retake the FE exam once per testing window and three times per 12-month period.

So, What is the Passing Score for the FE Exam?

Right now, let's get back to the answer to your original question. On average, the passing score for FE exam is 70%.

But you should remember that this is not always true. It's because every testing period, the board usually base the passing score on the minimum ability level that they have determined beforehand. So we can say that sometimes, the exam is hard, sometimes it is easy.

NCEES only shows a pass or fail system. And since they don't publish the scores online, it is hard to determine an exact passing score for the FE exam.

Don't Mind the Passing Score - Study Hard Instead!

Determining the passing score for the FE exam can be confusing but let me tell you, don't waste your time in debugging the code. I recommend that you spend your precious time in studying and preparing for the exam.

Practice as many problems as possible. Learn how to use the Reference Handbook effectively. Master the ins and outs of your calculator. These little things that you do will compile and will help you to be better prepared for the exam.

It may seem that it is hard to pass the exam, but you should remember that there is nothing impossible if you put your 100% in everything that you do.

If you have questions or concerns, just comment below so that I can help you. Also, please share your own thoughts about the passing scores for the different disciplines of FE exam.

John Rico
 

John Rico is an Engineer-in-Training Professional that works his way up to become a Licensed Professional Engineer.

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