FE Exam Study Guide – My Personal Tips to Get the EIT Certificate

Taking the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam is the first step that you need to accomplish if you want to become a Professional Engineer. Regardless of what discipline you plan on taking, it is important to have a clear understanding on what you will be facing. That's why I created this FE Exam Study Guide in order to help you to better understand the process of gaining your Engineer-in-Training (EIT) certification.

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Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam Explained

1. What is the FE Exam?

FE Exam is a 6-hour-long examination that includes 110 questions that tests your basic engineering knowledge on Mathematics, Probability & Statistics, Engineering Economics, Statics, Materials, and Hydraulics. Basically your exam specification will depend on the following engineering discipline that you want to take.

Here is the list of disciplines.

  • FE Chemical
  • FE Civil
  • FE Electric & Computer
  • FE Environmental
  • FE Industrial & Systems
  • FE Mechanical
  • FE Others

By the way, I took the FE Civil exam since I studied Civil engineering. The exam is a computer-based test. This means that everything will be done on a computer screen. It is also a closed book examination but you can have en electronic reference that will be provided.

The exam uses both International System of Units (SI) and US Customary System (USCS).

2. Who can take the FE Exam?

The exam can be taken by anyone with an engineering degree or related field. It is made for students or graduates who are pursuing their engineering career.

Aside from the US school graduates, foreign school graduates can also take the FE exam. Just make sure that you double check the information from your licensing board.

FE Exam Study Guide

Eligibility to take the FE exam differs from state to state so I suggest that you review your licensing board requirements.

Since I took my FE exam in California, I can only share what I know from this state. California board doesn't require you to submit an application. All you have to do is to register on the NCEES site and schedule your examination. I took my Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in the Philippines and I was able to take the FE exam last 2016.

3. Where can you take the exam?

You can take your computer-based exam at Pearson VUE test center.

4. When can you take the exam?

Honestly, there is no right or wrong time on when you should take your exam. The most important thing that you should consider is whether you are ready to take the test or not.

However, if possible I highly recommend that you take the FE exam before you graduate from college. In this way, your engineering knowledge will be more fresh in your mind. If you already graduated, I suggest that you take the exam as soon as possible.

It's because the longer you wait, the harder it will be to pass. This will also delay your goal which is to obtain your PE license.

5. Why should you take the exam?

Taking the FE exam is a crucial part of your engineering journey. Some benefits of taking the fe exam are listed below:

  • It improves your resume when applying for a job.
  • You will be able to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.
  • Proves that you are dedicated in pursuing your engineering career and is seen positive by employers.

6. How to register for the FE exam?

If you already decided to take the exam, you need to create a MyNCEES account. Make sure that you provide the correct information on the website.

After that, you can select your exam location. From there, you will be able to choose the date that you want to take the test. Based on my last research, the registration fee to take the FE exam is $175. Nevertheless, I still suggest that you double check the price before you register.

Create a Study Schedule - Practice, Practice, Practice!

Right now, you maybe wondering on how to pass the FE exam. Let me tell you, you have to have a good study schedule.

Unlike your typical test at school that you can just study one night before the exam, taking the FE exam requires a study schedule.

The number one reason for this is the wide coverage of topics that are included in the exam. Even though you are a math wizard, you still need to spend some time in familiarizing the formulas and how you can use it on specific problems. Determine on how long you want to spend in studying for the exam.

You should also take a look at the NCEES' website and review the exam specifications for the discipline that you are taking. In that way, you can concentrate on the topics that you need to work on.

Another major task that you should do is to practice as many problems as possible. This will help you understand the topics that you need to study. Get a pencil and paper and solve the problems by hand. Don't rely on just reading the reviewers and memorizing the formulas.

Let me tell you, memorizing the solution is not enough to pass the exam. For some people it might help, but for the most part, solving the problems on paper is still beneficial.

Personally, I study 1 - 2 hours a day. This is because I work from 9 to 5 and the only time that I can study is after work. I make sure that I solve at least 5 problems a day. During weekend, I try to finish 10 problems.

But make sure that you still spend some time to rest and recharge. In this way, you will not be too overwhelmed by your study schedule.

References / Resources - Don't Spend that Much Money

There are various books and reviewers that you can use for the FE exam. You might get tempted to buy all of them. But you should remember that not all of them can help you when studying for the exam. Just choose one or two reviewers that you can focus on. In this way, you will not be too overwhelmed.

Personally, I only used three review materials for the FE exam. By the way, you can also use these resources for your chosen discipline. If you are taking FE Chemical, then choose the specified book option that you need.

1. FE Reference Handbook

The FE Reference Handbook will be your number one best friend on the exam. This is because it will be the only reference material that you can use. Electronic copy of the handbook will be provided during the exam. This handbook can be used for all the FE disciplines.

You should make sure that you familiarize yourself on the formulas and topics explained on the book. Plus you should practice in using the index. This will save you time when looking for the correct formulas when solving problems.

You can download the handbook for free on NCEES' website. Just register and login to your account.

You can also borrow from the library or from one of your friends. There are also several used handbook that you can buy online. But if you want a brand new hard copy, then you can buy it from NCEES' website.

2. FE Civil Review Manual - Michael R. Lindeburg, PE

I like this review manual because it covers almost all the topics included in the exam specifications. It also provides equations, figures and tables that is in line with the FE Reference handbook. It helps in familiarizing the content of the handbook.

This review manual is also available in other disciplines.

It offers various sample problems that will help you in understanding the topics. They also explain the formulas used. The index at the back of the book also helps when looking for a specific topic.

One piece of advice, when solving the problems in the reviewer, try to use the FE reference handbook when looking for the correct formulas. In this way, you will get used to using the handbook. By the way, it cost me $96.20 when I bought it.

3. FE Civil Practice Exam 

Aside from the first two review materials, I also bought the FE Civil Practice Exam 1 from the NCEES website. It costs $29.95 when I purchased it. It contains 100 questions and solutions that can help you familiarize the FE Exam content and format.

This practice exam is also available in other disciplines.

I didn't purchase this exam until 2 months before my exam date. It helped me test my knowledge and preparedness for the test. After taking the exam, I was able to know my weak points and focus on them when studying.

If you are not comfortable in studying by yourself, you can also attend FE exam prep course. But bear in mind that this will cost you a lot of money.

FE Exam Tips

Here are some tips that you can use before, during and after the exam.

Preparation Before the Exam

  • Buy an approved model of calculator. There is a list of specific models that are allowed for the exam. Personally, I bought the Casio fx-115ES Plus Engineering/Scientific Calculator. I think it costs me around $14.
  • Prepare your examination kits. There are some items that you can bring inside the test center such as your ID, eyeglasses, and light sweaters. Also, prepare other items that you can leave in your locker such as extra battery and even water bottle.
  • Leave unnecessary items inside your car or in your house. Some items prohibited inside the test center are cellphones, books and pens.
  • Familiarize yourself with the test center. If you have time, go to the location and determine where is the parking area, restrooms and the exact room of the examination. This will save you time during the exam day.
  • The night before the exam, I suggest that you relax and don't open any reviewer or book. In this way, you will not become too overwhelmed or pressured for the big day tomorrow.

During the Exam

  • Some people prefer arriving 30 minutes earlier but personally, I suggest that you arrive an hour before your test time. This will give you plenty of time to find a parking, get together all your things, go to the restroom and check in inside the test center. Plus you don't have to rush because you know that you have ample of time.
  • Always listen to the instruction of your test proctor. If they say, don't start, then follow him / her. It will ensure that you will have fewer issues during the exam.
  • Don't ask technical question to the proctor. They are just there to supervise the exam.
  • Don't spend too much time on one problem. If the problems seems too complicated just flag it and proceed to the next question. This will save you time during the exam. Just go back to the item if you still have time.
  • Make sure that you make the units of measurements consistent. Most of the mistakes on the exam is incorrect units that leads to wrong answer.
  • If you're running out of time, answer all the remaining problems based on your educational guess. Make sure that you don't leave any problems unanswered.

After the Exam

  • Take a deep breath and relax. Your exam is already done. You did your best and just hope for the good news. But you should also prepare yourself for the result.
  • Go out with your family and friends and have a good meal.
  • Have a good night of rest.

FE Exam Passer - Make It Your Goal!

These are just some information that you need to know before taking your FE exam. I must say that there are plenty of things to discuss about it and this is just a gist of the whole process.

I hope that I have given you an idea on how you can pass your FE exam. Regardless of the discipline, all the things that you need to learn is almost the same.

As an FE Exam Passer, my wish for you is to also pass the exam. I hope that this FE Exam Study Guide will help you achieve your goal.

If you have more questions and clarifications, please let me know in the comments below so I can help you. Also, feel free to share your personal tips and experiences while studying for the 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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