When Can You Take the FE Exam? Learn the Best Time to Go for It

Passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is the first step that you need to work on if you decide to become a Professional Licensed Engineer. Some people take it during their senior year and some take it after graduation. If you are still confused on when can you take the FE exam, I recommend that you read this article to learn more about your options.


Just to give you an overview, FE exam is a six-hour test with 110 questions. The current price for registering on the exam is $175.

NCEES also started to convert the written exams to computer-based testing. This gives a better scheduling flexibility to anyone who wants to take the exam. Based on my last research, the test can be taken nationwide at any state each year during the following months:

  • January - February
  • April - May
  • July - August
  • October - November

Now that you already know the FE exam schedule, let us proceed with the different options on when you can take the test. I provided three scenarios that may fit to your current situation.

When Can You Take the FE Exam

Graduating Senior

If you are studying an engineering or any related degree and you are on your last semester then you can take the FE exam. This is the most ideal time on when you can sit in for the test.

The main reason for this is that most of the information that you have learned in college will still be fresh in your mind. At this time, you have already touched several topics that are covered in the exam such as engineering statics, engineering economics, fluid mechanics, and hydraulics.

According to most FE exam passers, taking the exam while you are still in school gives you a better chance of passing the test.

Honestly, based on my experience, you don't have to know everything before you decide to take the exam. The only important thing that you need to do is familiarize yourself with the FE Reference Handbook. It will contain almost all the formulas that you need to solve the problems.

However, you must practice in using the handbook. Try solving a problem then look for the keyword on the index of the handbook. Then go to that page and try to use the given formula to answer the problem. This is just an overview. I will try to make a study guide on how I solve problems using the handbook.

By the way, If you want specific time on what month you should take the test on your last semester, then I suggest that you take it on Fall. In this way, if you need a second chance to take the exam, you can still do it before your graduation.

After Graduating

Some people take the FE exam right after graduation. Their main reason is that they want to first complete all their engineering courses before they jump in to the test.

This can be a good idea if you are not in a rush to find a job. It's because in today's world, engineering jobs are already competitive. If you don't have your EIT certificate when applying for a job then you might not get noticed easily.

I am not saying that you will not get a job but passing your FE exam will give you better options and higher chance of being employed.

After Gaining Engineering Experience

Another option on when you can take the test is right after you gain some experience. I think that this best suits those people who have below three years of engineering course taken at school.

Let me give you an example. My coworker took a Bachelors degree in Biology. After college, he decided to proceed with Environmental Engineering. However, it is just two years of master’s degree. Since it is less than 3 years of engineering related education, he has to fill it up with engineering experience.

So he worked as engineering technician on the public works department of a medium-sized city in California. After a year, he was already eligible to sit in for the test. In short, you have to have at least 3 years of education or experience that is related to engineering before you can take the FE exam.

On the other hand, this may not be the best option. It's because when you wait for quite some time before taking the test, it may be more difficult for you to pass the exam. This is because if you are already working, you will have additional responsibilities that may take an ample part of your time that you can spend studying.

Take It When You're Ready!

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam can be taken by anyone who falls into the following criteria:

  • Graduating senior who studies engineering degree or a related field.
  • Recent graduate of an engineering degree or related field.
  • Someone who has three years of combination of engineering education or related field and engineering work experience.

On the other hand, I still recommend that you contact your Engineering State's Board to know the requirements before taking your FE exam. This is because every state follows different licensing requirements. Some states allow taking the test without sending an application and some state let those people who didn't attend an approved program but has a relative engineering work experience to sit in for the exam.

Obtaining your professional engineering license is a long process and everything starts with getting your Engineer-in-Training certification. In my opinion, the best time to take the FE exam is when you are ready.

Just to give you an example, I took my FE Civil exam after a year of studying. It may seem a long time compared to some people who prepared in just 3 - 4 months. The main reason for this is because I have a 9 to 5 job and the only time that I can study is after work. Although it is hard to manage my time, I was still able to cope up and adjust. Fortunately, I passed the exam on my first take.

Basically, the time on when you should take the test greatly depends on your personal circumstances and situation. Passing the FE exam is not a contest. You can decide on what timeline you want to follow.

Although taking the test at the soonest possible time is a good option, determining if you are ready and prepared is still the best time to follow.

If you have questions or clarifications, please let me know in the comment box below so I can help you.

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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