There are many steps, plans, and procedures that can be taken once a candidate has registered for the FE exam. These steps vary from person to person and are dependent on the amount of time and effort that a candidate is able and willing to put into preparation for this exam. Developing a study plan and schedule can be very complex as each candidate’s personal situation, available time, existing knowledge and understanding of the subject material, learning pace and capability, and experience vary greatly and are unique. Although different, all exam candidates can utilize the following strategies to help as they develop their own personalized study plans and schedules.
The first thing candidates are encouraged to do once they’ve registered for the exam is obtain a copy of the NCEES specifications, which can be found on the NCEES website at https://ncees.org/engineering/fe/. According to NCEES, there are exam specifications for seven different FE disciplines. Exam specifications frequently change, so exam candidates should check the website for updates prior to the exam. Once exam candidates review the specifications, they should use this list to evaluate their existing knowledge and understanding of the subject using a five-point rating scale (for example, 1 (weakest) to 5 (strongest)).
Specific subjects and disciplines that students are not proficient in should be allotted additional study time. When the subject matter is too abstract, candidates should seek additional resources, such as tutoring. Likewise, exam candidates should also reserve time for a comprehensive review of subjects that they are strong in. This not only boosts exam confidence and keeps candidates sharp and prepared but also minimizes the potential for candidates to be subject to exam “tripwires,” which are designed to throw candidates off and test their agility, ability, and understanding of the subject. An example of an exam “tripwire” is unit conversion. The FE exam uses both the metric system and the US Customary System (USCS) of units, so it is a good idea to be familiar with both.
Exam candidates are encouraged to develop a study schedule. This can be quite simple; however, challenges may arise when maintaining the schedule. Candidates should know what resources are available, such as refresher courses, publications, manuals, and practice problems and exams. Time is the most valuable resource. Candidates consider the following questions: How much time is there between now and the exam? How much time do I have during the day or week to dedicate to studying? With these questions in mind, students can begin preparing a study schedule. Typically, schedules are developed weekly or monthly. On average, students should devote two or more days per week (for a minimum of three hours) at least three to six months prior to the exam. Candidates should be prepared to incorporate make-up days for unforeseen study cancellations and schedule adjustments. The most challenging part of developing a study schedule is adhering to the plan. This is why candidates are encouraged to set periodic goals. Setting goals and rewarding yourself for your achievements should be incorporated. This boosts confidence and gives candidates the motivation to follow through.