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Essentials Steps Before Taking the FE Exam

May 12, 2023

Preparing to take the Fundamental of Engineering (FE) exam can be a daunting task, especially when you are not sure where to start. As someone who has recently gone through the process, I can attest to the importance of following a routine to ensure that you are adequately prepared. There are several essential steps you must take before attempting the FE exam. However, in this guide, I will share my personal insights on the necessary steps that you could take to ensure your success on the FE exam.

Essentials Steps Before Taking the FE Exam

1. Determine the State's Requirements: Each state has distinct prerequisites for taking the FE Exam. To guarantee that you satisfy all the requirements, it is essential to check with your state's licensing board. More information about your state licensing board can be found here.

2. Review the Exam Specifications: The NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) publishes detailed exam specifications for each discipline evaluated in the FE exam. A thorough review of these specifications can help you understand the format of the exam and the topics you need to cover.

3. Choose an Exam Date and Register: Once you have confirmed that you satisfy all the prerequisites, the next step is to register for the FE exam on the NCEES website. If you are a third-year or early fourth-year college student, it is recommended that you select an exam date that is 3 to 5 months away. This allows for ample time to study effectively and efficiently for the exam. With the knowledge and skills still fresh in your mind, your confidence and performance can be improved during the exam.

For those out of school juggling a full schedule, pick a date that you are most comfortable with but do not pick an exam date that is too far away. If you choose a far-off exam date, you may feel less urgency to prepare for the exam, leading to procrastination and loss of motivation. Also, the FE exam covers a broad range of topics, and it is easy to forget what you have learned if you are not actively reviewing the material. For these reasons, it is generally best to choose an exam date that is relatively close to your preparation start date.

4. Prepare a Comprehensive Study Plan: A comprehensive study plan that covers all the topics tested in the FE exam is essential for effective preparation. It is crucial to allocate enough time to prepare adequately, consider your strengths, and weaknesses.

Drawing from personal experience, it may be helpful to start with the topic(s) that you feel most comfortable with, as it may require less time to study. Once you have built confidence, work your way down the topic list category. By organizing your study plan in this manner, you can optimize your study time and focus on the areas where improvement is needed the most.

5. Obtain Appropriate Study Materials: Here are some ways to obtain appropriate study materials for the FE exam:

a. Purchase an FE exam study guide: Many companies sell study guides specifically designed for the FE exam, like School of PE. These guides typically contain practice questions, sample problems, and review materials covering all topics tested on the exam.

b. Attend review courses: Many colleges and universities in additional to companies like School of PE offer review courses for the FE exam. These courses are designed to help students prepare for the exam by providing structured resources, problem sets, and review materials.

c. Seek out a mentor: Find a mentor who has already passed the FE exam and can offer guidance and their own resources on how to prepare effectively-their personal exam prep experience is incredibly valuable. Look for someone who can offer feedback on your study habits and techniques and provide insights on their exam experience.

d. Join study groups: When you join a study group, you can share study materials, discuss difficult concepts, and learn from your peers. You will complement each other's strengths and weaknesses and get a glimpse on how you compare with others on the test.

6. Do Practice Problems While Utilizing the NCEES Reference Handbook:

During the FE exam, the NCEES Reference Handbook will be available for use in a virtual format, providing formulas, tables, and other essential information. It is essential to familiarize yourself with this handbook and its contents before the exam. While practicing problems, utilizing the handbook can help you quickly locate formulas or information that you may need during the exam. By reducing the time spent searching for information, you can allocate more time to answering problems, increasing chances of success.

The NCEES Reference Handbook is a valuable resource and utilizing it efficiently can contribute to your success on the exam.

7. Do A Mock Exam: It is recommended that three to four weeks before the exam date, you conduct a mock exam to simulate the test-taking experience fully. NCEES makes a practice exam book that is perfect for this purpose. Set aside a total of eight hours; four hours allocated for the morning and four hours for the afternoon to replicate the exam's format. This mock exam can help identify areas of strength and weakness and allow you to assess your time management skills under test-taking conditions. By identifying your weaker topics, you can review and strengthen your preparation for the exam. Moreover, practicing under exam-like conditions can help alleviate test anxiety and improve your confidence on the actual exam day.

8. Prioritize Rest and Nutrition: Finally, ensure that you get enough rest and consume a healthy and balanced meal before the exam. Don't neglect your health! And good luck on the exam!

With a comprehensive study plan, appropriate study materials, and ample practice, you can feel confident and well-prepared on taking the FE exam. I highly recommend using study resources, like School of PE and the NCEES Reference Handbook, as they can help you develop a solid study plan and improve your chances of passing the exam.

The path to success on the FE exam is not set in stone and requires an individualized approach. While there is no universal equation that guarantees success, you have the power to identify and cultivate your own success habits. These eight steps can serve as a valuable guide to steer you in the right direction. Remember to stay motivated and stay informed by checking School of PE's blog for additional resources. With hard work, dedication, and the right mindset, you can achieve success on the FE exam and beyond.

Get a head start on your FE exam with School of PE! Our comprehensive courses and expert instructors are just what you need to pass.

About the Author: Khoa Tran

Khoa Tran is an electrical engineer working at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and is currently pursuing his master's in electrical Power from the University of Southern California. He is fluent in both Vietnamese and English and is interested in outdoor activities and exploring new things.

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