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How to Deal with FE Exam Test Anxiety

Jul 07, 2023

How to Deal with FE Exam Test Anxiety


If you're preparing for the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, you're likely experiencing a rush of anxiety building up to the test day. Maybe you are experiencing racing thoughts, sweaty palms, or a sense of dread making it all the more difficult to focus. Do not panic. It is important to realize that you're not alone in feeling this way; many people struggle with test anxiety, and there are effective strategies to reduce and manage it. In this blog, we'll explore some of the causes and symptoms of FE exam test anxiety and offer practical tips to overcome them.

Causes of Anxiety

One of the most common causes of FE exam test anxiety is feeling like your test prep isn't adequate. The feeling of not properly preparing or studying enough will naturally make you feel anxious about how you will do on the day of the exam.

Fear of failure is another common form of test anxiety. The overwhelming feeling that all of your time and effort may be in vain will make anyone nervous. Past negative experiences could also exacerbate existing test anxiety. If you've struggled with test-taking in the past, it can become increasingly difficult to shake the feeling that history will repeat itself again, especially for something as big as the FE.

Finally, fear of the potential negative consequences of your results can create test anxiety. It is understandable that with such an important test, you may feel that the results will make or break your future career, depending on how well you perform on the exam.

Again, this is all natural, and we all have encountered these feelings one way or another, but we can try to identify the causes and potential solutions to help alleviate them.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Test anxiety can manifest in various negative symptoms: physical, emotional, and behavioral. For those who are experiencing physical symptoms of stress, they may have a racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, or an upset stomach. Those suffering from emotional symptoms may experience fear, worry, or a sense of dread. Finally, those with behavioral symptoms can have difficulty concentrating or excessive fidgeting, only adding to the stress of preparing for the exam.

How to Overcome Anxiety

Here we will go over the many effective methods in managing FE exam test anxiety.

1. Identify Your Learning Style and Create a Study Plan

Identifying your learning style can be a great first step in preparing for the FE exam. Some people prefer learning visually through videos and diagrams, while some may prefer auditory learning, listening to lectures and discussions, and others may prefer hands-on learning, learning by going through practice problems and solving along the way. Realizing what learning style works for you will make planning out your approach simpler and geared towards you.

After learning what type of learner you are, it is then important to prepare thoroughly; to do so, create a study plan that allows you to review all the material in a well-structured program. You can refer to step 4 in "Essential Steps Before Taking the FE Exam" for further detail on how to prepare a comprehensive study plan.

2. Seek Support from Peers

It can be helpful to seek support from peers and mentors who have already taken the FE exam. They can offer valuable advice on what to expect, share study tips, and provide emotional support. Joining a study group or seeking out a mentor can help you feel less isolated in your test anxiety and provide a sense of community.

3. Keep a Positive Mindset

Maintaining a positive mindset can be challenging during stress and anxiety, but it is essential in managing FE exam test anxiety. Try to focus on the progress you have made in your studies rather than what you haven't accomplished. Celebrate small victories, and acknowledge that you are working towards a goal. Additionally, try to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones. Instead of thinking, "I'm going to fail," try "I am prepared, and I will do my best."

4. Simulate Test Taking

Simulate the test-taking experience using practice tests, and get comfortable with the time constraint and the exam format. While taking the practice test, use the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Reference Handbook to familiarize yourself with its content before the exam. While practicing problems, it is key to utilize the handbook that will help you quickly locate formulas or information that you may need, thus you will not be panicked during the day of the exam. Also, you can refer to step 7 in "Essential Steps Before Taking the FE Exam" for further detail.

5. Reduce Caffeine

Caffeine can factor into your anxiety. For that commonly consuming caffeine, I would recommend caffeine consumption during the study process up until the exam day. I do consume caffeine myself, but what I have noticed is that having coffee, tea, or any kind of beverage containing caffeine will affect your concentration.

In addition to preparation, coping strategies can also be effective. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation can help you calm down before the exam. Positive self-talk, visualization, and mindfulness can also help shift your mindset to a more positive, confident place. Finally, test-taking strategies like reading and understanding instructions, managing your time effectively, focusing on one question at a time, and taking breaks when needed can help you stay calm and focused during the exam.


FE exam test anxiety can be a challenging experience, but it's important to remember that there are many effective strategies to help mitigate it. By preparing thoroughly, using coping strategies, and utilizing additional resources when needed, you can reduce your anxiety and perform at your best on exam day. Remember, you're not alone in this struggle, and there are many people who have successfully overcome test anxiety to achieve their goals. With practice and persistence, you can do the same.

Good luck!

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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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