The Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) is a test administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying® (NCEES®). The exam covers a broad base of subjects related to most fields of engineering. The best tips for FE exam prep are similar to those undertaken for most major tests: study thoroughly and with other people, have several resources, and be well-rested. Unlike most tests, however, many months of preparation are usually recommended to ensure a good result when attempting the FE. There are even private training courses that can be taken to assist in the study process.
The FE exam is taken to gain certification as an engineer-in-training (EIT) in the United States. As of 2011, the assessment is closed-book and consists of 180 multiple choice questions in many subjects related to engineering. These include physics, chemistry, statistics, soil mechanics and electrical engineering. The exam lasts eight hours and is graded on a pass/fail basis. Results are typically reported two or three months after sitting for the test.
Most college undergraduates studying an engineering field have the opportunity to take the FE while still in college. One of the best ways to undertake FE exam prep, for two reasons, is to study while still completing an engineering degree. First, the information is most likely to have been recently studied and be fresh in mind. Second, if there are questions about the study material, there is likely to be quick access to classmates, instructors, coursework or books that can assist in answering those questions.
Like most major undertakings, it is best to utilize many small efforts over a long period of time when studying for the FE. Regardless of whether someone readying for FE exam prep is still in college or has graduated, studies should begin no less than three months before the date of the test. Some find it helpful to undertake only one or two subjects a week in the first month so there is a consistent focus on the subjects at hand. As the date of the test draws closer, sample problems from all engineering-related areas should be examined to help ensure the material is less likely to be forgotten.
One very useful tip for FE exam prep is to make sure to obtain the right study materials. College exams that are either personally owned or available from acquaintances are certain to have all sorts of relevant problems that can assist in study. NCEES® offers many study materials for sale, including books containing sample questions and answers for the FE. The NCEES® study book is valuable because it indicates the exact format of the questions on the FE.
A study group can be another useful tool in FE exam prep; however, caution is advised. It is true that studying for the FE with other people can be of mutual benefit, because it gives each person another outlet for information and question answering. The potential downside to this is that the other person also can provide a distraction and result in less material being covered — or the overall quality of study declining — compared to studying alone. The FE exam candidate is advised to make this determination carefully.