News  |  May 10, 2023  |  Anne Keener

Engineering Your Route to Professional Licensure: Expert Tips and Tricks for FE/PE Exam Success

  • PE Exam Tip Sheet

Are you an aspiring engineer looking to obtain your professional licensure? Look no further! Arora’s Engineering practice has got you covered.

Preparing for and taking professional licensure exams can be a challenging and intimidating process, but it’s an essential step in any engineer’s career.

During a recent webinar, Anastacia Michigan, PE, LEED Green Associate, Sean Feeley, and Chadin Youssef shared valuable tips and insights on the professional licensure process, providing guidance on how to prepare for and pass the exams. We have compiled their tips, tricks, and resources so that you can feel confident and well-prepared for your journey towards professional licensure.

Michigan, Anastacia Feeley, Sean Youssef, Chadin

(From left to right: Anastacia Michigan, PE, LEED Green Associate, Sean Feeley, and Chadin Youssef)

Preparing for your Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam

Our engineers suggest starting with a practice exam to get an idea of how you perform in each section to identify strengths and weaknesses.

The FE exam is graded on curve, and the passing rate is between 50-70%, so if you score 65% or above on your practice exam that is a good indicator that you are ready to book your exam date and start studying!

Then, you need to get organized and create a study schedule. Our engineers suggest you refer to NCEES exam specifications for exam topics (which can be found here) and rank those topics according to your strengths and weaknesses identified with your practice exam.

Suggested Study Schedule Strategy

  1. Your first study topic must be math – basic arithmetic you may have forgotten will appear often throughout this exam! This will also allow you to become familiar with NCEES approved calculator functions.
  2. Next topic should be an area of weakness with a large amount of topic questions (ex. Thermodynamics/Fluid Mechanics portions may be up to 15 questions)
  3. Leave topics with a low number of questions towards the end of schedule in case you fall behind (ex. Engineering Economics)

Our team suggests you dedicate 3 consistent months to prepare for the exam. Your preparation should entail lots of practice problems – if you are looking for a good resource, our team suggests seeking out the latest edition of FE Practice Problems by M.R. Lindeburg.

Preparing for your Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam

Our engineers recommend roughly 120 hours of studying leading up to your PE exam and have provided a detailed schedule so that you can stay on track.

  • Week 1: Assemble your study materials and create a study schedule.
  • Weeks 2-5: Review Subject Categories and Work Practice Problems.
    • Sort problems by category and focus on one subject at a time.
    • Aim for 1-2 hours on weekdays and 5-6 hours on weekends.
  • Week 6: Practice Exam #1
    • Do NOT look at the practice exam prior to taking it!
    • Take a timed practice exam.
    • Grade yourself at the end and categorized your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Weeks 6-9: More practice problems!
    • Focus on areas of weakness first.
    • Aim for 2 hours on weekdays and 6-8 hours on weekends.
  • Week 10: Practice Exam #2
    • Make sure this exam is different than Practice Exam #1.
  • Weeks 10-12: Even more practice problems!!
  • Week 12: Test Day

What can you expect on test day?

Our team suggests you arrive early to your testing location to check in. There, you will find lockers for personal items because, remember, the only things you can bring in with you are your ID and calculator. The proctor will provide a dry-erase book and marker to work out the problems.

The Mechanical and Electrical FE is 110 questions and 6 hours long. It includes:

  • Nondisclosure agreement (2 min)
  • Tutorial (8 min)
  • Exam (5 hours and 20 min) (average 3 min/question)
  • Scheduled Break (typically halfway through exam) (25 min)

You can find more details about the FE Mechanical CBT Exam here, along with the NCEES examinee guide here.

The Mechanical: HVAC and Refrigeration PE is 80 questions and 9 hours long. It includes:

  • Nondisclosure agreement (2 min)
  • Tutorial (8 min)
  • Exam (8 hours) (average 6 min/question)
  • Scheduled Break (typically halfway through exam) (50 min)

You can find more details about the Mechanical PE here.

Results are typically posted 7-10 days after the exam as pass or fail. If you fail, you will also receive a diagnostic report. If you pass, the results should automatically be sent to your state board. If all state-specific licensing requirements have been fulfilled, your license will be mailed to you.

Testing Tips and Tricks

  • Work backwards if you don’t know where to start.
  • Always check your units and do a sanity check!
    • What units are you given/what is being asked/what are your options.
    • Some answers come down to decimal places – be careful!
  •  Do not solve the whole problem if not necessary.
    • Read the questions carefully, if your solution is a distinct option, select and move on.
  • Some questions on the FE are experimental and complex. These will not be counted against you.
  • Study with an NCEES-approved calculator.
  • Use online test prep sites like ppi2pass or School of PE.
  • Answer every question: you don’t lose points for being wrong! A 25% chance of guessing correctly is better than a 0% chance for leaving it blank. Flag questions to come back to, but answer everything. Take an educated guess!
  • Take a timed practice test. Create a similar testing environment (no phones, no notes, no music, no distractions).
  • Running out of time is VERY LIKELY without preparation. There is a clock on the screen that tells you how much time you have remaining.
  • Know what is in and what is not in the reference manual.
  • Know basic unit conversions and equations.
  • Use key words in problems to text search reference manual.
  • Sleep the night before and eat a good breakfast. Don’t study the day before the exam.
  • Bring your lunch or plan your lunch location so you don’t go over the allotted break time.

If you want to surround yourself with a team of dedicated professionals who will provide a supportive environment to help you succeed, look no further than Arora Engineers. By choosing Arora, you’re not only investing in your exam preparation, but in your long-term professional growth. So, why not choose the best team to help you achieve your goals? Check out our Careers today to learn more about Life at Arora and our current openings!

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