The typical study time for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam is about 2 to 3 months. This is according to our users at PrepFE and a community survey, and we'll break down some of the results in this post.
The distribution of preparation time for the FE exam falls nicely onto a bell curve. The average time spent is 3.3 months, but this is inflated by some outliers in the 6+ months range. A more useful stat is the median which is a study time of 2.7 months.
As an additional check on our data, we asked the community at r/FE_Exam on Reddit how long they studied for the FE exam, and the poll results we got there aligned well with our data.
Source: Reddit r/fe_exam
Now, one big thing that is missing here is the total amount of hours spent. When people study for 2-3 months, it's not a full-time commitment. Most of them are studying a handful of hours during the week and several hours on weekends while working or completing their degrees. We hope these results can help you with setting your own study schedule.
We recommend planning to study for at least 2 to 3 months before your FE exam date. Once you get started practicing problems from all of the different topics covered, you'll have a better idea if you need to spend more or less time preparing. This can vary a lot depending on if you are fresh out of school, still completing your degree, or several years out from graduation, which we explore more below.
One thing to note is that curriculum and number of engineers taking each FE exam aren’t all equal, so prep time can actually vary depending on whether you take the Civil, Mechanical, Electrical and Computer, Environmental, Chemical, Industrial and Systems, or Other Disciplines FE exam. Why does this matter? Well, not only are the questions different amongst exams, but the number of test takers is different for every exam, and therefore the poll results can be biased towards certain engineering disciplines.
Here’s what we mean: FE Civil is the most taken FE exam by far with roughly 22,000 exams taken per year followed by FE Mechanical with 12,000 and FE Electrical and Computer with 6,000. Because the engineering licensure is so common in the civil engineering industry, many civil engineering undergraduate college programs have their own FE exam prep review courses where they solely focus on preparing their civil students for the FE exam. These semester-long college prep classes can do a good job at getting civil engineering students ready for the FE exam, so many of them only need about a month of additional studying as they’re only looking to iron out a few weak topics and not study for the exam as a whole a second time.
|Volume (1st time & Repeat Takers)
|Electrical & Computer
Another variable affecting how much prep time you need for the FE is how long you have been out of school. The FE exam covers a LOT of different topics, and it’s expected that you’ll forget those nitty-gritty details that can make or break a correct problem solution. For those people taking the FE exam a few years after graduation, we recommend you place yourself on the right side of the prep time bell curve and review for more than 3 months. Even 6+ months is appropriate for those that need to balance work and other responsibilities. We also believe that some of the PrepFE users that have studied for 6+ months are people who thought they were in good shape for the FE exam, but once they got into studying, they realized how much they underestimated the prep time they would need.
Whatever your situation is, we wish you the best of luck preparing for the FE. You made it this far, and there’s no reason you can’t successfully overcome the FE exam.
Don't just work hard. Work hard and smart. Familiarize yourself with the different topics asked on the FE exam. Take a brief look through this list just to make yourself aware of what's on the FE exam for your engineering discipline. You will keep this information on the back of your head as you start strategizing your FE exam prep.
You can take one of PrepFE's timed, practice exams to help you identify which topics you are currently the most and least prepared in. Taking a diagnostic practice exam will help you identify which topics you are mostly prepared for, which topics need a little bit of practice, and which topics you are completely clueless about.
You will then take your diagnostic practice exam results in conjunction with the complete list of FE exam topics to help you categorize the different FE exam topics into five buckets. Just categorize these topics (e.g. fluid mechanics, statics, mathematics, etc) for now and later on we will use this information to set an oder for your FE exam prep.
For the sake of uniformity, we will assume you are able to study for two hours per FE exam prep study block i.e. 2 hrs (1 block) Monday, 2 hrs (1 block) Tuesday, 6 hrs (3 blocks) Saturday etc.