Updated for the new July 2020 FE Exam Topics


Frequently asked questions.

Let us help answer the most common questions about the NCEES FE exam.

How many questions are on the FE exam?

There are 110 questions on the exam

  • 50 questions for the first half
  • Optional 25 minute break
  • 60 questions for second half

How do I find FE exam test dates?

Unfortunately, you will have to register with the NCEES and pay a $175 exam fee in order to see and select a date.

How many times can I take the FE exam?

You can take exam up to three times a year. See the NCEES site for details.

Can you go back to first half of exam?

No, you can revisit problems during the first half of the exam, but once you move onto the second half, you cannot go back to the first half.

Can you "CTRL-F" or "CMD-F" in FE Reference Handbook during the exam to search?

You cannot CTRL-F like a typical PDF, but the user interface has its own search bar you will have to use. Search results include page numbers, so familiarizing yourself with the handbook ahead of the test is vital.

What is the best way to study for the FE exam?

The most time-effective thing you can do is WORK PRACTICE PROBLEMS over and over. Those who have passed the FE exam, academia, and the best test prep providers all suggest this should be your primary focus.

How much does the FE exam cost?

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam costs $175.

When do I get my FE exam results back?

FE exam results are typically available 7–10 days after you take the exam. You will receive an email notification from NCEES with instructions to view your results in your MyNCEES account. Results include information specific to your licensing board regarding how you should proceed based on your performance.

How is the FE exam scored?

Results are based on total number of correct answers. There are NO deductions for wrong answers, so make sure to answer everything. Since exam questions may vary, scores are scaled for difficutly, accordingly. The NCEES does not publish a passing score and claims that no predetermined percentage of examinees pass or fail.

What is a passing grade on the FE exam?

Exam results are reported pass/fail. If you did not pass the exam, you will receive a diagnostic report indicating subject areas of relative strength and weakness. The diagnostic report can assist you if you decide to retake the exam. Download a sample diagnostic report (PDF).

Is the FE exam hard?

The FE has an approximate 70% pass rate for first time takers. Adequate prepping will ensure smooth passing. You can find specific pass rates for various exams on the NCEES website.

What percentage of the FE exam are the "new" alternative item type (AIT) questions?

We believe it's around 10%.

Is the FE exam open book or open notes?

During the exam, you are provided a reference handbook that has all the equations you might need. However, the reference handbook DOES NOT show worked-out example problems. You are not allowed to bring anything into the exam aside from an approved calculator

How long is the FE exam?

You are given 6 hours total.

  • Nondisclosure agreement (2 minutes)
  • Tutorial (8 minutes)
  • Exam (5 hours and 20 minutes)
  • Scheduled break (25 minutes)

Why take the FE exam?

The FE exam is a prerequisite exam in order to take the PE exam later on. Passing the PE exam allows you to become a licensed engineer in the US.

What type of scrap paper, markers, pad, notepad, notebook, or dry erase is provided during the FE exam?

You will be provided a 9-page laminated, spiral-bound notebook with grid markers and a marker during the exam. Make sure to try using the marker before your exam starts. If you run out of space, do not spend time trying to erase anything. Raise your hand and request a new notebook.

What kind of questions are on the FE exam?

The specific exam topics vary depending on which FE exam you take. In general, the exam is comprehensive and covers the great majority of the classes taken in an engineering undergraduate program. You can find a detailed list of exam topics here.

Does it matter which FE exam I take?

No, you may take any FE exam discipline to get EIT certification, and it does not matter for your PE license. For example, some civil and chemical examinees take the Other Disciplines exam.

If I pass the FE exam in one state and move to a different state, do I need to retake the exam in the new state?

Your Engineer-in-Training (EIT) or an Engineer Intern (EI) designation is valid in any state, but it's prudent to check with the appropriate state licensing board when moving to make sure there are no issues in the transition.

What is using the FE Reference Handbook actually like during the FE exam?

There's no better example than seeing a video demonstration of this directly from the NCEES here.

Is there a best time of the year to take the FE exam? Does the difficulty vary?

The 100 problems on FE exam will vary, so the difficulty does vary slightly among examinees. Additionally, there are 10 interspersed problems that don't count towards your score but are trial problems included by the NCEES which can change how difficult the exam feels.

However, the overall exam difficulty doesn't vary based on time of year. The best advice is to schedule it such that you have the most amount of time to prepare thoroughly.