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How to Study for – and Pass – Your FE Exam

How to Study for – and Pass – Your FE Exam

Posted By: Brightwood Engineering Education
Date: August 19, 2016

 

So you’ve graduated from an accredited engineering program and would like to start making money to pay back those student loans, right?

Well, first you’ll need to pass that long-awaited (and possibly dreaded) FE Exam. Becoming a licensed engineer is a very prestigious feat in the eyes of your future employers, so if you want to make sure you have what it takes to not only study for, but also pass your FE exam, here’s some advice.

First, have some confidence in yourself – you have made it this far – which means you’ve been prepped in more than just math and science variations like physics and chemistry. You’ve probably been taught about problem solving, manufacturing, lab processes, maximizing productivity, minimizing costs, production and distribution systems, and maybe even how to optimize interactions in a technological environment.

Unfortunately, a simple education won’t be enough if you want to pass the FE, though. You’ll want to get your hands on a self-study exam prep package geared toward your specific engineering discipline and engage in some online practice exams, as well.

Why do I even have to take this test?

Just like medical doctors and lawyers, engineers need to obtain a license before they can offer their services to the public. Each state has its own set of laws and standards, but basically it’s illegal to tell the public that you’re an independent engineer and can provide specific services for them, without this license. Though an engineer can work for a company, designing and manufacturing products, without being registered, due to certain product liability laws that protect the public, the person responsible for the work still has to be registered. Therefore, being a licensed engineer is a big deal if you want to climb the ladder in your profession.

The first Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam was administered in 1965, but it wasn’t until 1996 that the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) decided to offer it in six discipline-specific modules: Chemical, Civil, Industrial, Electrical, Mechanical, and General Engineering, so at least now you only have to focus on the area you’ll need to know about most.  The organization made it even easier for you just two years ago when it decided that FE Exams would be administered via computer-based testing for the first time and transformed the test into seven freestanding, discipline-specific exams.

Ok, I get it. Now how do I pass it?

Exam prep providers, such as Brightwood Engineering, have several options for you, and each one focuses on the current exam topics you’ll need to prep for. For example, if you’re going to take the FE Exam with a focus on mechanical engineering, you’ll be prepping for an exam that will cover topics such as dynamics, kinematics and vibrations, probability and statistics, mechanics of materials, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics.

We recommend you take a review course and do several online sample tests so there are no surprises on exam day. In addition to increasing your knowledge, this is also an effective way to reduce the anxiety associated with unpreparedness.

It’s important to note that this exam won’t be like the tests you’ve taken in school. Two years ago the NCEES decided to move its testing methods into the 21st century by implementing computer-based exams. Testing in this way is still fairly new and has had to overcome a series of barriers among teachers and students alike, but it has finally become standard. While it’s still novel, it can offer more efficient test-taking for some who do not perform well on standardized tests, as well as faster feedback and scoring. It even opens the doors to innovative ways of asking questions like video clips or computer simulations.

Some Additional Tips

1. Get your hands on NCEES Handbook early and learn where everything is – this is what you’ll be using during the actual exam.
2. Begin studying months in advance. 
3. Work tons of practice exams under timed conditions.
4. Figure out which are your strong and weak areas so you know which questions to work and which you’ll want to skip.
5. Review simple math.
6. Memorize formulas that are not provided in the NCEES Handbook.
7. Give yourself a day or two before the test to not take any practice exams.
8. During the test, read problems carefully. (Sometimes they can be solved by analyzing the answers or reverse engineering).

And, as redundant as these may sound, they are timeless suggestions:

9. Get a good night’s sleep.
10. Eat a good meal beforehand.

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If you are ready to take the FE exam, check out Brightwood Engineering Education’s FE Exam prep products. Choose your FE exam focus and get started today!