FE Electrical and Computer – 4 biggest challenges in exam preparation

Part of doing your home-work before starting a new project involves identifying the biggest challenges that are involved – Isn’t it? Well, FE Electrical and Computer exam is indeed a project and here’s a list of the 4 biggest challenges encountered by students in their journey of FE Electrical and Computer exam preparation based on my personal experience and interactions with students over the last few years.

Challenge # 1 – Lack of motivation

Challenge - FE Electrical and Computer

FE exam is one of the two exams that are required for obtaining PE license (other one being the PE exam). Both of these exams take considerable investment of time, effort and money. For entry level jobs and even some intermediate/senior positions, PE license is not required. In fact, there are many engineers who choose not to pursue PE license at all and spend their entire career without having one. 

Actionable ideas to overcome this challenge

  • A lot of employers within the power systems engineering industry are now starting to list E.I.T registration (obtained after passing FE exam) as a job requirement even for entry level positions. 
  • If you want to have an edge over competition in a tough job market then don’t procrastinate in taking your FE exam.
  • Checkout the following job postings….
Actionable ideas - FE Exam

Challenge # 2 – Exam preparation resources

Your choice of exam preparation resources is not a simple cost-evaluation exercise. That’s because in addition to the investing money you’ll also be investing time over the next 3 – 4 months while using these resources. In fact, for most of the students, the greater cost involved in this process is that of their time. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you are choosing the right exam preparation resources that can help you streamline your efforts and yield maximum output for your input.

Actionable ideas to overcome this challenge

Actionable Ideas - FE Exam
  • Sign-up for this FREE 1-hour webinar to learn about the 3-step framework for FE Electrical & Computer exam preparation.

  • I will go over the latest exam specification and discuss how you can get into the right mindset along with other tips & tricks.

  • 4-month exam preparation schedule will be reviewed.

  • Free FE Electrical and Computer exam preparation planner will be provided.

  • I will also introduce resources to kick-start your FE Electrical and Computer exam preparation.

Challenge # 3 – Busy schedules

Typically, engineers take the FE exam after being out of school for 3-4 years. It is generally at this point in their careers (for some it’s even later) that they start seeing real value in PE license. Most of them are already working full-time which means that FE exam preparation has to be carried on after a full working day or over the weekends. To top it off, they also tend to have additional demands on their time in the form of other personal and social commitments. This makes FE exam preparation very difficult because it takes at least 3 – 4 months to properly prepare for this exam which is a considerable amount of time commitment.

Actionable ideas to overcome this challenge

FE Electrical and Computer Exam Preparation Planner

  • Start managing your time effectively by developing a strict study routine and follow it rigorously until it becomes a habit.
  • Talk to your family and friends about your goal of passing the FE exam and what it means for your career.
  • An often overlooked component of time management is ‘focused effort’. You’d be surprised to see the significant improvement in productivity that comes with ‘focused effort’ when compared with ‘distracted half hearted effort’. In fact, with focused effort you might even be able to reduce your study time by as much as 20 – 50% which can give you extra time to carry on your regular routines.

 

Challenge # 4 – Broad range of exam topics

It is true that the 17 sections that are covered by FE Electrical and Computer exam specification encompasses almost the entire 4 years of undergraduate coursework for Electrical and Computer Engineering which can be very overwhelming. Students also fear that as they progress along with the exam topics they might actually start forgetting the concepts from earlier sections. Moreover, some students have not even taken coursework for all 17 sections in their undergraduate because courses such as Controls, Computer Networks, Computer Systems and Software Engineering are considered ‘technical electives’ in some schools and students specializing in power system engineering generally don’t take these courses (at least not all of them).

Actionable ideas to overcome this challenge

  • Break down the entire exam specification into min-milestones and prepare for each section as a min-exam within a larger exam.
  • Make sure to allocate time/effort to each section proportional to its exam weight-age. For example, Math, Circuits, Electronics, Power Systems and Digital Systems are the 5 most heavily weighted exam topics. It is important to give them due attention and invest sufficient time and effort.
  • Make sure to grab the low-hanging fruits i.e. Math, Engineering Economics, Ethics, Probability & Statistics and Properties of Electrical Materials.
  • Remember that everyone has areas of strengths and weaknesses. Some sections will be outright boring for you but it’s important to know that you are not trying to have fun at the moment but working hard towards your goal.

Helpful references for FE Electrical and Computer Exam Preparation

FE exam Overview

FE Electrical and Computer Exam Specification

NCEES FE Reference Handbook

List of Approved Calculators

Helpful references for PE Power Exam Preparation

PE Power Exam Overview

PE Power Exam Specification

Pass Rates

National Society of Professional Engineers