FE Exam Passing Score

The NCEES® FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam is a test of nerves. The NCEES® has so many regulations and rules to be followed that most people get stressed out. It is the first challenging step toward becoming a licensed professional engineer. Still, with the calculated FE exam preparation and the right strategies, you can pass this test without facing any hurdles. All you need to do is familiarize yourself with everything there is to know about the FE exam.

The NCEES® scoring criteria are entirely different from the typical criteria students are used to seeing. The fundamental of the engineering exam is different for each examinee, and the scoring is done through a standard scale, which removes all bias.

The minimum ability score is the base level passing score that the NCEES® has decided ahead of time for each exam period, and these numbers change per test intake. It is imperative to know what the test scores mean to ace this test to the best of your ability.

This article will discuss the scoring process that NCEES® uses, the FE exam passing score, results, and the diagnostic report. Moreover, we will also share some FE exam tips to help you achieve better results.

NCEES® FE Exam Passing Score Process

FE Exam Passing Score Process

Although we have already discussed the NCEES® scoring process in the intro of this blog, what we haven’t discussed yet are the intricacies.

So, here’s what we’re going to take a look at now:

  1. What does the NCEES® measure?
  2. Psychometric statistical methods
  3. The pass rates
  4. The NCEES® FE exam results
  5. The diagnostic report
  6. The FE exam passing score
  7. So many numbers, what to do?

If you’re floating around the internet trying to find answers to these questions, keep reading…

1. What does the NCEES® measure?

The first thing to understand is that the NCEES® grades only those answers that are the correct ones – wrong or empty answers are not considered. After that, the score is converted to a scaled score, which accounts for slight changes in difficulty between multiple exam versions.

This scaled score represents an examinee’s ability level and is compared to the exam’s minimal ability level. This means that grading is based on psychometric statistical methods determined by subject-matter specialists. So, there is no fixed percentile or score for passing the FE exam.

The NCEES® FE exam scores both new and repeat exam takers the same way. This gives an added advantage to repeat applicants. The chance of bias is absent due to the rigorous standardization that the NCEES® has enforced. These standards are set by experts in all the specific engineering principles.

The minimum ability level of the test takers is what is measured in the NCEES® FE exam. Each specific engineering discipline has its own scoring and percentiles, as both have different requirements. The FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam scoring considers test scores as a raw number. The raw score is then converted into a scaled score through the standard procedures.

NCEES® has published brief information about how your FE exam is measured on its Exams Scores Page.

brief information about how your FE exam is measured
Source – https://ncees.org/exams/scores/

If you’re seeking a comprehensive resource for your FE Electrical exam preparation, check out our FE Electrical Exam Prep course.

Our proven, on-demand content and live training have successfully helped thousands of students pass their FE exam.

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2. Psychometric Statistical Methods

Psychometric Statistical Methods

The FE exam is based on the following four types of questions that you must prepare for:

  • Aptitude Test Questions: These are the questions that are designed to evaluate your mental abilities in a limited amount of time.
  • Quantitative Reasoning Questions: These types of questions will test both your mathematical and data manipulation skills.
  • Mechanical & Logical Reasoning Questions: These include pattern recognition questions that will assess your grasp of the mechanical concepts related to electrical circuits, gears, levers, etc.
  • Inductive Reasoning Questions: These are the best-choice questions (BCQs), meaning that you have to pick the most appropriate option out of all the correct ones.

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3. The Pass Rates

As NCEES® does not have a fixed scoring method, the FE exam pass rates are constantly changing. The fluctuation in the pass rates happens twice a year, from January to June and then from July to December. This represents the people who first took the exam within the period of 12 months after graduation from an ABET or an accredited engineering school. Non-engineering graduates are not counted in these rates.

The pass rates are different for each discipline, and these are updated for each year. This is why the FE exam passing score is constantly fluctuating each year.

The FE exam pass rates for the year 2023 are mentioned below:

ExamVolumePass RateFormatAvailabilityUpdated
FE Chemical30469%CBTYear-RoundJan 2023
FE Civil354055%CBTYear-RoundJan 2023
FE Electrical and Computer73264%CBTYear-RoundJan 2023
FE Environmental39664%CBTYear-RoundJan 2023
FE Industrial and Systems8851%CBTYear-RoundJan 2023
FE Mechanical202965%CBTYear-RoundJan 2023
FE Other Disciplines40455%CBTYear-RoundJan 2023

FE Environmental and FE Mechanical have the highest clearing rate of 68%, followed by FE Chemical and FE Electrical and Computer. One thing to keep in mind is that the pass rate might be high for one discipline, but it doesn’t make that discipline easy to clear.

Similarly, it doesn’t make the rest impossible to clear either. The quality of test-takers is also an essential factor that contributes to the FE pass rates. If you have a specific discipline in your mind and want to approach it, go for it. The aforementioned pass rates are all subjective to the complexity of the last exam.

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4. The NCEES® FE Exam Results

FE Exam Result

It is imperative to understand the FE scoring methods to interpret your test result. The result is either a pass or a fail, and there is no gray area. The NCEES® does not disclose the score you achieved on the test. However, the details of the test are mentioned in the report.

The State in which you took the exam, the date of the conduction, and the result (pass or fail), are all available in the report. In that report, there will also be a link that will help you find jobs until you get your certification and license, but you will only be able to see that link if you have passed the FE exam.

If you have failed to pass the FE exam, a diagnostic report will be attached to your email. These reports and FE results will be provided to you through email.

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5. The Diagnostic Report

Diagnostic Report
Sample FE Exam Result Sheet for Computer-Based Exam

The diagnostic report can be your blueprint for the next time you prepare for the FE exam. The FE exam is challenging, and the preparation is quite complicated. As a fresh taker of the exam, many misconceptions and general anxiety will permanently inhibit your performance. Re-takers have the advantage of experience.

The diagnostic report lists all the subjects and the number of questions in each one of them. The score given to each subject is the scaled score which ranges between 0-15. There is also a bar graph that represents your performance in each subject.

If you didn’t perform well in the exam, do not get disheartened – use the diagnostic report as your guide and improve your weak areas. Practice more and more using the materials that the NCEES® provides, and focus the most on those subjects you aren’t much good at.

6. The FE Exam Passing Score

The passing score of the FE exam on average is 70%. It is imperative to remember that these numbers can change very quickly. This is due to the board basing the benchmark score on the minimum ability score of the test takers. The passing score’s fluctuation may not be an accurate representation of the difficulty of the tests. Make sure to prepare rigorously to handle these factors.

By now, the overwhelming numbers and percentages may have you questioning your decision to take the FE exam. However, these numbers are not a direct representation of the level of test difficulty you may be dealing with.

The main thing that will help you surpass the passing score is your practice. The preparation for the FE Electrical exam is vital – focus on that. If you are a first-timer or a re-taker, do not change your desired discipline based on passing rates.

7. So Many Numbers, What to Do?

The FE exam test is challenging but not impossible to clear. If you are retaking the FE exam, the interpretation of the diagnostic report will help you to identify your weak areas so you may work on them. The more you practice, the more you will improve. Please use the manuals the NCEES® provides. These are the same manuals you will be given on exam day. Make sure that you are well-versed in using them.

How many attempts do you get for the FE exam? 

The FE Exam is crucial to obtaining a Professional Engineer (PE) license. While thorough preparation is key, it’s also helpful to understand the retake policy in case you fail to pass on the first attempt. Here, we’ll explore the number of attempts allowed and strategies to maximize your chances of success on the FE Exam.

Exam Attempts and Scheduling

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) allows candidates to take the FE Exam three times within 12 months. This 12-month cycle commences from the month you take your first FE Exam.

Here’s a breakdown of the scheduling window:

  • The FE Exam is offered four times yearly, with testing windows in January-March, April-June, July-September, and October-December [1].
  • This translates to a potential opportunity to take the exam every three months within the 12-month cycle.

It’s important to note that registration deadlines typically fall several weeks before each testing window, so planning and early registration are crucial.

Maximizing Your Chances of Success

While understanding the retake policy is helpful, the goal is to pass the FE Exam on the first attempt. Here are some strategies to maximize your chances:

  • Develop a Personalized Study Plan: Create a schedule that aligns with your learning style and dedicates sufficient time to each exam topic.
  • Utilize Effective Resources: Invest in high-quality study materials such as practice exams, question banks, and FE Exam reference manuals.
  • Practice Time Management: Practice exams can help you develop practical time management skills for the actual exam, ensuring you can complete all sections within the allotted time.
  • Seek Support: Join online forums or study groups to connect with other FE Exam candidates and share study tips and strategies.

If you don’t pass on the first try, the NCEES retake policy allows you to regroup, refine your study approach, and retake the exam within the 12-month window.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1 - Can I still take the PE if I pass the FE exam from a non-ABET accredited institution?

Yes, you can still take the PE exam and receive the PE license if your FE degree isn’t ABET-accredited. Look up the rules for the PE exam eligibility. Without the ABET accreditation, you will simply need to fulfill longer experience requirements. The number of years you will have to invest in for gaining experience differs for each State. Your institution’s accreditation will have no bearing on your ability to practice your degree and succeed.

2 - Should I score a specific number in each topic, or is the grade overall for the FE exam?

The NCEES® keeps track of your individual topics’ scores, however, they do not affect your overall grade. So you should be focused on answering the correct answers overall instead of pushing yourself to earn a particular score for each topic.

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The NCEES® criteria for FE Exam Passing Score is a little bit different than most people usually expect it to be. The exam scores are calculated via a ‘standard scale’ that eliminates all bias. The reliability of this testing method is also very high. The test intakes and the average FE exam passing scores are all subjective to the complexity of the exam and the performance index of candidates.

You are recommended to remain consistent throughout your preparation journey. Apart from consistency and focus, the evaluation criterion of the FE exam is geared towards passing the right candidates without any biased scoring.

For further queries related to FE/PE exam and dedicated guidance throughout your preparation journey feel free to contact Study for FE.


Licensed Professional Engineer in Texas (PE), Florida (PE) and Ontario (P. Eng) with consulting experience in design, commissioning and plant engineering for clients in Energy, Mining and Infrastructure.