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FE Exam Passing Score | Process, Pass Rate, Results, and More

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 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 FE 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

Here is the NCEES® FE exam scoring process:

  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?

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 score as a raw number. The raw score is then converted into a scaled score through the standard procedures.

2. Psychometric Statistical Methods

If you’re curious about what type of questions will be included in the psychometric statistical method, we’ve got you covered:

Aptitude Testing Questions: These are the questions that are designed to evaluate your mental abilities in a limited amount of time. 

Numerical Reasoning Questions: These types of questions will test both your mathematical and data handling skills.

Mechanical and 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. 

3. The Pass Rates

As NCEES® does not have a fixed scoring method, the 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 2022 are mentioned below:

ExamVolumePass RateFormatAvailabilityUpdated
FE Chemical33173%CBTYear-RoundJan 2022
FE Civil376862%CBTYear-RoundJan 2022
FE Electrical and Computer81573%CBTYear-RoundJan 2022
FE Environmental47070%CBTYear-RoundJan 2022
FE Industrial and Systems11662%CBTYear-RoundJan 2022
FE Mechanical250771%CBTYear-RoundJan 2022
FE and Other Disciplines45565%CBTYear-RoundJan 2022

FE Electrical and Computer, and FE Chemical have the highest clearing rate of 73%, followed by FE Mechanical and FE Environmental. 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 pass rates. If you have a specific discipline in your mind and want to approach it, go for it. The above-mentioned pass rates are all subjective to what the test was like previously.

4. The NCEES® FE Exam Results

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 in 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 results will be provided to you through email.

5. The Diagnostic Report

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 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 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.

Conclusion

The NCEES® process of scoring the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam is quite different from what you may be used to seeing. The scores of your FE test are calculated using a ‘standard scale’ that eliminates all bias. This approach is why the test has such a high validity. 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 ability of the test takers. 

All interested participants should focus on their preparation, which is most conducive to their advantage. With that in mind, it is essential to understand that as the nature of this exam is standardized, the results will always be scaled scores, meaning that there won’t even be a shred of bias. 

Wasim Asghar – P.E, P.ENG, M.ENG

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.

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