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How Many Questions Are on the FE Exam?

Have an utmost desire to be officially called an engineer?

Then the very first step that you will have to take to turn your dream into a reality is to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam.

The FE Exam was established by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES®) to assess the technical competence required in the engineering industry. We have a detailed guide on what exactly is the FE exam if you need more clarity.

The students can take the FE exam either in the final year of their undergraduate studies or shortly after graduation.

In the United States, taking and passing the FE exam is a requirement for becoming a licensed Professional Engineer (PE), after which you can officially write “engineer” before your name.

The FE exam can be pretty challenging, and not knowing the type of FE exam questions and the exam pattern will only add more to your worries.

So to help you not get trapped in that black hole of worries, we will be going to tell you everything about the FE exam in this blog. We will cover everything in detail, from the number of FE exam questions, passing score, and exam pattern, to the difficulty level and the time you should devote to each question.

So without any further ado, let’s dive right in.

How Many Questions Should I Attempt Successfully to Pass the FE Exam?

The NCEES® does not specify the number of FE exam questions that must be answered correctly to pass. Instead, the NCEES® states that a passing score is determined using psychometric statistical methods without clearly defining the exact passing score.

But:

As an estimate and according to the reviews of most students, you’ll need to get 50 to 60 percent of the FE exam questions right out of 110 to pass the exam.

In addition:

The NCEES® only marks accurate answers – incorrect and blank answers are not considered, nor is there any negative marking for it.

So:

It’s always advisable to make an educated guess on the FE exam questions that you’re entirely unsure of. It is important to prepare well and not take things lightly. We suggest going through FE exam study tips to maximize your chance of acing the exam.

What is the Pattern of the FE Exam?

The FE exam is computer-based and offered year-round at Pearson VUE examination centers accredited by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES®).

The CBT FE examination procedure is six hours in duration and comprises the following:

  • Nondisclosure agreement (2 minutes)
  • Guidelines/Instructions (8 minutes)
  • Examination (5 hours and 20 minutes)
  • Scheduled break (25 minutes)

The exam contains 110 questions and is split up into two central portions:

  • The morning test portion
  • The afternoon test portion

Each portion consists of 55 FE exam questions categorized by knowledge area, and you can take a 25-minute break between these two sessions.

There are no topics that encompass both exam portions. If a topic is covered in the first exam session, it will not be included in the latter.

Moreover, you can be asked various FE exam questions, such as the multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and the alternative item types (AITs). AITs involve the following types of questions:

  • Multiple correct questions
  • Point and click questions
  • Drag and drop questions
  • Fill in the blank questions

If you need more clarity, here’s what to expect on the FE exam day.

Is FE Exam Hard to Pass?

Based on who you ask, the answer to this query will vary from person to person. Some students find the FE exam relatively easy, while the rest find it extremely hard. Because everyone has a varied level of expertise and understanding, none of the responses as correct or incorrect.

Though, you should be able to do well on the FE exam if you are well-prepared and have a thorough comprehension of the knowledge areas.

However:

Several aspects contribute to the toughness of the FE exam. Some of the FE exam questions require students to point and click, drag and drop, or fill in the blanks, making them challenging to answer.

Plus, the extensive exam duration of six hours can be mentally and physically exhausting.

Considering these factors, it won’t be wrong to conclude that the FE exam is challenging, but sealing that answer would not be the wise decision too!

We’ve written a separate article about how hard the FE exam is. Take a look at that for further information.

How Much Time Should I Spend on Each Question of the FE Exam?

As discussed earlier, the FE exam lasts six hours, including the 25-minutes lunch break and the 10-minutes tutorial at the commencement. So, you are left with 5 hours and 20 min to deal with the 110 FE exam questions.

It means:

You will have approximately three minutes (two minutes and 54 seconds, to be exact) to solve each FE exam question.

However:

It is imperative to note here that some FE exam questions, such as the theoretical ones or the ones you don’t know how to answer, can take slightly more time to solve. In contrast, problems such as the conceptual ones may get solved readily and swiftly. Learning how to solve complex problems with an FE-approved calculator and gaining familiarity with the NCEES® FE Reference Handbook can also help you answer them quickly.

Check out these articles if you want to grab the best FE-approved calculators and find out what the latest NCEES® FE reference handbook can help you with.

What Is a Passing Score on the Fe Exam?

Long story short, there is no such thing as a specific passing score for the FE exam. The exam result is either pass or fail – there’s nothing in between.

Yes, you have read that right.

It is because:

In the NCEES® FE exam, the examinees’ minimum competence level is assessed. The FE exam score is treated as a raw number during the exam marking. Standard methods are then used to turn the raw score into a scaled score. This scaled score indicates an examinee’s competence degree which is then compared to the FE exam’s baseline ability level, which is determined in advance by the NCEES® for each exam season.

However:

The median passing score for the FE exam is 70%. It’s critical to remember that these figures are subject to rapid change. This is because the NCEES® set the benchmark score on the examinee’s minimal ability score. The variability in passing scores may not accurately depict the exam difficulty level.

If you want to know more about FE exam passing score and how the NCEES® grades the exam, consider reading this in-depth blog.

Conclusion

Although the FE exam questions can be challenging to deal with, it is not impossible to pass the exam. You can pass the FE exam and start your engineering career with intense studying and a strong mindset. Keep in mind that persistence and unwavering hard work are the keys to success. So, instead of stressing, focus on your studies and prepare well for the FE exam.

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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