How to Get the Latest NCEES® FE Reference Handbook

The Fundamentals of Engineering exam is given by undergraduate and freshly graduated students who are interested in pursuing engineering. This computerized exam is their first step toward becoming licensed engineers. Since the aim of this test is to identify candidates who are the most skilled to pursue this profession, it is designed to be challenging. With 110 questions that need to be answered in 5 hours and 20 minutes, it requires rigorous preparation.

One of the most helpful tools for the FE Electrical exam preparation is the FE Reference Handbook which is a compilation of the formulas, equations, charts, and tables that are related to the topics in the paper. The electronic version of the FE handbook is given to candidates during the test to assist them in answering questions where necessary.

As the handbook is quite extensive, it is always useful to have a know-how of it before entering the actual examination. Continue reading to find out how you can get FE Reference Handbook.

Steps to Get the FE Reference Handbook

Steps to Get the FE Reference Handbook

The NCEES® Fundamentals of Engineering Reference Handbook can be a handy tool for you to prepare for your exam. The FE manual can help you familiarize yourself with formulas, charts, tables, and other reference information that might be useful in answering questions during the exam.

Having access to the manual beforehand can also help you navigate your way around it better during the exam so that you can give the test speedily, without having to waste time understanding it. Moreover, the information given in the handbook can assist you while practicing for the exam.

Here are the steps that you can follow to get the FE Reference Handbook directly from NCEES®:

1. Login or Sign-up to NCEES®

To access the reference book, you must first open the NCEES® website and log in to your MyNCEES account. If you don’t already have an account, then you must create one.

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2. Visit the Reference Handbook Webpage

Once logged in, you must open the Reference Handbook Web page and select the FE Reference Handbook. Make sure you select the correct option and do not accidentally select the PE or FS Reference Handbooks because they are separate exams. 

3. Download an Electronic Copy or Print the PDF

Once you select the “FE Reference Handbook” option, NCEES® will give you the option to download the free fundamentals of engineering reference handbook pdf file. This pdf is similar to the electronic handbook copy that you are given during the exam.

You can also choose to print the pdf for your personal use. However, NCEES® strictly forbids the copying and redistribution of the manual on an individual basis, without their prior consent.

Alternative: Purchase a Hard Copy of the FE Reference Handbook

If you cannot access the handbook online, are not comfortable with using the electronic version, or cannot print the pdf, you may choose to buy an official hard copy of the NCEES® FE Exam Reference Manual.

The format in the hard copy is also similar to the version given during the exam and so will help you acclimate to the manual equally well as the pdf.

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Benefits of Having the FE Handbook

Targeted Review and Knowledge Gaps:  While studying for the FE exam, you’ll encounter a vast amount of material. The handbook outlines the core knowledge expected of an entry-level engineer. Reviewing it beforehand allows you to identify areas needing additional focus.  Are there specific sections or formulas that seem unfamiliar? This targeted review helps you study relevant material and maximize your time.

Confidence and Reduced Anxiety:  Test anxiety is a genuine hurdle for many exam takers. The FE handbook can serve as a powerful confidence booster. By familiarizing yourself with its contents during your preparation, you gain valuable insight into the types of equations, tables, and charts you’ll encounter. This familiarity reduces the fear of the unknown and reinforces the knowledge you’ve acquired through studying.

Time Management and Efficiency:  The FE exam is timed, and every second counts.  Imagine spending precious minutes frantically searching for a specific formula in a bulky textbook.  The FE handbook is designed for quick reference. By understanding its organization beforehand, you can locate the information you need swiftly, allowing you to spend more time-solving problems and demonstrating your critical thinking skills.

Strategic Utilization, Not Memorization:  The FE exam doesn’t require rote memorization of every formula in the handbook.  Instead, the focus is on understanding the underlying engineering concepts and how to apply the formulas strategically to solve problems. The handbook becomes your on-demand resource, allowing you to access the information needed to demonstrate your problem-solving capabilities efficiently.

Adaptability and Addressing Unexpected Topics:  While the FE exam adheres to a specific curriculum, there’s always a chance of encountering an unfamiliar concept. The handbook provides a broader range of reference materials that can be surprisingly helpful.  By understanding the general principles behind the formulas and tables, you can apply your knowledge in a new way to address an unexpected question.

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.

Searching the FE Exam Reference Handbook 

The FE exam throws a lot at you, but the FE Reference Handbook can be your saving grace. However, efficiently navigating this comprehensive document is key. Here’s a step-by-step guide to mastering the search function on the FE exam:

Step 1: Know Your Options

The onscreen FE Reference Handbook during the exam might differ slightly depending on the testing software used. However, some general search functionalities are consistent:

  • Keyword Search: This is the most straightforward method. Simply type relevant keywords or phrases related to the problem you’re facing. For example, if a civil engineering question involves calculating beam deflection, you could search for “beam deflection formula.”

Step 2: Use Bookmarks

Some exam software versions allow you to bookmark specific pages or sections within the handbook. This can be particularly helpful if you frequently reference specific formulas or tables.

Step 3: Explore the Table of Contents (if available)

Most reference handbooks, including the FE exam version, have a digital table of contents. Utilize this tool to navigate to broad sections relevant to your problem. For instance, if you’re dealing with a fluid mechanics problem, you could use the table of contents to locate the section on fluid properties.

Step 4: Practice Makes Perfect

While you can’t access the actual exam software beforehand, familiarizing yourself with search functions in similar PDF readers can be beneficial. Practice searching for relevant terms within engineering reference materials you use while studying.

Bonus Tip: Be Specific, Not Desperate

The FE exam tests your ability to apply engineering knowledge, not just memorize formulas. Don’t get bogged down searching for every single detail. Focus on keywords that will lead you to the relevant section of the handbook where you can find the formula or concept you need.

Tips to Use the FE Reference Handbook to Pass the Exam

Tips to Use the FE Reference Handbook to Pass the Exam

As we know the Fundamentals of Engineering exam is quite tough, especially because it aims to test your skills as an engineer and provide you with your engineering license.

Therefore, hardcore preparation for the exam is necessary. The Fundamentals of Engineering Reference manual is a key tool that can help your test go smoothly. Following are some tips on how to effectively use the handbook to pass the exam:

  • Search Keywords – Finishing the FE examination on time can be a challenge and hence, every minute must be used effectively. One of the best ways to use the handbook while also saving time is to use the Ctrl+F option or the Ctrl+Shift+F option on your electronic copies and then search directly for the references and equations you are looking for by using topic names, keywords, etc.
  • Highlight equations  – While preparing for the exam, make sure you highlight all those equations in the book that you have covered. Then, spend time researching and learning about the ones that you haven’t because they could also potentially be asked about in the paper. Dividing the content in the handbook according to what you know and what you don’t helps you cover the entire book thoroughly so that when you are giving the exam, you don’t come across unfamiliar concepts.
  • Memorize – The NCEES® FE Reference Handbook is very extensive and so it is obviously not possible to learn all the equations and tables given there. However, certain information can be memorized to assist you in saving time while attempting your paper. For example, you can try to remember unit conversions so that every time you feel the need to make a conversion in your equation, you won’t need to keep going back and forth between the units page and whatever topic that equation is part of. Getting the manual beforehand can therefore help you memorize this information before entering the exam.
  • Practice – Make sure you use the Reference Handbook while you practice for the examination and that you don’t rely on figuring your way around it at the last moment because that can both confuse you and consume a lot of your time. The more you rely on the reference book while attempting the practice papers at home, the more familiar you will get with the layout, arrangement, and content of the book. This will make it easier for you to locate the relevant information swiftly when you sit for the actual exam. We would also suggest going through FE practice exams to really nail down crucial concepts.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1 - Where Can I Buy the FE Reference Handbook?

You can get free access to the pdf version of the FE Handbook once you log in to your MyNCEES account and you can download or print the book from there. However, if you want to purchase a hard copy, you can order it online from the NCEES® website which cost around $30.

2 - Is the FE Reference Handbook the Same for All Tests?

While some topics are repeated in the FE Reference Handbook, it gets updated quite frequently and many topics get either added or removed. Therefore, you must always use the handbook that is up-to-date with these changes because that is the version that will be provided to you during the exam and the questions will be based on the same topics too.

The new FE Reference Handbook  10.0.1 edition PDF can be accessed through the NCEES® website.

3 - How Do I Download the FE Reference Handbook for Free?

The free and updated version of the Fundamentals of Engineering Reference Handbook can be found on the NCEES® website. To access it, you must first log in to your MyNCEES account and then go to the Common Tasks/Useful Documents/View Reference Handbooks webpage. Over here you will find the option of downloading the free PDF of the handbook.

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The Fundamentals of Engineering examination is your first step towards becoming a licensed engineer and so is a test that needs rigorous preparation to be able to clear successfully. The FE Reference Handbook by the NCEES® plays an important role both in preparing for and attempting the exam because it can help familiarize you with the equations, tables, and charts that you will need to refer to when solving the questions.

You can get FE Reference Handbook through free and printable pdfs available on the NCEES® website or you can also choose to buy a hard copy online from the same website. Making an active effort to use the handbook effectively can help you save time during your exam and locate the information you need to attempt the paper successfully.


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.