How to Manage Time During the FE Exam?

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam can be daunting for engineering students and professionals. With 110 questions to answer in a limited time frame, efficient time management is essential for success.

In this blog, we will discuss how to manage time during the FE exam with four specific and technical strategies to help you navigate the FE Electrical and Computer or any other FE exam effectively.

5 Tips to Manage Time During the FE Exam

fe exam time management

Below are the helpful FE exam time management tips that help you prepare for your FE electrical and computer exam and crack it on the first attempt. Read these tips to help maximize your chances of success by precisely determining how to manage time during the FE exam.

1. Calculator Efficiency: Maximizing Your Time-saving Tool

calculator efficiency

One of the most underutilized assets during the FE Exam is your calculator. To make the most of it, follow these steps:

  • Familiarity is Key – Choose a calculator you’re comfortable with, preferably one you used during college. Being familiar with its functions can save you precious seconds.
  • List Calculator Features – Create a list of functions relevant to your specific FE exam. Features like rectangular-to-polar conversion, matrix calculations, and number systems are invaluable.
  • Time Savings – Consider this scenario: manually solving a problem takes three minutes, but with your calculator, it only takes 30 seconds. Mastering your calculator saves 2.5 minutes per question, potentially adding up to 25 extra minutes for tackling more challenging questions.

Applying these techniques helps you solve the critical puzzle that makes up an equation to determine how to manage time during the FE exam effectively.

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2. NCEES® Reference Handbook: Your Ultimate Resource

The NCEES® Reference Handbook is the only resource available during the exam. Here’s how to efficiently use it:

  • Deep Dive into Exam Specification – Thoroughly understand the exam specification topics before diving into technical details. This will help you map out the exam’s scope.
  • Identify Relevant Sections – Different FE exams share the same NCEES® Reference Handbook. Ensure you identify the sections applicable to your specific exam. Bookmark relevant pages for quick access.
  • Effective Navigation – Avoid relying solely on the “Ctrl+F” feature. Instead, use bookmarks to categorize and locate information faster. Understanding the layout of the handbook is crucial for quick problem-solving.

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3. In-Depth Study and Active Learning

in-depth study and active learning

In the FE Electrical Exam, in-depth study is your secret weapon for efficient problem-solving. This approach involves complex concepts, creating mental connections, and building a structured knowledge base. Let’s explore why and how in-depth study can significantly benefit your FE Electrical Exam preparation with relevant examples.

a. Consolidating Knowledge: The Power of Deep Understanding

Example: Circuit Analysis

Consider a circuit analysis problem. Instead of merely memorizing formulas, dive deep into the topic. Break it into its fundamental components: Ohm’s Law, Kirchhoff’s Laws, nodal analysis, and mesh analysis. Understand not just how these concepts work but why they work.

  • Enhanced Problem-Solving – You won’t need to struggle with memorization when encountering a circuit analysis question in the exam. You’ll intuitively grasp the principles, making problem-solving more efficient.
  • Time Efficiency – Deep understanding reduces the time spent deciphering what a question is asking, allowing you to streamline your approach.

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b. Immediate Problem-Solving: Connecting Concepts

Example: Electronics

In electronics, topics like transistor behaviour, digital logic gates, and amplifier configurations may seem isolated. However, an in-depth study helps you establish connections. Understand how transistors form the basis of digital logic gates and amplifiers. Realize how changes in input affect output.

  • Holistic Approach – You don’t view problems in isolation; you see them as part of a broader system. This perspective allows you to approach questions with confidence.
  • Reduced Stress – When you understand how everything fits together, you’re less likely to be overwhelmed by complex electronic questions.

c. Study Aids: Mind Mapping and Conceptual Chains

Example: Power Systems

Create a mind map for power systems, starting with fundamental concepts like AC circuits, power factors, and transformers. Branch out into subtopics such as three-phase power and load flow analysis. Each subtopic links to the central theme.

  • Visual Organization – Mind maps provide a visual structure for your knowledge, making it easier to recall during the exam.
  • Efficient Revision – When reviewing, follow the logical flow of your mind map, reinforcing your grasp of the subject matter.

d. Application of In-Depth Study:

Example: Transient Analysis

When studying transient analysis, go beyond equations. Understand the physical phenomena behind it. Visualize how energy storage elements like capacitors and inductors behave during transient events. Know why the transient response depends on time constants.

  • Problem-Solving Proficiency – In the exam, when tasked with transient analysis problems, your deep understanding will guide you in selecting the correct approach without hesitation.
  • Time Management – Instead of struggling with concepts during the exam, you can efficiently apply your knowledge and save valuable fe exam time.

4. Flag and Prioritize: Smart Question Selection

During the exam, be strategic in handling questions:

  • Flag Difficult Questions – If you encounter a challenging question that seems time-consuming, flag it and move on. Spending too much time on one question can be counterproductive.
  • Solve Easier Questions First – Prioritize questions you can solve quickly. Knocking them out early leaves more time for challenging ones.
  • Never Leave Questions Blank – Make an educated guess even if you’re unsure. There’s no penalty for wrong answers, but unanswered questions guarantee no points.

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5. Speed Up Your Preparation Through Morning Sessions

While technical knowledge is crucial for taking the FE Exam, the psychological aspect of the FE exam time management strategy shouldn’t be underestimated. Lets discuss why speeding through the morning session can give you significant psychological and mental health advantages.

a. Confidence Booster

  • Early Wins – Starting the exam with the morning session, often considered comparatively more straightforward, allows you to rack up early wins. This boosts your confidence and sets a positive tone for the rest of the day.
  • Reduced Anxiety – Navigating through familiar territory eases anxiety. Successfully answering questions in the morning can put your mind at ease, making you more relaxed for the more challenging afternoon section.

b. Psychological Momentum

  • Building Momentum – The concept of psychological momentum is well-documented. As you answer questions efficiently in the morning, you build momentum like an athlete gaining speed in a race.
  • Increased Focus – This momentum can carry into the afternoon session, helping you maintain focus and mental clarity. Staying in the zone is easier when you’re already in motion.

c. Time Allocation Confidence

  • Strategic Planning – Completing the morning session quickly gives you a surplus of the FE exam time. This surplus can be a strategic advantage. You’ll confidently enter the afternoon session, knowing you have extra minutes to tackle challenging problems.
  • Reduced Pressure – Knowing that you’ve managed your time well in the morning can reduce the pressure you feel during the afternoon session. You’ll be less likely to rush or make careless mistakes.

d. Psychological Resilience

  • Stress Mitigation – Morning success helps you manage stress. Knowing that you’ve done well in the initial part of the exam can act as a buffer against anxiety.
  • Positive Outlook – As you move to the afternoon session, you’ll carry a more positive outlook. This can be instrumental in problem-solving, as a positive mindset often leads to better results.

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Now, you clearly understand how to manage time during the FE exam. Indeed, effective time management is paramount for success in the FE Exam. You can maximise your chances of passing this challenging exam by mastering your calculator, utilizing the NCEES® Reference Handbook efficiently, adopting in-depth study techniques, and strategically selecting questions.

Psychology and a well-tuned brain play a crucial role in high-stakes exams like the FE Electrical exam preparation. Speeding through the morning session maximizes your available fe exam time and provides a psychological advantage that can make the difference between success and falling short.

Every minute counts, so use them wisely to achieve your engineering goals. For more FE exam time management tips and tricks and detailed FE electrical preparation guides or resources, explore Study for FE – your go-to platform for FE exam preparation.


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.