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14 Tips To Pass The FE Exam The Second Time

You’ve been studying for your FE Electrical and Computer exam for so long that it appears to be an eternity.

When exam day arrives, you leave the examination center feeling unsure about how it went even after answering all of the questions to the best of your knowledge. You are just hoping and praying that your efforts will payoff and the questions that you made educated guesses on will work out in your favor.

However:

You receive the results of your exam after a few weeks. 

And, to your surprise:

You did not pass your FE Electrical and Computer exam. 

So, what’s next? 

You may find yourself in a sea of negative emotions as you get flashbacks of the time you spent studying, the long nights, missed parties and family events that you sacrificed for the preparation of this exam over the course of several months. 

Even worse is the experience of sharing this news with your loved ones that you did not pass the exam despite having put in so hundreds of hours. After all, your family, friends and maybe even colleagues/supervisors at work probably co-operated with you during your exam preparation. You might feel disappointed and even embarrassed at letting them down.

You may even start doubting your abilities and tell yourself that maybe you will never be able to pass this exam. 

If you have gone through this experience and can relate to some of these emotions, then keep reading, as this article will discuss 14 tips to help you prepare better for your next attempt of FE Electrical and Computer exam.

One of the most important things to remember is that you are not the first or the last person to fail the FE exam on your first attempt. Engineering exam are generally difficult. FE and PE exams are arguably the two most difficult engineering exams. A failing grade does not mean the end of dream of becoming a licensed professional engineer

Enough pep talk!

Let’s look at how you can improve yourself to pass the FE Electrical and Computer Exam on your second time.

How to improve your chances of passing FE Electrical and Computer Exam on 2nd try

Here are some tips and tricks that will help you improve the odds of passing the FE Electrical and Computer exam in the second attempt:

1. Understand the fundamental concepts

Comprehending the fundamental concepts is key to building a foundation solid and increasing your odds of passing the FE Electrical and Computer exam. But, this is a hard nut to crack as an engineering student because you are more inclined to constantly taking plethora of tests and quizzes in order to learn a new concepts. The ‘problem-based’ learning approach is an effective strategy to learn concepts but it has its limitations especially when learning a new concept. It is important to take a step back a dive into the theoretical framework of a new concept especially if it is something that you haven’t encountered before. Because setting aside the time for delving into and understanding the fundamental engineering concepts is very important in laying a solid foundation as mentioned above. 

While studying for your second shot at the FE Electrical and Computer exam, make sure that you get a firm grasp of the fundamental concepts related to the following topics that form part of the NCEES® FE Electrical and Computer exam specification: 

  • Mathematics
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Ethics and Professional Practice
  • Electrical material properties and computational tools
  • Engineering sciences 
  • Circuit-analysis
  • Linear systems 
  • Signal processing 
  • Electronics
  • Power systems
  • Electromagnetics 
  • Control systems
  • Communications 
  • Computer networks
  • Computer systems, 
  • Software development 
  • Digital systems

2. Be ready for whatever questions are thrown at you

FE exams transitioned to computer-based testing (CBT) format in 2014. In the computer-based format of the FE Electrical and Computer exam, you can be asked questions in a variety of ways. These are commonly called as the alternative item types (AITs).

AITs can involve the following types of questions:

Multiple correct questions: More than one option is correct in these questions, so you have to select multiple correct answers. These are type of questions that students are generally most comfortable with. That’s because during your engineering studies most of your exams, tests, quizzes etc. were probably MCQ style. SATs, GREs, MCATs, LSATs etc. are some of the examples of standardized tests that are mostly in MCQ format.

Point and click questions: You are required to click on the part of a graphic to answer. Since this a less common type of question as compared to MCQs that you frequently encountered in your academic career, it is important to slow down and make sure that you are properly pointing and clicking the correct answers. 

Drag and drop questions: In these, you have to click on and drag items to match, sort, rank, or label. Just like the point and click question, since drag and drop questions are also less common type of questions as compared to MCQs that you frequently encountered in your academic career, it is important to slow down and make sure that you are answering it correctly. 

Fill in the blank questions: You are provided with a space in which you have to write the answer to the question. It is important to pay special attention to decimal points and significant digits while answering these questions.

Moreover, you can also be asked asked, a lengthy worded problem, involving no values, graphs, or diagrams. Also, it is a fair game to see questions that are purely theoretical in nature with little to no requirement for calculations. Checkout the NCEES® FE Electrical and Computer sample exam for more details.

The bottom line here is that – you must be prepared for whatever style of questions is thrown at you.

A lot students study by looking at the problem at hand and then trying to make sense of it, and then attempting it. But a good strategy is to look at the question first and understand the context before attempting to answer it. This requires you to have a theoretical framework which in turn requires deep understanding of the underlying concepts.

3. Use practice exams to expose your weaknesses

A tried-and-tested approach to pass the FE exam the second time is to attempt practice exams multiple times after covering the entire exam specification. Taking practice exams can help you determine which areas you have mastered and which ones you still need to review thoroughly.

Here are some of the most highly rated and widely recommended FE Electrical and Computer practice exams:

The FE Electrical and Computer Practice Exam by NCEES®: This practice exam includes 100 questions with comprehensive solutions that will help you gain familiarity with the FE Electrical exam format and content.

Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Electrical and Computer – Practice Exam # 1 FE Electrical & Computer Practice Exam # 1 by Wasim Asghar: It is a full-length exam with 110 FE-style problems containing detailed solutions as per the NCEES® CBT FE Exam specification.

Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Electrical and Computer – Practice Exam # 2 FE Electrical & Computer Practice Exam # 2 by Wasim Asghar: It is a full-length exam with 110 FE-style problems containing detailed solutions as per the NCEES® CBT FE Exam specification.

Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Electrical and Computer – Practice Exam # 3 FE Electrical & Computer Practice Exam # 2 by Wasim Asghar: It is a full-length exam with 110 FE-style problems containing detailed solutions as per the NCEES® CBT FE Exam specification.

Study Guide for Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Electrical & Computer CBT Exam by Wasim Asghar: It features over 700 FE Electrical practice problems with detailed solutions. It will help you become more familiar with the NCEES® FE Exam Reference Handbook – the sole reference item you can bring to the FE exam.

Now that you know which practice exams are the best, consider practicing ten questions each day and referring to your diagnostic report to focus on the area you struggled with previously.

4. Aim to outperform yourself every time

Don’t worry too much about other people’s exam preparation strategies and how much better they are than yours. You need to make sure that your exam preparation strategy is consist with your study style and schedule. Don’t try to mimic others practice test-taking approaches. It is not bad idea to learn different approaches but if you are constantly changing your study plan, that’s not a good sign. Not only it will take you out of your comfort zone, but it will also put you into an inferiority complex if you can’t strictly follow their footsteps – which you definitely can’t, as each individual has different strengths and weaknesses and ways of perceiving things. The FE Electrical and Computer exam is not a race you are running with others. It’s only YOU vs YOU. So instead of competing with others, make a competition with yourself. Try to outperform yourself.

Daily track your progress. While solving practice problems, time yourself to get an idea of how much time you are taking for solving different types of problems. If you are consistently taking longer than 3 minutes, then challenge yourself to improve your timing and try to solve the problems within three minutes. Always strive to be a better version of yourself than you were yesterday and compare your results every time you attempt the new questions. This will help you time yourself and measure your performance.      

5. Make daily goals and achieve them on a regular basis

When studying for the second attempt of FE Electrical and Computer exam, set goals for yourself by splitting your study schedule into small chunks and aim to accomplish what you’ve planned for the day. Keep a diary, spreadsheet or progress cards that should at least include information about the following: 

  • What subjects did you plan to study over a period of time?
  • How many topics did you cover in a week?
  • How many problems did you practice in a day?
  • How much time did each practice problem take on average?
  • Which areas did you struggle with the most?

Creating that to-do list and getting that done will boost your confidence and encourage you to study more. 

You can utilize the following apps for making progress cards:

  • Todoist
  • TickTick
  • Google Tasks
  • OmniFocus

These to-do-list apps help you organize your daily study tasks and remind you of your self-established deadlines.

6. Do not rush into retaking the FE Electrical and Computer exam again

Preparation is the most crucial aspect of passing the FE Electrical and Computer exam the second time. Begin studying for the exam at least a month ahead of time. Give yourself enough time to FE exam Prep, purchase reference materials, and practice tests as early as possible. Practice exams can help you time yourself to attempt the test with complete confidence.

Treat FE practice exam problems as if they are the real deal. Take the practice exams in an exam-like setting and don’t start looking for solutions after attempting just a handful of problems. These practice exams are meant to help you identify your strengths and weakness that can help you in fine-tuning your exam preparation efforts for your second attempt.

Since this is your second attempt, you may feel tempted to reschedule the exam right away and take it again soon rather than later. Don’t fall into the the trap of retaking this exam without properly addressing the knowledge areas that you struggled with in your previous attempt. If you jump into the exam again without addressing the gaps, you will most likely get the same ‘failed result’.

7. Focus on your strengths

Every student has certain strengths and weaknesses. It is important to full leverage the knowledge areas that you are strong at by converting every question on the exam from these topics into points. As you restart your FE Electrical exam preparation journey, you are bound to come across several topics that you can categorize as your strengths. Some of these topics come naturally to you or maybe they are fun to work with. Whatever the case maybe, your goal is to make sure that you don’t let your strengths go to waste and for that you have to properly cement your understanding in these concepts and make it a goal to translate these strengths into points on the exam.

8. Learn how to use your calculator properly

Calculators are a vital component of successful FE Electrical and Computer exam preparation effort. They can significantly improve timing.

So it is crucial for you to use your NCEES® approved FE exam calculator properly by understanding its basic and advanced functions, such as the ones outlines below:

  • Solving an equation for a variable.
  • Setting up long equations in a stacked view.
  • Storing the value from one step in a variable and then using it in the next step.
  • Solving integrals and derivatives.
  • Solving matrices and determinants.
  • Solving vector problems.
  • Unit conversions.
  • Binary, Decimal, Hexadecimal and Octal number conversion

Using your scientific calculator properly can help you answer problems more quickly.

9. Proper time management during the exam

The ability to manage your time during exam is crucial to success. While preparing for the exam it is important to practice the problem while making sure you are spending less than 3 minutes on each question. This will help you in solving the questions on the actual exam in less than 3 minutes. During the exam if you think a problem is taking a long time, or if you’re utterly lost and don’t know where to begin after 15 seconds, then simply flag it and move on.

Remember that the FE exam is a race against time. If you try and answer every question that is out of your league, it will be impossible for you to attempt all 110 questions and you will most definitely miss out on some of the easy questions. So, prioritize the the questions that you are 100% sure of. Don’t get bogged down in a time-consuming question you know you can’t answer. As mentioned earlier, simply flag it and move on to the questions you are more confident about. This will prevent you from running out of time and wasting time on questions that seem challenging to answer. Once you have solved all the doable questions then circle back to the flagged questions and start attempting them one at a time. Use the method of educated guessing to answer all the remaining questions because there is no negative marking in the FE exam.

10. Seek help from others

When you’re stuck on a problem, it’s not a good idea to continue doing it all alone and turn into a hermit. Instead, consider finding someone who can assist you in understanding and solving that problem. If you are using Study for FE’s On-demand FE Electrical and Computer exam preparation course, you can directly reach out to the instructor Wasim Asghar, PE at wasim@studyforfe.com. If you are studying independently then you can seek help from internet forums such as Quora and Reddit by putting up your queries. You’d be surprised to see the support that you will receive there.    

11. Set a study schedule

Make a weekly study schedule for the time between now and the FE Electrical exam. This should involve clear outlines of topics that you need to study and the target number of hours that you should spend. Once you have an effective exam preparation schedule, don’t stray from it – instead, allow this schedule to steer you throughout this time, as writing everything down will help you stay on track. 

12. Crush the first half of the FE Electrical and Computer exam  

The FE Electrical and Computer exam is split up into two portions: 

  • The morning portion 
  • The afternoon portion

The first half of the morning test portion is relatively easier than the second half as it mostly focuses on general engineering concepts. In contrast, the second half is a bit harder as it more heavy on the core Electrical and Computer knowledge areas.

Moreover, due to the nature of the topics, the morning portion will contain problems that are less time consuming and some of them may even be solved directly with the calculator.

So it is recommended that you try to capitalize on the morning section as much as you can in order to improve your chances of passing the FE Electrical and Computer exam in the second attempt.  

13. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses

Determine which knowledge areas are your strengths and which ones are your weaknesses. This analysis should help you direct your exam preparation efforts effectively.

Your goal should be to convert all or most of your strengths into points on the exam. This requires cementing your understanding in these areas and doing a lot of practice. Don’t fall into the trap of spending excessive amounts of time working on your strengths in order to give your ego a boost. It’s counterproductive!

Once you have a good handle on your strengths, you should then focus on your weaker subjects and aim to bring your performance as close to average as possible. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to convert all your weaknesses into strengths. It will take a lot of time and effort in order to convert your weaknesses into strengths and it will be counterproductive because it will significantly increase your exam preparation timeline which may result in you giving up completely!

14. Develop familiarity with the electronic version of NCEES® FE Reference Handbook 

Downloading the free PDF version of the NCEES® FE Reference Handbook if you haven’t already done so. It is important to use the electronic version for your exam preparation rather than the printed version because the actual exam contains the electronic version. As you know, NCEES® FE Reference Handbook is the only reference material allowed during the exam. It contains a lot of exam relevant equations, formulas, definitions and content that can help you solve the questions quickly without having to memorize any of those details.

Conclusion:

Failure on your FE Electrical and Computer exam should not make you abandon your ambitions of becoming a licensed professional engineer. Instead, you should take a step back, analyze your failure and come back stronger for the next attempt by making use of the tips and tricks outlined in this article.

We hope reading this article gave you a better understanding on improving your study tactics for passing the FE Electrical and Computer exam in the second time.

Good luck with your future endeavors!

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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