What Is a PE Exam?

One must know what is a PE exam to become a professional engineer. The process of gathering information about a PE exam, also known as the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, is necessary to be a professional engineer. It is an examination conducted by an organization consisting of engineering and surveying licensing boards from all over the USA called NCEES®, which stands for National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

It is made for those who have a minimum of four years of post-college work that they experienced in their chosen engineering area. He then prepares for the PE exam as one completes the FE exam. Passing upon that is then declared as a licensed engineer and is registered to now go ahead and sign the drawings and calculations regarding engineering projects in the United States.

What Is a Principles & Practice of Engineering Exam (PE Exam)

PE Exam

NCEES® PE exam, also known as the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam, is the exam one takes to become a licensed professional engineer. The PE exam tests an individual’s competency to become a proper engineer. Once an individual passes the exam, he is licensed to put the designation of ‘PE’ beside his name, showing that he is a professional engineer now. Since an individual has ‘P.E’ against his name, people would know and be sure of the fact that all the activities coming under the engineering work are done by proper engineers, coming under the elite engineer’s group, who are trained for those tasks and know how to do it professionally.

People know that they will live up to their standards and expectations. Having a license to be a professional engineer means that one has indicated to people that he is dedicated to the work and has a stronghold and command over it. Due to this, he can grab more opportunities through the PE license that will be offered along with the pay raise. It will also act as a gateway to promotions and more offers. The PE license helps an individual to build their own business, which can be protected during the industry downsizing, too, opening career opportunities for the licensed engineers.

Getting a license is becoming the need of time since every project requires a great deal of professionalism and is trusted by only those who have a licensed one.

Understanding the Basics of The PE Exam

Understanding the Basics of The PE Exam

To become a professional engineer, two tests have to be given. One is the fundamentals of the engineering exam, also known as Fe, which is given during the college years of an individual. After completing the four years of engineering education and passing the FE test, then takes the PE exam conducted by NCEES® to become a professional engineer. The PE exam fee is $175. It consists of five main categories in which the individuals will be tested: construction, structural, transportation, geotechnical, and the last is water resources and environmental topics.

The PE exam is an eight-hour-long exam divided into two sections, morning and afternoon, with four hours of administration; each candidate gets done with both of the sections with a lunch break in between.

Unlike the Fe exam, individuals can use the reference material that they want to use along with the sticky notes and their material. Even though they can use the reference material, all the material should be spirally bound. If the material is not bound, it cannot be used during the examination.

The examination day has some rigid rules that every individual has to follow. One will sit according to the seating plan of the instructor, and no one will be allowed to enter the hall of examination. During the last half an hour, no individual is allowed to leave the examination hall. Before that, if an individual needs to leave the hall for any reason, he cannot take the reference material with him. The results are generated after 8-10 weeks of the examination and are informed of through the NCEES® account or by email. 

Who Can Give The PE Exam?

Who Can Give The PE Exam

PE is a standardized test that is held nationally in the US. All states of the US have somewhat different eligibility criteria for the PE exam since the state boards set the eligibility criteria for the PE examination.

However, there are some rules and specific criteria that have to be met by all individuals nationally. For example, by the time one finishes the BS degree, and their four-year experienced work, which is mandatory for all states, the minimum age for eligibility tends to be 25. The other mandatory rules are as follows:

1. Since some states have a stricter criterion for the kinds of degrees that one needs to complete to be eligible for the Pe exam. One should be aware and meet the education criteria for his/her own state and have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree in engineering or an acceptable equivalent.

2. The one thing that is nationally common among all the states is “passing the Fundamentals Exam (Fe)” after four years of college in the chosen engineering field.

3. Minimum experience requirement is to be met by the individuals, which is usually four years where they have to do qualified work in their fields under the direct control or supervision of a licensed Professional Engineer.

4. After meeting the above, one should check past the background criteria as well

5. The individual then should submit the Experience Record (ER), which has to be signed by his references.

6. After all this, the individual should fill out the PE exam form and then, after filling it, submit the application paperwork to his particular state board.

7. In the end, one should pass the state-specific ethics exam, also known as the rules exam.

The above criteria are a must-meet since all the states have the same constant criterion set amongst the different state-specific rules that one should be careful of or should meet before appearing in the PE examination.

What Distinguishes a PE from an Engineer?

An engineer is an individual who, after his bachelor’s degree and passing the fundamental examination, can work somewhere in a company but as an associate or junior engineer as he/she is still will be working under the supervision of some licensed professional engineer. An individual is not called a Professional engineer unless he takes the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam and passes it, and gets licensed.

Junior engineers tend to work under some supervision, whereas Professional Engineers are licensed. They can sign the drawings and administer the seal to reports, plans, calculations, and mappings. They can start their own business without any supervision.

They have the right to call themselves professionals. People, on the other hand, tend to trust Professional Engineers more with their work than Engineers since Professional Engineers have more experience and knowledge on their hands and command over the task that they do. In contrast, engineers do not have as much experience and peak knowledge on their hands. Since engineers have not passed the PE exam, they lack the leading experience that professional engineers have.

How To Get Registered For The PE Exam?

Registration for the PE exam

Following are the 7 steps for the registration for the PE exam:

  1. The first step is to create an account or sign in to your NCEES® account if you have one already.
  2. Under the right side of the “common task” section, there is a “Register for an exam” button that you have to click on.
  3. After clicking the button, you have to select whichever test you want to take, in this case, the Pe exam.
  4. Select the state you live in and see the requirements written for your state’s exam.
  5. Agree to the rules and policies that appear upon your screen by the NCEES®.
  6. If you want, you can also purchase the practice exam passes.
  7. After reviewing all the information, put in the billing information, agree to the fee policies, and submit the fee.

How To Prepare For The PE Exam?

The following 6 steps will help you to prepare for the PE Power exam:

  1. The first step is to get familiar with the subject outline and the format of the Pe exam and go through it thoroughly.
  2. Get you a current PE reference manual and start going through the starting chapters and getting familiar with the way you have to go about it.
  3. Decide the process of your study schedule and see how you want to do all the learning. Learning can be done in various ways. Either by studying all the subjects explicitly by going through the theories or implicitly by solving problems or to make the subset of the subjects coming in the exam.
  4. Try various ways to go about the PE exam preparation. Use audios, videos and enroll yourself in a live preparation course.
  5. The most effective way to prepare for the exam is to get and start to solve the past or the sample Pe exams.
  6. You can also enroll yourself in the PE test preparation courses and commit to your study plans.

What Is The Deadline For The PE Test Application?

NCEES® determines your PE Exam’s deadlines. The exam registration is open 4-5 months before the exam. However, the deadline is two months prior to the exam date.


The PE Exam is necessary for engineers to get licensed and start working without the supervision of others and get more and more opportunities. This article has provided you with all the essential details that you have to keep in mind, be careful of, or take care of while preparing or thinking about giving the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

This can guide you for the year to come and can prove to be the most efficient guide. If you find this article informative and knowledgeable, stay in touch with us and engage with us for more informative articles like this.

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.