What is on the NCEES® FE Exam?

If you are an engineer who has the urge to learn and succeed in the NCEES® FE exam but never had the right resources to guide you, then you are at the right place.

The FE exam is basically a computer-based exam administered year-round at NCEES®-approved Pearson VUE test centers. 

The FE exam content and the FE exam topics mainly conclude topics that are related to engineering to examine the max potential of candidates at different levels. 

Now, if you are wondering what’s really on the FE exam, then don’t worry we have the answer to that as well. In this article, we will be discussing everything from how the FE exam works to what is on the FE exam.

What is on the FE Exam?

You might not know many things about this exam, since this FE cbt exam is one of the unique ways to test someone in this modern era. To achieve your maximum, you must stay sound minded and responsive.

FE Exam Structure

FE exam structure is one of the most unique exam structures that is conducted across the globe. There are two sessions, and each session has approximately 55 multiple-choice questions (makes a total of 110 questions) that are grouped together.

The questions that are asked have four possibilities, and one has to answer by choosing the correct option that is on the screen on the given time duration.

Another interesting fact about this FE cbt exam is that in either of the sessions, you can not respond or view the questions that are in the other session, and the exam is not adaptive, which means that your response to one question has no bearing on the next question you are given.

Lastly, the exam structure has a limited, unknown number of questions for their candidates, these questions have no impact on the results and are not scored. NCEES® only does this to determine the possibility of new questions in future exams.

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Exam Duration

The FE exam lasts for a total of 6 hours which comprises an 8-minute tutorial and a 25 minute break. The total exam time to answer the questions will be 5 hours and 20 mins.

If we do the math, then a question can be given a time duration of slightly less than 3 minutes, and you can solve the exam in any sequence and can alter the answer-back and forth if required before submitting the session for the final grading.

According to the FE protocol, one should spend 4 hours in the first section and 1 hour and 20 mins in the second section while having a break of 25 mins between sessions. Though you are allowed to leave your seat during sessions, keep in mind that the time wasted while doing so will not be compensated.

Unanswered questions are scored the same as questions answered incorrectly, so you should use the last few minutes of each session to guess at all unanswered questions.

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Difference in the Questions Sequencing

One of the most interesting things about this exam is that it is completely unique. The exam you will be taking will not be the same as the person who is taking the exam next to you.

It is almost impossible to know the actual difference in question sequencing. NCEES® claims to have the perfect algorithm that has equally difficult questions for all the candidates. So peeking into someone’s monitor will do no good to you.

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FE Exam Questions Format

The different FE exam sections consist of different types of questions that you can expect while attending your exam.

Since the 110 questions that are asked are all MCQs, there is still an FE exam format for the types of MCQs you can expect:

  • Multiple Choice: In this section, you have to select one of the four options that are given to you. If you are unsure about your answer, then making an educated assumption is the right option since you won’t be marked negatively for a wrong answer
  • Multiple Choice (Check-All-That-Apply): In this section of MCQs, you have to select a list of all the correct options. An option will have multiple lists if you have to choose the list with all the right options.
  • Point-and-Click (Hot Spot or Mark Location): In this section, you have to choose the right area on the image that is given to you by clicking on a single target. In case of change of mind, click again on your choice to unselect or click on the new preferred answer.
  • Drag-and-Place: This is an interesting way to examine someone, and with these questions, you may be asked to sort, rank, place, or label items. You have to drag and place the items on the screen after you have decided on the correct and proper sorting, ranking, placing, or labeling of those items.
  • Fill-in-the-Blank: As the name goes, you have to fill in the blanks, but you have to be careful while doing so. There are a few precautions that you might wanna have in mind while solving this section of MCQs. Firstly, don’t enter the units for your answer, and do not spell out a number, like “ten”.
  • Case Study: As the name goes, you will be given case study scenarios and resource documents on the computer screen, and you have to use them to answer the questions. The questions under this section can be either multiple-choice, check-all-that-apply, hot spot, drag-and-place, or even fill-in-the-blank.

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So now you know exactly what is on the FE exam, from the structure to the format. Though the exam can be a bit tricky at times, some good practice can get the job done with ease in no time. 


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.