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Which Is the Easiest PE Exam?

So you have earned an engineering degree, cleared the FE exam, acquired the title of EIT, garnered four years of work experience, and are finally looking forward to taking the PE exam.

But this must be the very first thought that would have struck your mind:

Which PE exam should I take?

The answer is pretty simple.

Everyone would like to take the PE exam that they can pass on their first attempt to become professional engineers without wasting their time retaking the exam.

But which is the easiest PE exam to take?

Well, it heavily depends on your fascination with a specific subject, whether you will crush the exam in your first take or not. So, you will obviously have a firm grasp on your topic of interest, making it significantly easier to ace.

Plus, your work experience is also a key player here. For instance, if you have earned experience working as an electrical engineer, you will definitely have more knowledge about electrical systems than civil engineers. In that case, the PE power exam will be the easiest for you to pass.

However:

We must also not neglect an exam’s difficulty levels. There is no doubt that some PE exams are somewhat more challenging than the rest.

To find this out, we have to look at the passing percentages for different PE disciplines to determine which one is relatively easier to pass than the others.

So, here’s a table highlighting the PE exam pass rates for all of the disciplines:

Examination DisciplineVolumeFirst time Pass ratesExam       Format     Last updated
PE Agricultural and Biological Engineering3382%CBTDec 2021
PE Architectural Engineering6456%P&PJune 2021
PE Chemical14863%CBTJune 2022
PE Civil: Construction78649%CBTJune 2022
PE Civil: Geotechnical38849%CBTJune 2022
PE Civil: Structural123354%CBTJune 2022
PE Civil Transportation146265%CBTJune 2022
PE Civil: Water Resources and Environmental138064%CBTJune 2022
PE Control Systems17567%P&PDec 2021
PE Electrical and Computer: Computer Engineering4549%CBTDec 2021
PE Electronics, Controls, and Communications20869%CBTDec 2021
PE Electrical and Computer: Power94259%CBTJune 2022
PE Environmental30671%CBTJune 2022
PE Fire Protection23682%CBTDec 2021
PE Industrial and Systems10466%CBTDec 2021
PE Mechanical: HVAC and Refrigeration64371%CBTJune 2022
PE Mechanical: Machine Design and Materials35270%CBTJune 2022
PE Mechanical: Thermal and Fluid Systems39168%CBTJune 2022
PE Metallurgical and Materials5682%P&PDec 2021
PE Mining and Mineral Processing6551%CBTDec 2021
PE Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering2662%P&PJune 2021
PE Nuclear1753%CBTDec 2021
PE Petroleum8656%CBTDec 2021
PE Structutual: Lateral Forces Bridges3938%P&PJune 2022
PE Structutual: Lateral Forces Buildings23728%P&PJune 2022
PE Structutual: Vertical Forces Bridges4527%P&PJune 2022
PE Structutual: Vertical Forces Buildings28636%P&PJune 2022

From the statistics in the table above, we can see that 82% of candidates passed the PE Agricultural and Biological Engineering, PE Fire Protection, and the PE Metallurgical and Materials exams on their first attempt. So as these three PE exam disciplines have the highest pass rates, we can evaluate that these are the easiest PE exam to take and pass.

How Long Do I Need to Study for PE?

Although it differs from person to person, you should dedicate between 200-300 hours on average to prepare for the PE examination if you commence studying three to four months before the exam.

For example, let’s say you start studying three months before the PE test and spend two hours each day, plus six hours on Saturdays and Sundays. In that case, you will need to devote 264 hours to studying for the PE exam.

Remember that these figures are just based on students’ personal experiences and are not always true.

What Is the Most Difficult PE Exam?

As per the NCEES® PE exam passing rates in the table outlined above, we can assess that the PE Structural exam discipline has the lowest average pass rate of 32.25%, resulting in it being the most difficult PE exam to take.

The reason might be:

This examination demands you to be knowledgeable about a significant quantity of content material and a vast amount of additional criteria you must be acquainted with.

After the PE Structural exam, we can see that the exams with the lowest pass rates are PE Civil: Construction and Geotechnical and PE Electrical and Computer: Computer Engineering. Only 49% of the candidates managed to clear them in their first attempts, making them the second hardest PE exams to take and pass. 

Conclusion

It is good to consider statistics, but your interests should be your priority. Practically speaking, you should take the PE exam in a discipline you already practice regularly because you will be more conversant with the fundamental principles and won’t have to study much.

As the PE exam is entirely different each time, it is a matter of chance which examination might include simpler problems and which one might contain tough ones. Having said that, every PE examination is challenging and demands unwavering dedication and hard work.

We hope this article provided you with enough insight into the easiest PE exam to take so you can make an informed decision. If you are still on the fence about which PE exam you should take, we recommend you check out this detailed blog on Which PE Exam Should I Take for further insight.

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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