5 common reasons why electrical engineers fail FE Electrical and Computer exam

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill

Failure is without doubt a bitter pill to swallow.

Ideally, we all want to cruise through life from one success to another success. However, sometimes failures are encountered and they need to be dealt with appropriately.

The worst response to failure is quitting on your dream because once you stop pursuing your dream that’s when you truly fail. So today I’ve decided to write this blog post as an inspiration, and also as a way of overcoming failure.

These are the top 5 reasons why students fail the FE Electrical & Computer exam and how you can make sure you don’t fall in the mouse-trap.

1 – Underestimating the challenge

There’s no doubt about the fact that the FE Electrical and Computer exam is challenging. You are tested quite literally on all 4 years of ECE undergraduate coursework.

The exam tests you on 17 sections including Mathematics, Probability and Statistics, Ethics and Professional Practice, Engineering Economics, Properties of Electrical Materials, Circuit Analysis, Linear Systems, and many more!

Click here for the latest NCEES FE Electrical & Computer Exam specifications.

It’s safe to say, the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is not a walk in the park for most students.

It is even more challenging if you are not a recent graduate. Based on the latest stats provided by NCEES, the failure rate among first-time exam takers who graduated within 12-24 months is 23% and that for repeat takers is as high as 35%.

Now I am not saying that it is not a challenge that can not be overcome, but being realistic is a good thing here. A challenge of this size needs due consideration.

2 – Procrastination

Time management for FE Electrical and Computer exam preparation can be difficult. There are 17 exam sections to prepare and these individual sections don’t necessarily complement each other.

For instance, Digital Systems will have little to no overlap with Signal Processing similarly Circuit Analysis will have little to no overlap with Electromagnetics. This is mainly because of the nature of Electrical Engineering which is by far the most diverse field. As you progress through your exam preparation you will actually be climbing lots of small mountains (each topic is a new challenge) rather than climbing one big mountain. 

But the bigger challenge is ‘procrastination’.

A lot of students keep putting this exam off again and again. The truth is that the more you delay it, the harder it gets. In addition to the obvious reason i.e. being out of school for a long period of time, personal commitments and job responsibilities also come into the way. S

If you ever plan on becoming a PE then don’t delay this exam – start preparing now.

3 – Lack of Proper Exam Preparation Resources

Arguably the most precious investment that you make in preparing for FE Electrical and Computer exam is that of your time. And you need to treat that time with respect.

A vast majority of candidates preparing for this exam also work full-time and many of them also have other commitments that demand their time and attention.

Therefore, it is crucial to use effective exam preparation resources otherwise you’d not only be wasting your money but also your time. An effective exam preparation resource is one that helps you become exam- ready in the least amount of time and does not overwhelm you with irrelevant details.

Check out the latest free resource for exam preparation below.

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NOTE: If you’ve already passed your FE exam then this one is for you.

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4 – Lack of Proper Exam Preparation Strategy

FE Electrical and Computer exam results are binary – Pass or Fail.

You don’t receive any grades on your performance. Some students study very hard but not necessarily smart. In many ways, trying to ace this exam can be counterproductive because it will take a lot of your time and require intense effort which can impact other areas of your personal and professional life. In order to pass comfortably, you need to study hard and smart. 

For example, rather than suggesting whether to focus on their strengths or weaknesses, I recommend students to first focus on the top 5 sections that carry the highest weight i.e. Mathematics, Circuit Analysis, Electronics, Power Systems and Digital Systems.

Similarly, the first 5 sections of FE Electrical and Computer exam are relatively easy and account for roughly 25% of the exam weightage. Students should aim to score A+ in these sections i.e. Math, Probability & Statistics, Engineering Economics, Ethics and Properties of Electrical Materials.

Last but not the least, even if you get bored by some sections or find them challenging, try not to skip them all together because that will guarantee a 0 or very low score in those sections and sabotage your chances of passing the exam.

5 – Fear of Failure

“He who fear being conquered is sure of defeat.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

Fear of failure is one of the reasons why students procrastinate in the first place.

Even after mustering up the courage to prepare for the exam for several months, some of them never feel 100% ready for it. They go into the exam without confidence and lose composure quickly during the exam. If that sounds familiar to you then remember that it’s not uncommon and there are some tips and tricks that can help you.

First of all, it is very improbable for someone to ever feel 100% ready for such an exam because of the range of topics and variety of ways in which one can get tested. So if you are not feeling 100% ready even after doing everything you possibly could, then don’t worry because a lot of other hardworking and diligent candidates are in the same boat.

Secondly, it is better to reschedule the exam and take it when you have confidence in your own self rather than walking into the exam room telling yourself that you are not ready.

As Napoleon said, “He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.”

Finally, remember that in the grand scheme of things even if you fail the exam it won’t be a big deal. You can always retake it so don’t compromise your performance by imagining and reimagining failure continuously.

Prepare as best as you can to give it your best shot and maintain your composure while facing tough questions.

Go into the exam room with full confidence and kill it!