FE Exam VS PE Exam

Based on my experience (passed FE CBT Electrical & Computer in Oct 2014 and PE Power in April 2015) FE and PE exams are challenging in their own respects.

PE exam is more focused as it tests you on a particular area of specialization due to which some of the questions can be quite technical and sometimes convoluted.

I’ll elaborate FE exam in a bit more detail:

  • The biggest challenge involved in FE exam preparation is the breadth of topics. You are tested quite literally on all 4 years of ECE undergraduate coursework.
  • Typically exam questions are relatively straightforward and stretch problems are generally exception rather than norm (especially when compared to PE exam). You may even come across plug and play type of questions where simply knowing the formula will get you the answer.
  • Time management for FE exam preparation can be difficult. The main reason is that individual sections of FE Electrical and Computer CBT exam specification 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.
  • Time management during FE exam can be difficult. There are 110 questions on the examination and it can be difficult to maintain composure throughout the exam.
  • There is no substitute for studying hard and by putting in conscious effort you will only increase you chance of success. But equally important is studying smart. I’ve recently authored a study guide for FE Electrical & Computer CBT exam and setup an online course but even when I was preparing for FE exam I strategically allocated my time and effort towards different sections to maximize my chance of success. For instance, I never took Control Systems in undergraduate and it carries similar exam weight as Linear Systems and Signal Processing. I made sure that I was proficient in Linear Systems and Signal Processing before investing too much time in Control Systems.

Recent graduates/final year students may find FE exam preparation easier while working professional (especially those in design engineering) will probably find PE exam preparation easier.

In either scenario, the best way to ensure success is by keeping yourself motivated/focused, maintaining exam preparation momentum (similar to a workout routine) and putting in ‘conscious and well planned effort‘ because failing to plan is planning to fail.