Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exams are challenging in their own respects. In this post, I will focus on FE exam vs PE exam. Both of these exams have undergone some format changes in 2020. In this article, we will conduct a side-by-side comparison of both exams.
Range of topics
FE Electrical & Computer exam
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. 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, Signal Processing, Electronics, Power Systems, Electromagnetics, Control Systems, Communications, Computer Networks, Digital Systems, Computer Systems and Software Engineering.
For more details please visit https://ncees.org/wp-content/uploads/FE-Electrical-and-Computer-CBT-specs.pdf
You can kick start your exam preparation by making use of these highly-rated free resources below.
FREE RESOURCE 1 |3-Step Framework for FE Electrical and Computer Exam Preparation
Get access to up-to-date and go-to resources for FE Electrical & Computer exam preparation. In this webinar I will cover topics such as how to get into the right mindset, tips & tricks as well as effective exam preparation resources.
PE Power exam
The biggest challenge involved in PE Power exam preparation is the depth of topics. Exam topics are divided into four sections all of which are focused on specialized topics within power systems engineer. The four sections include General Power Engineering, Circuits, Rotating Machines and Electric Power Devices, Transmission and Distribution.
For more details on sub-topics please visit https://ncees.org/wp-content/uploads/Power-Dec-2020_CBT.pdf
FREE RESOURCE 2| 3-Step Framework for PE Power Exam Preparation
If you’ve already passed your FE exam then this one is for you. Get access to up-to-date and go-to resources for the PE Power exam preparation where we cover topics including how to get into the right mindset, tips & tricks as well as the best resources out there to kick-start your PE Power exam preparation.
The challenge presented by the broad range of topics in FE Electrical & Computer exam is somewhat compensated by the fact that exam questions are relatively straightforward, if you follow 3 tips 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. However, counting only on plug and play questions for passing the exam is a very risky strategy. In order to pass the exam it is very important to understand the underlying concepts and learn how to use the equations properly.
A quick comparison of passing rate between first-time FE Electrical & Computer takers (73%) and PE Power exams (50%) indicates that PE Power exam is more difficult as compared to FE Electrical and Computer exam.
For more information regarding FE exam pass rates please visit https://ncees.org/engineering/fe/
For more information regarding PE exam pass rates please visit https://ncees.org/engineering/pe/pass-rates/
Time management for both FE and PE exam preparation can be difficult. With regards to FE Electrical and Computer exam, 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 for PE Power exam preparation can be challenging because almost all the topics are quite technical and require in-depth studying.
Time management during both FE and PE exams can be difficult. There are 110 questions on FE exam and 80 questions on PE exam. It can be difficult to maintain composure throughout the exam. For the FE exam, on average, you have approximately 2 minutes and 50 seconds per problem after accounting for breaks, etc. During this short amount of time, you have to read the questions, review the options, think about the solution, perform calculations and select the correct answer which is not an easy task. Although PE exam duration is longer and number of questions are fewer, the difficulty level of these problems generally means that you have to spend quite a bit of time to correctly answer them.
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 authored several books on the topic of FE Electrical & Computer and PE Power exam and created online courses for both exams and understand the challenges involved in preparing for these exams. When I was preparing for FE exam I had to strategically allocate my time and effort 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 into 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 and focused, maintaining exam preparation momentum and putting in ‘conscious and well planned effort‘ because failing to plan is planning to fail.