We all know that we get an FE Exam break at some point during our exam.
But what’s this mean?
Does it mean we take a break whenever we want?
Or do we take it after we reach a certain point on the FE Exam?
Maybe it happens at noon on the day of the exam?
Understanding the nuances are important and so we put clarity around exactly this…
What is this FE Exam break all about?
Let’s dive into it.
Why you need to understand the FE Exam break
There are always a lot of questions coming into Prepineer that revolve around the general format of the FE Exam.
Foundational questions like how many questions there will be.
Or what kinds of subjects are covered within a certain specification.
These are all important.
But we find that it’s more the “in the weeds” kind of questions that can make or break your experience on the day of your FE Exam.
One question comes generally in the form of this:
How does the FE Exam break work while taking the FE Exam?
I can understand wanting to know the logistics behind this scheduled break.
For me, that break was critical for my sanity on both the FE Exam and the PE Exam.
However, how this scheduled break is designed and implemented has evolved over the years.
Staying up to date on these changes is critical, otherwise, we could find ourselves allowing a simple oversight to destroy our performance on the FE.
We won’t allow this to be the case for you.
Understanding the logistics of the FE Exam break
The NCEES does a decent job in providing a high level overview of what the FE Exam Scheduled break looks like in this video:
However, we see some gaps that can be filled in which would allow you to better prepare yourself strategically to perform within the time constraints you will be given.
This is where experience comes into play.
Let us share…
As the video states, you get a break somewhere around the 55-question mark.
For some, this scheduled break may come after question 53 while for others it may come after question 56, but generally speaking…
Your FE Exam break will occur somewhere around the 55 question mark.
One of our recent students told us that his scheduled break came after 54 questions, which left him with 56 questions to complete in the second half of the 110-question FE Exam.
Whenever your scheduled break falls, you will be met with a pop-up that alerts you that you’re at the “halfway point” of the exam.
You will then see a list view of all the questions you had covered up to that point and whether or not you:
- Answered them
- Passed on them
- Flagged them
You can click on any of those questions to go back and review, edit, or complete.
When your FE Exam break prompt is displayed, you can take the break at whatever point from there.
This means you could take it at 90 minutes or 120 minutes, pretty much whenever you want.
It’s your call, but…
Just know, that you won’t be able to roll into the second half of the exam until the first set of questions are submitted.
Hence, the importance of strategic time management.
Once you submit the first set of questions, you can take the break.
But it’s important to reiterate and note that you cannot go back to those questions once they are submitted.
After your FE Exam break is done, it’s done.
From there, you will rally into the second set of questions for the remainder of the time that you have.
The second set of questions are typically a deeper dive into the engineering discipline-specific subjects of Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, or whatever your specialty is.
Navigating before and after the FE Exam break
So what’s a good strategy?
Should you make sure that you finish the first half of the FE with half of your total time left to go?
The general strategy is to devote more time to the section that you feel will be harder for you and this awareness starts in the day-to-day of your FE Exam prep.
For the typical student, and a good starting point for developing your own strategy, the first set of questions will be easier as they will be a higher-level overview of the general engineering concepts that span across all disciplines.
So aim to take 2 hours 20 minutes to get through them – max.
This will leave you 3 hours for the second half.
Setting the time limit for the first half of questions at 2 hours and 20 minutes may seem a bit daunting, leaving you about 2.5 minutes per problem.
You will see though, that this will be plenty of time to answer every question, review them as necessary, and go back to the flagged items as much as you need.
Having a tight grip on balancing this line of performance between the first and second half of the exam will make or break your score.
Know from day 1 what you will be doing the minute that timer starts to tick.
Many go into the exam knowing nothing about this FE Exam break, or how it works.
They may know that they get a break at some point, but might not realize the logistics behind what happens at the time of that break.
If you were planning on going through all 110 questions quickly, answering the ones you know, flagging those you don’t, and then going back to them…legit strategy, but now you know, that strategy won’t be possible.
Don’t let your strategy blow up on exam day, know the “details”…one being, the logistics around this scheduled break.
Now that you are enlightened on how the FE Exam break really works, you can rally an equally powerful strategy from here…and that’s what we desire you do.
Grind On my friends! 🙂