One question we get often revolves around the FE Exam topics specified by the NCEES.
They come in many forms, but one student recently brought it to us in this way:
Does this mean that if I get questions on these topics they will be purely conceptual and if there were any information in the handbook, it would give the answer away too easily?
Or should I just give those FE Exam topics a quick once-over and call it good?
This is a great, and important, question due to the dense nature of the exam itself.
If we are able to eliminate anything while preparing, this would save us a lot of time.
But before we get into it, let’s make sure that we are all on the same page.
What topics are covered on the FE exam?
To start, the FE Exam topics will vary depending on which exam discipline specification you choose.
Currently, the NCEES offers the FE Exam in seven disciplines (Mechanical, Civil, Electrical, etc) all of which have a unique material makeup.
From the basics of Math through the more discipline-specific subjects such as Geotechnical (Civil), Machine Design (Mechanical) and Digital Systems (Electrical), the 110 question FE Exam is designed to validate your foundational knowledge of FE Exam topics that span the entirety of your undergraduate coursework.
You can reference the details of each NCEES Specification here.
How many topics are on the FE?
This question piggybacks off of the previous one.
Though all exams will have 110 questions, depending on the specification you choose, these questions will be distributed over a range of 13 to 17 FE Exam topics.
What is the hardest FE exam?
So would that mean that the exam specification with 17 topics is going to be the hardest?
Or that the spec with 13 is the easiest?
At Prepineer, we don’t believe in guessing which exam specification is going to be the easiest or the hardest, that tends to be a losing proposition.
Instead, we encourage our students to focus more on “who” each spec is developed for and make a strategic decision based on that.
We believe that after doing this, you will strongly consider taking the Other Disciplines exam instead of your discipline-specific exam.
This is our dedicated strategy here at Prepineer that has led to great success for even the most challenged of students.
You can read more of the why behind this approach here:
Will all the topics be on the FE Exam?
Now back to the question that brought us all here:
Will there be topics specified by the NCEES but not on the FE?
The answer is…maybe.
In short, if it’s stated in the specifications, then it is fair game.
It would be safer to assume you will see it in some capacity.
With that being said, to what depth should we expect is the real question.
If there is not a formula presented to you in the NCEES Reference Handbook, then I would lean in the direction that you wouldn’t see a qualitative question.
However, that’s not necessarily certain to be the case, we are just playing the odds here.
The best approach
So with that, let’s fail-safe in these areas.
I would suggest that you give the material the good’ol 1-2 once-over.
Work a practice problem or two (easy to find) and know generally what needs to be done as a fallback – then roll from there.
At Prepineer, we would never advise skipping over anything that is specified, but the reality is, there is a lot to be covered.
So in times like these where things can’t be reconciled back to the NCEES Reference Handbook, then playing the odds may allow some breathing room in your FE Exam prep.
As always, with Love, Prepineer
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