Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the FE Exam and how is it structured?
At Prepineer, we have been honored to work with individuals pursuing licensing at all stages of their careers.
Some come to us with experience, having failed a previous attempt – these individuals have a base knowledge of what to expect on the exam, they just need some guidance in putting together a successful run leading up to it.
Others come to us either fresh out of college or a few years in to their career, not knowing a whole lot about the exam other than the realization that it’s something they will need in order to increase their engineering opportunities in the future.
These students are out to first get informed on what they can expect with the exam and then move on to actually putting in the work of preparing.
One such question recently came in to the Prepineer Headquarters reading like this:
How long is this exam and what will it be testing for?
This question hits home for me, and I am 100% certain that it hits home with many of you as well.
I was one that came out of college knowing nothing about the exam, and when I found out, I didn’t even know what the exam would look like, where I would take it and all those other thoughts that came to mind – I needed some answers.
So if this is where you are today, don’t be ashamed, many fall in to your same shoes – let’s inch you closer with a bit more understanding of the FE Exam, hitting on the question:
How long is the FE Exam and how is it structured?
The FE Exam is the first of two exams you will take in route to becoming a licensed professional engineer.
From the basics of Math to the more discipline specific subjects such as Geotechnical (Civil), Machine Design (Mechanical) and Digital Systems (Electrical), the NCEES is looking to ensure you have adequate knowledge spanning the entirety of your undergraduate coursework.
The FE Exam itself is composed of 110 questions in the form of Multiple Choice coupled with the newer formats referred to as Alternative Item Type problems.
These newer problem types (AITs) were introduced back in 2017 and include:
- MULTIPLE CORRECT OPTIONS: These problems will allow for multiple choices to be correct.
- DRAG & DROP: These problems will require test takers to click on and drag items to match, sort, rank, or label.
- POINT & CLICK: These problems will require examinees to click on part of a graphic to answer the problem.
- FILL IN THE BLANK: These problems will provide a space for you to enter a response to the question
You can learn more about the AIT problem types here:
FE Exam Alternative Item Type Problems
When it comes go-time, you will have a total of 5 hours and 20 minutes to complete all 110 problems with a 25 minute scheduled break occurring somewhere around the midpoint of the exam.
To expand on this whole “somewhere around”, the literal midpoint obviously lands at the 55 problem mark – but the scheduled break as it will occur in your particular exam may fall somewhere slightly before or slightly after this point.
For some, the break may come after question 53 while others it may come after question 56…but generally speaking, it’s 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.
At whatever point your scheduled break falls, you will be met with an automated queue that will pop up and let you know that you’re at the “halfway point” of the exam.
We go in more detail about the particulars of the Scheduled Break in this article.
Leading up to the scheduled break, you will be presented with problems in the foundational engineering fundamentals such as Mathematics, Probability and Statistics and Engineering Economics.
The second set of questions will typically be a deeper dive in to the engineering discipline specific subjects of Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, or whatever your specialization is.
Though the NCEES no longer divides the exam in to two parts – morning breadth and afternoon depth – as it did pre-2014, we can still say that the form generally runs the same.
In the first half of the exam you will be tested on your breadth of knowledge revolving around the general engineering foundational subjects whereas in the second half you will tested on your depth of knowledge in the subjects of your chosen discipline.
The “depth” portion of the exam is what typically trips up most students, but we have a strategy that has shown a lot of success across all engineering backgrounds – even for the most challenged of students (multiple failures) – you can read more about it here:
Though how the exam is laid out and when we have to take it (post-academia) can be quite overwhelming, slowing down and thinking outside that box can typically set us on the path towards success.
You got this! 🙂
As always, with Love, Prepineer
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