Alternative Item Type (AIT) FAQ
Will we get more time on the FE Exam for the new AIT problems?
With the new open ended dynamic that the Alternative Item Type (AIT) problems will introduce to the FE Exam, one can expect that the overall duration of the exam will have some equivalent adjustment to ensure enough time to complete, right?
Well, actually no.
Despite the AIT problems (Multiple Correct Options, Point & Click, Drag & Drop, Fill in the Blank) inherent unpredictable nature to solving, as opposed to the more traditional Multiple Choice single answer option problems, we won’t be seeing any changes in the overall duration of the exam.
There will still be 110 problems, with approximately 10% of which will be in the new AIT format.
We guesstimate that each student can expect to see anywhere from 10-15 AIT problems on their FE Exam, but with the limited data at this point, it’s hard to be any more certain than that.
As it has been from the time that the FE Exam entered the world of Computer Based Testing, the total time you will have to complete all 110 problems will be 5 hours and 20 minutes.
The exam will continue to be divided into two sections, however each section will not be individually timed (more on that below and why that’s important to note).
After you have seen approximately half of the 110 problems, you will be prompted to review and then officially submit those to be graded…at that point you will no longer have access to those questions.
When you officially submit the first section of your exam, you will have the option to take your scheduled break.
This scheduled break gives you 25 minutes to do whatever you got to do to get reenergized for the back nine of your exam.
Some students are under the impression that they can just forgo their scheduled break and add that additional 25 minutes to the overall duration of their exam…this is not true.
Once you come back to your exam, whether you took a scheduled break or not, you click a button to restart your timer for the exam…it’s still 5 hours and 20 minutes total…that’s it.
We touch a bit on the scheduled and unscheduled breaks during your FE Exam here:
Now back to the importance of the fact that each section of the exam is untimed, we want to drop one last nugget of advice and information you need to know and consider before taking the field on the day of your exam.
As mentioned, their will be two sections for your FE Exam, none of which are timed…or in other words, have a “hard stop”.
Back prior to the NCEES switching over to the more streamlined CBT FE Exam, during the archaic pen and pencil days of which I was born out of, we were given an AM portion (4 hours) and a PM portion (4 hours) that made up the whole exam.
Having those timed sections allowed us to manage our execution of the individual problems closely.
Without that structure in the new CBT format, it is very possible that one could lose track of the amount of time that they are spending on the first section, leaving them tight on time for the second section.
So just keep that in mind.
Our best advice is to assume that you are going to have to complete about half the problems (55 of the 110) prior to submitting the first section…and that the first half may be slightly easier than the more in depth second half of the exam.
We have had students that have managed their time on all different fronts.
Some took more time on the first half and still finished with enough time on the clock to do a solid review.
The majority however plan to spend more time on the second half of the exam since it is common belief that the second section will be more difficult with problems spanning in to the more in-depth discipline specific subjects.
The general advice given is that you will have 2 minutes and 55 seconds per problem…just a standard calculation…but you don’t need to use that all.
Know that on the first half you will see the general subjects of Mathematics, Probability and Statistics, Engineering Economics, etc.
Some struggle in these areas, so practice self awareness and go in to the exam with a plan of attack.
If you run in to a problem that you can’t immediately identify the proper path forward on, flag it in the system and move on…come back to it later.
Do all the easy ones first, bank some additional time there before you go back at the end to brainstorm how you will close out the remaining you had flagged…but always keep that ticking time bomb in your peripherals…don’t lose track of it.
And that’s the haps on this one…as always, with Love, Prepineer.
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