Planning on taking the FE Exam in Illinois?
Great, this guide will give you all the ins and outs.
From eligibility requirements to finding the best FE Exam program to study with, we have you covered.
Let’s get into it.
Taking the FE Exam in Illinois
It is the duty of the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation to protect the residents of Illinois by ensuring only competent engineering professionals are licensed to provide services to the public.
For simplicity’s sake, we will refer to the board as the Illinois Board of Professional Engineers throughout this resource.
All individuals on the path to licensure as a Professional Engineer in Illinois must pass two NCEES-administered examinations and one Illinois specific test, which are:
- Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE Exam)
- Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam (PE Exam)
- Illinois Laws and Rules Study Guide
The FE Exam and PE Exam are standardized tests written and scored by the NCEES and adopted by the Illinois Board of Professional Engineers as a valid means of qualifying the competence of aspiring engineers.
The Illinois Board of Professional Engineers is committed to protecting the interest of public health and safety by properly regulating the practice of engineering.
Once licensed, all Professional Engineers must adhere to and uphold all aspects of the Illinois Laws and Rules, and accompanying regulations, to ensure the continued health, safety, and welfare of the people of Illinois.
What is the FE Exam?
Though there may be additional state-specific exams required, the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE Exam) is one of two exams that an aspiring engineer will take in becoming a licensed Professional Engineer.
This standardized exam is administered and graded by the NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying).
The exam itself is 5 hours and 20 minutes long with 110 questions spanning a wide range of foundational engineering concepts.
Each question is developed to confirm the level of competency of the individual in the fundamentals of engineering.
The FE Exam is a computer-based test (CBT) and closed book, though, each examinee is supplied with an NCEES reference handbook containing commonly used formulas and other useful information related to the material that is covered.
The FE Exam has 7 different exam specifications to choose from.
You may also hear the FE Exam referred to as the EIT Exam (Engineer In Training Exam) or the EI Exam (Engineering Intern Exam), all of which are the same exam.
Here’s a resource outlining all that you need to know about taking and passing the FE Exam now:
When can I take the FE exam?
There are a few routes to gaining approval to sit for the FE Exam, all of which are defined by your undergraduate Baccalaureate degree.
Let’s lay them out.
EAC/ABET Accredited Degrees
If you hold, or are in your final year of, an EAC/ABET-accredited engineering program, then you are automatically approved to take the FE Exam and can register directly with the NCEES.
If you are unsure of whether or not your program is EAC/ABET-accredited, then you can perform a program search here:
Non-EAC/ABET or CEAB Accredited Degrees
If you do not hold an EAC/ABET-accredited degree, or hold a degree that is accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB), then you must follow a two-step process to gaining approval, which is:
- Complete your registration with the NCEES to take the FE Exam.
- Submit an FE Exam approval application to the Department for Educational Review by the Illinois Board of Professional Engineers
If you believe that your degree may be CEAB accredited, you can confirm here:
Once the Board has deemed your educational background meets their standards, you will be granted approval to move forward with taking the FE Exam.
You can review the application and the additional information that will be required here.
If you hold a foreign degree outside a CEAB-accredited degree, then you must follow the same two-step process as it is defined above for non-EAC/ABET-accredited degrees.
Additionally, you will be required to have your degree evaluated by NCEES Credential Evaluations.
This course-by-course evaluation will determine whether or not your degree meets the Illinois educational specific requirements.
You can learn more about the evaluation process here:
If the courses within your degree were not taught in English, as identified within the NCEES evaluation, then you will be required to provide proof that you have taken and passed the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL-iBT).
More information in regards to what the minimum passing requirements are currently, you can review Illinois Administrative Code, Title 68, Chapter VII, Subchapter b, Section 1380.240.C.4 found here.
You can learn more about and take the exam here:
Regardless of whether or not you hold an EAC/ABET-accredited degree, the Illinois Board of Professional Engineers requires that all individuals attest to the following statements before proceeding down the defined path of registering for and taking the FE exam:
- I am a graduate of (or in my final year of) a bachelor’s degree from an EAC/ABET-accredited program or I received written approval from the Illinois Professional Engineer or Structural Engineer Board to register for this examination.
- I acknowledge and understand that passing this NCEES examination does not, by itself, guarantee future licensure.
As these paths are unique to Illinois, you can reference them in more detail under Illinois Administrative Code Title 68, Chapter VII, Subchapter b, Section 1380.240 found here.
Can I take the FE exam without a degree?
Eligibility requirements are set state by state and typically have a series of eligibility scenarios that include both non-ABET accredited degrees and progressive engineering work experience.
But what if you don’t have a degree at all, can you take the FE exam in Illinois?
As it is currently spelled out within the Illinois Board of Professional Engineering laws and rules, if you are not a graduate of a program listed in the previously noted sections, then you would not be eligible to take the FE Exam or obtain your PE license in Illinois.
To clarify, the programs can generally be summarized as:
- Baccalaureate degree from an approved U.S. EAC/ABET program
- Baccalaureate degree from a non-approved engineering program
- Baccalaureate degree from a related science curriculum
Further, it does not appear that there is an opportunity to obtain a waiver of the FE Exam if you are able to offer sufficient evidence of your qualifications in the absence of an engineering degree.
As these waiver requirements are constantly evolving, you can reference the most current statutes under Illinois Administrative Code Title 68: PROFESSIONS AND OCCUPATIONS, found here.
What months can you take the FE exam?
The FE Exam is offered to eligible students year-round in four different testing windows, they are:
- January – March
- April – June
- July – September
- October – December
You are allowed to take the FE Exam once per testing window, but not more than 3 times in a 12-month period starting from the date of your first attempt.
Can I take the FE exam online?
You can not.
The FE Exam will be administered at a local Pearson Vue testing center in your region.
Once you register and are approved by the NCEES to take the exam, you will receive an email giving you the next steps in scheduling your exam appointment.
Through this process, you will be given options for a number of testing centers as well as what dates and times are available at those locations.
You can reference a current list of locations approved by the Illinois Board of Professional Engineers to take the FE Exam here:
It’s important to schedule your exam as far in advance as possible for the best scheduling availability.
Each Pearson Vue testing center is limited in capacity, so seats are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.
Though it’s never ideal and highly unlikely that there are open seats, you are able to schedule an appointment with as little as one business day before taking the exam.
What is the passing score for the FE Exam?
Any individual who is about to take on a major goal in life is going to want to know where the goalpost of success lies.
I get it.
But if you find yourself floating around the interwebs trying to get some clarity on this question, then you are sure of one thing…
Confusion – and oh, a lot of wasted time.
When it comes down to knowing the passing score for the FE Exam in Illinois, there is only one right answer and it’s this –
Definitely, a letdown I know, but knowing that this is as much clarity as you will get will allow you to move on to putting in time on something that can actually make an impact come exam day.
We dive deep into this question and add a bit more context around the whole scoring process in this post:
Knowing how the exam is going to be scored can be a huge advantage and give you confidence in the areas that you can control.
What is the FE Exam pass rate in Illinois?
Illinois does not release individual statistics for how many individuals are passing or failing the FE Exam in any given period of time.
However, the NCEES keeps a tally of these statistics for a single testing period for the population as a whole.
Currently, the FE Exam pass rate ranges from 35% to 83% depending on the exam discipline taken.
This is a huge range, and honestly, can’t really be relied on for a number of reasons.
These statistics account only for:
- Those who took the FE exam for the first time.
- Those who attended an EAC/ABET-accredited engineering program.
- Those who took the FE exam within 12 months of graduation.
I can tell you this much –
Of 100 students that come into our program at Prepineer, 95% fall outside one (or more) of these criteria.
The moral of the story, these stats reflect a population of individuals who meet the ideal testing characteristics of a candidate, not the mean characteristics as a whole.
Use them with a grain of salt.
How do I create an FE Exam schedule?
Getting your FE Exam study plan dialed in from the start is of the utmost importance in ensuring that you see this journey through.
But let’s be real.
We are on record for being horrible estimators of our time.
But it’s not any one of us individually, those big shot estimators who are supposedly “educated” in the realm of scheduling fall right there beside us in falling short.
Think about all those highly funded construction projects that go far past the scheduled finish date.
So with that, how can I best guide you in developing your study plan for your upcoming FE Exam in Illinois?
We have spent a lot of time developing resources in the realm of FE Exam scheduling, here are a few to start with:
- Your FE Exam Study Schedule Sucks
- Here’s how to actually get started…with confidence – The 80/20 Abbreviated Study Plan
How many hours should I study for the FE Exam?
Determining how many hours a student should be putting in each day is one of the hardest things to do for a coach.
However, after over a decade of helping engineers just like you prepare for and pass the FE Exam, I can give you a general guideline as a starting point.
So whether you are taking the FE Exam in Illinois or Michigan, start with this.
Over the years, we have seen students spend somewhere between 150-350 hours preparing for the FE Exam.
The lower end of this spectrum is typically those that are recent graduates or within a few years of graduation.
The upper end is typically those that graduated 20+ years ago and haven’t picked up a book in just as long.
Wherever the student feels they will fall, at Prepineer, we encourage them to spread this time over a period of at least 90 days – but prefer to see them give themselves closer to 110-120 days to be prepared.
This historically has played out to be much more realistic in the context of real-life, day-to-day responsibilities.
To help you go deeper in this area, we developed the ultimate guide in determining how long you should study for the FE Exam.
Down to what it all looks like from a daily, hourly effort.
You can access the guide here:
In running through this guide, you will have a much better understanding of what the landscape ahead looks like.
It will allow you to reveal many landmines upfront so you can put in measures to avoid them.
It will help you understand the real effort and reinforce your confidence that you are doing things right when you do inevitably hit those unforeseen obstacles.
It’s the best you can do when it comes to determining how many hours you should study for the FE Exam.
Where is the best place for FE Exam practice?
As you learn more about the FE Exam in Illinois, you will realize just how much needs to get done and how important preparing for it the right way is.
I am confident in saying that you can get this done…
But truth is, most won’t pursue the FE Exam because they will tell themselves that they can’t, for one reason or another.
At Prepineer, we have put together a proven system of coaching and curriculum that has helped even the most challenged individuals pass the FE Exam in Illinois.
Learn more about how Prepineer is the best way to study for the FE Exam and get started for free.
In Prepineer you will:
- Get a real coach who knows how to get you to the finish line, despite how impossible you may think it is.
- A custom study plan that breaks down exactly where you should be spending your efforts.
- Proven curriculum that has helped even the most challenged find success.
Use Prepineer for 7 days free, with no obligations.
How much is the FE Exam in Illinois?
Some state licensing boards require that examinees file a separate application and pay an additional application fee as part of their approval process in order to be qualified to take the FE Exam.
If you are taking the FE Exam in Illinois and have an EAC/ABET-accredited degree (or are in your final year of an EAC/ABET-accredited program) then this is not required and you can register directly through the NCEES.
The current cost to take the FE Exam is $175 and can be paid directly to the NCEES at the time of registering.
The whole registration process can be started through your myNCEES account here.
If you do not have an EAC/ABET-Accredited degree, but hold a degree from a non-approved engineering program, CEAB-accredited engineering program, a foreign degree program, or a related science curriculum, then you must submit a pre-approval application to the Department for Educational Review by the Illinois Board of Professional Engineers.
As it is currently defined, it does not appear that there is an additional application fee that must be paid at this point.
However, if you hold a foreign degree that is not CEAB accredited, then you will need to have that degree evaluated by NCEES Credential Evaluations.
The current cost to have your degree evaluated through the NCEES is $350 and will be paid at the end of the application process.
If you decide to cancel the evaluation and request a refund, then a $50 administrative fee will be assessed.
The NCEES will not grant refunds for applications submitted more than one year prior to the refund request.
You can find more information regarding NCEES degree evaluations here.
Further, if the courses within your degree were not taught in English, as identified within the NCEES evaluation, then you will be required to provide proof that you have taken and passed the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL-iBT).
The cost to take this exam varies by location, and in most US states, is currently $235.
To confirm the cost, you can search here:
You can also learn more about and take the exam here:
What are the FE Exam Requirements?
As mentioned, eligibility is not set uniformly across the board by the NCEES, but rather, by each state’s engineering board.
With this, the eligibility requirements to sit for the exam in Tennessee may differ from when one can sit for the exam in California.
As outlined in the previous sections, the EAC/ABET-accredited degree is the creme de la creme when it comes to fulfilling Illinois’s educational requirements, but it’s not the only route.
What if you don’t have an ABET-accredited degree?
Or your degree is from a university outside the states?
Is there any way that you can still fulfill the requirements to take the FE Exam?
The short answer is YES!
As outlined in previous sections, if you have a Baccalaureate degree from a non-approved engineering program (which includes foreign degrees) or a Baccalaureate degree from a related science curriculum, then you have a path to eligibility, as outlined previously, to take the FE Exam.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have a degree, then it does not appear that there is a path to take the FE or become licensed as a Professional Engineering in the state of Illinois.
And with that said, instead of sifting through all the current laws and rules, I suggest you give a call directly to the Illinois Board of Professional Engineers and they will give you the most direct route to understanding the next step for you.
Who should I contact if I have more questions about the FE Exam in Illinois?
It has been said a number of times, but it’s worth mentioning again.
Eligibility requirements are constantly in flux, and what is mentioned in this resource may not answer all of your questions.
If this is the case, the Illinois Board of Professional Engineers can provide you with the latest details concerning the FE Exam in Illinois.
They can be contacted at:
- Website: https://idfpr.illinois.gov/profs/ProfEngineer.asp
- Contact: Kyle Lazell
- Email: [email protected]
- Phone: (217) 524-3210
- Fax: (217) 524-0833
- Address: Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, PSS/Design Unit, Third Floor, 320 West Washington Street, Springfield, Illinois 62786
Final Thoughts on taking the FE Exam in Illinois
I hope that this resource has brought you clarity on taking the FE Exam in Illinois.
But I know, just as many answers I have given, there may have been just as many new questions in how you can get it done.
But passing the FE Exam shouldn’t be a mystery.
Sadly though, many will doubt that they can get it done, and in turn, give up on themselves and their careers.
I don’t want that to be you.
If I offered to show you a system that has worked for thousands in your same shoes pass the FE, would you take it? Click here to start your trial and learn the exact framework that will help you pass the FE Exam in Illinois.