Planning on taking the FE Exam in Virginia?
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 Virginia
It is the role of the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupation Regulation, and more specifically, the Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects (APELSCIDLA Board) to protect the public by licensing qualified engineers and surveyors.
Because the formal naming of the APELSCIDLA is quite long, we will refer to it as the Virginia Board of Professional Engineers from here on out.
All individuals on the path to licensure as a Professional Engineer in Virginia must pass two NCEES-administered examinations, which are:
- Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE Exam)
- Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam (PE Exam)
The FE Exam and PE Exam are standardized tests written and scored by the NCEES and adopted by the Virginia Board of Professional Engineers as a valid means of qualifying the competence of aspiring engineers.
The Virginia APELSCIDLA regulates approximately 35,000 individuals and related business entities in Virginia.
Once licensed, all Professional Engineers must adhere to and uphold all aspects of the Virginia Regulations and Statutes to ensure the continued health, safety, and welfare of the people of Virginia.
What is the FE Exam?
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?
The Virginia Board of Professional Engineers does not require one to submit an application for approval prior to taking the FE Exam.
However, in order to qualify for an Engineer In Training (EIT) designation, or qualify to take the PE Exam, the individual must provide evidence of appropriate education.
There are three ways that one is able to fulfill the educational requirement as defined by the Virginia Board of Professional Engineers, they are:
- Have graduated from an engineering program of four years or more accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET
- Have graduated from an engineering master’s program accredited by EAC/ABET
- Have met the requirements of the NCEES Engineering Education Standards
If you are unsure of whether or not your program is ABET-accredited, you can perform a program search here:
If you do not hold an ABET-accredited degree, but a non-ABET or foreign engineering degree, the Virginia Board of Professional Engineers does provide a means to fulfill their education requirements by confirming that your degree meets the requirements of the NCEES Engineering Education Standards.
More information regarding the NCEES Engineering Education Standards can be found here.
These paths are unique to Virginia and can be referenced under the current Virginia Statutes and Rules 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 Virginia?
As it is currently spelled out within the Virginia Board of Professional Engineers Statutes and Rules, you are not required to submit an application or verify your educational background prior to taking the FE Exam.
So yes, you can take the FE Exam without a degree.
However, as discussed in the previous section, in order to qualify for an Engineer In Training (EIT) designation, or qualify to take the PE Exam, you will need to provide evidence of meeting the board’s educational requirements.
Generally speaking, these are defined as:
- Graduate from an EAC/ABET accredited engineering program
- Graduate from an EAC/ABET accredited engineering master’s program
- Meet the requirements of the NCEES Engineering Education Standard found here
The Virginia Board of Professional Engineers also provides a means to waive taking the FE Exam at all as stated in their statutes, if you are:
- Duel degree holder having both:
- Graduated from an ABET-accredited undergraduate engineering program; and
- Graduated from a doctorate engineering program that is ABET
As these waiver requirements are constantly evolving, you can reference the most current statutes under section 18VAC10-20-210 Requirements for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam 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.
It will be important that you 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 Virginia, 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 Virginia?
Virginia does not release individual statistics for how many Virginians 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 Virginia?
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 Virginia or Idaho, 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 up front 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 Virginia, 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 Virginia.
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 Virginia?
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 for taking the FE.
If you are taking the FE Exam in Virginia, 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.
What are the FE Exam Requirements?
To take the FE Exam in Virginia, the only requirement that must be fulfilled is that you actually want to take the exam.
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 Ohio.
To take the FE Exam in Virginia, eligibility doesn’t require that you validate your educational background.
Once you do pass the exam, you will need to submit an application to receive your EIT Certification, and it’s at this point that your education will be verified.
The ABET accredited degree is the creme de la creme when it comes to fulfilling Virginia’s educational requirements, but it’s not the only route.
What if you don’t have an ABET-accredited degree?
What if you don’t have a degree at all?
Or your degree is from a university outside the states?
Is there any way that you can still fulfill the requirements after passing the FE Exam?
The short answer is YES!
As outlined in previous sections, if you have an ABET Accredited Master’s degree, a doctorate or are able to meet the requirements of the NCEES Engineering Education Standards (which includes foreign and non-ABET accredited degrees), there are additional means to satisfy the board.
However, these cases are unique to the individual scenario.
And with that said, instead of sifting through all the current regulations and mandates, I suggest you give a call directly to the Virginia 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 Virginia?
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 Virginia Board of Professional Engineers can provide you with the latest details concerning the FE Exam in Virginia.
They can be contacted at:
- Website: http://www.dpor.virginia.gov
- Contact: Kathleen “Kate” Nosbisch
- Email: [email protected]
- Phone: (804) 367-8506
- Fax: (866) 465-6206
- Address: Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation P.O. Box 29570, Richmond, Virginia 23242
Final Thoughts on taking the FE Exam in Virginia
I hope that this resource has brought you clarity on taking the FE Exam in Virginia.
But I know, just as many answers I have given, there may have been just as many new questions about 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 Virginia.