How to gain clarity to prepare for the FE Exam (A Step by Step Tutorial)
Last week we discussed the importance of taking that first step…getting that Quick Win, and laid out a step by step process on how to establish that.
If you missed out on that post, you can check it out here:
Once a student sees the light, and knows how they are going to go about getting started moving forward in their FE Exam studies, another common uncertainty arises in their mind.
This uncertainty generally comes in the form of this question:
“How much time do I need to put in to studying before taking the exam?”
Ahhh...Clarity
Establishing Clarity and defining the details of the journey is crucial.
Now that we have ran through the Quick Win Framework and have a clear understanding of how we can get moving in our studies and where our time should be spent, at least initially, it’s time to put some expectations up against it.
Putting time to our schedule will give us a nice visual of what we need to accomplish day in day out as we make our way towards the day of our exam.
It will give us live pulse on our progress and help us gauge whether or not we are on track to get to the finish line.
It will also ease our mind knowing that our plan is realistic and that we can do it in this time that we have.
The Framework
So with that, let’s get in to it…below is what the Prepineer Clarity Framework looks like:
NOTE: One quick note before we go through this framework is that it is strictly developed to help you get an idea of what to expect going forward. I am not telling you that after you study exactly X number of hours, you will be prepared.
There are a bunch of different factors that aren’t accounted for within this framework, every student’s situation is different, so account for those…but what it will do, is give you a baseline.
So what we will do is go step by step through this framework, illustrating what it would look like as a Civil Engineering Student. This process can be replicated step by step for any other discipline without alteration.
Step 1
The first step is to Figure out the number of days you have until your exam. Maybe you have a set your test day, or maybe you haven’t…either way, we are going to need to establish a number here to get us started.
For illustration purposes, lets say we have 90 days until our test day.
Step 2
The next step is to take that number and subtract 3. The number 3 represents the number of days before the exam that your studies should be winding down and transitioning to what I call your polishing period.
The polishing period includes the following:
 Day 2 and Day 3 before the exam should be spent working practice problems and taking practice exams.
 The day before the exam I recommend that you don’t study at all.
Subtracting these three days from our overall number of days before the exam, we get 87 days.
Step 3
For step three, we take this number and multiple it by .8 (this assumes that between now and that date, every 10 days you are going to have 2 days that you don’t/can’t study.)
Doing this brings us to 69.6 days.
Step 4
We now need to determine the number of pages we need to study throughout our studies.
Now this could be as simple as opening up your review manual, noting how many pages are in there, and plugging that number in.
If on the other hand you have no idea, take the total number of subjects that are defined within your specific discipline and multiply it by 75…
This is a soft calculation putting 75 pages of review per subject, which includes all material including practice problems.
Following this route, and recalling that we are working this procedure as if we are a Civil Engineer student, then we have 16 subjects, 75 pages per subject, for a total of 1,200 pages.
Step 5
That brings us to step 5, where we define how many hours we can study per day, on average.
To do this will take a little imagination and forward thinking, but either way, will end up giving us a good understanding of what to expect moving forward.
To determine the average number of hours you will be able to study every day multiply your projected study time during the week and add it to your projected weekend study times and then divide that by 7.
The equation being [5x#hrs week days + 2x#hrs weekends]/7
Let’s say we estimate that we are able to study 2 hours every weekday night and 4 hours on the weekend nights, we would then have the following calculation:
 [5×2 + 2×4]/7 = 2.57 hrs/day
Step 6
Our next step is to sum the total number of hours we will have available to study over the period of time we have defined.
We can do this by taking the number of hours we determined on average we will be able to study per day and multiplying it by the total number of days we have to study, which gives us:
 2.57 hrs/day * 69.6 days = 178.87 hours of total study time.
NOTE: As I mentioned above, their are a lot of factors that will go in to the actual time you will spend studying for the exam. From my experience in working with my students, I find that on the low end, one can expect to study for 100 hours, and on the high end, 300 hours isn’t uncommon.
Step 7
Our final step allows us to bring this full circle and will give us an idea of how many pages we need to be studying every hour that we are studying to keep us on track to reach our end goal of being prepared for the exam.
To do this simply divide the total number of pages by the total number of hours.
The calculation is:
 1200 pages / 178.87 Hours
Which calculates out to:

6.7 pages/hr
After this metric is defined, we can determine whether or not our plan is realistic.
In my experience, if we are coming in somewhere around 5 pages/hr then we are looking fairly safe.
Anything higher than that, the plan could be too optimistic which is dangerous. If that’s the case, you may need to figure out where you can find more hours to study (or you may need to reduce the amount of study materials you need to go through.
If this is the case, I suggest you start with your “Giveaway Subjects” that we defined during our Quick Win Framework.
Obviously the number of pages per hour will fluctuate depending on the difficulty of the material. Some hours you may only be getting 4 pages complete, while others you will be getting 8 pages complete.
The bottom line is, we are using average here, and as you make your way through all of the content, that difficulty and speed will average itself out.
Conclusion
All in all, we are working around three major constraints…time, pages, and speed.
One constraint can’t be changed without affecting the others.
So if we have more material, then we are going to need more time or speed up our review if we want to maintain our schedule.
If we are quicker in our review, then that affords us more overall time to complete our studies.
At the end of the day, we are setting the baseline for our studies right now.
We are going to know if our plan is achievable first and foremost, and know the constraints and metrics that we have to perform to. As long as we are performing to those metrics, we know that, we are going to be right where we want and expect to be.
This is clarity…a schedule that is rigid and outlines what we need to spend our mental energy on during the time we are studying.
With clarity comes ease of mind, with ease of mind comes less stress…with less stress comes more efficient and more effective studies.
At Prepineer, we connect with aspiring engineers around the world daily helping them succeed in their studies, and it’s no secret that we continue to struggle as a whole to prepare for and pass these exams.
If you want to be done with the struggle and experience a whole new way of preparing for the FE Exam, Click Here to start your free 7day trial!