Can You Pass the PE Exam Without Studying?

Can you pass the pe exam without studying

If you’re wondering whether or not you can pass the PE Exam without studying, the very quick answer is absolutely not. And that’s not just me saying that, most engineers would agree. Their experience and my own confirms this is true.

You simply cannot pass the PE Exam if you don’t study. Most engineers study for the PE for over 230 hours and some still struggle to pass. The content and test format is so advanced that if you’re not familiar with it before going in, you’ll spend the whole exam just trying to figure that out.

I’ve got my own experience to confirm how true this is. But let’s first see what other engineers have to say about it.

What Others Say About Not Studying For The PE Exam

I did some research online to find out what other engineers say about whether or not it’s possible to pass the PE Exam without studying. Here’s a summary of what some of them said:

  • You might be able pass the FE without studying but definitely not the PE.
  • Most said they’ve never heard of anybody that’s passed without studying.
  • If you were taking the PE straight out of college then it’s a gigantic maybe. But otherwise there’s no chance.
  • Those that say they knew people who passed with little studying (10 hours or less) said that those people were surprised that they passed.

I did see some responses that mentioned studying very little or not at all but it seemed like those were for very early versions of the easiest types of PE Exams, so they’re outliers. If you’re talking about the PE Exams that most people take, like civil, mechanical, and chemical, then you have no chance at passing if you don’t study. 

It should seem obvious that you can’t pass the PE Exam without studying. After all, it’s a major exam required to receive a professional license that involves work that can put other’s lives in danger if done incorrectly. It has to be difficult enough that not just anybody can waltz in and pass it.

And as I mentioned earlier, the research I’ve done shows that most engineers cannot pass the PE without studying for at least 200 hours. That makes sense considering it’s an 8-8.5 hour exam that’s 80-85 questions and requires an in-depth understanding of complicated engineering principles.

Ultimately, I don’t know why you’d expect to be able to pass this exam on your first attempt unless you put in a massive amount of work to study. If you’re loaded and can afford to retake it, sure, go for it. You might get to know the test format and have a better idea of what’s on it. But you’re definitely not going to pass without doing the work.

My Experience With Studying For The PE Exam

I had to take the PE Exam twice to pass, so I know how impossible it is to pass without studying. The test was open-book when I took it, which meant I could see how well other engineers had prepared. Not a single one was sitting there without a ton of books. They all had looks on their face that seemed to say “I studied like mad and I still feel nervous about this exam.”

On my first attempt, I put in 126 hours of study and still failed. Then on my second I spend over 300 hours and passed. In total I’d worked over 900 practice problems between the two attempts. This test is no joke. You have to take it seriously if you want any chance at becoming a licensed Professional Engineer.

A word of advice, too—if you want to significantly reduce the pain and effort in studying and pass on your first try, take a course. The best of all of them is School of PE. It’s well worth the money because pass rates for those who take their course are so much higher than the average.

Click here to read my in-depth review of School of PE’s course, including my personal experience using them. Or if you want to get a free trial of their course, just go directly to their website here.

In The End

It seems pretty obvious that you can’t pass the PE Exam without studying. 

The comments of many engineers as well as their self-reported study hours and my personal experience with the PE Exam all confirm that this thing is no joke. 

You have to put in a ton of effort if you want to pass. But it’s worth it!

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