How Long is The FE Exam + What It’s Like

How long is the FE Exam

If you’re wondering how long the FE exam is then you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll tell you how long the FE exam is (it’s the same for everybody) and explain what it’s like to take the test.

The FE Exam takes 5 hours and 20 minutes during which you will need to complete 110 questions. The total time that you will need to set aside for the exam is about 6 hours, including testing time plus 10 minutes for the nondisclosure agreement and tutorial and a 25 minute scheduled break. 

During your testing appointment, you will get access to a digital and searchable copy of the FE Reference Handbook. You can learn more about this handbook and find out how to get a free PDF of it before the FE at this link.

Since I know that the biggest thing on your mind is how to pass the FE Exam, I’ll say right away that the reference handbook is really your ticket to passing. If you head to the link above you’ll learn how I scanned through it the night before the FE and didn’t do any other studying and still passed on my first try!

Let’s talk now about what you can expect on test day and what it’s like to take this 6-hour exam!

What the 6-Hour FE Exam is Like

It’s been a few years since I took the FE so I don’t remember all of it, but I remember enough to help you get an idea of what to expect! 

My experience may not be exactly the same in your area, but generally, most of it should be the same. The FE Exam itself is the same in every state as far as the length of time and number of questions goes, that never changes. 

What may be different is how far away your testing center is, or how it’s set up. It will be computer-based no matter what, though.

I scheduled my appointment at the testing center for the morning on a weekday. When I arrived at the testing center, I checked in and put all of my non-testing items into a locker, then waited for a little bit. Eventually, they called me into the testing area and directed me to my computer, which was in a cubicle of sorts. 

The nondisclosure agreement and tutorial come first and they’re pretty simple. You just agree that you won’t talk about the details of the test, like what’s on it, outside of the exam. 

The tutorial just shows you how to use the testing platform. Don’t skip through the tutorial though, the test will be easier if you don’t have to waste time figuring out how to use the interface. Plus, missing important information during the tutorial could mean missing easy problems simply because you didn’t know what you were doing!

Once those are done you begin the exam. I believe I had 2 hours and 40 minutes for the first portion, then took my 25-minute break, then another 2 hours and 40 minutes. 

The break isn’t really long enough to do much, but you are allowed to go out to your car. I packed some snacks and ate those and just relaxed during my break and that was all I needed. 

The FE Exam isn’t like the PE Exam which has a morning general session and an afternoon depth session. Each session between breaks is just a continuation of the exam, which has questions from all engineering disciplines. 

Also, during the exam, you can raise your hand to go to the bathroom and get a drink of water at any time. I believe you can also access any food you may have brought as long as you put it in your locker, but I don’t think you can leave the testing center during these shorter breaks.

The nice thing is that although 5 hours and 20 minutes sounds long, it goes by super quickly!

After the FE Exam

If you’re like me you’re not really too bothered about what happens after the exam is over, you just want it to be done! 

The important thing to note is that you’ll have to wait 7-10 business days to get your FE Exam results.

Once you’ve passed the FE Exam you can now become an Engineer In Training (or similar, depending on what your state calls it) and continue working toward getting your PE license by getting experience or taking the PE Exam!

Looking for some good resources to help you pass the FE Exam? Here are my 3 favorites:

  1. School of PE FE Review Course. They were my ticket to passing the PE Exam because they were so spot on with preparing me for the test. Check them out right here and even try out their course for free!
  2. Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro Engineering/Scientific Calculator. This is the best calculator that is approved by NCEES for use on the FE and PE Exams. Get it on Amazon right here.
  3. Civil Engineering Academy Review Course & Practice Exams. Their courses are a more budget-friendly option and I highly recommend it. You can also try out their practice exams which provided me some great problems that were a lot like the actual NCEES exams!

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