When I was getting ready to take the FE Exam I was curious to know how many times I could take it if I failed once or more. Although the answer is a little tough to dig up, I was able to find it and have shared it here so you don’t have to go searching for it!
You can take the FE exam once within each 3-month time window and only 3 attempts are allowed every 12 months. Those windows are Jan-Mar, Apr-Jun, Jul-Sept, and Oct-Dec. You will also need to reach out to your state board to ask how many times they will approve you to sit for the exam.
This information comes from the NCEES Examinee Guide, which states:
“NCEES policy allows examinees to attempt a particular NCEES examination one time per testing window and no more than three times in a 12-month period. Some licensing boards have a more restrictive policy. Visit ncees.org/boards to determine the policy of the licensing board you selected during the registration process.”
And later in the guide:
“NCEES computer-based exams are offered in testing windows throughout the year during the following months:
Pretty straightforward, right? Let’s look at some scenarios that I made up to show how this might work for you and clear up any confusion you may still have. Hopefully, though, you pass on your first time and don’t have to deal with any of this!
Example of FE Exam Attempt Limitations
Let’s say it’s March and Jeremy wants to take the FE exam in June. He gets all ready, studies, and takes the FE Exam in early June. But 7-10 days later he gets his results and finds out that he failed.
Jeremy could take the FE again in July if he wanted to because that’s the start of the next testing window. He knows he needs to study a little bit more to pass it, so he plans to take the FE in August instead.
But yet again, Jeremy fails the FE Exam.
Now Jeremy can try again anytime between October and December. Let’s just say that he takes it again in November and, for the sake of our example, poor Jeremy still doesn’t pass the FE Exam on his third attempt.
At this point, because he’s failed it three times, Jeremy has to wait until a year after his first failure. So the next time he could attempt the FE Exam would be in July of the following year.
June would still be within that first 12 months, so he can’t take it that month. Once June is over, though he would have only failed the FE Exam twice in the previous 12 months (July of the previous year to the next July, during which he failed in August and November) so he’s good to attempt it again.
To Those Who Are Struggling to Pass the FE Exam
Passing the FE isn’t too difficult. But you may end up failing it a time or two or even more. I passed the FE Exam on my first try, but with the PE I failed once before passing and that was awful. So I know how bad it can feel to fail one of these licensing exams.
I hope to share a few things that will help you get through what you’re experiencing right now.
If you’re in the stage right after finding out that you failed the FE Exam, take a break from studying and everything. Take care of yourself and, as strange as this may sound, let yourself grieve if you feel you need to. The grief process can still apply with an exam like this and it’s not uncommon, either. If you’re feeling down, let yourself go through those stages, from denial, to anger, to sadness, and finally acceptance.
I had to do this right after failing the PE. It took me a week or two before I was even ready to entertain the idea of trying again. But because I’d let myself go through that process, I was ready to take another swing at it with full energy.
This reveals the next step—determining that you’ll try again. You’ll want to start by looking at all the good in the situation. The Obstacle is the Way is one of my favorite books and it’s also a great principle to apply here. Even though failing sucks, there are good things that can come from it.
When I failed the PE Exam, here were a few comforting ideas that helped me get determined to try again:
- Failing just let me have an opportunity to show myself how determined and resilient I could be. And to practice those skills and get better at them, too!
- I actually became a much better engineer because I had to be so thorough in my preparation the second time. When I finally did pass I felt like I deserved the title of PE.
- This happens all the time, to tons of engineers, so you’re not alone in the slightest. Tens of thousands of people take the FE and PE exams each year, and with average pass rates of 70% or so, there are still thousands of engineers who are in your same position. Just check out engineerboards.com and you’ll see what I mean. Connect with them if you want some encouragement, too!
I know what it feels like to fail and that feeling sucks. But you can try again and you can pass this thing, I promise! For me, with the PE Exam, passing didn’t come until I invested in myself by purchasing a course.
If you’re getting desperate to pass the FE Exam, I highly recommend you take a course as well. I went with School of PE and I highly recommend them. The level of confidence I had after their course was so much higher than the first time I attempted the exam. I rocked it and did end up passing on that second attempt at the PE because of that investment!
The price was high and was almost as tough a pill to swallow as failing the test. But the high cost was actually to my benefit because it pushed me to study harder and get the most out of my money. That made it a lot easier to study instead of play video games!
For these reasons and a ton of others, the cost was definitely worth it. I wouldn’t have passed the exam if it weren’t for School of PE. I wrote a really in-depth review of their course that you can check out right here to learn more about them. Or if you want to get a free trial and see what they’re like, go straight to their website here.
The FE exam may take some work to study for and pass, but it is worth it to progress on the path to becoming a PE!