FE Changes

Published Monday, May 5, 2014 by Richard Hong

In January of this year, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) announced a shift for the Fundamentals for Engineering Exam (FE).  The test will shift into a Computer-Based Testing format (CBT) rather than the manual input of pencil and paper used before.  In addition, the content and length of the test will be changed as well to better adapt to the CBT format.

Prior to the announced changes, the FE was a compilation of modules, breaks, and orientation times that amounted to 10 hours total.  To be more specific, it comprised of the hour orientation, followed by a 4-hour morning module and a 4-hour afternoon module with an hour break in between. The NCEES has changed this to a reduced 6 hours by cutting on the number of questions and changing the formatting of the modules. The questions will be reduced to a total of 110 questions that are divided into 7 freestanding modules compared to the set modules from before. After completing a pre-determined number of questions, the test takers will be allowed to review previous questions. Should the students choose not to review, they are allowed to take a break or continue onwards. If the test taker opts to take the break or continue, he or she will not be allowed to review the previous questions from the first section.

The content of the test will change as well. Questions have been removed and edited to reflect the change in total time allotment as well. Instead of the aforementioned 2 modules, there are a total of seven different modules now, each specializing in a different discipline of engineering.  The seven disciplines include the following disciplines: Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Computer, Environmental, Industrial, Mechanical, and Others. The Others Discipline will vary on topics from Dynamics to Ethical and Professional Practice. The specifics of discipline can be found on the NCEES website.

NCEES has collaborated with Pearson VUE such that Pearson will administer the CBT testing. The computerizedFE will be taken on computer carrels at a testing site, which typically ranges from 12-15 computers (similar testing style to taking the GRE or GMAT). The equipment of two monitors will feature the test itself on one monitor and a reference manual in a PDF-like format on the other. A on-screen calculator similar to those of the interface of TI calculators can also be brought up for questions. Questions can be flagged for review later and the test takers may also skip questions to return to a later time.

In addition, the testing availability will be over the span of 8 months, with much more flexibility compared to the rigid two dates of the previous formats in April and October. As such, this promotes testing in smaller groups with higher frequencies, compared to the batch testing of the past.

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