FE helpful tips


Anyone who has taken the FE recently, could you tell me any important things that may be useful, such as some key formulas, etc. I know there are tons of formulas, but anything that you think was really important to know for the test and wouldn't mind telling me, would be greatly appreciated.


FE exam suggestions:

(1) Buy or download the latest edition of the NCEES FE Reference Handbook. It shows you the material that will be covered on the exam; it is also the only reference allowed in the exam. Your state board may send you a used copy when you register for the exam, but it may or may not be the latest edition.

(2) Buy the "FE Review Manual: Rapid Preparation for the General Fundamentals of Engineering Exam", which costs $58 from www.ppi2pass.com (they will refund the price if you fail). This review manual walks you through the material in the NCEES Reference Handbook, and provides sample problems. If you can solve most or all of the sample problems, you will pass the exam.

(3) Get some basic undergraduate-level textbooks on physics, chemistry, and math (if you don't already have them) for further info on exam topics as needed. Old used textbooks are fine, as the exam covers fundamentals, not the latest theories.

(4) Only study general topics. Then you will be prepared for the general exam in the morning, and you can also take the general exam module in the afternoon. Ignore the discipline-specific material in the back of the NCEES Handbook.

(5) If you run into any particularly complicated equations while studying, program them into your HP-33S. But most of the formulas on the exam are relatively simple, and so there is no real advantage to programming them.

Useful programs might include time-value of money, determinants of 2x2 and 3x3 matrices, and a simple linear interpolation routine. You might also want to store commonly-used physical constants (9.81 m/s^2, 62.4 lb/ft^3, etc.) or conversion factors.


"f15e" --

Norris has provided what looks to be a good set of tips for preparation, at considerable time and effort on his part -- much as others have done regarding all your questions about operation of the 33S.

However, Norris might have omitted the most important one --

Take collegiate courses in all of the subject material covered by the exam!

I am an EE who passed the FE/EIT exam on the first try 10 years ago. I believe that I did well on every section of the exam except the one for which I had never taken a course -- fluid dynamics. I had "crammed" from my study guide on that topic beforehand, but managed to get only a few problems right on that part of the test.

There is no substitute or shortcut for the learning that comes from formal instruction.

-- KS

Edited: 10 Aug 2004, 10:57 p.m.


Certainly a broad range of relevant undergraduate coursework is desirable. People with such backgrounds probably do have the highest pass rates on the EIT exam.

On the other hand, people routinely pass the EIT exam despite conspicuous gaps in their undergraduate educations, or long after their undergraduate coursework has been forgotten. The pass rates are lower for such people, but they are still reasonably high.

I had major gaps in my educational record, plus I took the EIT exam long after college, so I had forgotten the coursework that I did have. But I made a genuine effort to master every chapter of the FE Review book (with one exception, control systems) and I passed first time.

I still don't understand control systems.


Although I took the civil PE test more than 20 years ago, I can give you some helpful tips:

-- Don't over-study and don't under-study. Overfilling the old cranium creates stress and reduces clear thinking. I don't need to explain the "benefits" of under-studying. Plan a study strategy that walks this tightrope. I actually didn't study for the EIT since I was in or had just had all the relevant classes. Worked like a charm. For the PE, I bought Lindburg's book, which at that time had 18 chapters. I got the book with 19 weeks to go before the test. I did a chapter a week (2 hrs on Tuesday evening to read the chapter; 2 hours on Thursday evening to work the example problems; and 2 hours on Saturday to work the problems at the end of the chapter) with the last week reserved for a skimming review. I walked in feeling properly prepared and completely unstressed.

-- Don't study the day before. If you don't know it at least TWO days before the test, I doubt you're ever going to know it (at least for the purposes of the test). Relax, and spend the day before doing something fun.

-- Get enough sleep the night before. In high school, I took the SAT on only 4 hours of sleep (at the pizza parlor with my girlfirend--now wife--until 2:00 am after a football game). I scored at least 100 points lower than classmates I had bested the year before on the PSAT. That didn't affect my choice of colleges, but I knew I could have done much better.

-- Remember that the goal of any test is "maximum points in minimum time." Based on this maxim, I used the following strategy for the EIT (which is similar to the newer PE tests). Before I even started the test, I created four classifications for the problems I would encounter:
(1) Problems I could solve immediately without cracking a book.
(2) Problems for which I could quickly find the necessary formula or number in one of my books, then solve quickly.
(3) Problems I knew I could solve, but it would require a bit more research in my books and more thinking.
(4) Problems best left untouched.
Start at the top of the test and quickly decide what type of problem it is. If it's a 1, do it and move to the next problem. If it's a 2, 3, or 4, write that number next to the problem then skip it. Actually, you could decide to also do some or all of the 2s at this time, skipping only 3s and 4s. Your first pass through the test should consist of only answering 1s (or 1s and 2s). Then go back and start on the 2s, if you have any, then do another pass for the 3s. Try the 4s only if you have time left or you feel the need to punish yourself. On the EIT, I marked random A-B-C-D-E answers for my 4s. My PE was structured differently (you had to show your work like an engineering final), but I only had to do 8 ten point problems of the 21 in the book. I ranked the problems in order of difficulty and started with the easiest and worked my way down until I had enough worked out. For my PE, I also estimated the score for each problem. I knew well before I had all eight problems done that I had passed. When I walked out, I figured I had about a 73 out of 80, and the cut score was around 56.
--If you get stuck, don't be afraid to stop and stare at the clock for 60 seconds. During my EIT, I had a brain freeze about the area of a circle! Like an idiot, I kept trying pi*d^2. I got ahold of myself, watched the second hand go around, thenm got back to work. That break cleared my head. I actually finished the afternoon part 1.5 hours early.
--So far, I haven't talked about engineering, even though that is what you really asked about. I had my HP-41CV stuffed full of programs I had written for things I did all the time (mostly hydraulics). As a result, one of my problems took less than two minutes to solve, and my test was 8 problems in 8 hours. Having 58 minutes of slack time does wonders for your confidence. Of course, your test is structured differently, so you need to figure out what formulas will help you the most, then start keying them in.

I have pontificated long enough. Good luck on your test, and let us know when you pass.



Thanks for the tips. I have the FE Review Manual and I also downloaded the booklet that is used for the test.

When I take the FE, which will be in April of 2005, there are a few subjects that I will not have covered by that time or are not part of the EE curriculum, so I will have to put in more time on these particular subjects.

I am just trying to get everything prepared that I will need and I have started the review process. I doubt I will be doing anything to prepare for the FE during the Fall semester, which is in less than two weeks, due to a hectic schedule and more than likely not a whole lot in the Spring either.

Are there any subjects on the FE that are less important due to the fact that not many questions are asked from that subject or for any other reasons? Anywhere that I can save time on my studying/reviewing would be great!


P.S. I actually meant to put this thread in the forum that is in ppi2pass.com site, but not until today did I realize that I had mistakenly posted it here. Someone must have slipped me a Mickey. LOL!


If you have not taken statics, (and as an EE, you probably haven't), buy a Schaums outline and do a couple of problems every week. Statics is fairly straight forward and easy, and you will pick up easy points in this area.

In fact you should buy a Schaums outline in a couple of the subjects that you haven't taken and just do one or two problems per section (or go to a library and copy a few areas of interest). Every problem area you do and understand is one more question right on the FE in all likelyhood. Get enough right and you pass! 8o)


So Ron, you don't think the FE Review Manual by MICHAEL R. LINDEBURG would be good enough to prepare me for statics or other subjects that I haven't covered?

Edited: 11 Aug 2004, 12:24 p.m.


It's good enough, if you can understand problems in one pass. But you will get more detail and how to solve problems from a textbook. The FE Review is very good and an excellent refresher, but if you haven't taken statics, for example, you might consider a workbook. Everything is there in the FE Review Manual, but often very cryptic. I am sure there are many people here, where the FE Review manual would be enough, but if you have access to REA workbooks, you have access to a lot more detailed solutions.

Only look at the easy ones to pick up easy points though. You don't have time to take every course and the exam isn't going to fail you if you can't answer even a single fluid's problem. It is a comprehensive exam and your goal is to correctly answer the most questions you can to acheive a passing score.


I agree with Ron Ross. PPI's FE Review book is a great introduction, but it is obviously condensed. For some subjects, I needed more detailed explanations. I turned to old undergraduate physics, chemistry, and math textbooks for help (as suggested above), but Schaum's outlines would probably work fine as well.

Edited: 11 Aug 2004, 4:47 p.m.

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