NCEES policies for 2006 ?


For 2004, NCEES banned graphing calculators.

For 2005, NCEES banned all calculators, except for 7 models (including the HP9S and 33S).

So what will NCEES do for 2006?

There is a possible clue in the 12/04 issue of the NCEES "Licensure Exchange" newsletter, p. 6:

<< The Examination Administration Task Force will also tackle calculator issues. It will review Exam Policy 15 as amended by the Council during this year’s Annual Meeting and consider adding the words “or supplied” to the policy so that it reads “Only models of calculators as specified or supplied by NCEES are permitted in the examination room.” The task force members will also revise exam policies to minimize objects allowed in the exam room and maximize security. >>

Currently, NCEES examinees cannot have any personal items during an exam, except for their clothes and their calculator. The implication is that candidates may be barred from bringing their own calculators in the future, just as they are now barred from bringing their own pencils or erasers. NCEES could start issuing calculators inside the exam room, just as they currently issue mechanical pencils.

If NCEES elects to go this route in 2006, it could possibly threaten the use of RPN on professional engineering and land surveying exams. It seems more likely that NCEES would issue $15 algebraic scientifics (which are probably even cheaper in bulk) than the $55 HP-33S, which is the only remaining RPN option.

So what will NCEES do for 2007?

Well, we can only speculate. But if NCEES elects to issue calculators in the exam room, then the only personal items that examinees will still be allowed to have during the exam will be their clothes. Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but NCEES recently began manufacturing official NCEES clothing...

Edited: 23 Nov 2004, 6:08 p.m.


When the NCEES originally came out with this policy, it really ticked me off as I love my calculators. When I criticized the policy in this forum, all the old timers hammered me. I've enjoyed seeing them complain too now that all that their old favorites have been banned.

It shouldn't suprise anybody one bit when NCEES starts issuing their own calculators or banning them altogether. Something is very wrong with these Luddites. Who made them god, anyway? Why isn't there an alternative licensure available to aspiring engineers? The closest thing to a solution is tests for licenses from a governing body that understands technology, not from pinheads who want to ban it.


Depends what you want to test, if it's ability to think and know the subject then a calculator is not needed. It comes down to the skill of the examiner to test the right things. Do NCEES exams require alot of number crunching? If so what are they actually testing with such questions?

Here in the UK when I took A level maths (exam for 18 year olds) in the mid 1980's did not need a calculator, the actual numbers were 'easy' and required a few simple button presses at the end to evaluate pi or e or a log and give a numerical answer - all the working had to be shown and counted for at least half the marks.

The same happened when I studied electronics at degree level in the late 80's, you had to show you understood the subject, the actual number crunching could be done in your head, some equation manipulation and a few key strokes on a low/mid priced scientific (from memory a FX570 in my case).

However if a calculator is a must then some choice should be left to the examinee, or plenty of notice of a policy change so they can get used to the standard calc.

PS Does the NCEES allow: Spectacles, medication, hats, watch, jewellery? :-)


<< PS Does the NCEES allow: Spectacles, medication, hats, watch, jewellery? :-) >>

Watches are subject to regulation. In California, digital watches are explicitly banned; you can bring a watch, but it must be analog. Don't know if this policy is specific to the California Board, or if it is enforced nationally by NCEES.

Medication should be OK. Food and drink are typically banned at the exam desks, so you might need to request permission to leave your seat and take your pills in the bathroom or at the drinking fountain.

The other listed items should be OK

Edited: 24 Nov 2004, 5:00 p.m.


Many of the most important and challenging exams I took in graduate school (materials science) did not require a calculator. Sure, you could bring one (I had my trusty 11c :-), but it wouldn't help you one bit. In fact, I never turned it on---nothing to use it for!

As I have been considering taking a PE exam myself, I have been interested to see this development going on. I see both "camps' points. However, I think what is generally being missed by the "pro calculator" camp is that the exams are (probably) being restructured as well----in other words, you think you will need that fancy whiz-bang---but your need is based on the assumption that future tests will be like those in the past.

Perhaps this is the real problem---NCEES is not communicating what their real intentions are?



#15 i wrote before i think the most important thing regarding this exam is the exam itself....the contents should be matched with the calculations requirements...maybe for the future exams a junk 15$ calculator will be enough..( i shere the bill´s opinions)in case the contents and its develoment will be more important than the final numerical answer...i do not know how this will be evaluated...i remember long time ago when i took a numerical methods course i used a very simple 15$ scientific casio calculator..the teacher in this case actually did not match the exam with the calculation requirements ( his 2 exams spanned for more than 8 hours each even for people using programs in their calculator!!!!!!) ..i remember that for the next courses bought my first hp calculator (28s) which was VERY useful for subjects handling linear algebra...i agree that the calculator list allowed should be controlled BUT the list HAVE to be wide enough and each people should carry on their own unit. actually i have never seen this test so i have no a real and proper opinion about it.


No, NCEES is *not* restructuring any of their exams. They have *always* maintained that all of their exam problems can be solved with a basic scientific calculator (supplemented, in some cases, by NCEES-supplied tables). This was true in the past, and it remains true today. People routinely pass the EIT and PE exams with cheap TIs, Casios, and Sharps, and have been doing so for years.

Why, then, are so many people so upset by the NCEES ban on more powerful calculators ?

First issue: powerful calculators (like the HP48) were never “necessary” for NCEES exams – but they sure were convenient. Not all 48 owners knew how to exploit its features, but if you did, then you enjoyed some distinct advantages that weren't available with basic calculators.

I used an HP48GX on the EIT exam (before it was banned), and on California-specific PE exams (where it is still legal). I probably could have passed these exams without the 48, but I am convinced that I worked faster and scored higher with the 48. So obviously I was reluctant to give it up.

Second issue: the NCEES policies have troubling implications for RPN addicts. RPN is only available on relatively advanced calculators; there are no truly "basic" scientific RPN models in production. The 33S is no 48GX, but it is still much more powerful than the approved algebraic models on the NCEES list. If NCEES ultimately standardizes on "basic" scientific calculators, the 33S may not make the cut, and this would represent a de facto ban on RPN. Many RPN users wouldn't object to using a basic calculator per se, but they don't want to switch to algebraic.

When NCEES initially announced its new policies, back in late 2003, it came close to a de facto RPN ban. The 48GII and the 49G+ were explicitly banned, and the 33S was not yet available. So there were no NCEES-compliant scientific calculators in production. You could only use RPN if you could get your hands on an older model, like the 11C, 15C, or 32SII (ironically, all of these have now been banned as well).

HP deserves part of the blame for this situation. HP can make inexpensive "basic" scientific calculators, like the NCEES-approved 9S (just $11.99 at But whatever reason, HP won't make an equivalent model with RPN.

Edited: 25 Nov 2004, 11:57 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


Why HP do not make cheap RPN cals?..easy...they know that RPN fans are willing to pay more for these calcs due to HP is the only brand which actually make them..why sell a cheap calc when is possible to design more profitable ones?...monopoly is always a bad thing...just a look into ebay auctions on 32sII, 11c,15c, 22s, 48GX, etc shows how bad are the units made now.

in fact the day that hp do not make RPN anymore i´m sure i won´t buy its calcs..casio makes very goods units for 12$.


The official NCEES calculator should be the HP-33S, which offers both RPN and AOS logic.

Maybe HP could have a deal with NCEES for a lower price?


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  NCEES and Computer Based Testing Richard Garner 2 942 04-10-2012, 07:14 PM
Last Post: Steve Fennell
  NCEES reapproves 33S and 35S Norris 27 4,550 11-19-2008, 03:52 PM
Last Post: Chuck Sommer
  NCEES approves 33S and 35S for 2008 Norris 56 8,111 11-16-2007, 12:58 PM
Last Post: Martin Pinckney
  Two NCEES committees endorse HP-33S Norris 4 1,048 07-07-2007, 12:44 PM
Last Post: Walter B
  Reflections on 2006 Bill (Smithville, NJ) 7 1,482 12-31-2006, 02:19 PM
Last Post: Gerson W. Barbosa
  NCEES calculator update -- 2007 Norris 19 3,381 11-27-2006, 10:04 AM
Last Post: Happy HP User
  NCEES calculator update Norris 4 1,121 10-10-2006, 08:29 AM
Last Post: Ron Ross
  HCC 2006 Report? Meindert Kuipers 61 6,489 09-24-2006, 10:09 PM
Last Post: John Cadick
  HHC 2006 Was Great! Howard Owen 0 444 09-18-2006, 01:46 AM
Last Post: Howard Owen
  New NCEES testing calculator policy? John McCormick 5 1,169 09-08-2006, 11:29 AM
Last Post: e.young

Forum Jump: