During the FE Exam, you will need to answer a few qualitative or conceptual questions. These are questions that are words only and will not include numbers, and therefore can’t be solved by equations. In this video, I am going to give you some tips on how to approach these types of problems.
Before I move ahead, let me remind you that the FE EXAM or fundamentals of engineering – is the first step to getting your professional engineering license, and through the videos on this channel, including this one, you will learn not only how to properly prepare for the exam, but how to ensure you PASS THE FE EXAM!
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So let’s talk about tackling qualitative or conceptual questions on the FE exam. To help with this, I want to read a sample problem that has been provided to us by PrepFE.
PrepFE is the most effective FE exam prep service out there and happens to be the most affordable too. PrepFE is an app that gives you access to countless sample FE problems to bolster your self-study efforts.
You can visit www.prepfe.com/redeem and use the discount code PASS-EXAM-0010 to receive 10% off and get some great FE practice problems.
So Here’s the Problem:
Select all that apply. Which of the following is part of an activated sludge system when treating wastewater?
A. Hardness treatment
D. Aeration basin
There is no way to memorize all of these concepts that can be found throughout the FE Exam. However, as I detailed in a previous video, you will have access to an online FE reference handbook, and most, if not all of the answers to these conceptual questions are somewhere in the handbook.
So, when you get a question like this, your best bet is to open the digital version of the FE handbook during the exam and search for the key terms in the question.
It’s important to note (and this information was also provided by PrepFE) You cannot CTRL-F or Command-F like a PDF to search the FE Handbook during the exam, but the user interface has its own search bar that you can use. Search results include page numbers, so familiarizing yourself with the handbook ahead of the test is vital.
For the question I read earlier, I would do a search for the term activated sludge. When I do that, I can find all of the pages that contain that term and on one of those pages, there is a table that lists the design criteria associated with the system, and both a clarifier and an aeration basin is included in the list and hardness treatment and disinfection are not. Therefore the answers to this question are C and D.
The bottom line is when you come upon a qualitative question, quickly identify the key terms, search for them using the search bar on the FE Reference Handbook, and then starting with the lowest number page, go through each of the pages returned in that search looking for your answer.
As far as pre-exam preparation, get to know the latest version of the PE Reference Handbook which can be downloaded for free here.
I hope you found this week’s video helpful. In upcoming videos, I will share some more studying strategies and also cover some more problems including engineering economics practice problems.
We publish videos weekly on our Pass the FE Exam YouTube Channel. Be sure to visit our page here and click the subscribe button as you’ll get expert tips and tricks each week – to ensure your best success – that you can’t get anywhere else. Believe me, you won’t want to miss a single video.
Lastly, I encourage you to ask questions in the comments of the videos or here on this page and I’ll read and respond to them in future videos. So, if there’s a specific topic you want me to cover or answer, we have you covered.
I’ll see you next week.
Anthony Fasano, P.E.
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success