Is the Civil PE Exam Difficult to Pass? After completing a college degree, passing the FE exam, and getting at least four years of experience working in engineering (in most states), candidates can sit for the PE exam. The PE exam is one of the last steps in becoming a licensed professional engineer. But how hard is it? In this article (and video above), I answer that question and also take a look at the PE Pass rates.
In this article (and video above), I answer the following question from one of our listeners: “How many years experience do I need to take the PE Exam?”
Typically, in many US States, the experience requirement to apply for your PE license is four years of qualifying engineering experience. However each state acts independently to set its own education experience and residency requirements, therefore, there is variation throughout the US.
It is generally required that all candidate’s experience be accumulated after graduation from an accredited school. If you have worked while attending school, and if the work fits the criteria for qualifying engineering experience, you may qualify to take the examination less than four years following graduation. However, depending on circumstances, it may be difficult for you to demonstrate that the pre-graduation experience constitutes true engineering experience.
In this article (and video above), I talk about what you can expect after you have taken your PE Exam and what you should do after you pass the PE exam. We talk about how long you will have to wait for your results to be available, how you can obtain your license if you passed, and when you will be able to start practicing as a licensed engineer. Information for this post was referenced from these articles (PPI, NSPE, and NJSPE).
In this article, (and video above), I respond to a question from one of our subscribers about whether or not the United States Professional Engineering License can be transferred and used in different countries and vice versa.
Here is the Question:
“Can you do a video on international reciprocity, and how the us PE license compares and contrasts with engineering licenses from other countries. And for those who are not us residents and wish to take the PE exam and still work in their home countries, how would that work?”
In this week’s Pass the PE Exam article (and video above), I answer a question I get often from engineering students and recent graduates that ask: “Should I take the PE or FE exam?”
If you are an engineering student and this is something you have been wondering about, then this video is for you. Remember that right now, at this very point in history, you control the direction of your career more than ever. So it’s important to make the right decisions today, and I hope this video will help you do just that!
Let’s Define the Two Different Exams:
The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam
This exam is designed for recent engineering graduates and students who are close to finishing an undergraduate engineering degree from an EAC (or Engineering Accreditation Commission )/ABET (or Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)-accredited program. The FE exam is a computer-based exam administered year-round at NCEES-approved Pearson VUE test centers. It includes 110-questions and the exam appointment time is six hours long with about five hours and twenty minutes of that time being actual exam time. If you take and pass the FE exam, you have the choice after roughly four years of progressive experience as an Engineer-in-Training (EIT) to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam (PE exam)
The PE Exam or The Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam
This exam is the examination required for one to become a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in the United States, and is the second exam required, coming after the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, created and scored by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). As a general rule, a professional engineer who has number one an approved four-year engineering degree, number 2 – four years of qualifying engineering experience, and number 3 who successfully completes (3) the eight-hour Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Examination can take the PE exam. That being said, you should confirm these items with your local state education board as some states do vary on these experience and timeline requirements. You can register for the exam through the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) website at NCEES.org.
Here Are Some of the Advantages of Having an EIT Certificate:
In this article (and video above), I talk to Connor Adamsick, an EIT and bridge engineer at HDR in Denver Colorado who recently took the Civil Structural PE exam in April. He talks about his experience taking the exam, and how he thinks gymnastics correlates with studying for your PE Exam. He is also going to provide some very specific study prep tips that you won’t want to miss.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Connor:
- You recently wrote an article on LinkedIn called: All-American to PE Hopeful where you talked about how while competing for your University, you also were studying for a degree in Civil Engineering. What has this experience taught you and how does gymnastics correlate with studying for your PE Exam?
- Take us through the preparation process, from the moment you decided to take the exam up to where you started to study for the exam. Are there any set guidelines, schedules, or procedures you used to determine how you will study for the exam?
- Why did you decide to take the exam a year early?
- How long did it take you to study for the Civil Structural PE exam?
- While studying for the exam, did you set goals for yourself, and if so, how did the goals help you along the way?
- Tell us more about exam day. Was it everything you expected, and how do you think you did in the exam?
- What advice can you give engineers out there considering taking the Civil Structural PE exam?
Here Are the Key Points Discussed in the Episode:
In this article (and video above), I answer a question I get from many listeners, which is: “Can you take the PE exam without taking the FE exam first?”
So, Can You Take the PE Exam Without Taking the FE Exam First?
What’s the passing score for the PE Exam in 2021? And what’s the scoring process? In this article (and video above), we look at the exam and see how the NCEES “determines the level of performance that corresponds with minimal competence in that discipline”.
You can find the information shared in this post, plus more, on the PE Exam passing score at NCEES. Most of the PE Exams are 80 multiple choice questions taken over an 8 hour period – 40 questions in the 4 hour morning session, and 40 questions in the 4-hour afternoon session.
In this article (and video above), Isaac Oakeson, P.E. from Civil Engineering Academy talks about the difficulty level of each of the possible Civil PE Exams you can take. Isaac is a civil engineer himself, who has spent years helping civil engineers pass the PE exam, and in this the video he will rank the different exams, based on his opinion, from the hardest PE Exam to the easiest PE Exam. Below are questions I have posed to Isaac followed by his answers.
What’s The Hardest PE Exam for Civil Engineers?
Q: One of the first questions I get from EIT’s who are interested in taking the PE Exam is “How hard is it?” or “Which is the easiest to pass?”
A: Generally speaking, you’re better off taking the discipline that you do daily as you’ll be more familiar with the basic concepts and will have less to learn. The exam changes every time, so it’s luck of the draw on which one could potentially have easier questions. That said, every depth exam is hard and requires a high degree of effort; but let’s dive a little deeper, and highlight some things that might be easier for you.
What is the real secret to pass the PE Exam? Is there a secret, or is it just good preparation? In this article (and video above), I ask that question to a practicing engineer Mason Mallard. Mason is a former professional baseball player, now a mechanical engineer who works for EMA Engineering in Texas and just turned 25 years old and recently passed the PE HVAC exam in January!