In this article (and video above), I discuss a crucial question that a listener recently posed about the FE exam: “Is there a way to see a video of the actual computer-based testing environment, especially focusing on how it looks on the screen, and how to navigate between the test and the reference manual?”
Great question! If you’re gearing up for the Fundamentals of Engineering (or FE) exam and wondering about the computer-based testing environment, you’re in luck. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) has you covered with a detailed video tutorial. The tutorial is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to get a real feel of the test interface.
This article will cover:
- An overview of the FE Exam Testing Centers and Registration
- Exam Format and Question Types
- How to use the Keyboard hotkeys and the on-screen calculator during your exam
- How to flag items for review
- How to use the onscreen line tool
- How to save and submit your work
FE Exam Overview
The FE exam is a critical milestone for aspiring engineers. It’s designed for recent graduates or students near the completion of their undergraduate engineering degree. The exam includes 110 questions, with a total duration of 6 hours, including various segments like a nondisclosure agreement, a tutorial phase, the main exam, and a scheduled break.
The exam is administered at Pearson Professional Centers, known for their high-security standards and professional setting. Registration for the exam is online, with several testing windows available throughout the year.
Exam Format and Question Types
CBT or computer-based testing include traditional multiple-choice questions as well as alternative item types (or AITs). AITs provide opportunities to assess the technical knowledge of examinees using methods not available through pencil-and-paper testing.
All questions, including AITs, are scored as either correct or incorrect. There is no partial credit. AITs include but are not limited to the following:
- Multiple correct – allow examinees to select multiple answers
- Point and click – require examinees to click on part of a graphic to answer
- Drag and drop – require examinees to click on and drag items to match, sort, rank, or label
- Fill in the blank – provide a space for examinees to enter a response to the question
Examinees taking a computer-based, NCEES exam may see up to five types of questions on their exam. The question types include traditional multiple choice questions that feature four answer options from which to choose one correct answer. Multiple choice questions with multiple correct options feature more than four answer options from which to choose and allow for multiple answer options to be selected. Point and click questions require you to select one or more predetermined clickable areas that become visible when you move your over the graphic. Drag and drop questions require you to click and drag answer options to sort, rank, match or label a provided graphic. Fill in the blank questions require you to enter your response instead of choosing it from a list of answer options.
Keyboard hotkeys give you shortcuts to common exam functions. For example, Alt N will go to the next question. Alt P will go to the previous question. Alt F will flag the question for review. The underlying letter and the on-screen function can identify exam hotkeys.
An on-screen calculator is also provided for your use. Digital version calculator of the ti-30xs is located in the top left corner of your exam if you need it.
If you wish to review questions later, simply click the flag in the top right corner or use the Alt F hotkey. At the end of each section you have the review screen section that shows all flags and incomplete questions. Each question in the review screen has a link back to the original question in the exam. You must complete the review before time expires
Reference materials for the NCEES exam include a line tool to aid in reading charts and graphs. To use it, select the line tool icon at the top left of the reference window. Click and hold the mouse button to drag a line across the screen when you release the mouse button, the line will become solid and remain at that location and the reference material until you delete it. You can create multiple lines on the same chart. To remove lines you don’t need, press ctrl Z on your keyboard. You can remove up to ten previous created lines.
There is a split screen that features the exam questions on one side and reference handbook on the other. The handbook is a searchable PDF that allows examinees to quickly find terms and sections. Make sure you use the apostrophes and hyphens. The word also has to be spelled correctly to see the result. The handbook also has convenient links to jump to each section easily.
Saving your work:
- Auto-save: Some CBT systems autosave your progress as you answer questions. This ensures that your work is not lost if you have to interrupt your test.
- Manual save: If autosave is not enabled, you may have a “Save Progress” button or option. Click on this button to save your work periodically.
- Resume testing option: If you need to stop the test and come back later, use the “Resume Test” or “Continue Test” button to access your saved progress.
Submitting your exam:
- Once you have completed all the questions in the exam, carefully review your answers to make any necessary changes.
- Locate the “Submit Exam” or “Finish Exam” button. This button will typically appear at the end of the exam or when you have completed all the required questions.
- Click on the “Submit Exam” or “Finish Exam” button. Once you submit your exam, your answers will be recorded and your performance will be evaluated.
- You may receive immediate feedback on your performance or be notified when the results are available.
For more information on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) computer-based Exam, you can watch the video tutorials at the link shown on the screen.
This Episode Is Brought to You by PPI, A Kaplan Company:
PPI has helped engineers achieve their licensing goals since 1975. Passing the FE and PE exams can open doors to career advancement and new opportunities. Check out PPI’s wide range of prep options, including Live Online courses, OnDemand courses, and digital study tools to help prepare you to pass your licensing exam here.
In upcoming articles, I will answer more FE Exam questions and run through more practice problems. We publish videos bi-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 – to ensure the 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