So, you have to prepare for the PE exam and you are wondering what types of PE Exam Questions (and how many of them) will be asked on the PE exam? What will be the breakdown of the possible questions?
In this week’s edition of Pass the PE Exam, I will walk you through exactly how to find out what types of PE Exam Questions (and how many of each) you will encounter.
Firstly, If you are not familiar with the PE Exam let me introduce you to what the PE exam is. The Principles and Practice of Engineering exam is the examination required for one to become a licensed Professional Engineer (or PE) in the United States. It is the second exam required, coming after the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and is created and scored by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (or NC double E S).
As a General Rule, a Professional Engineer Who Has the Following Experience Can Take the PE Exam:
- An approved four-year engineering degree,
- Four years of qualifying engineering experience,
- Successfully completed the eight-hour Fundamentals of Engineering (or FE) Examination.
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.
So, what is the breakdown of the possible questions that you will see on the PE exam? To figure this out, you should visit the NCEES website, specifically here.
You Will See the 16 Disciplines That the PE Exam Is Offered in:
- Agricultural and Biological Engineering,
- Architectural Engineering,
- Control Systems,
- Electrical and Computer,
- Fire Protection,
- Industrial and Systems,
- Metallurgical and Materials,
- Mining and Mineral Processing,
- Naval Architecture and Marine,
To determine the question breakdown, ultimately what you need to find is a document that is titled the Exam Specifications for the specific exam you plan to take. So, when you visit this page, click on the exam discipline that you are planning to take, you will be taken to a page that provides a further breakdown of that discipline.
For Some of the Disciplines, Like:
- The Architectural Engineering, when you click that discipline, you will be taken to a page that provides a link to the Exam Specifications.
- The Civil Exam is a little different in that The PE Civil exam is a breadth and depth examination. This means that examinees work the breadth section in the morning and one of the five depth modules in the afternoon, depending on which they choose to take. The breadth section contains questions from all five areas of civil engineering. The depth section focuses more closely on a single area of practice. So when you click on the Civil discipline here, you will be able to see the five different civil depth exam options:
- Water Resources and Environmental.
You can then click on the depth exam you plan to take and find that exam’s specifications.
When you click on the discipline that you are planning to take, you will be taken to the Exam Specifications document that lists the different knowledge areas (for example, some of them for the Civil Transportation Depth Exam are Vertical Design, Intersection Geometry, just to name a few) and you will also see next to each knowledge area, the number of questions that will be on the exam for each area. So, for example, for the Civil Transportation Depth Exam, it shows that there will be four questions on Vertical Design, and four questions on Intersection Geometry, however there will be eleven questions on Traffic Engineering.
Being aware of this breakdown prior to beginning your study preparation can help you to really ensure that you are dedicating enough time and energy to each knowledge area.
So Essentially, This Is a Two Step Process:
Step 1 – Decide on which discipline of the PE Exam you plan to take, and
Step 2 – Visit the NCEES website and review the problem breakdown for that specific discipline in the exam specifications. And remember, if you take one of the disciplines that has both a breadth and depth exam, you will need to also select which depth topic you plan to take. Again you can find the link to that all important NCEES webpage in the description.
I hope you found this week’s video helpful. In upcoming videos I will be solving some practice problems for each of the knowledge areas on the PE Exam.
We publish videos weekly on our Pass the PE 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