I retook the FE exam in April after I failed it the previous April. I’m very pleased and honored to say that I PASSED!! The feeling of seeing “Congratulations” on the letter was indescribable when you know the amount of effort and sweat you put into passing that test. The worst part was waiting 7 weeks for your results to come back. I don’t know how many times I Googled “minimum passing score for FE exam” and I read the same forum threads over and over again just because I was so anxious. After having failed the first time and passing the second time, I believe I have some helpful insight for people who are looking to take the test. First of all, I commend you for taking this test because it opens opportunities for you down the road that you can’t even think about right now. I decided to take the test because of a situation I learned from one of my coworkers at my internship. My internship was at a government agency and one of the “engineers” there came from the same educational background that I did: graduated from the OSU CEM program. He was telling me how he was stuck at his pay grade and cannot get a raise/promotion because to move to the next level he needs to get his PE and the first step in getting your PE is to pass the FE. He told me that he’s taken the test 5 times and failed every time just because it was too much information and he doesn’t have time to study with a family and bills to pay (he’s 25+ years out of school). This lead me to firmly decide that I’m going to take the FE exam and pass because it stays with you for life! He told me he never expected he would be working for the government, his plan was to work for a contractor his whole life. You never know where your career is going to take you, so plan ahead as much as you can and pick the low hanging fruit!
The first tip I can give, and I know it’s cliche, is to STUDY, STUDY, STUDY! My first time taking the test, it was my final year of college and I wanted to have fun and party so that’s what I did and that’s why I failed. I didn’t study at all, not even opening the reference manual until the day of the actual test. Though maybe you’re a genius like some of my friends who say that didn’t study at all and still passed (I can vouch that he didn’t study for it lol). But if you’re like the rest of us then you will need adequate time. I recommend starting at least 3 months out if you have the time and spending 1-2 hours every night. I started legitimately studying at 1.5 months and those last few weeks I skipped a lot of sections. I basically skipped over the electrical section because I didn’t learn this in college and there was no way I was going to learn electrical fundamentals in 4 weeks. The book I studied from is the FE bible created by Micahel Lindeburg. DON’T BUY ANY OTHER BOOK EXCEPT FOR THIS ONE! I also got the NCEES civil engineering and that helped me a little bit but unless you have your company paying for it (I did) then I don’t think it’s worth the cost. Your main focus from this book should be the general math sections in the beginning. You want to be able to get all the easy points and not miss those because points are not weighted, all the hard questions and easy questions are the same points therefore the goal is to not miss any of the easy ones.
One of the best things I got from the Lindeburg book was the practice exam that they provided. I took the exam under “testing conditions”. I woke up at 6:30 AM and then ate breakfast and waited till around 7:30 before I sat down at my desk to take the exam. I used my calculator, a shitty mechanical pencil, the reference manual, and gave myself only 4 hours (you have another 4 years to take the afternoon section). I used all the same techniques as I would during the test. For example, there were 120 questions which meant that I needed to answer 15 questions every half hour and that’s how I kept pace to make sure that I wasn’t getting hung up on a question. Definitely wear a watch because it’s much faster than looking up at the big clock and depending on where you’re sitting, you might not even get to see the clock. I also incorporate the strategy I call “Live by the C, Die by the C”. Which basically means that if I don’t know the answer or can’t narrow down the answers then I’m going to put C and move on. You can do all the statistical analysis you want on putting one letter vs picking random but I just think that picking random you have a possibility of getting 0 of them correct. Putting C for everything you don’t know, you will get at least 1 correct no matter what. Who knows, that 1 point could be the difference between passing and not. The first time I took the test, I did not incorporate this strategy.
Lastly, remember to rest very well the day before the exam. I went into an isolation tank to clear my mind (that’s a whole separate post) and ate a good dinner and went to bed at a very reasonable time. I also took 3 days off from work. One of the most important things is to prepare your body for this test. It’s basically like your final exams but on steroids because it’s a culmination of not just one subject but multiple disciplines.
If you did your due diligence and studied accordingly, you should have no problem with this test. A final tip is to pick a relevant afternoon session and stay away from the Other Disciplines if possible. I was in construction engineering management so I had a few overlapping classes with the civil engineers therefore I took the civil section. My CEM friend took the Others and he said it was basically the morning session but they injected questions with venom and turned it into monsters! I wish the best of luck to you in taking this test and rest assured that it will pay for itself in your life time.