What is the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE Exam)?


The Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (also known as the FE Exam or EIT Exam in some states) tests your basic understanding of engineering.

You may take it right after graduating from a 4-year college or university engineering program. You may also choose to take it while still completing your engineering program (usually during your last year in school).

The FE Exam is basically a measure of your competency to enter engineering as a profession. It assesses your college education. Many employers will not hire a recent graduate who has not yet taken the FE Exam.

Please note that if you are interested in becoming a surveying engineer, you would take the FS Exam rather than the FE Exam.

It is possible to waive the requirement to take the FE Exam if you are an engineer with an advanced degree (Ph.D.) or decades of work experience.

The FE Exam is 8 hours in length and is entirely multiple-choice. You will have two sessions of 4 hours each, one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon. The exam is closed book, but you will have access to limited reference material.

During the exam, you may not bring in cell phones or pagers. Only calculators specified by National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), the entity that governs the engineering licensure exams, may be used during the examination.

You must score a 70 or above to pass the FE Exam. After the successful completion of the FE Exam, you will need to gain at least 4 years of qualified engineering experience after which then you will take the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam (PE Exam).

The PE exam delves into engineering details you would gain from real-world experience and is the last major step for becoming a licensed engineer.

The In’s and Out’s of the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE Exam)

The exam is closed book, but you will be supplied a copy of the FE Supplied-Reference Handbook for your use.

The FE Exam contains 180 multiple-choice questions. The morning session contains 120 questions relevant to all engineering disciplines. The afternoon session contains 60 questions.

You will have a choice to make during the afternoon session. Your 60 questions may either consist of more general engineering questions or those pertaining to your area of interest. These may include questions related to chemical, civil, electrical, environmental, industrial, or mechanical engineering.

You must answer all the questions you are administered during the FE Exam. The 120 questions in the morning session are broken down into 12 different topic areas. These include the following…

  • Question Topic (Approximate % of Test)
  • Mathematics (15%)
  • Engineering Probability and Statistics (7%)
  • Chemistry (9%)
  • Computers (7%)
  • Ethics and Business Practices (7%)
  • Engineering Economics (8%)
  • Engineering Mechanics (10%)
  • Strength of Materials (7%)
  • Material Properties (7%)
  • Fluid Mechanics (7%)
  • Electricity and Magnetism (9%)
  • Thermodynamics (7%)

You can see a further breakdown of the topics in the NCEES publication. The afternoon session includes 60 questions in one of the 6 specialty areas (chemical, civil, electrical, environmental, industrial, or mechanical) or further general engineering questions.

The FE Exam was first administered in 1965. Since 1985, all licensing boards have used the same national exam. The specialty option was offered beginning in 1996.