Before you start studying for the FE, or as some people may call it the EIT exam, there are certain things you should know. With these few tips, you will study in a much smarter manner, and you will manage your time in a better way.
These are the habits you can build as you are studying to be fully prepared for the day of the exam.
Time Management:1. Managing your time :
Managing your time during the exam is really important. Unfortunately, on the NCEES website, the exact time for the exam is not completely clear. Usually, examinees have 5h20min for 110 questions plus a 25 minutes break. However, it’s unclear how much time you should dedicate to each session and when to take your break. The questions also differ in terms of difficulty, and you shouldn't spend the same time on each one. Some questions require only 30 seconds, but others need 5 minutes to be solved. Before starting the FE exam, it’s essential to remember that the test is not supposed to be hard but rather straightforward. It’s only a review of the fundamentals of engineering and all the classes that you took in college. Thus, if you were able to answer a question in 30 seconds or so, that’s probably all you need.
This time management is also useful when you take a practical exam at home before the day of the exam, which is highly recommended.2. Flagging Questions:
Another important thing you should know before the FE exam is when to flag a question. Many people may recommend going through all the questions at first and flagging the ones that seem complicated. However, that is time-consuming and unuseful.
You can flag a question in these three cases :
- You have never seen the concept before: if you see a question that covers a concept that you are unfamiliar with, flag it right away instead of wasting time on something you don’t know how to approach.
- You forgot the concept and just need to remember it: If you see a question on a concept that you have seen before, but you are unsure or hesitated about it, give it few minutes to see if you can remember it. If you can’t, flag it so you can come back to it later. Time management is crucial for these tests, and there is no need to spend unnecessary time on a single question.
- A long and complicated question: If you see a question that you know the answer to, the steps, and the equations, but you also know that the process is long and complicated, flag it and move to the next question.
To deal with the flagged questions, it is important to leave 10-15 minutes at the end. Start with case 3, where you already know the problem, and you just need time to solve it. When you are done, move to case 1 since you didn’t make an educated guess or answer. And finally, deal with case 2 because you already put an educated guess, and you just need to check your answer.
For the first 55 questions, you shouldn’t spend more than 2h - 2h20min. The first session covers the fundamentals of engineering, such as mathematics, statistics, ethics, engineering Econ, etc. Therefore, you shouldn’t spend more than 2-3 minutes per question to leave extra time for the next session.3. Taking a Break :
Before moving to the next session, you should take your break. Many people choose to skip this part, but it’s highly unrecommended. The reason behind that is that our bodies aren’t designed to sit through a 6 hours exam, with no food, water, or rest. If you don’t take a break, your performance will probably drop in the middle of the second session. You don’t have to take a full 25 minutes, 10-15 min can do. Fuel up, get some fresh air, and enjoy the ride!
After the break, you start the second session, which consists of 55 questions itself. By then, you will have around 3 hours left for the exam. These questions mostly cover whatever FE you are taking. For example, if you are taking an FE civil, questions will be about hydraulics, hydrology, mechanics, and foundation. Whereas, if you are taking FE mechanical, you will encounter problems on thermodynamics, heat transfer, control systems, and so on. Some questions will require around 2 min-6min, and if you get stuck, don’t forget to use the flagging method mentioned earlier.4. Calculator :
Another important thing you should think about before the FE exam is the calculator. If you visit the NCEES website, you will find a page of their calculator policy and the three types that are allowed in the exam. Ti-36x pro is a considerable choice. It has practical functions, such as standard deviation and matrices, that will save you a lot of time and trouble during the exam.
5. Specifications :
It is necessary to review the specifications before you start studying. You can use that to build a strategy to study for your test.
On the NCEES website, you will find a section dedicated to exam specifications for different types of FEs. For each discipline, there is a PDF file that contains the materials that will be covered during the exam. The file explains thoughtfully the topics you need to study for and gives you an idea of how many questions you might get on a specific topic. You can use those specifications to figure out what you should be focusing on. For instance, if there are 7-11 questions on mathematics and only 4-6 questions on statistics and probability, you should focus more on the former.6. FE Manual :
On the NCEES website, you will also find a part dedicated to the FE manual. It includes all the equations that you will need during the exam. You will have access to the manual electronically on the day of the exam, and that’s why it’s important to download it and get familiar with it, so you don’t waste time in the exam.
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