Since the NCEES has changed the FE exam July 1st, it's time to talk about those changes and how they affect you personally. Understanding the changes in the structure of the exam is, in fact, essential in helping you have an organized, clear, and specific plan for your studies, and guarantees better chances for passing the exam. So let's get it into it!
Discovering the new structure:
First of all, when you visit the NCEES website, you need to scroll to the bottom. If you do so, you are going to find new exam specifications. Once you click on (and download) the right specification for you, it is very important to pay attention to the numbers written next to each topic, since they have the objective of informing you on how many questions you are going to get in every subject of the exam.
This information is very useful in the sense that it will help you increase your chances of passing the FE exam by focusing on the topics that have the highest number of questions. In this way, you can avoid losing so much time on studying irrelevant books or topics that only have a very low number of questions.
The major changes :
The first big change in the new FE exam of 2020 is the removal of the complete topic concerning the computational tools from the exam.
Several subtopics have been removed entirely from the FE exam, which means that you should consider giving the time you were willing to reserve for studying these topics to another important subject that you are going to be tested on. As an example, you no longer need to study impulse-momentum since it was removed from "Dynamics" while the subtopic closure has been removed, thankfully, from "Surveying." Some subtopics were also removed from the exam, but not completely since they were replaced under another major topic, and for that, you need to pay attention very well, so you don't end up ignoring an important subject because you thought it was removed from the exam. For instance, sustainability and sustainable design has been removed from "Ethics and Professional Practice" and replaced under "Engineering Economics". This replacement also means that you will take your exam on the engineering economics behind sustainability and sustainable design, instead of being tested about the ethics of sustainability. Also, note that the discounted cash flow under "Engineering Economics" has been renamed to
"time value of money" while the subtopic of uncertainty, which is another term of expected value, has also been removed from "Probability and Statistics and replaced under "Engineering Economics."
For these reasons, the number of questions on "Engineering Economics" has increased from 4-6 up to 5-8. Although the "Statics" topic didn't know any major changes, keep in mind while studying that you will be tested in this topic with more questions than the last FE exam, since the number of questions have gone up from 7-11 to 8-12, the same case can also be seen in the "Materials" topic with the number of questions changing from 4-6 to 5-8, and in "Surveying" from 4-6 to 6-9 questions.
The number of questions about the "Mechanics of Materials" hasn't changed. However, the subtopic of composite sections has been completely removed from the FE exam, and the subtopic of column analysis is replaced under "Structural Engineering."
For "Fluid Mechanics," even though the number of questions has increased in the new version of the FE exam, most students that have passed the exam in the past agree that the new number of questions is the real number of the questions that get asked about this topic.
In other words, passing the FE exam after July 1st st doesn't mean getting asked more questions about "Fluid Mechanics" but means knowing the real number of questions that you are going to be tested on concerning this topic.
On the other hand, some topics have been combined into one major topic, such as Mathematics, probability, and statistics, which is why the number of questions has been changed from 7-11 to 8-12.
Also, the topic of "Hydraulics and Hydrologic Systems" that used to get 8 to 12 questions have been combined with "Environmental Engineering" for which the number of questions was 6 to 9, into a new major topic named "Water Resources and Environmental Engineering" getting 10 to 15 questions in the new FE exam. "Structural Analysis" and "Structural Design" have also been combined into the new major topic of "Structural Engineering" with the only difference of having the subtopic of column analysis replaced under it after it was removed from "Mechanics of Materials" as mentioned above. Finally, a very important change has happened to the topic of "Construction Engineering," named "Construction" in the old version of the FE exam, since it is now being tested with 8 to 12 questions, against only 4 to 6 questions in the past, with the addition of a new subtopic called "Interpretation of Engineering Drawings."
In conclusion, it is hard to know if the new FE exam is harder or easier than the last one, since you still need to study the vast majority of the topics of the old exam, with the only difference being the number of questions in each topic, that you should keep in mind in your studying
schedule so you can guarantee the best chances for passing the FE exam.