After working with many students who are preparing for the NCEES FE exam, I noticed that the students who successfully prepared for the FE exam and passed go through three phases; Preparing their mind, diving deep, and practice, practice, practice.
Setting yourself up in the early stages of FE exam preparation will prepare you for the exam day. It will also take the guesswork out of what to do next. By the end, you will notice that you know engineering and you are going to become an EIT.
It doesn’t matter if you are going for your civil, mechanical, environmental or another discipline; if you are ready to pass the FE exam, following this strategy will prepare you for the FE exam.
Phase 1: Get to know the FE exam material first
The first phase is about preparing your mind to study. You do this by exposing yourself and getting familiar with the material so that you will know what to expect in the coming months.
At this point, you’re not solving or doing any problems. So, for example, if you have a book or a prep course like the Morning Accelerator, in the first phase, you just go through the material, the concepts, the problems, and take a look at the solutions. Don’t take any notes or solve any problem.
This phase is about you getting yourself familiar with some of the keywords, some of the concepts. You will see that it’s imperative to do this step before going to phase two.
It worked for me
When I was in college, one of my professors recommended I start reading the chapters before going into class. I literally went from being a C, B student to a straight-A student within one semester. I noticed that when I read the lecture before going to class I started getting the concepts. Because I had familiarized myself with some of the keywords, even though I didn’t really understand the concepts. All just because I exposed myself to it, I was able to pay attention.
It was easy for me to pay attention because a lot of the keywords he was talking about, my mind was like, “oh yeah, we read about this morning. We saw this, even though we don’t know what it is, but I’m familiar with this.” So it became easy for me to follow with the professors and just listen and take notes during class. Before, when I didn’t read the chapters, it was hard to follow the professors because I had no clue what they were talking about a lot of the time.
This strategy works everywhere
No matter what you are preparing for, this strategy will help you get ready to learn and study for your exam. Starting with preparing your mind is very important if you’ve been out of school for a while and are unfamiliar with the material. Spend the first couple of days just going over the material and going over the concept and expose your brain to the material.
Skipping this and trying to dive in will not prepare you to pass the FE exam.
Starting with preparing your mind is very important if you’ve been out of school for a while and are unfamiliar with the material.Kenza
Phase 2: Dive deep into the engineering material and FE exam resources
In phase two, you sit down, and you really dive into the FE prep material. You begin going over the concepts, start understanding them, and attempt the problems. When you are solving the problems, it’s very important that you engage with the material.
Understand the problems
In this part of the strategy, don’t just solve the problem and move on to the next one, but ask yourself these questions:
- Why did we use this equation?
- How did we get here?
- What did we do here?
- What if we did this?
Grasp the concepts
By asking yourself these questions will help you grasp the concepts and answer the conceptual questions on the FE exam. The only way to tackle the conceptual questions is by truly understanding the concept.
During your attempt at problems, ask yourself:
- Why did I use this equation?
- Did I think it was another equation?
- Why did I do certain steps while solving the problem?
While in phase two, you are spending time understanding the problems, understanding the concepts, attempting the problems, and struggling through them. I mean it, really struggle through trying to solve problems! Try not to look at the solution after 10 minutes. If you get stuck after 10 minutes, struggle through it, and this will help you understand the concepts better.
Always use the FE Reference Handbook while preparing for your FE exam.
You can find a PDF copy of the FE Reference Handbook in your NCEES account. If you need help setting up an account and registering for the exam, read How to Register for the FE Exam: Step-by-Step Guide
Don’t rush into the next phase
Do not begin timing yourself in phase two. Focus on learning and grasping concepts. I’ve had students who have started studying, and they would begin to stress about time and start timing themselves. But if you think that you should be able to solve a problem under three minutes while you try to learn the problem, you’re going to get really frustrated, and you would want to give up. You’re going to feel discouraged. So, stop, and understand the problem and solution first. You will get there.
Once you know the concept, then you can start working on time management.
Phase 3: Practice, practice, practice! Prep by reinforcing engineering concepts
During phase three, you will reinforce the FE prep material you have learned and ensure that you grasp the concepts. You will also make sure that you do the problems within a certain time. Since the FE exam is timed, you have to make sure that you complete as many questions as possible within the time allotment.
You’re going to get different types of questions on the FE exam. Each question can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Prepare to begin timing by reviewing everything that you’ve covered and take FE practice exams.
FE practice exams can help you see what concepts you might struggle with and show you what you should focus on. So leave yourself 1-2 weeks before the exam to put your focus on FE practice exams.
In this phase, you will notice that it is all starting to make sense. Finally, you will know you are ready to go in and pass your FE exam!
Prepare for the FE exam with the phases and confidently pass your exam
Having a strategy, recognizing the three phases, and following them will help you be prepared and feel confident to pass your FE exam.
If you are ready to start studying but want help knowing what resources will work for you best, reach out to us a [email protected] and let us know when you plan to take the exam, which FE exam you are studying for, and what your biggest hurdle is today. Our FE exam courses provide you with step-by-step guidance on studying, what topics to cover, and prepare you to pass the FE exam confidently.