FE Civil Exam: NCEES Scoring Process, Pass Rates, and Preparation
FE Civil Exam: NCEES Scoring Process, Pass Rates, and Preparation

The Fundamentals of Engineering exam is quite a challenge when it comes to gaining professional engineer licensure. Every year, many engineers across the United States apply for the FE Civil exam. However, not every one of them gets the outcome they were hoping for. 

So, let’s just get this one thing clear upfront, the FE exam is hard! It is not a test you can study just for a month before and pass. This exam will test not just your knowledge but determination, your patience, and your zeal to be a PE license holder.

Given the numerous NCEES set guidelines one has to follow, stressing out for the test is only natural. But with calculated FE civil exam prep, you can pass this test and get a step closer to being a professional engineer. All you have to do is familiarize yourself with everything about this test.

Keep in mind that a lot of variables about this exam are different. For example, the scoring method for NCEES is entirely different from what you might be used to. A ‘standard scale’ that removes all bias is used for calculating scores of your FE exam. 

If you want to pass the FE Civil exam, start with understanding the scoring process first:

NCEES Scoring Process and Pass Rates

Unlike how it’s done in other exams, NCEES doesn’t follow the common scoring method of establishing the number needed to pass the FE exam. Instead, they use a standard scale and psychometric analysis to determine the results.

So how do you prepare? What do you keep in mind when giving the exam? Well, as a candidate taking the exam you must answer at least more than half the questions given, which is around 55 to 60 questions to feel safe. When you answer a minimum of 60–65 questions, it shows that you have the knowledge base required in the field of engineering. 

Now, let’s jump onto the psychometric analysis. 

Psychometric Testing Methods for FE Civil Exam

In case, you are wondering what will be included in the psychometric analysis, we have the answer here for you:

  • Aptitude Testing Questions: These are questions aimed at testing your mental ability within a limited time.
  • Numerical Reasoning Questions: Along with challenging your mathematical ability, these will test your data handling ability.
  • Mechanical & Logical Reasoning Questions: These will include questions with pattern recognition to test concepts.
  • Inductive Reasoning Questions: In a lot of answers, where all of them are true, you will have to choose the most correct one.

Understanding the FE Civil Exam Pass Rates

As we have discussed above, NCEES doesn’t have a set scoring method and therefore, the pass rates are also ever-changing. The change in the rates occurs twice a year, between January to June and then July to December. For each engineering discipline, these pass rates are unique. For example, the FE Civil exam will have a different pass rate than FE Chemical or FE Environmental, etc.

Although the pass rate for the FE Civil exam is less than some other studies, it doesn’t make the exam too hard or those disciplines easy. Factors such as the quality of those taking the test also contribute to the pass rates. 

As of July 2021, the pass rate for the FE Civil exam is 70%. 

This pass rate is crucial for those who took the FE exam for the first time, those who attended EAC/ABET-accredited engineering programs, and the candidates who took the FE exam within 12 months of graduation.

Preparation for the FE Civil Exam

Now that you are aware of the scoring process and pass rates, you must shift your focus to preparation. Here are some of the top preparation tips for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam. 

  • Study the FE Reference Handbook Inside Out

If you want to pass the FE Civil exam, the FE Reference Handbook is going to be crucial. It is the ultimate guide that will ensure your success in the test. Make sure you get the latest version of the FE Reference Handbook and only from the NCEES official website. This handbook is the only reference material that you are allowed to carry with you to the examination hall. 

  • Solve as Many Practice Papers as Possible

Practice papers are the perfect way to build confidence and familiarize yourself with the exam pattern. And the more you solve, the better you will get. Since time management has always been an issue for many, practice papers are also a great way to work on them. You can time yourself at home and figure out a way to best go about the exam.

  • Create a Suitable Study Plan 

When you create a proper study plan, you have a better chance of balancing your learning and ensuring that you are well-prepared. The idea behind having a schedule to follow is that it allows you to have time to dedicate to the course and also for relaxing, which is equally necessary. Create a study plan right from the beginning and make sure you stick to it till the day of the exam. 

  • Eat Brain-Boosting Food before the Exam

On the day of the exam, do not eat unhealthy or heavy food. Keep your cravings aside for a day and eat brain-boosting and light food instead. You should also try to eat light the night before the exam so that you can enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep. For breakfast, you can have dishes like apple-nut porridge, energy bars, boiled eggs, etc. The food you eat on the day of the exam plays a more important role than you realise.


The information that we have here for you is ideal for those who want to pass the FE Civil exam. When you have a challenge as tough as this in front of you, the first step is to gather all the information that you can. The second step is to find a genuine FE review course provider to assist you with the preparation. Check out Civil Engineering Academy for the same. Here you will also get NCEES-based practice papers to solve.


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