when to take fe exam

How do I know when I’m ready to take the FE exam?

It’s a really simple question, yet the answer is not so straightforward. How do you know when you’re ready to take the FE exam?

When I ask students about how they felt before choosing to take their FE exam, I usually get these answers: 

“I put so many hours, I had to be ready”

“I just recently graduated, I did that NCEES Practice exam once, and went for it”

“My co-worker or employer told me I should”

“I had my exam date scheduled so I took it”

“I went through a bunch of videos and practice questions, so I thought I was ready”

The reasons above boil down to a few things:

  • Students felt they were ready – they had a “gut feeling”
  • Students hoped they were ready before their exam
  • Students assumed they were ready before their FE exam

Knowing if you’re ready to take the FE exam is not just about feeling ready. It’s more about quantitative and qualitative data.

  • Quantitative – your progress percentage and scores.
  • Qualitative – how you feel about your overall progress. 

Let’s look at 3 questions you should be asking yourself that will help you know if you’re ready to take your FE exam. 

Question 1 

In the content review stage, did I complete all the FE exam content with at least 70% mastery?

It’s a simple yes or no question. If you haven’t completed the content, you are not likely going to be prepared to solve the variety of FE type questions. And yes, the FE exam does NOT test all the sections but we will never know which section they will test us on. 

Since every exam is different, I will always recommend studying everything and focusing on the fundamentals. There will be those “easy” questions we should be getting right. Especially those that use the latest FE Handbook!

Also make sure you are tracking your progress by using a study planner, checklist, and the course platform. The DirectHUB platform will automatically keep track of your progress after checking “complete” for each lesson and practice question.

Remember, this content review stage is the most important when it comes to learning the concepts, process, logic, and applying different problem-solving techniques. It’s also all about feedback while honestly reflecting at the same time. As you are going through the content try to ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I scoring on the practice questions you do for each section? Aim for 70% and above.
  • How do I feel after reviewing this section?
  • When I’m I making silly mistakes and calculation errors? Note these down. 
  • Do things make sense?
  • Do I understand the problem-solving process and general concept?
  • Could I solve these practice problems on my own?

Question 2

How do I feel going into the FE exam?

Feelings cannot be quantified. But they are as important, if not more so, than the number of practice questions you go through. 

The quantity should not be separated from the quality. The quantitative numbers you’re putting in and getting should not be separated from your quality study time and quality state of mind. They go hand in hand.

Ask yourself

  • How do I feel about the FE exam? Do I feel ready? Please remember, you will never feel 100% ready but you will still know if you’re definitely NOT ready.
  • Do I feel confident with my ability to sit through a 5 hour and 20-minute exam? Many students are totally fine with solving problems and know the general concepts well. But when it comes to sitting through a 5-hour 20-minute exam, it won’t matter how much you studied and how well you know the information. If they start to get tired and burn out somewhere in the middle of the exam, their potential of getting that passing scoring is greatly reduced. It is essential that that you gradually build up your test-taking endurance for this exam to make sure when to comes to exam day you are comfortable, confident, and mentally present for the entire exam.
  • Do I feel confident with my overall timing approach for the first section and second section? Timing is key! No matter how good you know the information, if you are spending too much time on questions and running out of time, you will miss questions.
  • Do I feel confident with the overall exam flow? You can know this by solving problems with a sense of urgency and taking full length practice exams under realistic testing conditions.
  • Will I ever feel ready to take the exam? No one will ever feel ready for the FE exam. But you would still want to have that gut feeling of “somewhat yes”. You can get a good idea by thinking about the gut feeling questions above.

Lastly, if you are doubting your abilities and fearing this exam. Stop and read this blog post.

Question 3

Do the numbers tell me I am ready to take the FE exam?

The best way to know your readiness for the FE exam is by analyzing the scores you’re getting on full length practice exams.

You will need to evaluate your scores and compare them to a target. But what’s the target?

Unfortunately, the NCEES does not publish the passing score. The FE is NOT graded based on a target score. The exam is graded on the total number of correct answers you get out of 100 questions (10 questions are not graded). Your score will be scaled based on the minimum ability level the NCEES sets.

This is a controversial topic. But we will assume that the average passing score is the classic 70%. This means you should aim to get at least 70 out of the 100 questions correct.

You will need to take a look at your last 2-3 full length practice exams, ideally taken 1 month or 2 weeks prior to your exam date. Evaluate each exam, not only for your overall and section scores, but also for the lessons learned. You will need to ask these questions:

  • Are you scoring above 70%?
  • Are your scores relatively consistent?
  • What are your scores for the first section and second section?
  • What are your scores for each topic? Use this to review and strengthen your average areas. 
  • If your scores are not consistent, why not?
  • Can you focus for the entire duration of the exam? If not, why? If you just had a bad, just throw out this result and redo the exam.
  • Are you spending too much time on certain problems? Know why. Note down these types of problems. 
  • What time management strategy did you use? How did that go? Did it help you stay in the flow?
  • What made you lose the most points? Was it the timing? The concepts? Not knowing what a problem is asking for? Getting flustered early on? Etc, etc.

The last thing you want to do is have high hopes by doing a really easy full length practice exam or redoing the same practice exam. Make sure you are exposing yourself to quality practice exams including both the 2018 and 2020 NCEES Practice exams. At DirectHUB, we offer an online full length practice exam strategically designed to test your understanding just like the actual FE. Don’t take my word for it. Here is what recent students who passed the FE exam said:

“The material and practice exam were very similar to what was on the actual exam I got.”

Travis

“The 110 timed practice questions with detailed explanations for different scenarios is the best part of the course.”  

Shavni
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