Guide to FE Civil Exam Prep in 2022 [Free Practice Exams] (2023)

Any prospective engineer knows how important the Fundamentals of Engineering exam is for their plans. Passing the FE Civil exam and earning professional licensure proves that you’re a highly qualified individual for a wide range of careers, with an average annual salary greater than $80,000.

However, it’s important that you understand what you’re getting into before you pick an exam date.

There’s a lot of important information you’ll want to know about the FE Civil exam before testing for it. Fees, exam structure, continuing education, and more all play major parts when it comes to this career choice.

A detailed breakdown of every major aspect of FE Civil exam prep can be found below— and keep reading for info on where to find free FE practice exams!

FE Civil Exam Structure

All FE exams are computer based tests (CBTs). They are closed book with a limited electronic reference. Students have 6 hours to complete the 110 question exam; this includes a tutorial on the testing software and an optional 25 minute break period.

Students working on the FE exam will need to answer questions from 14 different content areas. Some sections contain more questions than others. All questions are multiple choice, and you’ll want to complete every question even if you’re unsure of the answer. That’s because incorrect questions don’t detract from your score!

Guide to FE Civil Exam Prep in 2022 [Free Practice Exams] (2)

Here’s a quick list of the FE Civil exam specifications:

  • Mathematics and Statistics: 8-12 Questions
  • Ethics and Professional Practice: 4-6 Questions
  • Engineering Economics: 5-8 Questions
  • Statics: 8-12 Questions
  • Dynamics: 4-6 Questions
  • Mechanics of Materials: 7-11 Questions
  • Materials: 5-8 Questions
  • Fluid Mechanics: 6-9 Questions
  • Surveying: 6-9 Questions
  • Water Resources and Environmental Engineering: 10-15 Questions
  • Structural Engineering: 10-15 Questions
  • Geotechnical Engineering: 10-15 Questions
  • Transportation Engineering: 9-14 Questions
  • Construction Engineering: 8-12 Questions

Make sure to check out the NCEES exam specifications for a more detailed breakdown of the topics in each content area.


Exam Dates and Fees

Luckily the FE exam is fairly inexpensive. You need to pay a $175 exam fee directly to the NCEES when signing up for your exam date. However, some state boards may require you to file a separate application and pay them as well. Make sure to check with your local licensing board for additional requirements.

Of course, that’s not the only monetary cost you need to keep in mind with your exam.

FE Civil exam prep materials can cost a decent amount of money, plus you need to account for the opportunity cost of taking time off work to prepare for the test. Consequently, you’re going to want to have some money put aside before you start your study process, since you never know when an unexpected fee might pop up.

All FE exams are administered year round at approved Pearson VUE Test centers. This changed when the NCEES switched from a pencil and paper format to Computer Based Testing (CBT). You’ll need to check with testing centers in your area to see which specific dates are available for testing.

FE Civil Exam Pass Rate

The civil exam is a very popular yet difficult exam. Pass rates for this test tend to skew lower because of just how many people sign up for it each year. For example, the FE Civil exam had 1000 more candidates last year than the 2nd most popular FE test and 3000 more than the 3rd most popular.

According to the NCEES, only 62% of the 3,768 people who signed up for the exam last year passed. It’s generally accepted that getting a 70% grade on the actual exam is considered passing. When you consider how few students were able to pass, you can see just how difficult this exam is.

Of course, that difficulty does translate into better opportunities down the line— keep reading to find out more!

Career Opportunities

Guide to FE Civil Exam Prep in 2022 [Free Practice Exams] (3)
(Video) Best Books to Study for the FE Civil Exam in 2022

Earning your FE Civil certification will go a long way towards growing your career. Ziprecruiter reports that people with their FE make an average of $72k each year, or $3 an hour. Plus, this salary will grow even higher once you’ve gotten enough experience to complete your PE certification.

But a high salary isn’t the only benefit to earning your FE.

There’s also a great deal of job security when it comes to civil engineering. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment growth for civil engineers is expected to increase by 8% in the next 10 years. This is due to the growing obsolescence of current US infrastructure.

Additionally, the BLS reports that California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois are the states with the highest employment levels for civil engineers. You may want to consider looking for work in these areas since they also tend to pay higher than other states.

Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Continuing Education

There are currently no continuing education requirements for the FE certification. Plus, your Civil FE certification doesn’t expire at any point. However, you’ll eventually want to take the Civil PE exam and become a professional engineer. That certification will require you to complete continuing education courses to maintain.

Requirements for this vary based on what state you live in. Make sure to check with your local state engineering board to see how many CE credits you’ll need to keep your certification once you’ve earned it.

Getting Started with Your FE Civil Exam Prep

You’re going to want to start studying for your FE exam early. Sign up for your exam and mark down your test date. After that you can start putting together a study schedule as you work towards passing your licensing exam. Ideally you’ll want to pass on your first try.\

Here are some additional tips to help you prepare for the FE civil exam:

(Video) Why I FAILED the F.E. Exam | Then How I Passed it EASILY | Civil Engineering

  • Expect to take anywhere between 4-6 months studying for the FE exam. You’ll want to spend 10-15 hours each week working on your knowledge of Civil engineering concepts. Any more might make you burn out and any less will slow your pace too much.
  • Make sure to take a practice test whenever you finish studying for a major section of the exam. That way you can see how well you learned the material before moving on.
  • Lastly, you need to work on time management for the actual exam. Running out of time before you can finish can be devastating to your score. Identify the question types that take the longest so you can allocate your time effectively.
Guide to FE Civil Exam Prep in 2022 [Free Practice Exams] (4)

There’s plenty of places where you can find good study materials for the civil FE exam. I personally recommend signing up for School of PE’s prep course. Students who complete their course have a pass rate over 90% for the FE civil exam. Most of your time with this course will be spent watching lecture videos, completing practice exams, reviewing ebooks and lecture notes, and more.

Free FE Practice Exams

If you’re interested in free FE practice exams with free questions, you have a few options available:

  • Certain courses, such as Capstone, offer free trials of their course that come with a set of practice exam problems.
  • You can also check out PrepFE’s short practice exam. This free test is only 10 questions long but each one comes with a detailed answer explanation.
  • I’ve also found PassFExam’s free practice exam to be a great way to work on time management while working on problems.

FE Civil Exam FAQs

Q: Do civil engineers have to take the FE exam?

A: Anyone interested in becoming a certified engineer will need to take the FE and PE exams. You can find work without them, but it will be much more difficult and you’ll likely be paid a lot less than a certified engineer.

Q: What is on the FE exam?

A: There are 14 major content areas covered by the FE civil exam. Each of these splits into a set of subtopics. Make sure to check out the exam blueprint provided by NCEES for more detailed information.

Q: What is a passing score on the FE civil exam?

A: The NCEES doesn’t make the passing score for the FE civil exam public information. However, most civil engineers say that 70% seems to be the baseline passing grade for the exam each year.

  • Compare The Best FE Review Courses


What is the best civil FE exam prep book? ›

Below is the list of best materials our users have studied for the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.
  • PPI FE Civil Practice, 1st Edition (Paperback) – Comprehensive Practice for the NCEES FE Civil Exam.
  • FE Review Manual: Rapid Preparation for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, 3rd Ed.
  • FE Civil Practice Problems.

How do I prepare for civil Fe? ›

Six Steps for Successful NCEES FE Exam Prep
  1. Purchase the NCEES FE Reference Handbook. Get a copy of the NCEES Handbook. ...
  2. Determine Which Knowledge Areas You Need More Help With. ...
  3. Make a Schedule Before You Start Reviewing. ...
  4. Work Through Everything. ...
  5. Be Thorough. ...
  6. Complete as Many Practice Problems as Possible.
3 May 2021

How long does it take to prepare for Fe Civil? ›

However, after more than a decade of helping engineers prepare for and pass the FE Exam, we advise that students give themselves 110 to 120 days of FE prep.

What is the pass rate of the Fe? ›

Pass rates
ExamVolumePass rate
FE Civil518062%
FE Electrical and Computer97466%
FE Environmental75168%
FE Industrial and Systems23364%
3 more rows

How long should I study for FE exam? ›

We recommend planning to study for at least 2 to 3 months before your FE exam date. Once you get started practicing problems from all of the different topics covered, you'll have a better idea if you need to spend more or less time preparing.

How do I pass Fe exam? ›

It is to work hard and smart.
  1. Review the list of FE Exam topics and classify the exam topics into buckets. Familiarize yourself with the published list of topics that could be asked on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. ...
  2. Develop a study schedule. Develop a study schedule that takes into account: ...
  3. Practice. Practice.

Is the FE civil exam hard? ›

Keep it mind that the first half of the exam contains the first half of the exam topics provided by the NCEES, and the same goes for the second half. You can divvy up more time for either half based on your confidence of those topics going into the exam. The FE exam is difficult by nature, and the pass rates show it.

How many questions do I need to get right to pass the FE civil exam? ›

NCEES generally does not provide a specific number of questions required to answer correctly for one to pass. However after doing the research and referring to different articles listed above it has been said that out of 110 problems, to pass, you will need to answer approximately 50 to 60 percent of them correctly.

How do I start studying for the FE? ›

Everything You Need To Know To Study For The FE Exam
  1. Find Out What Is Being Covered In Your Discipline. You can do this by: ...
  2. Get Familiar With The NCEES Handbook. ...
  3. Create A Study Plan & Practice Using An NCESS Calculator. ...
  4. Take Practice Tests. ...
  5. Tip The Scales With An FE Exam Prep Course.
4 Jan 2022

How many hours should you study for the civil FE exam? ›

Commit To Study 4 to 6 Months

Each week, plan on committing at least 10 to 15 hours on studying for the FE exam. That's about 1 ½ to 2 hours each day. Your study time should consist of reviewing the reference book, working through a test prep course, and taking multiple practice tests.

How many times can you take the FE exam? ›

NCEES allows examinees to take the exam once during each two-month period and up to three times per 12-month period.

How long is fe good for? ›

Engineer intern certification simply signifies that you have passed the national Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination, and is valid indefinitely.

How many people pass the FE on their first try? ›

How Difficult Is The FE Exam? The first time pass rate across all disciplines is 71% and 35% for repeat exam takers. It's not the most difficult, but you have to account for the disciplines, which varies.

How many people pass the FE exam on the first try? ›

The 6-hour long, 110-question Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam is not too difficult if you know how to prepare. It takes anywhere from 5 to 150 hours of preparation to pass. Pass rates range from 68% to 77% for those taking the exam for the first time with an engineering degree.

Is Fe harder than PE? ›

The FE exam is actually harder than the Professional Engineer (PE) exam, simply because it is much more broad. It's best to take it as close to graduation as you can, with all that schooling still fresh in your mind.

Which calculator is best for FE exam? ›

The best FE Exam calculators are:
  1. Casio FX-115. FX-115 models, that means any FX-115 including the MS, MS Plus, MS SR, ES and the ES Plus. ...
  2. Texas Instruments TI-30X. ​TI-30X and TI-36X, that includes many versions like the a, a-SE IIB, IIS Pro etc. ...
  3. Hewlett Packard HP 35S. HP 33S and the HP 35S.
17 Jul 2022

Do Civil engineers need the FE? ›

Civil engineers, for example, are often required to pass the FE exam early in their careers and are not eligible for promotions until they do. Once a civil engineer earns licensure by passing both the FE and PE exams, it is standard practice for that engineer to immediately get a raise.

How is the civil FE exam graded? ›

Exam results are based on the total number of correct answers that you selected. There are no deductions for wrong answers. The score is then converted to a scaled score, which adjusts for any minor differences in difficulty across the different exam forms.

How good is PrepFE? ›

PrepFE is an excellent resource for anyone studying for the FE Mechanical exam. It provides problems similar to what I encountered on the FE. It also helps with doing problems faster. With this resource, I was able to pass and finished with over an hour to spare on the exam.


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