PE vs. FE - APR 2012 - Engineer Boards
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Jonhnny123

PE vs. FE

  

69 members have voted

  1. 1. Which exam did you find more difficult?

    • PE was more difficult
      35
    • Both were equally easy / difficult
      9
    • FE / EIT was more difficult - I took this test in college
      16
    • FE / EIT was more difficult - I took this test some time after graduation
      9


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Since we recently finished another round of testing and have gotten our results back... I'm curious what everyone's opinions are on the exams.

I took the FE just last year, several years after graduation. I thought it was far more difficult than the PE exam. There were so many subjects to study and you had to use the crappy formula book supplied by the NCEES.

The thing is, I don't think I would have passed in my senior year of college. I was focused on graduating on time and I know I wouldn't have put much effort into studying for it. And even still, many of the topics were from the first two years so i was already getting rusty on some of them (chemistry, for example).

With the PE, maybe I was more focused or I just knew what to expect after taking the FE the year before, but it seemed much more straight forward to me.

Edited by Jonhnny123

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Interesting thread. I felt the FE was way, way easier than the PE. But I'm a chemE, so maybe I'm not the best sampling. I took the FE in college and studied quite minimally. I mostly made sure I was comfortable with the formula book. In that sense, I felt the FE was a more even playing field because all you had was the formula book, no other references.

I think I missed some questions on the PE that could only be answered by having the right references. I'm talking here to "do you know this fact" questions as opposed to "do you understand this concept" questions. There were some questions on the PE that were industry specific. I don't know how you could answer them without being in that industry. The FE, on the other hand, seemed to ask only questions that any engineer should be able to answer, regardless of industry. I must have studied at least a few hundred hours for the PE and didn't feel as good coming out of it as I did the FE.

<shrug> I did pass both exams on the first try, so just glad it's over. If any chemE sees this, I am more than happy to talk about exam prep. We're a bit left to our own devices for the chemE PE.

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My opinion is based on the fact that my FE and PE were different test styles.

FE: Took it before I graduated from Virginia Tech. Morning section was multiple choice and resembled the math portion of an SAT exam. Very simple problems, almost did a double take if the problems were real or were trick questions. I completed all the multiple choice of the morning section (over 80% math based) within the allowable time and was able to check some. My prediction is I got over 90% of the morning correct. The afternoon section had choices that day of which to take. I was able to glance through the various sections of General, Mechanical, etc. and found the easiest to being General. Not so easy though. Was able to work out 4 of the 8 problems given I think. Work counted. I didn't really know completely any of the 4 I chose and my test score (which was given out in 2006 still) showed. I had to have been given 60-70% partial credit since my overall score showed that I did a lot worse on PM portion than AM portion.

PE: I knew it was going to be hard and it was even harder. Took prep class. Tried to balance work and study after work. Morning section had easy parts but also hard parts that I had to just make logical educated guesses on. Lot of drafting and welding questions I had no clue about since I do neither. Found out later I got these right. PM portion was even harder. Unlike FE, you only have 1 section to work in (mine was Thermal/Fluids). I would guess I knew about half the 40 PM questions and had to make decent educated guesses on the other 20. Was able to narrow those 20 into 50/50 questions.

Overall, PE is the hardest test I've ever taken. I wouldn't say FE is 2nd hardest since I took the GMAT which I thought was insane.

FE requires general knowledge of many things related to engineering.

PE requires general knowledge of many things related to engineering plus very fast speed.

That is why I think PE is hard for many people and why many that don't pass the 1st time, never pass it (~35% for re-takers).

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Since I am in CA and I had to take 3 tests for the PE to the 1 test for the FE, I have to say the PE was harder but if I compare only the 8-hr PE exam with the FE, I think the PE was a little easier.

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I did pass both exams on the first try, so just glad it's over. If any chemE sees this, I am more than happy to talk about exam prep. We're a bit left to our own devices for the chemE PE.

This!!!

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While both test were hard for different reasons, I found the FE to be harder. I agree with what was mentioned above. The test questions were easier on the FE but it covered so much more material, it was hard to know what to study. I took the FE when I was a junior, but it wasn't becuase I was ahead of the typical schedule for classes, it was only 30 bucks at the time so I figured, if I fail I am not really out anything, and if I pass then that is one less thing that I have to do my Senior year. Well to my surprise I passed the first time and I got it out of the way. This was amazing becuase I didn't study and the only way I can figure out how this happened is I had just taken classes like Thermo, fluids, dymanics so it was more fresh in my mind. The nice thing about the PE is that you know in general what it is going to be over, especially in the afternoon. You don't have to jump from thermo, to chemistry, to dymanics, to power, like the FE.

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I took the FE exam a little over 8 years ago (during my final semester at college) so my memory of it is a little foggy. However, in my best recollection the FE was easier than the PE. I am basing this solely on the fact that I prepared for approx. 1 hour for the FE exam, and spent approx. 200 hours preparing for the PE exam. I passed both first attempt, but I know I wouldn't have had a chance of passing the PE with only 1 hour of prep, even if I took it during my senior year when everything was "fresh" in my brain.

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I thought the FE was easier because it was basic concept questions and you had a supplied reference which covered basically anything on the test. With the PE being open book if feels much more open ended and like you could be asked anything and just hope you covered it in your review time or that it is in one of the books you brought.

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the level of problems are tougher on the PE. More steps, more complex process to solve the problem.

The FE had more questions I simply did not know the answer to. The questions themselves were simpler, though.

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FE for me was a piece of cake and I passed my first time- PE took one year of studying and failed first attempt - passed second time.

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Before I took the PE, everyone I know (mostly civil and mechanical FWIW) told me the PE was an easier exam compared to the FE exam. For electrical, this was not the case!

When I took the FE (senior year of university - general AM, electrical PM), there were dozens of problems where you literally just had to find the right equation and solve for one variable. Lots of very basic KVL and KCL equation type questions too. It was a piece of cake!

The Power PE had more obscure concepts and trick/intentional misconception questions. Granted, I should know that stuff, but pound-for-pound, in my experience, the PE is a much harder test.

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to me, the FE was harder, and i didnt take it until 7 years after college. i forgot how to do calculus, definitely forgot all chemistry, and remembered physics but not the formulas exactly. the PE test was more like stuff i actually did in real life and even if i didnt know i could figure out the problem. with solving a chemical reaction you cant really do that, haha.

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