Jump to content
Engineer Boards

​ ​ ​
nolameaux2012

Failed FE multiple times. Need advice

Recommended Posts

Ok everyone, i need some advice. I have failed the FE Civil exam several* times, more times that I am willing to admit. (please save all rude comments) and am in desperate need of help. Ive taken several different prep classes, done thousands of problems and have done many practice test. Ive scored around 60% on the practice test this last go round and felt confident going in to the actual exam. However, the results proved differently. I know there are subjects I struggle with but there are several that i feel pretty strong in when taking practice test and working problems in general. In reviewing several diagnostics, the results just seem to be all over the place. On one test I will have great scores in a particular subject and on the next test I will bomb it completely. Obviously the problem is not with the test, as thousands of people have passed this test, so I dont want to sit here and complain about the type of questions. Im just not sure whats wrong with me.

It's not as though I dont have the knowledge, I have been out of school for about 4 years and have a great job in the field I want to be in. I just feel so stuck with not being able to pass this test and it has been very discouraging. Any advice is welcome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is my typically reply...now remember, I'm not civil so I'm not 100% sure what's covered on your exam.

How are you doing on your basis stuff... i.e. Math, Prob & Stats, Comp Tools (if you have it, I didn't), Ethics, Econ?

Typically those areas account for around 20 questions. Those are typically a lot of easier points you can rack up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I took several "practice" actual exams myself.  Between all of the tests, I spend hundreds of hours studying.  The first few times I spend a lot of time trying to learn things I never fully grasped in college and thought the other stuff would be easy answers.  I spent only a few weeks on the stuff "I knew" and dido practice problems and find I made a simple unit conversation mistake.  No way I'd do that on the test...  This did not work well

Well, my final passing attempt, I changed my strategy.  I spent most of my time on the stuff I knew.  I made sure I aced it up and down.  That worked well during the exam.  I skipped to the easy ones and answered these first.  I then spend the remainder of the time fumbling thru the ones I was not confident in.

Also, make sure when you do practice problems you are simulating the test with only using the calculator you are using and the ncees reference manual on the computer.  Using the manual will also help you remeber buss words to find equations for certain problems. 

 

Good luck, don't give up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The FE exam is Computer Based now, correct? If so, I would download the reference manual PDF and while you are doing your practice problems and you get to a problem you're not familiar with, do a key word search in the pdf and it will bring you to the sections related to the key word search. For example, if the problem asks you to find the modulus of elasticity in a beam, simply search modulus of elasticity in the pdf and boom, you're already getting warmer to how to solve the problem! Also, when solving practice problems, actually SOLVE them, UNDERSTAND them. Do your absolute best not to check the solution until you have completely worked through the problem as best as possible and you get a solution that is offered as one of the options. KEEP WORKING!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not saying that it doesn't happen that someone has to take the FE many times but that seems a bit odd given that you believe you've put in a lot of studying time, have the knowledge, feel confident going in etc... You'll have to engineer yourself out of this one. I don't know how hard the FE got since I took it but I remember walking in feeling like crap, walking out feeling crappier but I passed. And that was with completely skipping thermo. I think I picked C for all of them.

First, your random performance seems suspect. I'd want to know if you have a test-taking method. I feel like half of any test is learning to take the test itself. I think the diagnosis might be misleading. Personally, I have a problem with word problems. A problem with one sentence, a bunch of numbers and maybe a graph, I have no issue solving. One that has a bunch of words then I have to figure out 4 word multiple choices is a pain. English is my third language but it doesn't matter what language it's in. I learned this about myself when I failed 3rd grade math. 

Second, if you've managed to take it a bunch of times, I suspect you're not giving yourself enough time in between. Our brain has memory that is hard to flush quickly. That's why, if I drive somewhere for the first time and got lost on that first time, the next time I go, I end up taking the same route. As I'm going along, I'm sense I did the wrong thing but keep going until I realize that I actually took the wrong route. It took me 3 years to stop getting lost going to my friend's house though I was going a couple time per month. I didn't stop until I learned a completely different route. That might just be me. But you might want to stop taking the test and give yourself more time in between. 

Third, and this is related to the second point, since you're not giving yourself enough time in between, you probably approaching your studying as reviews rather than studying each time. Something is surely not clicking or not enough of it is clicking to result in a passing grade. I find that when I think I know a topic, it helps to focus on practice problems and sample exams. Maybe that will become your weekend for 6 months. I have a co-worker who would sign up for the PE, fail it, then sign up to take it again in 6 months (they're only offered twice per year). He would review for the last 2-4 weeks before the test, take it again, fail it again, then start over. He eventually passed but that's a waste of money, emotional pain and 8 hours of life. I say gather 3-4 practice exams, preferably not from NCEES, and without studying, take the first one. Don't bother trying to figure out things you don't know. Just take the test. Maybe 4 hours on Friday, 4 hours on Saturday, then on Sunday or Saturday afternoon, go over each problem you got wrong or that you couldn't do. Then once you're done, throughout the week, after work, go over each again as they relate to the chapter/knowledge area. Chances are, if you got that problem wrong, just figuring out the solution is not going to help unless the question is always framed the same way. So you need to brush up on the knowledge area altogether until you can answer a bunch of questions from that chapter with few to no mistakes. 

Lastly, your test taking skills... If you're finishing the entire exam, not running out of time, picking an answer for each question, then maybe something else is off. When I study, I make notes to myself to get out of the habit of doing certain things. My cheat sheets always have an area for those. And before I take the exam, I know my cheat sheet very well so when I come across one of those bad habit behaviors, it triggers me to confirm with the cheat sheet. For example, I like sequence and I like to keep things in order. But when I take a multiple choice test, I don't waste time on questions I can't figure out quickly so I skip some. But, when I go back to answer, I'm always tempted to bubble the responses in sequence. Imagine if you skipped #4 and #5 but when you get the answer for #6, you bubble #4 because it was the next blank. Now all of your exam is off. I understand with the computer-based FE now, that might be unlikely. Therefore, there might be something else that you're doing that is skewing your answers. There are chapters that I can open my reference book to the exact page I need. There are others I'll look forever before I find. So it's good to tab the reference manual if it's allowed to minimize wasting time. I feel that it's important to learn the material but also learn how to test as well as test with the reference manual. If allowed, I like to have my own cheat sheet glued to or on the inside cover of the manual. I build it up as I go along. So, you have to be able to identify distractors in the responses, forming better habits, increasing speed, use reference effectively etc... 

In summary:

- If you've been taking the FE every month, stop. Go enjoy life for 1-2 months then sign up to take it again 3-6 months after that.

- Take a bunch of practice exams and identify your issue areas.

- Study first based on your issue areas by figuring out the solutions, then cover the entire chapter for these weak areas. One problem doesn't expose you to all.

- Take note of your test-taking habits as you go along and write them down. If it's allowed, write them in the relevant chapter of your reference manual and use the manual's interior cover or blank page to write them all down. 

- Take note on the type of problems that you do well and those you don't. For me it's calculations. Anything with a bunch of sentences and words are a pain so best left for last. I also think that the diagnosis might not be helping. If you have issues with the word problems versus the calculation problems, you'll never know. It will just look like you're not proficient in Structural Analysis because you only got 40% right. But if 60% of them were word problems that you didn't read right, then practicing Structural Analysis calculations won't change that.

- Since the test has a countdown, consider taking the last 15 minutes, whether you finished or not, to make sure that the answers you intended to chose, are the ones that you did. I took the CA Survey exam recently and it's timed 55 questions in 2.5 hrs. For each question I answered, I wrote down the number and the answer letter I intended to pick. The ones I skipped, I still wrote down the number and put a X next to it. I ran out of time. I gave up on the last 5 questions, picked a letter, knowing there's no way I'd be able to answer them, then went back to the beginning to check my answers. Sure enough, I found 3-5 of them I picked one answer rather than what I intended. They give the options to confuse you. When you're in a rush, N53 25 20E looks the same as N53 25 02E. 

Now if you're doing all of this and you're confident that you're doing all of this, then maybe you're ought to just spending money to take it over and over and hope that you pass one day. Just remember the EIT is a preparation as an engineer and the end goal is to get a PE. An EIT might make you more competitive in today's world if you just graduated but it's really not that big of a deal especial if you have experience. The PE is a big deal. If you're having issues with the EIT and you're doing everything stated above and more, the PE will be hell. So, I feel it's worth doing it right and using time in your favor.

Good luck!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, jijir83 said:

I'm not saying that it doesn't happen that someone has to take the FE many times but that seems a bit odd given that you believe you've put in a lot of studying time, have the knowledge, feel confident going in etc... You'll have to engineer yourself out of this one. I don't know how hard the FE got since I took it but I remember walking in feeling like crap, walking out feeling crappier but I passed. And that was with completely skipping thermo. I think I picked C for all of them.

First, your random performance seems suspect. I'd want to know if you have a test-taking method. I feel like half of any test is learning to take the test itself. I think the diagnosis might be misleading. Personally, I have a problem with word problems. A problem with one sentence, a bunch of numbers and maybe a graph, I have no issue solving. One that has a bunch of words then I have to figure out 4 word multiple choices is a pain. English is my third language but it doesn't matter what language it's in. I learned this about myself when I failed 3rd grade math. 

Second, if you've managed to take it a bunch of times, I suspect you're not giving yourself enough time in between. Our brain has memory that is hard to flush quickly. That's why, if I drive somewhere for the first time and got lost on that first time, the next time I go, I end up taking the same route. As I'm going along, I'm sense I did the wrong thing but keep going until I realize that I actually took the wrong route. It took me 3 years to stop getting lost going to my friend's house though I was going a couple time per month. I didn't stop until I learned a completely different route. That might just be me. But you might want to stop taking the test and give yourself more time in between. 

Third, and this is related to the second point, since you're not giving yourself enough time in between, you probably approaching your studying as reviews rather than studying each time. Something is surely not clicking or not enough of it is clicking to result in a passing grade. I find that when I think I know a topic, it helps to focus on practice problems and sample exams. Maybe that will become your weekend for 6 months. I have a co-worker who would sign up for the PE, fail it, then sign up to take it again in 6 months (they're only offered twice per year). He would review for the last 2-4 weeks before the test, take it again, fail it again, then start over. He eventually passed but that's a waste of money, emotional pain and 8 hours of life. I say gather 3-4 practice exams, preferably not from NCEES, and without studying, take the first one. Don't bother trying to figure out things you don't know. Just take the test. Maybe 4 hours on Friday, 4 hours on Saturday, then on Sunday or Saturday afternoon, go over each problem you got wrong or that you couldn't do. Then once you're done, throughout the week, after work, go over each again as they relate to the chapter/knowledge area. Chances are, if you got that problem wrong, just figuring out the solution is not going to help unless the question is always framed the same way. So you need to brush up on the knowledge area altogether until you can answer a bunch of questions from that chapter with few to no mistakes. 

Lastly, your test taking skills... If you're finishing the entire exam, not running out of time, picking an answer for each question, then maybe something else is off. When I study, I make notes to myself to get out of the habit of doing certain things. My cheat sheets always have an area for those. And before I take the exam, I know my cheat sheet very well so when I come across one of those bad habit behaviors, it triggers me to confirm with the cheat sheet. For example, I like sequence and I like to keep things in order. But when I take a multiple choice test, I don't waste time on questions I can't figure out quickly so I skip some. But, when I go back to answer, I'm always tempted to bubble the responses in sequence. Imagine if you skipped #4 and #5 but when you get the answer for #6, you bubble #4 because it was the next blank. Now all of your exam is off. I understand with the computer-based FE now, that might be unlikely. Therefore, there might be something else that you're doing that is skewing your answers. There are chapters that I can open my reference book to the exact page I need. There are others I'll look forever before I find. So it's good to tab the reference manual if it's allowed to minimize wasting time. I feel that it's important to learn the material but also learn how to test as well as test with the reference manual. If allowed, I like to have my own cheat sheet glued to or on the inside cover of the manual. I build it up as I go along. So, you have to be able to identify distractors in the responses, forming better habits, increasing speed, use reference effectively etc... 

In summary:

- If you've been taking the FE every month, stop. Go enjoy life for 1-2 months then sign up to take it again 3-6 months after that.

- Take a bunch of practice exams and identify your issue areas.

- Study first based on your issue areas by figuring out the solutions, then cover the entire chapter for these weak areas. One problem doesn't expose you to all.

- Take note of your test-taking habits as you go along and write them down. If it's allowed, write them in the relevant chapter of your reference manual and use the manual's interior cover or blank page to write them all down. 

- Take note on the type of problems that you do well and those you don't. For me it's calculations. Anything with a bunch of sentences and words are a pain so best left for last. I also think that the diagnosis might not be helping. If you have issues with the word problems versus the calculation problems, you'll never know. It will just look like you're not proficient in Structural Analysis because you only got 40% right. But if 60% of them were word problems that you didn't read right, then practicing Structural Analysis calculations won't change that.

- Since the test has a countdown, consider taking the last 15 minutes, whether you finished or not, to make sure that the answers you intended to chose, are the ones that you did. I took the CA Survey exam recently and it's timed 55 questions in 2.5 hrs. For each question I answered, I wrote down the number and the answer letter I intended to pick. The ones I skipped, I still wrote down the number and put a X next to it. I ran out of time. I gave up on the last 5 questions, picked a letter, knowing there's no way I'd be able to answer them, then went back to the beginning to check my answers. Sure enough, I found 3-5 of them I picked one answer rather than what I intended. They give the options to confuse you. When you're in a rush, N53 25 20E looks the same as N53 25 02E. 

Now if you're doing all of this and you're confident that you're doing all of this, then maybe you're ought to just spending money to take it over and over and hope that you pass one day. Just remember the EIT is a preparation as an engineer and the end goal is to get a PE. An EIT might make you more competitive in today's world if you just graduated but it's really not that big of a deal especial if you have experience. The PE is a big deal. If you're having issues with the EIT and you're doing everything stated above and more, the PE will be hell. So, I feel it's worth doing it right and using time in your favor.

Good luck!

 

P.S. I don't know what source your practice exams are from but if they're from NCEES or whatever FE entity that administers the test, you really need to look at them as a way to focus your study and not an indication of how well you'll do. If you're getting 60% on the practice tests, you're not doing enough. There's a ridiculously funny thread right now in the PE forum about how NCEES practice exams are misleading and the reason why some people think they've failed. I personally scored 80% on the NCEES practice exams before I started studying and I knew that was misleading. By the time I was done studying, I would get 90 to 95. There were always 1-2 questions I'd miss. The PE is different from the FE but you really should aim for 80% on those practice exams once you're done.

In addition, Lindeburg seems to have invaded the market with FE and PE study material. I didn't use his material for the PE and I didn't use it for the FE either. I'd suggest gathering problem books from a different author, whether you have his or not. Keep in mind that my FE was ages ago so the format is probably different now. I used this book along with the problems/solutions book they make <<http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51NMHF1E7GL._SX386_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg>>. It worked for me and it worked for my friend who took it after me. But I also studied for 7 months. I remember because I was the field engineer on a job site for those 7 months and all I had to do was watch people place soil lifts then take density tests. I spent as much time as possible during the day standing with my book and doing problems on weekends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you considered taking a class? I haven't taken this particular course: http://www.eetusa.com/classes/fe  but I'd highly recommend EET.

14 hours ago, jijir83 said:

I don't know how hard the FE got since I took it but I remember walking in feeling like crap, walking out feeling crappier but I passed.

Gotta say, this was my experience as well. I was sure I failed. I think I randomly filled in at least 10 bubbles each session. 

@nolameaux2012 what was your FE discipline? I chose "engineering other disciplines." If it is still run this way, maybe that is a good route to try. It doesn't affect which PE exam you take.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On April 20, 2016 at 6:29 PM, JalapenoScott said:

I took several "practice" actual exams myself.  Between all of the tests, I spend hundreds of hours studying.  The first few times I spend a lot of time trying to learn things I never fully grasped in college and thought the other stuff would be easy answers.  I spent only a few weeks on the stuff "I knew" and dido practice problems and find I made a simple unit conversation mistake.  No way I'd do that on the test...  This did not work well

Well, my final passing attempt, I changed my strategy.  I spent most of my time on the stuff I knew.  I made sure I aced it up and down.  That worked well during the exam.  I skipped to the easy ones and answered these first.  I then spend the remainder of the time fumbling thru the ones I was not confident in.

Also, make sure when you do practice problems you are simulating the test with only using the calculator you are using and the ncees reference manual on the computer.  Using the manual will also help you remeber buss words to find equations for certain problems. 

 

Good luck, don't give up.

This.  During the exam skip to the ones you know best.  Beside, it builds confidence.

First rule of FE club:

Don't spend too much time on any one question.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The key to the FE is that ALL answers are in the FE reference manual. The key is to master recognizing what the question is asking, what section in the ref manual to use, and how to setup the problem. 

 

Since you only have a couple of minutes per question, they aren't too extensive or complicated, so if you're getting that confused on subjects you've studied and shown understanding on, I'd say maybe your reading comprehension of the problem is an issue. 

 

I took the FE exam 10 years out of school, and while I had to dust off some cobwebs on stuff I hadn't used in a while, I still felt it was far easier than preparing for the PE exam I just took (which I hope I passed! knock on wood!). The key is time management, and knowing what they're asking for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎4‎/‎20‎/‎2016 at 2:28 PM, nolameaux2012 said:

Ok everyone, i need some advice. I have failed the FE Civil exam several* times, more times that I am willing to admit. (please save all rude comments) and am in desperate need of help. Ive taken several different prep classes, done thousands of problems and have done many practice test. Ive scored around 60% on the practice test this last go round and felt confident going in to the actual exam. However, the results proved differently. I know there are subjects I struggle with but there are several that i feel pretty strong in when taking practice test and working problems in general. In reviewing several diagnostics, the results just seem to be all over the place. On one test I will have great scores in a particular subject and on the next test I will bomb it completely. Obviously the problem is not with the test, as thousands of people have passed this test, so I dont want to sit here and complain about the type of questions. Im just not sure whats wrong with me.

It's not as though I dont have the knowledge, I have been out of school for about 4 years and have a great job in the field I want to be in. I just feel so stuck with not being able to pass this test and it has been very discouraging. Any advice is welcome.

Would you be willing to summarize your diagnostics for us?

Are you getting the "freebies" correct, like Engineering Economics?

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

have you tried the lindberg sample problems that go with the civil ref manual?  That are more difficult than what a test question would be but they would reinforce the topics better than any practice test.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a curiosity... what sort of grades did you earn in undergrad school?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/2/2016 at 3:04 PM, Audi driver, P.E. said:

Just a curiosity... what sort of grades did you earn in undergrad school?

I barely graduated and passed both the FE and PE the first time...whats your thesis?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/8/2016 at 10:47 PM, glockjacket said:

I barely graduated and passed both the FE and PE the first time...whats your thesis?

Perhaps you're we're the exception that's proving the rule? :D  It was merely speculation.  I think that probably first time pass has a greater correlation to which undergrad program a person goes through.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Audi driver, P.E. said:

Perhaps you're we're the exception that's proving the rule? :D  It was merely speculation.  I think that probably first time pass has a greater correlation to which undergrad program a person goes through.

which program or performance in program?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree but I'm sure it's slightly more complicated than that.  I hope it's one and done for me on both, and I took the PE less than 11 months after the FE. I was too stupid to take it in college. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, glockjacket said:

which program or performance in program?

I recall that, at the time, the leader of my EIT review course in school said that graduates of the engineering school I attended had a 98% first time pass rate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Audi driver, P.E. said:

I recall that, at the time, the leader of my EIT review course in school said that graduates of the engineering school I attended had a 98% first time pass rate.

Which one?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, glockjacket said:

Which one?

I attended WSU.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, DonnieD99 said:

How many questions do I need to get correct (as a raw score) to pass out of 110?

That's the million dollar question. There isn't a fixed cut score. No one knows how many you need to answer correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, DonnieD99 said:

How many questions do I need to get correct (as a raw score) to pass out of 110?

aim for 110

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi All , I failed two time Mechanical FE , I think is better taking In General , Any advise??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎4‎/‎20‎/‎2016 at 4:28 PM, nolameaux2012 said:

Ok everyone, i need some advice. I have failed the FE Civil exam several* times, more times that I am willing to admit. (please save all rude comments) and am in desperate need of help. Ive taken several different prep classes, done thousands of problems and have done many practice test. Ive scored around 60% on the practice test this last go round and felt confident going in to the actual exam. However, the results proved differently. I know there are subjects I struggle with but there are several that i feel pretty strong in when taking practice test and working problems in general. In reviewing several diagnostics, the results just seem to be all over the place. On one test I will have great scores in a particular subject and on the next test I will bomb it completely. Obviously the problem is not with the test, as thousands of people have passed this test, so I dont want to sit here and complain about the type of questions. Im just not sure whats wrong with me.

It's not as though I dont have the knowledge, I have been out of school for about 4 years and have a great job in the field I want to be in. I just feel so stuck with not being able to pass this test and it has been very discouraging. Any advice is welcome.

Hi I Failed 2 times Mechanical FE , I am thinking  the general for the next try , could be easier any advise ?? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×