The Mechanical Fundamentals of Engineering or FE exam can change the course of how students get full-time working opportunities after graduation. In an economy where getting hired by reputed companies is challenging more than ever before, students need more than their graduation degree. The FE exam opens doors for engineering aspirants to the most reputed engineering design firms.
While there’s a lot to be covered about this exam, the focus of this article will be highlighting the steps that will ensure your success in the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering exam.
1. NCEES FE Reference Handbook is a must
No matter how many practice exams you take or class notes you memorize, none can replace the NCEES handbook. This handbook is the manuscript with all the formulas, equations, constants and other subject matter from all FE exam disciplines. Students are allowed to use this handbook in the exam, so you will want to familiarize yourself with the sections that apply to your discipline. Please note that the mechanical engineering discipline uses sections in the handbook from civil engineering and chemical, so there will be some overlap.
2. Make aStudy Schedule
The FE Exam has a vast curriculum and it can get tough to review all examination subjects if you do not have a schedule. Look at all the topics and designate time to study each section and/or complete practice exam problems within that section. I recommend dedicating 1 hour of studying for each problem, so this means you should study 110 hours, since there are 110 problems. The NCEES mechanical outline also tells you how many problems will roughly be on each topic, so you can assign time accordingly to each topic.
3. Study and Work through Every Problem
When studying and doing practice problems, make sure to work through the problems completely and to understand the concepts and skills that are being tested completely. This means that you need to actually write out the steps when you study. Many of the incorrect solutions are the result of common mistakes that result from not completing all the steps to a problem. On the actual exam, do not spend too much time on any one problem. Each problem is worth the same, so skip and mark problems that are taking up too much time. If you can complete a problem, then complete the problem at that moment. After you go through the exam once, then go back to the problems you marked and spend the extra time to complete those problems.
4. Determine Weak Areas
There will be some topics and sections of your FE exam curriculum that you are not confident, especially if your Mechanical Engineering degree did not include a specific topic. The most common topics that people struggle with are Probability, Measurements, Instrumentation, Controls, Engineering Economics, Ethics and Computational Tools. Many people struggle with these topics because they are not covered in most mechanical engineer degrees. You will not be able to pass if you do not study these topics. The topics that are heavily tested with many problems include Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, Statics, Dynamics, Mechanics, Materials, Fluid Mechanics and Machine Design.
5. Take Practice Exams
During the exam, you will have less than 3 minutes on an average to answer each question. This is why you need to be very comfortable completing problems and the only way to get comfortable is to practice. Complete practice exams from NCEES or a test preparation company. But be sure to practice in a similar environment to the actual FE Mechanical exam. This means that you should have a laptop, computer or tablet with the FE Reference Handbook readily available. This handbook contains all the formulas, equations, constants, conversions and subject matter that you need to solve most of the problems. So you should practice with this handbook and you should also practice with the calculator that you will use during the actual exam.