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Professional Standards
Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam

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The information on this page applies only to current Northwestern University undergraduate engineering students. 

They are the only people that can register for the FE Exam through the link on this page. All others must contact the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (or other corresponding state board) directly.

State board contact info can be found at the NCEES website.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the FE/EIT Exam?

The Fundamentals of Engineering exam is the first official step on the path to professional engineering licensure. It is a computer based exam completed at approved test centers.

FE Exam Overview:

  • 110 questions
  • 5 hours 20 minutes to complete the exam
  • Optional 20 minute break (after about 55 questions)

There are currently some discipline-specific exams (civil, chemical, electrical, environmental, mechanical and industrial).

There is also an additional general exam for students not in those disciplines (though anyone can opt to take the general afternoon exam in place of a discipline-specific one).

For more information about the exam and engineering licensure, visit the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

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Who Should Take the FE/EIT Exam?

Should I take the FE/EIT Exam?

If you are unsure whether or not to take the exam, you should have a conversation with your adviser or other faculty members in your department. If you know engineers in your field of interest, ask them about the benefits.

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Is this exam required? Do I need to pass it to get a job?

No. The FE/EIT exam is not required, but you may find it will open up further opportunities for you.

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If I take this exam, will my score affect my degree?

The exam has no bearing on earning your bachelor's degree.

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What if I am not going into engineering?

Again, you should have a conversation with your adviser. That said, if you think at all that you may be in the field of engineering later where having a professional license would be helpful, you may want to take this exam now.

Taking the exam as an undergraduate will mean you’ll have much less preparation to do. Several years down the road, it will be more difficult to review basic chemistry, physics and mechanics.

Note: this registration information only applies to McCormick seniors within one year of graduation. Therefore, students earning degrees in December, March, or June of the current academic year in the following fields are eligible:

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Manufacturing and Design Engineering
  • Materials Science

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When is the Exam?

The FE/EIT Exam is given twice a year, in April and October.

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How Do I Register?

Registration for eligible Northwestern Undergraduates is handled through Continental Testing Services.

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How Do I Prepare?

The exam is very comprehensive. The good news is your engineering education is a solid foundation from which to work. You will still need to put time into reviewing for the exam. The morning exam in particular will cover material that you probably took as a freshman or sophomore, which may not be as fresh in your mind. See our FE/EIT Preparation Information on this page for additional information on preparing for the exam.

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How Can I Get More Information?

If you are a Northwestern student and need more information, contact:

Wesley Burghardt
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Engineering
Office of Undergraduate Engineering
Tech L268
847-491-7379
w-burghardt@northwestern.edu

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Preparing for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam

Exam Content

The FE / EIT Exam is developed by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Visit their FE Exam section for more detailed information on what is covered in the morning and afternoon sessions The exam is extremely comprehensive, so you will want to review quite a bit of material prior to the exam. Pay especially close attention to subjects from your first two years of coursework that you maybe have not utilized recently.

Reference Material

At the exam site, you will be supplied with a reference handbook, which is approximately 120 pages long. This is the only reference you are allowed to have in the exam. You will not be allowed to bring one in. You will only be allowed to use the reference handbook issued to you at the test site. Therefore, you will want to become familiar with the contents of the handbook ahead of time. Download a copy of the NCEES FE Reference Handbook. In addition to the electronic copy, you may want to purchase a copy of the actual reference. You may do so directly from NCEES. They also provide additional aids for review and study.

Review Books

There are several test guide publications available that do an excellent job of reviewing the material covered in the FE/EIT Exam. These guides can be obtained through the publishers or at local bookstores, including the Norris Center Bookstore and Barnes & Noble. Among others, the following companies produce specific titles targeted at the FE / EIT Exam: