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Frequently asked Questions about the PE exam

  1. What is the PE exam?
  2. Who creates the PE exam?
  3. What are the dates of the PE exam?
  4. Are reference materials allowed on the exam?
  5. When should I register for the PE exam?
  6. How do I register for the exam?
  7. How much does it cost to take the PE exam?
  8. How is the exam scored?
  9. How long does it take to get my scores back?
  10. What is a good score for the PE exam?
  11. When should I start preparing for the PE exam?
  12. How much math do I need to start preparing for the PE exam?
  13. What are the acceptable calculator models allowed for the PE exam?
  1. What is the PE Exam?

    The Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam is an eight-hour exam designed by the NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) that must be passed in order to obtain an Engineer’s license. The test can vary for each engineering discipline. The official NCEES website provides greater overview of the test formats.

  2. Who creates the PE Exam?

    The PE exam is created and regulated by the NCEES for all licensing boards. To find specific information to the licensing board within your area, refer to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying’s website.

  3. What are the dates of the PE exam?

    The exam is offered in October and April each year. Test dates are as follows:

    YEARPE Test Dates
    2016April 15, October 28
    2017April 21, October 27
    2018April 13, October 26
    2019April 5, October 25

    Depending on the discipline, PE exams are scheduled on one or both months.

    ExamHeld in AprilHeld in October
    PE Agricultural and Biologicalx
    PE Architecturalx
    PE Chemicalxx
    PE Civil: Constructionxx
    PE Civil: Geotechnicalxx
    PE Civil: Structuralxx
    PE Civil: Transportationxx
    PE Civil: Water Resources and Environmentalxx
    PE Control Systemsx
    PE Electrical and Computer: Computer Engineeringxx
    PE Electrical and Computer: Electrical and Electronicsxx
    PE Electrical and Computer: Powerxx
    PE Environmentalxx
    PE Fire Protectionx
    PE Industrialx
    PE Mechanical: HVAC and Refrigerationxx
    PE Mechanical: Mechanical Systems and Materialsxx
    PE Mechanical: Thermal and Fluids Systemsxx
    PE Metallurgical and Materialsx
    PE Mining and Mineral Processingx
    PE Naval Architecture and Marine Engineeringx
    PE Nuclearx
    PE Petroleumx
    PE Softwarex
    PE Structuralxx
  4. Are reference materials allowed on the exam?

    The PE exam is an open-book exam. You are allowed to bring reference materials to the exam, provided they are bound and remain bound during the exam. Loose paper may be bound with ring binders, brads, plastic snap binders, spiral-bound notebooks, and screw posts—but not with staples. Sticky notes and flags are permitted only when they remain attached to book pages.

  5. When should I register for the PE exam?

    Contact your state’s licensing board for registration requirements and deadlines.

  6. How do I register for the exam?

    Contact your state’s licensing board for details about exam registration.

  7. How much does it cost to take the PE?

    Fees and exam schedules can vary by state. Contact your local licensing board for further information.

  8. How is the exam scored?

    The PE exam is based on a pass/fail basis. If you do not pass the exam, you will receive a diagnostic report indicating your areas of strength and weakness. The diagnostic report can assist you if you decide to retake the exam.

  9. How long does it take to get my scores back?

    You will be contacted by your licensing board within eight to ten weeks of the test date. Depending on your state, you will be notified of your exam result through your My NCEES online account or via mail from your state licensing board.

  10. What is a good score for the PE exam?

    The PE is scored on a pass/fail basis. Below are the pass rates for the April 2014 exam, unless otherwise noted. The pass rates for the October 2014 exam have not been posted yet.

    ExamFirst-time takers (%)Repeat takers (%)
    Agricultural (October 2013)6950
    Architectural7217
    Chemical7425
    Civil7039
    Control Systems (October 2013)7653
    Electrical and Computer: Computer Engineering710
    Electrical and Computer: Electrical and Electronics7336
    Electrical and Computer: Power6843
    Environmental5128
    Fire Protection (October 2013)6937
    Industrial6915
    Mechanical7240
    Metallurgical and Materials (October 2013)620
    Mining and Mineral Processing (October 2013)7137
    Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering8167
    Nuclear (October 2013)5444
    Petroleum (October 2013)7553
    Software6450
  11. When should I start preparing for the PE?

    You are not eligible to take the PE until you pass the Fundamentals (FE) exam. Students usually have at least four years of experience in their discipline before taking the PE. Most licensing boards require that your work experience be under a licensed professional engineer’s supervision.

  12. How much math do I need to start preparing for the PE exam?

    Each discipline of the PE exam is different – see detailed specifications for each exam at http://ncees.org

  13. What are the acceptable calculator models allowed for the PE exam?

    To protect the integrity of the PE exam, NCEES limits the types of calculators you may use on the exam. The only calculator models acceptable for use during the 2014 exams are as follows.
    Casio: All fx-115 models. Any Casio calculator must contain fx-115 in its model name. Examples of acceptable Casio fx-115 models include (but are not limited to):

    • fx-115 MS
    • fx-115 MS Plus
    • fx-115 MS SR
    • fx-115 ES
    • fx-115 ES Plus

    Hewlett Packard: The HP 33s and HP 35s models, but no others.
    Texas Instruments: All TI-30X and TI-36X models. Any Texas Instruments calculator must contain either TI-30X or TI-36X in its model name. Examples of acceptable TI-30X and TI-36X models include (but are not limited to):

    • TI-30Xa
    • TI-30Xa SOLAR
    • TI-30Xa SE
    • TI-30XS Multiview
    • TI-30X IIB
    • TI-30X IIS
    • TI-36X II
    • TI-36X SOLAR
    • TI-36X Pro