What is CBT?
CBT stands for computer-based testing.
Which CBT exams does NCEES offer?
Beginning in January 2014, the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exams will be administered via computer at approved Pearson VUE testing centers. Register here.
Can I take pencil-and-paper versions of the FE and FS exams instead?
No. The FE and FS exams are administered only on computers at NCEES-approved testing centers.
When can I register for these CBT exams?
The FE and FS are administered during four testing windows throughout the year: January–February, April–May, July–August, and October–November. Registration is open year-round. Learn more.
How do I register for my CBT exam?
Register and schedule your appointment through your MyNCEES account. You will first select your exam location, and then you will see a list of available exam dates for your appointment. If you are not happy with the choices, you can browse through the available dates at another NCEES-approved testing center. See which testing locations are closest to you.
Will I be able to reschedule the date and time or cancel my exam after I’ve registered?
Yes. You can reschedule or cancel your exam through your MyNCEES account. Read more details in the NCEES Examinee Guide.
Can I register with one state board and take the exam in another state?
Yes. North American examinees may sit for the exam at any NCEES-approved testing center. However, if you are approved to register for the exam through an international entity other than Canada, you must take your exam at an approved site in that country.
How much does it cost to register for a CBT exam?
The CBT exam fee is $225 to register with NCEES. Additional fees may be required to register with your state licensing board.
Why did the cost increase when the FE and FS exams transitioned to CBT?
The transition of the FE and FS examinations to a computer-based format brought with it additional costs not included in traditional pencil-and-paper settings. The convenience to examinees of offering the examination at multiple locations throughout the year drives the need for larger pools of exam questions, which increases the cost of developing the exams. In addition, seat time at computer-based testing centers costs more than rental of large-scale facilities for twice-a-year testing. These factors, along with other changes in the process, have increased the cost to produce the examination.
What may I bring into the testing center?
You will be allowed to bring an NCEES-approved calculator and any items found on the Pearson VUE Comfort Aid list (PDF).
Which calculators will be allowed in the testing center?
The NCEES calculator policy is the same for pencil-and-paper and CBT examinees. Learn more.
Will I have access to reference materials?
Yes. All computer monitors will be at least 24 inches to allow plenty of room to display both the exam items and a searchable version of the Reference Handbook.
View the FE Reference Handbook.
View the FS Reference Handbook.
How many questions are on the exam?
The FE and FS exams each consist of 110 questions, which are divided into two sections.
How long does the CBT exam last?
The FE and FS exam appointments are six hours long. This time includes a tutorial, the exam, a scheduled break, and a brief survey at the end of the exam. You will have 5 hours and 20 minutes to complete the entire exam. After answering approximately half of the questions, you will be prompted to review and submit those questions. You will no longer have access to those questions after you submit them. You will then have the option of taking a 25-minute scheduled break, during which the exam clock will stop. The exam clock will automatically begin again after the 25-minute scheduled break even if you have not returned to the exam. The exam clock will not stop during unscheduled breaks.
What if I need to take a break during a section of the exam?
You will have the option of taking a 25-minute scheduled break between the two exam sections. The exam clock stops during this break. You may also take unscheduled breaks during the exam, but the exam clock will not stop during them.
Is there be a penalty for incorrect answers?
No. There is no penalty for guessing. Answers are correct (credit given) or incorrect (no credit given). An omission is scored like any other incorrect answer.
Are exam questions personalized according to each examinee’s responses?
No. The CBT FE and FS exams are linear, not adaptive.
Is the CBT exam still comprised of a breadth section and a depth section?
The exam still consists of two different sections with a break in the middle, but the topics are all discipline-specific. Learn more.
Are the questions grouped by topic or interspersed in both sections?
The questions are grouped by topic. A topic is never split between the two sections of the exam.
Can I go back and check my answers?
Yes. The exam is divided into two sections with a 25-minute scheduled break in the middle. You will be given 5 hours and 20 minutes to complete approximately 55 questions prior to the scheduled break and the remaining questions afterward. You can divide your time allotment between the two sections as you see fit. You will be able to review questions within each section before submitting that section; once you submit the section, though, you cannot revisit it.
How do I solve questions that require writing?
Pearson VUE provides examinees with a reusable notepad and dry-erase pen to use when working out problems. The dimensions are 8½” x 14½”. It is spiral bound at the top (portrait orientation) so that you can flip between pages. It contains five laminated sheets. The cover lists procedures for the testing center, and the remaining pages (front and back) are lined like graph paper. Most examinees should have ample room fto do scratch work for each section. The marker is fine-tipped and the size and weight of a standard ink pen.
When will I receive my exam result?
You will be notified via email when your result is available for viewing in your MyNCEES account. Most examinees will receive their result within 7 to 10 days.
What is the passing score?
The standard of minimum competence is set by a committee of licensed engineers in each discipline. Currently, NCEES does not publish the passing score because it changes from administration to administration based on the difficulty of the exam. In CBT, each examinee takes a unique, but equivalent, exam. Again, because of the slight difference in difficulty, the passing score will vary. Therefore, NCEES does not release the passing score—only the pass or fail results.
If I don’t pass my CBT exam, how soon can I retake it?
NCEES policy allows you to take the exam once during any two-month testing window and no more than three times in a 12-month period. However, your licensing board may have a more restrictive policy.
Is there a way to study specifically for the CBT experience?
Yes. You may purchase a web-based practice exam for both the FE and FS exams. The practice exams look and operate very much like the actual exams. Learn more.
Why was the exam time shortened from 8 to 6 hours when the exams transitioned to CBT?
The exams underwent a content review as a part of the transition to CBT. The change in length was a result of that review. Learn more.
What accommodations are available for examinees with special needs?
Make requests for special testing accommodations during the exam registration process. All requests require approval from NCEES. Learn more by reading the NCEES Examinee Guide.
What do I do if I have trouble registering for my exam?
If you have questions about the registration process, visit this contact page and use the chat feature in the lower-right corner of your browser window. Someone from NCEES Client Services will guide you through the process.
Links to this Post
- Watch the engineering educator webinar | NCEES CBT transition news | October 3, 2013
- EngiNews » Blog Archive » Changes to FE Exam Process | November 4, 2013