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College students who are interested in a career in an engineering field may benefit from taking the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam for professional engineers (PE). If you're preparing to take that exam, you may benefit from tutoring through Varsity Tutors, along with a PE Exam course. Employers look for this designation when they're looking to bring new engineers onto their teams.

Because there is no single exam for professional engineers, any PE exam course will focus on your chosen specialty. The information is usually complex, and tutors can help you to work through it, developing study plans that take your strengths and learning styles into account. They can create study aids that are designed to break down information that you're learning in a PE exam class, and potentially help you to remember it more easily.

There are two dozen different PE exams for different disciplines. Fourteen of those are pencil and paper exams, while the tests for nuclear, environmental, chemical and petroleum are available as computer-based tests. The table below outlines the different exams and pass rates for individuals who take the exam once, and those who repeat the exam, according to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES):

Exam First-time Takers Pass Rate Repeat-Takers Pass Rate Format
PE Agricultural and Biological 27 70% 5 80% Pencil-and-paper
PE Architectural 101 62% 17 6% Pencil-and-paper
PE Chemical 241 80% 18 61% CBT
PE Civil: Construction 750 53% 651 34% Pencil-and-paper
PE Civil: Geotechnical 531 62% 345 35% Pencil-and-paper
PE Civil: Structural 1539 60% 786 42% Pencil-and-paper
PE Civil: Transportation 1456 61% 978 37% Pencil-and-paper
PE Civil: Water Resources and Environmental 1528 65% 775 39% Pencil-and-paper
PE Control Systems 224 75% 61 48% Pencil-and-paper
PE Electrical and Computer: Computer Engineering 29 59% 4 0% Pencil-and-paper
PE Electronics, Controls, and Communications 136 66% 31 32% Pencil-and-paper
PE Electrical and Computer: Power 1033 54% 678 27% Pencil-and-paper
PE Environmental 330 64% 138 34% Pencil-and-paper
PE Fire Protection 165 56% 76 28% Pencil-and-paper
PE Industrial and Systems 86 66% 13 8% Pencil-and-paper
PE Mechanical: HVAC and Refrigeration 641 69% 219 33% Pencil-and-paper
PE Mechanical: Machine Design and Materials 559 72% 123 39% Pencil-and-paper
PE Mechanical: Thermal and Fluids Systems 524 69% 205 40% Pencil-and-paper
PE Metallurgical and Materials 44 77% 12 25% Pencil-and-paper
PE Mining and Mineral Processing 70 60% 12 25% Pencil-and-paper
PE Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering 46 57% 14 36% Pencil-and-paper
PE Nuclear 32 56% 0 0% CBT
PE Petroleum 183 66% 59 37% Pencil-and-paper
PE Software 12 42% 3 0% Pencil-and-paper

In order to prepare for the exam, working with a private tutor on information you're learning in a PE Exam prep course can help you to focus on topics that are specific to your chosen discipline. They can also help you to bring your practical post-college work experience into focus as you work your way through a PE exam class. A tutor can design a program of study that highlights what you're struggling with, while reviewing concepts that you have some knowledge of. The test-taking strategies you can review in PE exam prep classes doesn't vary with test design, because there are no exams that are both computer-based and pencil-and-paper.  The table below explains which are computer-based and which are pencil-and-paper formats.

Exam Formats:

  • Computer-Based:
    • Fundamentals of Engineering (FE)
    • Fundamentals of Surveying (FS)
    • Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS)
    • Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE)
      • Chemical
      • Environmental
      • Nuclear
      • Petroleum
  • Pencil-and-Paper:
    • Structural Engineering (SE)
      • Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE)
      • Agricultural and Biological Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Civil (all modules)
      • Control Systems
      • Electrical and Computer: Computer Engineering
      • Electrical and Computer: Electronics, Controls,
      • and Communications
      • Electrical and Computer: Power
      • Fire Protection
      • Industrial and Systems
      • Mechanical (all modules)
      • Metallurgical and Materials
      • Mining and Mineral Processing
      • Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering
      • Software Engineering

The scoring process varies, depending on how you're taking the test. Computer-based exams are scored on the total number of correct answers, but there are no deductions for wrong answers. Scores are typically available within 10 days of completing the exam, according to the NCEES. Pencil-and-paper exams are pass/fail, and for those who do not pass, a diagnostic report is issued, detailing one's strengths and weaknesses. It may take 8-10 weeks to receive results for pencil-and-paper exams.

Traditional PE exam courses are often set up for group instruction, so that could make things more difficult if you're not the kind of person to speak up when you're struggling. This can help you feel less stressed and self-conscious, and perhaps have a better understanding of complicated topics as you get ready for your test.

Reach out to Varsity Tutors today to see how tutors can help you to enhance the information you've studied in your prep courses. We look forward to supporting you as you reach for academic and professional success through a PE exam prep class and tutoring.

Contact us today to connect with a top PE Exam - Professional Licensed Engineer Principals and Practice of Engineering Exam instructor