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Historical Changes to the FE-Civil Exam

The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam continues to evolve due to curricula changes in engineering programs and technological innovations. A short summary of important changes to the FE exam is presented below for those interested in historical trends. The information is compiled from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)[1,2] and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)[3].

May 1965: The first national FE exam was offered. The exam included 10 subjects, including mathematics, chemistry, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, statics, dynamics, mechanics of materials, physics, electricity, and economics. Thirty Engineering Boards participated in this exam. However, only twenty of the Boards used the Central Grading Service provided by the then National Council of Engineering Examiners (NCEE). The lack of uniformity in grading was noted as a problem.

Early 1970s: The FE exam was changed from subjective exam to a standardized, machine-graded exam ensuring uniformity in grading.

1996: The FE exam was changed to include six discipline specific formats in the afternoon session. The morning session of the exam tested the same general knowledge areas for all examinees regardless of discipline. The afternoon session included discipline-specific knowledge areas chosen by the examinee, including Chemical, Civil, Industrial, Electrical, Mechanical, and General.

2002: Environmental Engineering was added as the seventh discipline-specific knowledge area in the afternoon session of the FE exam.

January 2014: The FE exam was revised to seven freestanding, discipline-specific exams. The seven discipline-specific exams include Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Computer, Environmental, Industrial, Mechanical, and Other Disciplines. Furthermore, the exam moved to the Computer-based Testing (CBT) format eliminating paper exams. The number of questions were reduced from 180 in the paper exam to 110 in the CBT format.

July 2017: The FE exam introduced new types of questions dubbed as alternative item types (AIT), including but not limited to, multiple choice questions with multiple correct answers, fill in the blank questions, ranking or sorting questions, and clicking or marking around a correct part of a graphic. NCEES did not disclose how many of the 110 CBT exam questions are considered to be AITs [4]. #FE #FE_Exam #FE_Civil #Civil_Engineering


[3] Kaplan-Leiserson: The Evolution of the FE

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