As your fundamentals of engineering (FE) Civil exam prep gets going, you will need to make sure that you have the right study material alongside. For every engineer in the United States, clearing the Civil FE and PE exam is the ultimate goal. Your FE Reference Handbook, provided by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), plays a vital role in helping you to become a licensed professional engineer (PE), as passing your FE is your first step to obtaining your license.
If you have been preparing for this exam for a while and have done enough research, you might be familiar with the FE reference handbook. As mentioned above, until you understand this book inside out, your journey to get the PE license is far-fetched, even if you have completed a FE review course. We’ve developed this comprehensive guide to help you understand the FE Reference Handbook and how to use it.
Introduction to the FE Reference Handbook
For this NCEES-based engineering exam, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying provides a FE reference handbook. Inside your handbook, you will find a lot of equations and formulas that will guide you through the exam and help solve different questions.
The handbook is the only book you will have to help you on this journey to pass your FE exam. You can either download a free PDF copy inside your NCEES account or buy a hard copy.
The more you get used to this book, the easier taking on the FE exam becomes. This is because by becoming intimately familiar with the FE handbook, you become intimately familiar with the problems that will be asked on the exam.
If you want your free copy right now, you can visit the official site of NCEES. Ensure you check to get the most updated version of the reference handbook as the NCEES keeps updating the handbook with corrections.
Which to Choose: Electronic Reference Handbook or Hard Copy?
We’ve already mentioned that the handbook comes electronically or in hard copy format, but which is right for you? It might not seem like the toughest of decisions to make, but it is. While many people prefer something they can hold in their hand and thumb though, the truth is that you need to become familiar with how the exam is administered, and that’s with an electronic copy of the handbook.
When you familiarize yourself with the handbook in digital form from the beginning, you don’t have to waste your time and energy making the transition later on. When carrying out your FE civil exam prep, you should create an environment similar to the exam hall to allow yourself to settle in properly. You may want a copy of both so you can study while on the run but always come back to a PDF version of the handbook so you can learn how to use it properly.
There are some nuances with the PDF version that you’ll need to pick up on to ace this exam quickly. One of them is to learn how to use the search function well. Understand critical terms in problems and focus on making sure things are spelled or hyphenated correctly; otherwise, you may have trouble finding the right equations.
Preparing for the FE Exam: What to Do?
Now that you know a bit about the FE Reference Handbook, let’s focus on what the preparation should look like:
There are tons of FE review courses available on the internet today. When you register for the exam, start searching for one of these trustworthy courses to join. With the help of a good course, you can strengthen your preparation and confidently walk into the exam hall and take on the test. Keep an eye out for good practice exams, great lectures, and responsive support.
Create a study plan and execute it every day. Know the hours you have that you can devote to your FE preparation. Make sure you do not overwhelm yourself with too much to do at one time. Divide the workload into balanced halves so that you can stay fresh and find time for your chores and get in the groove for your FE exam preparation. With that said, the exam should take three to four months of preparation with about two hours of study a day. Treat it like a part-time job.
Keep in mind that in order to ace the FE exam, the courses and handbook aren’t enough. You need to solve a lot of realistic practice problems. Along with these, work on as many NCEES computer-based practice exams as you can. Even paper-based ones will help. The more you do, the better you’ll become at time management, knowledge gaps, and understanding your weak and strong zones.
Get an idea of the questions types you will be given in the exam to make your preparation more efficient. This leads us to our next topic.
Types of Questions in the Civil FE Exam
As you are working hard to clear the FE exam, have you checked the type of questions you will get? If not, then we have listed the two types below:
To prepare for both these question types, your FE Reference Handbook will play a crucial role. For the practical questions, you will be using the handbook to quickly lookup equations. You can access the equations rapidly from the book without wasting too much of your valuable time by using the CTRL-F function and searching for key terms. As you study with your handbook, you can also understand which equations you have covered which you haven’t. It gives you a clear-cut direction on gaps missing in your studies and what could be on the exam.
When working on the conceptual questions, you can use the handbook to cross-check concepts. If you find concepts not found there, you can write them down to remember them during the exam. Keep in mind that not everything is in the handbook. The NCEES expects you to use your engineering judgment and reason on these questions, so don’t expect the handbook to help you cherry-pick all of your answers.
The Success Mantra for FE Civil Exam
A FE review course, reference handbook, question papers, etc., are the prime elements that will ensure your success in the FE exam when used wisely. However, using the FE Reference Handbook isn’t as easy as you think it is. And you must keep certain things in mind if you want to use the handbook effectively. For example, you will want to memorize conversion units, pick out equations faster by knowing what is where in the book, double-checking the spellings, know what information is provided on graphs and figures, and more.
Now that you know quite enough about the FE reference handbook to help you prepare for your FE Civil exam prep, it’s time to put your foot on the pedal and get going. If you are looking for a good FE course provider with practice exams, a CBT exam simulator, lectures, support, and more, visit Civil Engineering Academy. They have reliable and extensive study material for your FE and PE civil exam.