Dr. Z’s Corner

Dr. Z

Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., Ph.D., Fellow-NSPE, Fellow-ASCE is an award-winning professor, structural engineer, author and mentor living in Washington, D.C. Since joining academia, "Dr. Z", as he is known by his students and colleagues, has distinguished himself on campus and beyond. He is passionate about engineering, gifted in teaching, and is a true champion for professional licensure. Dr. Z. has extraordinarily high standards; has produced award-winning designs; is prolific in professional service; and infects others with these same values. He is the recipient of numerous local, regional and national awards, including recent national awards from the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Since 2014, he has been regularly writing monthly articles for “Dr.Z’s Corner “ and offering hundreds of engineering problems, for free, every month for students, engineers and engineering educators worldwide. Dr. Z. also offers pro-bono Saturday classes for students and engineers; his free classes are open to all in the greater Washington metro area and cost nothing, nada, zilch! Starbucks coffee is always a must have for Dr. Z.

Dr. Z's Corner

Dr. Z’s Corner (201502)

Conquering the FE & PE Exams

By Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., F-NSPE



To answer some of our readers’ questions, I would like to review the requirements for licensing again and the new Professional Engineering (PE) Exam Specifications for Civil Engineers that will be effective beginning with the April 2015 examinations.

The graduates of a four-year college or a university program with a bachelor of science in engineering, bachelor of engineering, master of science in engineering or master of engineering from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc., (ABET) accredited institution are eligible to take the new computer based Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination. This exam is developed and administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). To register for the FE exam, the engineering licensing board in the state in which licensure is desired must be contacted. Applicants need to apply to the state licensing board to determine if they meet the requirements to take the FE exam. These requirements vary by state.

The FE exam tests applicants on breadth of understanding of basic engineering principles. Passing the FE exam typically qualifies the candidates for certification as an engineer in training (EIT) or engineering intern (EI). After gaining some engineering experience, generally four years, also varies from state to state, applicants have to take and pass a written Principles and Practice in Engineering, PE examination. The PE exam tests the applicant’s knowledge and skills in their chosen civil engineering discipline (i.e., construction, geotechnical, structural, transportation, and water resources and environmental). The PE exam uses both the International System of Units (SI) and the US Customary System (USCS).

The degree requirements for licensure are evolving. For example, effective Jan. 1, 2020, the NCEES will require additional credits beyond a bachelor of science in engineering degree. Effective and beginning with the April 2015 examinations, the new PE exam for the Civil Engineering will have new specifications. The new PE exam will be an eight-hour open-book exam with two sections, breadth and depth sections. Each section is four hours long and consists of 40 multiple choice questions. Examinees are required to work on all the questions in the morning session and in the afternoon module they have chosen. The final score is a combination of both section results (the depth results and the breadth results).

PE Exam – Morning Session Breakdown

The morning breadth section is 40 multiple-choice questions from the five discipline areas in civil engineering.

  • Project Planning: 4 questions,
  • Means and Methods: 3 questions,
  • Soils Mechanics: 6 questions,
  • Structures: 6 questions,
  • Hydraulics and Hydrology: 7 questions,
  • Geometrics: 3 questions,
  • Materials: 6 questions, and
  • Site Development: 5 questions.

PE Exam – Afternoon Session Breakdown

The afternoon depth section is 40 multiple choice questions and focus on a single area of practice in civil engineering (e.g., only construction or only geotechnical). Each discipline will be covered separately in the future articles.

Remember, in both FE and PE exams timing is everything. To conquer these exams speed is very important and speed can only be attained through practice and more practice!

Until next time, Dr. Z/
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Dr. Z’s Corner (201501)

Conquering the FE & PE Exams

By Ahmet Zeytinci, P.E., F-NSPE



When approaching the FE Exam for the first time, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed. The best way to build your confidence is to prepare for the test and to know the ins and outs of the test. This month’s problems can be found HERE.

To answer many readers’ questions, let’s review the exam day experience and what you are expected to do that day. Once your registration is approved, you will receive an email notification that you have been authorized to take the exam and are eligible to schedule your exam appointment. NCEES computer-based tests are offered in testing windows throughout the year during January, February, April, May, July, August, October and November. Once you register and know your exam date, NCEES recommends the following:

  • Plan to arrive at the testing center 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment.
  • Upon arrival, a representative will provide you with a copy of NCEES-CBT exam rules for your review. After doing so, you will be asked to provide your digital signature to confirm that you have read the rules and agreed to abide by them. You will need to provide a current government issued form of ID (such as a driver’s license). Once the representative confirmed your identification and the exam that you are taking, you will be asked to provide palm vein scan and have your photo taken. Your signature, palm vein scan and photo will be stored with your exam result.
  • Prior to be admitted into the testing room, a representative will insure that you have in your possession only the items that NCEES allows them to the testing room. These include: your ID, an NCEES approved calculator and eye glasses. Most test centers have secure storage lockers on site for you to store prohibited items such as cell phones, other electronic devices and personal belongings such as a watch, wallet and bag.
  • Once you complete the check in process, report to an exam proctor who will confirm your ID through a palm vein scan. The proctor will then provide with you with a reusable booklet and marker for scratch work, review the exam rules, and will escort you to the exam room and assigned work station, and launch the exam.
  • Before starting your exam, all examinees are required to read and agree to the NCEES’ non-disclosure agreement and complete a brief tutorial to learn how to ADVANCE to the next item, RETURN to a previous item and FLAG items for review.
  • After completing approximately 55 questions, examinees will be prompted on screen with the option to take a 25 minute break. Examinees who wish to take the scheduled break should raise their hands and wait for the prompter tor assistance. Unscheduled breaks may be requested at any time during the exam by following the same procedure. However, examinees should be aware that clock will not stop during an unscheduled break. Examinees are allowed to access their lockers during the scheduled and unscheduled breaks.
  • After completing the exam and a brief survey, you should raise your hands and proctor will verify that you had properly exited from exam and escort you from testing room and collect your booklet and marker.

You will not receive any type of score before leaving the testing center. You will receive an email from NCEES within 7 to 10 days notifying you that your results are available for viewing in your MYNCEES account. NCEES also provides information at www.ncees.org and YouTube.

Until next time,

Dr. Z.
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