Like most people, I am definitely not a very good test taker, especially when it comes to exams like the EIT.
For those who do not know, the EIT (Engineer-In-Training) exam is basically the first step to becoming a licensed Professional Engineer. We need to pass this 5.5-hour exam before being eligible to take another 8-hour exam. (NOTE: This post applies for 2017 until the next big change). In recent years, the EIT was renamed to FE (Fundamentals of Engineering).
I had to take the FE Civil exam twice:
- My first attempt was in March 2017, which was unsuccessful.
- My second attempt was in September 2017, which was successful.
I will be sharing with you what were the 5 key differences that might have helped me pass the FE exam (at the second attempt).
- Getting enough sleep
- March: I literally did not sleep the night before at all. I was extremely tensed and worried about the exam. In addition, I talked to someone who constantly stresses me out a few hours before I went to bed (to try to sleep). [Not a good decision]
- September: I probably got around 3 hours of sleep in. I ended up passing the exam.
- Lesson Learned: Get some sleep even if it’s just a little bit.
- Do practice problems
- March: I reviewed material in the FE Civil Review by Michael R. Lindeburg, did a few practice problems in the FE Civil Practice Problems by Michael R. Lindeburg, and went over the official NCEES practice exam just twice or so.
- September: I went over the two most recent official NCEES practice exams as many times as I could and did a few Practice Problems from the FE Civil Practice Problems by Michael R. Lindeburg.
- Lesson Learned: You are studying to take and pass an exam, not relearn everything you learned in school. Therefore, just do practice problems!
- Know the Reference Guide
- March: I was comfortable with the Reference Guide.
- September: I was an expert with the Reference Guide.
- Lesson Learned: Know where exactly a certain formula/information you need in the Reference Guide! Doing practice problems and using the official Reference Guide helped a lot. For me, I brought a hard-copy of the Reference Guide and tabbed it as necessary.
- Be chill
- March: I was a nervous wreck when I took the exam. My hands kept shaking and I felt like I couldn’t breathe until the next day. Yes, I was still on adrenaline after the exam (9+ hours).
- September: I was more calm about it. In fact, my attitude was more like, “If I pass, I pass. If I fail, I can take it again later.”
- Lesson Learned: When I was nervous, I was more likely to misread the question or mark a wrong answer. Being more relaxed allowed me even allowed me to have extra time after the morning session. I had time to go over my answers two more times, which gave me the opportunity to find errors in my calculations and fix them.
- Stay sane
- March: I stopped going to TNTT for about a month to coop myself up in my room to study. I barely took any mental breaks and did not catch up with friends.
- September: I was still going to TNTT. When I got tired of studying, I would take a nice long break. Once in a while, I would catch up with a friend.
- Lesson Learned: Take breaks by allowing yourself to have fun during the period of time (weeks or months) of studying.
Ultimately, I believe that it is simply important to put the exam as a priority and just try your best. Do not be too hard on yourself if you do not pass the first time. Passing the exam the first or second time does not mean you are a good or bad engineer. Everyone’s journey to becoming an engineer is different.
To whoever is taking the FE exam, I wish you the best of luck! Happy studying!
FE Civil Practice Problems by Michael R. Lindeburg
FE Civil Review by Michael R. Lindeburg (older version of this)
NCEES FE Civil practice exam
NCEES Reference Guide