This is a personal account leading up to, studying for, and passing the Mechanical FE Exam from NCEES and administered by Pearson Vue.
Kaplan's PPI2PASS was the primary resource used for a refresher on material that is covered on the FE Exam - they were nice enough to give a 15% discount for PPI that is automatically applied after clicking one of the links below. It comes with Lindenburg's review books, flashcards, a quiz generator, diagnostic exams, practice exams that resemble the actual test, and study plans. I primarily used the exams and quiz generator. This is the only resource I used and thus could recommend, so it would be advisable to look into other studying options as well.
I graduated in the Spring of 2021 at a smaller university in Texas with roughly a 3.0 GPA, so I'm certainly not the most book-smart person out there. The things I did have going for me were hands-on experience with a 2-year internship & co-founding an additive manufacturing-related company.
I actually kept putting off taking the test for a number of reasons but primarily because I was concerned with how I would do. Eventually, my deadline rolled around and I scheduled a test date.
My FE Exam Prep
The first thing I did was casually start getting myself used to the entire FE Manual - I didn't do any problems, just seeing what's what and where everything is. I used PPI2Pass for getting a refresh on material, but I didn't want to pay hundreds of dollars so I waited till a week before the test to purchase their 1 week $59 subscription.
I looked for promo codes but that went about as well as it normally does; however, afterwards, I found out there actually was a way to save 15% on PPI2PASS - at least yall will be able to take advantage of that.
The PPI2PASS subscription came with a several thousand bank of questions, a few practice exams, and diagnostic quizzes. I spent the first few days of the week doing non-quantitative questions only since they go quick and allow you to get a grasp on all of the concepts. I was able to customize if there was a time limit, the type of problems, and the number of problems. The last half of the week I switched to only quantitative problems which were much more time-consuming - I was spending 2-8 minutes on quantitative vs 30s-2mins on non-quantitative. I did one of the practice exams to gauge how fast I could work through the problems & to see how the test might actually be set up.
Test Day for the FE Exam at a Pearson Testing Center
The test was at 8 am and I had to drive a bit so I made sure to get there early, and they were already allowing people to go ahead and start. It's not necessary but I would still recommend getting there 30mins to 1 hour early just so you don't have to wait in the check-in line, plus if you start earlier you leave earlier. The only things I took into the building with me were my license, a paper copy of the appointment (which wasn't needed), car keys, a mask (due to covid rules), and my calculator (they made me store the calculator lid in the locker). You are supplied with earplugs, markers/pads, and a locker key (where you put personal items). The FE Mechanical had the 25-minute break in-between the 110 questions and you can go anywhere during that time, but you have to sign in and out. Your test clock will keep going if you run late coming back, so it's just a quick breather and bathroom break.
I saw a few posts before about eye strain and considering it is a long test I took a precaution by wearing my transition contacts (I'm blind as a bat). They are marketed as being able to filter out a % of blue light, and in the past, I have noticed that it is easier to drive at night and stare at a screen with them on. During the entire test, I didn't notice eye strain or anything, so there is some anecdotal evidence for having some sort of blue light filter if that is an issue for you.
The exam had the NDA, a quick tutorial, and then the questions themselves. The break lands somewhere in the middle around problems 50-60. You will have to self-time yourself on the first half, otherwise, you will have less time for the second half of the test. I didn't do this perfectly and ended up having to guess on roughly 5 questions in the second half; this happened even after going through and doing "easy" problems then going back and doing the ones I flagged.
Reflection on the exam and PPI2PASS
I received my test results about 10 days afterward, so you will likely have to be patient on that front. Thankfully, I ended up passing on my first attempt. After reflecting and comparing the actual test to the PPI2PASS questions, I would say that the PPI questions were roughly 20% harder than the actual test problems, so if you are able to do well with PPI then you are probably in a good spot. I was doing 40-50% pass on PPI starting out and with practice, this rose to 50-70% (I mainly did 20-40 question quizzes covering all topics).
Even after taking the exam, I'm finding that the NCEES manuals are super helpful references guides for any work you are doing on a daily basis, and I would highly recommend making sure you always have a copy on-hand.
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