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Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Fundamentals of Surveying (FS)

Exam Information

What are the FE/FS examinations?

In order to become a Professional Engineer or Professional (Land) Surveyor one has to pass  engineering or surveying exams. Each type of exam consists of two parts.

For engineering, the first part is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.*

After a minimum of four years engineering experience beyond the BSxE degree, one may be entitled to participate in the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

For land surveying engineers, the two exams are called Fundamentals of Surveying (FS),** and the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam, respectively.

Passing of both exams is required for registration as a Professional Engineer/Surveyor.

* The FE exam is also known (mistakenly) as the Engineer-in-Training (EIT) exam.

** Formerly known as the Surveyor-in-Training (SIT) exam.

Why take the FE and/or FS exams?

If you are a senior or a masters student, you are probably not an expert in your field now, but you probably will be in 4 to 8 years. If you ever want to do engineering consulting work, you will have to be a professional engineer

This means you will have to have taken and passed the FE and/or FS exams. Medical doctors, attorneys, registered engineers and registered surveyors must pass exams administered by the state (Indiana, Illinois, etc.) and obtain a license before they can offer their services to the public. Each state has such laws as part of their effort to protect the public safety, health, welfare and property.

It is like an automobile drivers license. It is unlawful to drive a car on a public road without a license. It is unlawful to tell the public you can perform independent engineering and/or surveying work in the form of consultation, investigation, evaluation or design of engineering works and systems without a PE and/or PLS license.

An engineer can work for a company designing and manufacturing products without being registered. This is because product liability laws protect the public. However, if a company offers engineering services in any of the above mentioned categories, the person responsible for the work must be a registered engineer and/or registered land surveyor. If you work for such a company and you are not registered, the law says you must work under the supervision of a registered engineer or surveyor.


The FE and FS exams are sometimes erroneously referred to as the Engineer-in-Training (EIT) and the Surveyor-in-Training (SIT) exams. These are actually the titles you are allowed to carry after you have passed the FE and/or FS exam.

Why take the exams before graduation?

Because you know the fundamental subjects now, if you study 8 hours on your own using the FE or FS Review Manual and do your best during the exam, your chances of passing now are far above 90%. The pass rate for those who wait, is about 70% in the first year after graduation and dropping off fast for each year you wait (about 10% per year).

Another reason to take the exam while you are a senior is the simple application process. Just fill out a small form, mail it to ELSES, register online to take the exam and pay the fee.  If you wait, you will have to fill out a longer application form, get reference letters, a transcript, a photo, notarization, etc.

So to avoid future headaches, do it now!

Who can take the exams and when do you take them?

A student enrolled in an ABET-accredited engineering curriculum at Purdue may take the FE examination prior to the student's scheduled graduation.

Students may take each of the examinations (FE and/or FS) only once using the student application. If you need to take one of the exams a second time, you must complete the entire Indiana state forms: the Application for Certification of Engineering Intern (Form 9101) or the Application for Certification of Land Surveyor-in-Training (Form 49328).

Dual-degree majors

If you are a dual-degree senior (land surveying engineering / civil engineering or land surveying engineering / construction engineering management) and wish to become both a Registered/Professional Surveyor and a Registered/Professional Engineer, you are allowed to take the FE exam prior to graduation.

Ineligible to enroll using the student application:

If you are in one of the categories listed below, we are not allowed to admit you to the FE/FS exams at Purdue and you should go to the IPLA (Indiana Professional Licensing) website for registration.

  • Graduate students in engineering
  • Anyone with a BS, MS or PhD who has received their bachelors degree in engineering prior to the exam date
  • Undergraduate students in engineering or surveying technology


How to apply and register to take the exams

Eligible Purdue undergraduate students who want to enroll to take the FE and/or FS examinations at Purdue can register with NCEES through the link below. You are only allowed one attempt as a student.
Here are the steps to apply and register:
  1. Register to take the exam online at the NCEES web site
  2. Pay your exam fees via the NCEES Web site after you register.
Once your application has been approved, you will receive information from NCEES about how to register for exam locations with Pearson Vu testing Centers.
Applicants seeking certification as an Engineer Intern will apply to the Board, once they have taken and passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam.

Application deadlines and examination dates

Application deadlines

Once you have registered with NCEES online, you will receive information regarding exam dates, locations and any deadlines.

FE/FS Examination dates

Since the exams are now offered year-round, look for exam dates available when you register.

Review Session Schedule

Study – good preparation ensures success

Reference handbooks (equations manuals): Reference books can be purchased or get a free download. If you want the most up-to-date FE/FS handbooks, they are available on the NCEES website and for purchase if you want a hardcopy that is not self-printed.


Prepare with FREE FE Reviews! They are held on the West Lafayette campus, from 6:30 to 7:45 pm and taught by Purdue faculty. These sessions are for all engineering students. Attend as many review sessions as you can. There are no fees to attend the sessions. After the session, videos can be viewed.

Spring 2014 FE Review Session Schedule

Date Location Topic(s) Instructor Time
2/20/2014 FRNY G410 FE Info. Session / Test Strategies / Ethics Prof. V. Drnevich (CE) 6:30 – 7:45 PM
2/24/2014 FRNY G140 Heat Transfer Prof. J. Brennan (ChE) 6:30 – 7:45 PM
2/25/2014 FRNY G140 Thermodynamics Prof. S. Naik (ME) 6:30 – 7:45 PM
2/26/2014 FRNY G140
Prof. J. Liu (CE)
6:30 – 7:45 PM
Geotechnical Engineering
Prof. M, Prezzi (CE)
6:30 – 7:45 PM
Prof. A. Prakash (CE)
6:30 – 7:45 PM
3/05/2014 FRNY G140 Probability and Statistics Prof. L. Findsen (STAT) 6:30 – 7:45 PM
3/10/2014 FRNY G140 Dynamics Prof. A. Bobet (CE) 6:30 – 7:45 PM

The review sessions are sponsored by Chi Epsilon, the National Civil Engineering Honorary Society. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact


Finally, come to the exam well-rested! Get a full eight hours of sleep the night before the exam. Studying all night and arriving groggy will not help your score!

Taking the exam

Tests will be administered through Testing Services on the designated test day. Arrive at the exam room by 7:15 AM.

The FE and FLS exams are closed book exams. However, a new FE Reference Handbook will be provided to the FE examinees.

Book bags, books, paper, purses, cell phones, pdas, calculators with text-editing or communication capabilities, laptops, food or drinks are not allowed in the exam room.

You are only allowed to bring three items with you to the test:

  1. You must bring a government issued ID, e.g. a drivers license or passport. Purdue photo IDs are no longer accepted! If you forget to bring the correct ID your exam material will be collected and you will be required to leave the exam room. A positive ID check will be made four times during the exam!
  2. You must bring your Admission Authorization Notice, sent to you by NCEES. This notice will have your Examinee ID number on it.
  3. You may only bring calculators approved by NCEES into the exam room. Approved calculators do not have communicating or text-editing capabilities (i.e., a calculator without an IR-port or a QWERTY keyboard). You are allowed to bring spare batteries for the calculator.

    See the NCEES website's calculator policy page ( for a list of approved calculators.

How will I know if I've passed?

You will receive results when available following the test administration. The NCEES website says that's generally about 2-3 weeks after the test date.

This brings up very important topic: while filling out the application form, think carefully about what permanent address you are going to write down.

It is not the responsibility of either Purdue University or the Indiana Licensing Bureau to track you down after your graduation. You have to keep the Licensing Bureau informed of any permanent-address change that happens after the time you filled out your application form.

In general, that means that the use of dorm addresses or other temporary local addresses should be avoided at all cost.

If you pass

To begin the formal process of receiving an Engineer In Training (EIT) Certificate you must verify your graduation to the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (IPLA) by sending an official transcript to the following address:

Indiana Professional Licensing Agency 
Indiana Government Center South, Room E034
302 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2246

Phone: (317) 234-3022

Web sites with additional information

For more information, visit:


State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers
State Board of Registration for Land Surveyors


National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)
Engineering and Land Surveying Exam Services (NCEES)


Professional Publications, Inc.

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