FE, FS exams to begin gradual move to computer-based format
August 27, 2010
The state licensing boards that compose NCEES, the organization that develops and administers the exams used for engineering and surveying licensure throughout the United States, have voted to begin converting the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exams to a computer-based format.
The decision was made during last week’s NCEES Annual Meeting in Denver. It followed a prolonged study by a special task force convened to consider the issue and share its findings with the organization.
Transition expected to take at least two years
The move from paper-and-pencil exams to computer-based exam delivery will not take place overnight, said NCEES Executive Director Jerry Carter.
“The language approved by the Council includes the phrase ‘at the earliest feasible date,’ which means that NCEES exam writers and staff will be involved in a process that includes adapting exam item banks, selecting vendors, and communicating with licensing boards and examinees before we can begin offering the exams via computer,” said Carter.
“We anticipate it will be at least two years before FE and FS candidates begin taking the exams at computer-testing centers.”
Flexibility and security key factors in decision
Among the reasons given by the NCEES Computer-Based Testing Task Force for its recommendation to convert the exams to a computer-based format include greater scheduling flexibility for candidates, more uniformity in testing conditions, and enhanced security for exam content. The vote to move toward computer-based testing for the FE and FS exams was unanimous.
The FE exam is designed for college engineering seniors who intend to pursue a P.E. license. Nearly 50,000 examinees took the FE exam during the 2009-10 academic year, which included October and April administrations. The FS exam is a similar exam designed for those beginning the process toward professional surveying licensure.
The PE and PS exams, which engineering and surveying candidates are also required to take after completing work experience requirements, will continue to be paper-and-pencil exams for the foreseeable future.
Full details on this vote and other actions taken at the NCEES Annual Meeting can be found in the published minutes, which will be available this fall.
For more information, contact NCEES Executive Director Jerry Carter or Associate Executive Director Davy McDowell, P.E., at 864-654-6824.