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Exam scoring

NCEES administers some engineering exams via computer-based testing and others via pencil-and-paper testing. Exam scoring varies based on the testing format. To learn more, select an exam from the list below.

How is the exam scored?

Your exam results are based on the total number of correct answers that you selected. There are no deductions for wrong answers. The score is then converted to a scaled score, which adjusts for any minor differences in difficulty across the different exam forms. This scaled score represents an examinee’s ability level and is compared to the minimum ability level for that exam, which has been determined by subject-matter experts through psychometric statistical methods. NCEES does not publish the passing score. NCEES scores each exam with no predetermined percentage of examinees that should pass or fail. All exams are scored the same way. First-time takers and repeat takers are graded to the same standard.

When will I get my result?

Exam results for computer-based exams are typically available 7–10 days after you take the exam. You will receive an email notification from NCEES with instructions to view your results in your MyNCEES account. Results will include information specific to your licensing board regarding how you should proceed based on your performance.

How are exam results reported?

Exam results are reported pass/fail. If you did not pass the exam, you will receive a diagnostic report indicating subject areas of relative strength and weakness. The diagnostic report can assist you if you decide to retake the exam.

Download a sample diagnostic report (PDF).

How is the exam scored?

Licensing exams differ from most other exams. After each administration, every NCEES exam undergoes extensive statistical analysis to determine the minimum level of performance required for entry into the profession. This rigorous process helps ensure an equitable licensure system for candidates while upholding the standards of the profession. The steps are as follows:

  • NCEES scans all answer sheets as they are received from the states.
  • A psychometric analysis is performed on a sample of answer sheets from each multiple-choice exam to identify any questions with unusual statistics. These questions are flagged for review.
  • At least two subject-matter experts, who are licensed engineers or surveyors, review the flagged items. In addition, NCEES reviews all examinee comment forms, and the subject-matter experts consider comments on the forms about specific exam questions. If the reviews confirm an error in a question, credit may be given for more than one answer.
  • When the analyses and reviews are completed, NCEES changes the answer keys as necessary. The passing score and final correct answers for each exam are then used to score all the answer sheets. Scanners are calibrated before and during scoring. A percentage of the answer sheets are manually verified, and the results are compared to the machine score to ensure accuracy.

NCEES releases the results to the licensing boards and testing agencies, who in turn report the results to examinees.

Read a step-by-step explanation of the scoring process in the Pencil-and-Paper Exams section of the NCEES Examinee Guide.

What is the grading process?

All answer sheets for multiple-choice exams are machine graded; a percentage of answer sheets are also manually verified to ensure accuracy. If an exam includes essays, those portions are scored by teams of subject-matter experts.

How are passing scores determined?

When an exam is introduced or when its specifications change, a committee of subject-matter experts works with experienced psychometricians (testing experts with a background in statistics) to determine the level of performance that corresponds with minimal competence in that discipline. This becomes the passing score. NCEES does not publish passing scores because they change with each administration. NCEES scores each exam with no predetermined percentage of examinees that should pass or fail. All exams are scored the same way. First-time takers and repeat takers are graded to the same standard.

When will I get my result?

Typically, NCEES releases results to licensing boards 8–10 weeks after the exam date. How and when examinees receive their results varies by state. Some boards use NCEES Exam Administration Services to release the results directly to examinees; some release them through another testing service such as PCS; and other boards release the results themselves. In addition, some state boards must validate the results at a board meeting before they can release them to examinees.

How are exam results reported?

Exam results are reported pass/fail. If you did not pass the exam, you will receive a diagnostic report indicating subject areas of relative strength and weakness. The diagnostic report can assist you if you decide to retake the exam. Download a sample diagnostic report (PDF).

What is statistical equating?

For subsequent administrations of the exam, statistical equating is used to ensure that this level of performance is consistent across multiple administrations of that exam. Essentially, this means that while the numerical passing score may change with each administration, you are not disadvantaged when one administration of a particular exam is more difficult than another. This process accounts for the 8- to 10-week interval between an exam administration and the release of scores to member licensing boards.

Your exam results are determined by the number of items you answered correctly for the exam in its entirety. There are no minimum requirements for particular sections or topics within an exam. You are not penalized for incorrect answers. You may request that your exam answer sheet be manually verified. A fee is charged for this service.