Skip to main content

PS exam

The PS exam tests your ability to practice the surveying profession competently. It is designed for surveyors who have gained at least four years of professional experience.

The PS exam transitioned to computer-based testing (CBT) in 2016, with first testing appointments available in October. The new PS exam allows for year-round testing at approved Pearson VUE test centers. This gives examinees the freedom to pick the exam time, date, and location. The new format includes a digital PS Reference Handbook. Examinees receive their results 7–10 days after the exam. Learn more about the transition of the PS exam to CBT.

Exam specifications

The CBT PS exam contains 100 questions. The total appointment time is 7 hours—2 minutes for nondisclosure agreement, 8 minutes for a tutorial, and 6 hours for the actual exam. There are two sections of the exam that are approximately 50 questions each with an optional 50-minute scheduled break offered at the end of the first section. The PS exam uses USCS measurements.

View the PS exam specifications (PDF).

The computer-based PS exam also introduces a new testing component: alternative item types (AITs). AITs are questions other than traditional multiple-choice questions. Learn more about AITs.

Special accommodations are available for examinees who meet certain eligibility criteria and sufficiently document their request.

Reference materials and exam prep

The NCEES PS Reference Handbook is the only reference material that can be used during the exam. You will be provided with an electronic reference handbook during the exam.

Register or log into MyNCEES to download your free copy of the PS Reference Handbook.

In addition to the PS Reference Handbook, NCEES offers computer-based practice exams. These practice exams contain questions that have been used on past exams and questions written just for study materials to give you extra practice.

Learn more about NCEES exam prep materials.

Scoring and reporting

Exam results are typically released to the licensing boards 8–10 weeks after the exam. However, with the new computer-based exam, you should receive your results in 7–10 days. Depending on your state, you will be notified of your exam results online through your MyNCEES account or via postal mail from your state licensing board.

Learn more about the surveying exam scoring process.

Pass rates

The pass rates below are from the April 2016 exam administration.

ExamFirst-time takers Repeat takers  
VolumePass RateVolumePass Rate
PS Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS)25872%12638%