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PE Civil exam

The Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam tests for a minimum level of competency in a particular engineering discipline. It is designed for engineers who have gained a minimum of four years’ post-college work experience in their chosen engineering discipline.

Beginning in 2022, the PE Civil exam will be computer-based and administered year-round at NCEES-approved Pearson VUE test centers.

The exam includes 80 questions. The exam appointment time is 9 hours and includes

  • Nondisclosure agreement (2 minutes)
  • Tutorial (8 minutes)
  • Exam (8 hours)
  • Scheduled break (50 minutes)

Learn more at the NCEES YouTube channel.

Register for the exam beginning November 1, 2021 by logging in to your MyNCEES account and following the onscreen instructions.  Prepare for the exam by

  • Reviewing the exam specifications, fees, and requirements
  • Reading the reference materials
  • Understanding scoring and reporting
  • Viewing the most up-to-date exam pass rates

A $375 exam fee is payable directly to NCEES. Some licensing boards may require you to file a separate application and pay an application fee as part of the approval process to qualify you for a seat for an NCEES exam. Your licensing board may have additional requirements. Familiarize yourself with your state licensing board’s unique registration procedures before registering for a PE exam.

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

Exam specifications and design standards

The PE Civil exam is a breadth and depth examination. The breadth items cover topics from all five areas of civil engineering. The depth items focus more closely on a single area of practice.

For details on the format and length of the exam, the topics covered, and applicable design standards, select your engineering discipline below to download the exam specifications. PE exam specifications and design standards are posted 6 months before their effective date. Exam specifications change once every 5–7 years. Design standards change more frequently. The information below contains design standards for 2022 exams.

The PE Civil exam includes multiple-choice questions as well as alternative item types (AITs).

Reference materials and exam prep

You will be provided with an electronic NCEES PE Civil Reference Handbook as well as all design standards specified for your chosen civil discipline during the exam. This handbook and the standards listed on the exam specifications are the only reference material that can be used during the exam. You will not be allowed to bring personal copies of any material into the exam room. For access prior to your exam, you can download a free electronic copy of the NCEES PE Civil Reference Handbook for your personal use. Register or log in to MyNCEES, and go to Dashboard/Common Tasks/Useful Documents/View reference handbooks. NCEES does not sell printed copies of the handbook, and we do not sell or provide design standards. Design standards are available through the publisher, typically as both an electronic and printed copy.

The NCEES handbook and the design standards used on the exam are searchable pdf files with linked chapters for easy navigation. Learn more about the design codes and standards library with our new YouTube video.

NCEES offers PE Civil practice exams to familiarize you with the exam format and content, including alternative item types (AITs). These practice exams contain questions that have been used on past exams and questions written just for study materials to give you extra practice.

The NCEES Examinee Guide is the official guide to policies and procedures for all NCEES exams. Download your free copy to find out more about registering for exams and what to expect on exam day.

Scoring and reporting

Computer-based exam results 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 include information specific to your licensing board regarding how you should proceed based on your performance.

Learn more about the exam scoring process.

Pass rates

View the most up-to-date pass rates for the PE exams.