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.
The PE Civil exam is an 8-hour exam with 80 questions. It is administered in pencil-and-paper format twice per year in April and October. See the exam schedule for specific dates.
Prepare for your exam by
- Reviewing the PE exam specifications and design standards
- Reading the reference materials and examinee guide
- Understanding scoring and reporting
- Viewing the most up-to-date PE exam pass rates
Familiarize yourself with your state licensing board’s unique registration procedures before registering for a PE exam. Special 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. This means that examinees work the breadth section in the morning and one of the five depth modules in the afternoon. The breadth section contains questions from all five areas of civil engineering. The depth section focuses 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 the exam administration. Updates for the April exams are posted in November, and updates for the October exams are posted in May. The information below contains design standards for the October 2020 and April 2021 exams.
- Civil: Construction (PDF; with design standards)
- Civil: Geotechnical (PDF; with updated design standards)
- Civil: Structural (PDF; with design standards)
- Civil: Transportation (PDF; with updated design standards)
- Civil: Water Resources and Environmental (PDF)
When registering for the PE Civil exam, you will be asked to select an afternoon module. Your answer sheet will be scored based on the module that you selected during registration.
The cost to take the PE exam varies from state to state (or foreign location). Depending on where you register, fees may be paid directly to NCEES, a state licensing board, or a designee of the board. Visit the engineering licensure section, and select your exam location for more information about your registration fees and payees. You may be prompted to contact your state licensing board (or foreign entity) directly.
Reference materials and exam prep
This pencil-and-paper exam is an open-book exam. You are allowed to bring bound reference materials, but they must remain bound during the exam. Loose paper may be bound with
- ring binders,
- plastic snap binders,
- spiral-bound notebooks,
- or screw posts.
No staples will be permitted. Sticky notes and flags are permitted only when attached to bound materials. More information is available in the NCEES Examinee Guide.
NCEES offers practice exams to familiarize you with the exam format and content. 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.
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
Results for this exam are generally released to the licensing boards 8–10 weeks after the exam administration. 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 exam scoring process.