NCEES exams transition to computer-based testing (CBT)
NCEES began the process of transitioning exams to computer-based testing (CBT) in 2011. CBT offers many benefits, such as enhanced security for exam content and more uniformity in testing conditions. For most exams, it also provides greater scheduling flexibility.
All CBT exams are offered at approved Pearson VUE test centers. For more information on registering for a CBT exam, download the NCEES Examinee Guide and watch a video series about the exam-day experience.
Onscreen line tool
With the transition to computer-based testing for all PE Mechanical exams beginning April 1, 2020, NCEES has developed a new onscreen line tool to aid in reading charts and graphs.
Alternative item types
CBT exams include traditional multiple-choice questions as well as alternative item types (AITs). AITs provide opportunities to assess the technical knowledge of examinees using methods not available through pencil-and-paper testing.
All questions, including AITs, are scored as either correct or incorrect. There is no partial credit. AITs include but are not limited to the following:
- Multiple correct—allow examinees to select multiple answers
- Point and click—require examinees to click on part of a graphic to answer
- Drag and drop—require examinees to click on and drag items to match, sort, rank, or label
- Fill in the blank—provide a space for examinees to enter a response to the question
Year-round vs. single-day exams
Some CBT exams are administered year-round. NCEES constructs these exams using a linear-on-the-fly (LOFT) algorithm. This means that all examinees for a particular exam are required to answer the same number of questions in the same topics; however, no examinees will have the same set of questions. The algorithm will assemble a unique exam within the same specification framework (i.e., the same number of questions per topic area) and the same relative level of difficulty.
Other CBT exams that have a smaller examinee population use a different high-stakes testing model and are administered on a single day each year. All examinees taking these exams receive the same questions.
The question formats used on both types of exams are the same, independent of the statistical model employed.
NCEES has successfully converted, or is in the process of converting, the following exams to a computer-based format. They are no longer offered in pencil-and-paper format.
|2014||FE exam (all disciplines)||Year round|
|2014||FS exam||Year round|
|2017||PS exam||Year round|
|2018||PE Chemical||Year round|
|2018||PE Nuclear||Single day (see date)|
|2019||PE Petroleum||Single day (see date)|
|2019||PE Environmental||Year round|
|2020||PE Fire Protection||Single day (see date)|
|2020||PE Industrial and Systems||Single day (see date)|
|2020||PE Mechanical: HVAC and Refrigeration||Year round|
|2020||PE Mechanical: Machine Design and Materials||Year round|
|2020||PE Mechanical: Thermal and Fluid Systems||Year round|
|2020||PE Electrical and Computer: Power||Year round (beginning December 2020)|
|2021||PE Electrical and Computer: Computer Engineering||Single day (see date)|
|2021||PE Electrical and Computer: Electronics, Controls, and Communications||Single day (see date)|
All other NCEES exams are currently in the conversion process and scheduled to launch in computer-based format between now and 2024. They are currently offered in pencil-and-paper format and available once or twice per year depending on the exam. See the current pencil-and-paper exam schedule.
The following conversion schedule is tentative. Official notification and details related to each exam will be provided 12 months in advance.
|2021||PE Agricultural and Biological||Single day (date TBD)|
|2021||PE Mining and Mineral Processing||Single day (date TBD)|
|2022||PE Architectural||Single day (date TBD)|
|2022||PE Control Systems||Single day (date TBD)|
|2022||PE Metallurgical and Materials||Single day (date TBD)|
|2022||PE Naval Architecture and Marine||Single day (date TBD)|
|2022||PE Civil: Construction||Year round|
|2022||PE Civil: Geotechnical||Year round|
|2022||PE Civil: Structural||Year round|
|2022||PE Civil: Transportation||Year round|
|2022||PE Civil: Water Resources and Environmental||Year round|
|2024||Structural exam (SE)||TBD|
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