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.
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|
|2018||PE Nuclear||Single-day (see date)|
|2019||PE Petroleum||Single-day (see date)|
|2020||PE Industrial and Systems||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.
|2020||PE Fire Protection||Single-day (date TBD)|
|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|
|2021||PE Agricultural and Biological||Single-day (date TBD)|
|2021||PE Electrical and Computer: Computer Engineering||Single-day (date TBD)|
|2021||PE Electrical and Computer: Electronics, Controls, and Communications||Single-day (date TBD)|
|2021||PE Electrical and Computer: Power||Year-round|
|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)|
|2023||PE Civil: Construction||Year-round|
|2023||PE Civil: Geotechnical||Year-round|
|2023||PE Civil: Structural||Year-round|
|2023||PE Civil: Transportation||Year-round|
|2023||PE Civil: Water Resources and Environmental||Year-round|
|2024||Structural exam (SE)||TBD|
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.
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 paper-based testing. 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
All questions, including AITs, are scored as either correct or incorrect. There is no partial credit.
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