The PE Structural exam tests for a minimum level of competency in structural engineering.

This computer-based exam, administered at Pearson VUE test centers, uses separate vertical and lateral components to test your ability to safely design buildings or bridges, especially in areas of high seismicity and high wind.

NCEES considers the Structural exam to be a Principles and Practices of Engineering exam. However, not all jurisdictions accept it as such. Examinees should check with their licensing board directly to determine whether the Structural exam is accepted as part of that jurisdiction’s licensure requirements.

Register for the exam by logging in to your MyNCEES account and following the onscreen instructions. Prepare for your 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
Exam Fees

A $350 exam fee is payable directly to NCEES for each breadth and depth section. 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 by returning to the primary PE page and choosing your location on the map.

Passing Requirements

The exam is composed of two components—vertical and lateral. Each component includes a breadth section and a depth section. Breadth and depth sections are taken separately and at different times and receive independent results. Acceptable results must be obtained on both components to pass the exam. Once acceptable results are obtained on a component, those results do not expire. Examinees who have received acceptable results on one component before the transition to computer-based testing must take and achieve acceptable results on the two sections for the remaining component only.

Testing Opportunities

The PE Structural breadth sections are administered year-round. Each PE Structural depth section is administered two times per year. Examinees may reserve their seats up to a year in advance at a Pearson VUE test center once they are registered with NCEES and approved by their board. Candidates are encouraged to reserve their seat for biannual events as early as possible.


Vertical Breadth and Lateral Breadth:
Year-round beginning April 1, 2024

Vertical Depth and Lateral Depth:
Twice per year; next test dates:
Vertical Depth
October 9, 2024 and April 15, 2025
Lateral Depth
October 10, 2024 and April 16, 2025

Exam Format

All exams include a limited number of pretest items that will not be scored and will not have an impact on your results. This is common practice within high-stakes testing and allows NCEES to evaluate the pretest items for potential use in future exams. These items are randomly placed within the exam and are not identifiable as pretest items.

Breadth sections
Breadth section exams contain 55 questions—45 scored and 10 pretest. The exam appointment time is 6 hours and includes:

  • Nondisclosure agreement (2 minutes)
  • Tutorial (8 minutes)
  • Exam (5.5 hours)
  • Scheduled break (20 minutes)

All exam questions are multiple-choice, single-response items graded by computer. Content includes both buildings and bridges.

Depth sections
Depth section exams contain 60 questions—40 scored and 20 pretest. The exam appointment time is 5.5 hours and includes:

  • Nondisclosure agreement (2 minutes)
  • Tutorial (8 minutes)
  • Exam (5 hours)
  • Scheduled break (20 minutes)

Each depth section includes five scenarios. Four of the scenarios contain 12 items—10 scored and 2 pretest. The remaining scenario includes 12 pretest items to develop the exam bank.

Depth sections are offered in two areas—buildings and bridges. Examinees must select and pass the same depth area (buildings or bridges) for each component. Depth questions are graded via computer and include only alternative item types (AITs).

Learn more at the NCEES YouTube channel.

Exam Specifications and Design Standards

For details on the format and length of the exam, the topics covered, and applicable design standards, review the exam specifications. Changes to PE exam specifications and design standards are posted 6 months before their effective date. Exam specifications change once every 6–8 years. Design standards change more frequently.

Exam Resources

Exam Prep Materials

NCEES will provide an electronic reference handbook and all specified design standards during the exam. This handbook and the standards listed on the exam specifications are the only reference materials that can be used during the exam. You will not be allowed to bring personal copies of any material into the exam room. Register or log in to MyNCEES to access a copy of the handbook.

NCEES does not sell printed copies of the handbook or provide design standards. Design standards are available through the publisher, typically as both an electronic and printed copy.

The handbook and the design standards used on the exam are searchable PDF files with linked chapters for easy navigation. Learn more about how to search the handbook and design standards with our YouTube video.

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.

Prep materials for the Structural exam can be found within the NCEES portal.

Reasonable Accommodations

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

Scoring & Pass Rates

Results for the breath sections for both components will be available in 7–10 days. Initially, results for the depth sections will require standard setting evaluations and be available in 10–13 weeks. Once the item bank is sufficiently populated, results will be available in 7–10 days.

Structural Exam Pass Rates

The PE Structural Exam is being transitioned to computer-based testing. The PE Structural breadth sections are administered year-round. Each PE Structural depth section is administered two times per year. The following results represent the pass rates for the October 2023 paper-and-pencil administration.

ExamFirst-Time VolumeFirst-Time Pass RateRepeat VolumeRepeat Pass RateFormatAvailabilityLast Updated
Lateral Forces Bridges3429%4719%P&PTwice per yearJan 2024
Lateral Forces Buildings27039%30948%P&PTwice per yearJan 2024
Vertical Forces Bridges3155%3330%P&PTwice per yearJan 2024
Vertical Forces Buildings23526%23725%P&PTwice per yearJan 2024

If you are concerned about exam misconduct or an exam security issue, there are options for contacting NCEES about this.

Exam Security Tip Line

To report any exam misconduct or an exam security issue, you may do any of the following.

  • Use the message feature in your MyNCEES account to contact NCEES Client Services.
  • Call 800-250-3196, extension 5296, to leave a message. Please provide your name, phone number, and a brief summary of why you are calling so you can be contacted by our compliance and security staff.
  • Call 800-250-3196, extension 5467, to speak to the compliance and security manager.

The information you provide is strictly confidential, and your contact information will not be shared outside the NCEES compliance and security staff.