We all know that we get a scheduled break during the FE Exam, but what does this mean, and how can it make or break our exam performance…let’s dive in to it.
There are always a lot of questions coming our way about the format of the FE Exam.
From foundational questions like wondering how many questions are on the exam, or what subjects are covered for each FE Exam specification, or whether or not the FE Exam is offered year round…they come at us in all shapes and sizes.
But it’s the “in the details” kind of questions that can make or break your experience on the FE Exam.
For example, we all know that we get to take a breather during the exam, at some point…but what’s this mean?
Does it mean we take a break whenever we want?
Do we take it after we complete a certain portion of the FE Exam?
Maybe it happens at noon on the day of the exam?
Maybe it happens when I smell the aroma of Folgers coming from the administrative lounge?
It can become confusing real quick due to the potential variations that revolve around a scheduled break.
Let’s clear it up.
A common question that penetrates the doors here at the Prepineer headquarters is this:
How does the scheduled break work while taking the FE Exam?
I can understand wanting to know the logistics behind this scheduled break, because for me, that break was a savior for my sanity on both the FE Exam and the PE Exam.
However, how this scheduled break is designed and implemented has changed over the years…staying up to date on these changes is critical, otherwise, we could find ourselves in a pinch come exam day…we don’t need this…we are already required to understand the Bernoulli Equation!
So what is this Scheduled Break during the FE Exam all About?
The NCEES does a decent job in providing a high level overview of what the FE Exam’s scheduled break looks like in this video:
However, we see some gaps that can be filled in to allow you an opportunity to fully prepare yourself strategically to perform within the boundaries and allotted time you are given come exam day.
This is where experience comes in to play.
Let us share…
Generally speaking, as the video states, you get a break somewhere around the 55 question mark.
For some, this scheduled break may come after question 53 while others it may come after question 56…but generally speaking, it’s somewhere around the 55 question mark.
One of our recent students told us that his scheduled break came after 54 questions, which left him with 56 questions to complete in the second half of the 110 question FE Exam.
At whatever point your scheduled break falls, you will be met with an automated queue that will pop up and let you know that you’re at the “halfway point” of the exam.
You will be presented a list view of all the questions you have covered up to that point and whether or not you answered them, passed on them, or flagged them.
You can click on any of the questions to go back and review, edit, or complete.
When this scheduled break prompt is displayed, you can take the break whenever you want. You could take it at 90 minutes or 120 minutes, pretty much whenever you want…it’s your call, but…
Just know, you won’t be able to roll in to the second half of the exam until the first set of questions are submitted, hence the importance for strategic time management.
Once you submit the first set of questions, you can take the break…but it’s important to reiterate and note that you cannot go back to those questions.
After your FE Exam scheduled break is done, it’s done…and you will rally in to the second set of questions for the remainder of the time that you have.
The second set of questions are typically a deeper dive in to the engineering discipline specific subjects of Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, or whatever your specialty is.
So make sure I finish the first half with half my time left to go?
The general strategy is to devote more time to the section that you feel will be harder for you…this awareness starts in the day to day of your FE Exam studies.
For the typical student, and as a general starting point for developing your own strategy, the first set of questions will be easier due to them being a higher level overview of the general engineering concepts that span across all disciplines…so aim to take 2 hours 20 minutes to get through them…max.
This will leave you 3 hours for the second half.
Setting the time limit for the first half of questions at 2 hours and 20 minutes may seem a bit daunting, leaving you about 2.5 minutes per problem.
You will see though, that this will be plenty of time to answer every question, review them as necessary, and go back to the flagged items as much as you need.
Having a tight grip on balancing this line of performance between the first and second half of the exam will make or break your score…so know from day 1 what you will be doing the minute that timer starts to tick.
Many go in to the exam knowing nothing about this scheduled break, or how it works.
They may know that they get a break at some point, but might not realize the logistics behind what happens at the time of that break.
If you were planning on going through all 110 questions quickly, answering the ones you know, flagging those you don’t, and then going back to them…legit strategy, but now you know, that strategy won’t be possible.
Don’t let your strategy blow up on exam day, know the “details”…one being, the logistics around this scheduled break.
Now that you are enlightened on how the FE Exam Scheduled break really works, you can rally an equally powerful strategy from here…and that’s what we desire you do.
Grind On my friends! 🙂