If you have passed the FE exam, you might be interested in taking the PE Civil exam also. After all, who doesn’t want to attain the label of a professional engineer?
But did you know that the previous pencil-and-paper exam transitioned to a computer-based exam? Yes, it is an actuality, and this took place in the year 2014.
So, what differences arose as a result of this transition? Let’s find out in this article. This is important for you, especially if you are planning to take the PE exam in the future.
Paper-Based vs. Computer-Based PE Exam
To shed some light on the “old” PE exam, the typical procedure is as follows: you will arrive at the test center with a large group of other test takers. The concerned administrator would hand you a booklet of questions and a scantron sheet for answering the questions. After this, the sheet was supposed to be handed back to the administrator.
However, with the implementation of the CBT PE exam, things have changed. Rather than you taking the test on a scantron sheet, the administrator will log you into your designated computer. This gadget will have all the test questions, the reference material, and all the relevant codes you will need. Additionally, you will be provided with scratch paper, empowering you to perform any sort of calculation required on it.
The differences between the two formats of the PE exam are numerous. However, if you are planning to appear for this examination, you need to understand its deeper details.
All you should know about the currently implemented format of the CBT PE Exam
After going through these differences, you are likely to get more clarity. So, stay tuned!
- The specifications remained the same
Many people assumed that because the format had changed from paper-based to computer-based, the specifications would have changed as well. However, it is certainly not the case!
Since the last change that happened way back in 2015, no further change has taken place. In other words, the content that needs to be covered to pass the PE exam remains the same as in the “old” format, which is irrespective of your discipline.
- It is no longer an open book.
Previously, the candidates were given the leverage of carrying their own reference materials to the exam center. Consequently, you would see many with a plethora of books. This no longer happens, all thanks to the transition that happened.
While you give the CBT PE exam, you will have the reference handbook developed by NCEES. This is accompanied by the codes and standards associated with your depth section in that particular section. All of them can be accessed through your system and are available as searchable PDFs.
Furthermore, the NCEES handbooks are completely free for you, and you can download them by simply logging into your NCEES account.
- A different exam for every examinee
Previously, in a paper-based exam, every examiner had to answer the same set of questions. In other words, they were exactly the same for every candidate. However, with the exam transitioning, the LOFT algorithm came into effect. So, what was the end result?
This meant that every candidate would have different questions picked up from NCEE’s database. So if the thoughts of peeping into your neighbor’s screen just come into your mind when giving the PE exam, remember it won’t turn out fruitful.
- Break time won’t happen simultaneously
During the time of the paper-based exam, the scheduled 50-minute break would start simultaneously for every test taker. Once again, this has changed with the introduction of the CBT format.
While the duration of 50 minutes remains the same, it is offered to you only once you have finished your quota of half the questions. In other words, out of 80 questions, you need to answer 40 questions to be eligible for a break.
- Can give year-round
If you did not pass the first time, you had to wait six months before trying again. Today, the computer-based PE exam is provided every quarter for many engineering disciplines. However, for some disciplines, the exam is still offered on a single day of the year.
You must be aware of this fact, which is per the new CBT format: you can take the PE civil exam in any quarter of your choice, but you can take it three times in a period of 12 months. This means that if you are somehow unable to pass the exam, you will essentially need to wait 12 months after the first quarter you sat for this test.
Let’s understand this fact through an example that will give you additional clarity. You supposedly took the exam in the first three quarters of any given year and failed all three times. If this happens, you will not be able to register for the exam taking place in the fourth quarter of the same year. You must wait until the following year to register for the exam, which will be held in the first quarter.
- Give the test at Pearson Vue Test Centers
In the past, during the paper-based format, there were only a handful of test locations. You’d also need to figure out travel logistics for going far, and sometimes to different states.
Luckily, the problem of reaching farther places is over now with the CBT exam coming into existence. Now, there are many Pearson Vue test centers available, making the overall process quite convenient for you.
- You get faster results
You would have to wait approximately 10 weeks to expect the results in the “old” exam format. Not the case anymore! Since the implementation of the CBT exam, results have been delivered in 7-10 days.
- No changes in the scores
Being a binary test, you will either pass or fail the PE exam. The change in format didn’t change the scoring system.
If you wish to pass the PE exam, don’t just rely on the NCEES material. Rather, you would need additional assistance! You can connect with the Civil Engineering Academy for all your PE needs.