The Fundamentals of Engineering Exam

The Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE Exam) allow you to qualify to take the Patent Bar Exam under "Category C." The FE Exam is developed and administered by the State Board of Engineering Examiners in each state.

The FE Exam is eight hours long and is broken down into two four-hour sessions. The FE exam goes from 8:00 am to 5:00 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break at noon, and is normally held on a Saturday.

The morning session consists of 120 multiple-choice questions based on general engineering fundamentals. Morning questions are taken from material that is learned in the first two years of a curriculum accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

The afternoon session of the test varies, according to specific disciplines. The six disciplines that can be chosen are General Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Afternoon session questions are taken from material learned in the last two years of an ABET curriculum.

Applicants can generally take the FE Exam anytime during (or after) your junior year of an ABET-accredited engineering or engineering technology curriculum. If your curriculum is not ABET-approved, then your state may require a number of years of engineering experience.

Exam Scoring

A maximum score of 240 points is possible on the Exam -- 120 points in the morning session and 120 points in the afternoon session. About 70 of the total 240 points are experimental questions (like the “beta test” questions on the Patent Bar Exam) that are not counted in your grade.

Exams are scored by a computer scanner; therefore there is no partial credit available. Only correct answers count for you; incorrect answers do not count against you. Therefore, there is no penalty for guessing, so applicants should not leave any answers blank. Completed Exams are sent to the NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) for scoring. The NCEES recommends a cutoff score to the state boards, which usually equals a raw score of 50% and may change slightly with each Exam. Depending on the state, the score received will either be a raw score or a "standardized" score where a 70% corresponds to a raw score of 50%. The Exam scores are not curved.

Exam results will be mailed to applicants approximately 4 - 5 months after the Exam. Unsuccessful applicants can take the exam again in most cases. However, some states limit the number of attempts. Start with the NCEES site for more details.

More detailed information on the Patent Bar Requirements.


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