The FE, and (future) computer based PE exam, are getting some new question types!
The FE introduces new question types July 1, 2017, so don't go taking this exam without knowing what you are getting yourself into.
Gone are the days of simple multiple choice questions. The NCEES has now upped it's game with the introduction of "Alternative Type Items." or the fancy new acronym of AIT's.
What are these AIT's and how do they affect you? We'll that's exacltly what we want to cover for you today. This will affect no only the current computer based FE exam, but it will affect the future PE exam as well when that goes CBT or computer based testing (don't you love all the acronyms?).
Let's dive into what exactly these are and what you need to do to be prepare for them.
AIT's are new question types that have been introduce to the FE exam as of July 1, 2017. Questions now include:
1) Multiple correct answers allowing you to select multiple answers
2) Point and click—requires examinees to click on part of a graphic to answer
3) Drag and drop—requires examinees to click on and drag items to match, sort, rank, or label
4) Fill in the blank—provides a space for examinees to enter a response to the question
If this sounds confusing then please review the video produced by the NCEES organization on what I've just mentioned. It will clear it right up.
Major Difference From Multiple Choice
I'm going to be honest here. I know that these new problem types are meant to challenge you to think differently and answer differently than you are use to, and that's fine, but I really think that there is only one major difference with these new types and that is this....
FILL IN THE BLANK
Let's start with that. The fill in the blank option seems to be the biggest game changer. You either know it or you don't. Simple as that. No real educated guess or anything. Now there is no chance of getting it right by 25% because you only have 4 answers to choose from. You either got it or not.
With that in mind, let's look at the other options in a little more detail and see what they could throw at you.
This is easy. You have an option of 4 answers and you select which ones are correct. This was the same as a multiple choice answer with different variations of the items listed in A through D. So, if you are studied up you can get these ones, no problem.
Point and Click
This one is also pretty cool and different. They will most likely give you a chart or graph of some sort and you have to select the correct value or value(s) on the chart. It's a neat way of asking the problem and I'd rank it as the second most unique way of asking the problem.
But still, you shouldn't get your tights in a wad over this one. Yes, if this was a multiple-choice (MC) question you would automatically be able to see where they are pulling their information from on the chart, and that probably gives you an advantage, but I don't see this one as a serious setback for you. Maybe I'm wrong. Let me know if I am 🙂
Drag and Drop
For this you are dragging items into their correct location. This could be a chemical balance equation that you have to select what numbers go where or it could be choosing items of a waste water treatement plant and you have to know the order of items. It could be anything.
If it was a MC problem though, you'd still have to know the order of things so I don't see this as a major game changer either.
Good Old Multiple Choice (MC)
There's also the good old MC questions. With these you get a 1 in 4 chance of getting it right. You are very familiar with these so I won't go into detail. I'll just say this....if you have to guess, guess B 🙂
Questions Surrounding AIT
There are questions surrounding the AIT's that we need to discuss.
1) Is there going to be partial credit on the exam now?
2) Is the pass or failure rate going to drastically change?
3) When will this hit the PE exam?
These are all great questions. So let's answer them.
1 )The FE AIT type questions have to be right. All of them. You do not get partial credit, you do not collect $100, you receive nothing.
I know. But that's just the way it is. Many engineers want partial credit for things, but the NCEES doesn't work like that. You either get it or not.
Don't be too worried about that though, check out the FE review course we made for you and you'll be prepared to ace it. Check that out here!
The pass rates on the FE will probably dip. We won't know the official numbers until the NCEES publishes their reports on results for the year, but I imagine that they will come down some.
3) This will hit the PE exam when it goes to the computer based testing type. The NCEES is trying to get that out in 2018 so look out for that if you are gearing up for the PE exam.
The NCEES is dymanic. They will change the exams all the time so just get use to it. While the cocepts and the questions don't really change, the way they ask them and administer them does.
Don't let these new AIT question types scare you. Just study hard, practice a ton of problems, and you'll be fine.
Let us know how we can help you! We have a great practice exam and we have a course we are preparing for people to take and pass the FE.
Good luck to those taking it and please let me know how these questions affect your test taking!