What you can Bring with you to the PE Exam

The pencil-and-paper professional engineering exam is usually the first time engineers have sat for an exam in more than four years. If you’re having flashbacks to cumulative final exams in college or the SATs, we can understand if the thought of taking the PE exam gives you heart palpitations. However, you can breathe a little easier knowing it’s multiple choice AND it’s open book. But before you collect all the engineering notes and books you can think of instead of studying for the exam, there are some guidelines you must adhere to when choosing reference materials and other items into the exam.

Approved reference materials

Thankfully, the professional engineering exam is open book. However, that doesn’t just mean you can pile up a bunch of books and notes and roll into the exam room. Instead, you must have your reference materials approved on the day of the exam by the test administrator. To ensure your materials are usable for the exam, follow these guidelines:

  • No loose papers or pages
  • Any notes taken on looseleaf paper must be bound in:
    • Three ring binder
    • Brads
    • Plastic snap binder
    • Screw posts
  • Notes in a composition notebook or spiral notebook are permitted
  • Pages must not be stapled together
  • Sticky notes or flags are accepted only if attached to bound materials
  • Any reference materials glued or stitched together, such as books, are permitted

As long as you don’t have any loose papers floating around, you will be OK. Keep in mind that during the exam, you may not rip out any pages or remove any sticky notes and doing so may result in immediate dismissal from the exam. If you have any questions, fill out on a contact form on the New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers website.

Other accepted items

To keep the testing environment as fair and free from cheating as possible, there are very strict rules on what is allowed into the exam room. Unless you have a disability or pre-discussed special circumstance, there are no exceptions to the rules. The only approved items are:

  • Your ID
  • Exam authorization letter
  • One of the following calculators
    • Casio fx-115 and fx-991
    • HP 33s and HP 35s
    • TI-30X and TI-36X
  • Wristwatches
  • Small clocks
  • Reference materials
  • Eyeglasses (but not the case)
  • Earplugs
  • Two of the following straightedges
    • Ruler
    • Protractor
    • Triangle
    • Scale
  • Handheld magnifying glass
  • Snacks
  • Nonalcoholic drinks

We aren’t kidding when we say this list is strict. Not even pencils, pens, or notepads are allowed in the room. If you need something else and require special accommodations, please contact the New Jersey board prior to the exam.

Remember, the PE exam is a very important step in any engineer’s career, which is why the rules are so strict. However, as long as you adhere to the guidelines provided above, it’ll be smooth sailing, and you can focus on crushing the exam. Need anymore PE exam advice from your friends at the New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers? Let us know! Contact us online or email us at info@njspe.org.


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