Post PE Exam: What to Expect

After months and months of studying, you finally took your PE exam. Whether you felt awesome or just not sure after the exam, you’ll have to do a bit of waiting before you find out your score and next steps towards licensure. There are some important differences between the computer-based exams and pencil-and-paper exams when it comes to the waiting period, scoring procedures, and next steps after you pass or fail.

Computer-based exams

Typically, results for computer-based exams are determined much faster than pencil-and-paper exams; they are usually available seven to 10 days after you take the exam. An email will be sent out with instructions to view your results. Your exam results are reported as pass or fail, with your score being based on the number of correct answers you selected. The good news is your score is not affected by incorrect answers. After the number of correct answers are tallied, your score is then converted to a scaled score, this adjusts for any minor differences in difficulty across the different exam forms. Your scaled score represents your ability level and is compared to the minimum ability level for that particular exam. Since every exam differs, there is no predetermined passing score.

Pencil-and-paper exams

A majority of the PE exams are pencil-and-paper exams. The results of these\ exams typically take about eight to 10 weeks to be sent out, depending on the licensing board you selected during the registration process. The process for scoring and releasing results for pencil-and-paper exams are similar to computer-based tests (CBT) in many ways. However, there are also some key differences. You should receive an email with instructions for viewing your results, which will be reported as pass or fail, and you are not penalized for incorrect answers.

Unlike CBTs, there is a rigorous process for scoring exams. Each exam undergoes extensive statistical analysis to determine the minimum level of performance required for a passing score. All answer sheets are scanned and a psychometric analysis is performed on a sample of answer sheets to identify any questions with unusual statistics. These questions are then flagged for review by licensed engineers or surveyors. They also take into consideration examinee comments about specific exam questions. If there is an error in a question, credit may be given for more than one answer. When all of the reviews are complete, the answer keys are changed as necessary, and it is time for exam scoring. Answer sheets are typically machine-graded, but there is a percentage of answer sheets that are manually scored and compared to the machine score to ensure accuracy. For a fee, you may request that your exam be manually verified.

If you pass your exam, congratulations! The next steps you should be taking after passing the exam are highlighted in our blog post here.

If you do not pass your exam, don’t be discouraged! For CBTs, NCEES policy allows examinees to attempt an exam one time per testing window and no more than three times in a 12-month period. For pencil-and-paper exams, the number of times you are allowed to take an exam varies by licensing board. View the policy of your specific licensing board here. In the email you receive with your test results, you will also receive a diagnostic report showing your performance for each of the major topics covered on the exam. The next time you take the exam, you’ll be able to crush those hard topics!

If you’re in the waiting period to get your PE exam results, take a deep breath! You’ve studied and gave the exam your best. Whether you pass or fail, you’re now equipped with your next steps to go forth and crush it.


View our Career Center View