PE Results Survey
for the Machine Design & Materials P.E. Exam

by Justin Kauwale, P.E.

Introduction

After every PE exam, I conduct an online survey with as many PE exam test takers that I can find. I primarily use my website, Engineering Pro Guides and Engineer Boards to find test takers to take the survey. The survey provides insight into an estimated passing score, how well test takers do based on experience and number of hours studied, which areas of the exam are difficult or easy. The raw results of the survey are shown on the link below. This link shows a summary of the results without any pivot chart analysis.

Number of Test Takers vs. Number of Survey Results


The survey is only as good as the number of test takers that take the survey. According to the NCEES website, there were 553 first time takers and 134 repeat takers, with a total of 687 Machine Design & Materials PE Exam test takers on October 2017. The survey had 28 responses or 4.1% of the total test takers. As you go through the results of the survey, please remember that only a small percentage of the test takers took the survey so you should be careful when assigning authority to the results of the survey.


Pass Rates on Survey vs. NCEES


The pass rates on the survey indicate that 71.4% people surveyed passed the exam and 28.6% failed the exam. The NCEES website indicates that 75% of first time test takers passed the exam and 45% of repeat test takers passed the exam. The overall NCEES reported pass rate was 69.1%.


Estimated Cut Score


The estimated cut score is determined by the highest fail score reported on the survey or on the Engineer Boards forum. The highest fail score was 49. This means that the possible passing score was 50. However, based on previous experience, the highest fail score reported was 56.

Machine Survey Cutscore

Pass Rates vs. Years of Experience


The following graph shows the relationship between passing/failing and the number of years of experience. The number of failing test takers seems be independent of the number of years of experience. The difference between the number of passing and failing test takers seems to be independent of the number of years of experience. There is just not enough data to draw any conclusions based on years of experience.

Machine Survey Experience

Pass Rates vs. Hours Studied


The following graph shows the relationship between passing/failing and the number of study hours. Based on this graph, the number of failing test takers goes down as you study more, which seems obvious. However, there seems to be a sweet spot at the 201 to 300 hours of studying. At this level, there is the biggest separation between passing and failing test takers. The number of passing test takers peaks at the 201 to 300 level goes down after this point.

Machine Survey Hours

Weak Areas


On the survey, each person was asked to choose three of their least confident topics. This question provides insight into which of the topics proves to be the most difficult for people. On the survey, test takers struggled with Vibration and Support Knowledge. The best insight to take from this information is that if you struggle in these areas, then you should not be too worried, because others struggled and still passed. However, if you want to set yourself apart from the other test takers then you should study these areas more diligently. Especially since these topics have a high amount of problems on the exam.

Machine Survey Weak

Strong Areas


On the survey, each person was asked to choose three of their most confident topics. This question provides insight into which of the topics proves to be the easiest for people. On the survey, test takers did well in all topics except for Vibration and Supportive Knowledge. The best insight to take from this information is that if you struggle in any of the areas besides Vibration and Supportive Knowledge, then you SHOULD be worried, because people who passed did really well in these areas. You should study these areas more diligently. Especially since these topics have a high amount of problems on the exam.

Power Survey Strong

Recommended References


More insight into the recommended references can be found on the link below. This link shows all the recommended references and which topics and subtopics they apply.

Machine Survey References

Previous Survey


I do not have analysis on the previous surveys but the previous raw data can be found in this link below. The results are similar to the above but are provided in case you need more data.


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