The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) recently announced that the Electrical & Computer Professional Engineering (PE) examinations will transition to computer-based testing (CBT) beginning in early 2021. This is part of a larger effort within NCESS to convert all of the exams it administers to CBT by 2024. The primary reasons for this change are to enhance exam security, create more uniform testing environments, and provide greater scheduling flexibility for candidates taking certain high-volume exams. This transition will present examinees with a significantly different exam-day experience, relative to the current paper-and-pencil administration:
- CBT examinations will occur at a Pearson VUE test center, at a location of the candidate’s choice.
- Paper-and-pencil exams are currently offered twice a year, on single days in April and October. The CBT version of the Electrical & Computer PE exam will be offered on a single day each year for examinees taking the Computer Engineering and Electronics, Controls, and Communications exam modules. The Power exam module, a high-volume exam, will be offered on a year-round basis.
- The Computer Engineering and Electronics, Controls, and Communications exam modules remain in a linear fixed format (i.e., all examinees see the same set of questions), as is the case with the current paper-and-pencil test. The Power exam module will change to a linear on-the-fly format where each examinee will receive a unique set of questions which have been selected by an algorithm that ensures that each examinee’s question set covers the same test specifications and is of the same difficulty.
- Candidates currently bring their own set of references with them when they take the paper-and-pencil exam. Under CBT administration, all reference material will reside on the computer at the test station – no external references may be brought into the test center.
In preparation for this transition, the NCEES Electrical & Computer PE Examination Committee, whose volunteers are largely IEEE-USA members, has begun drafting the necessary supplied reference materials to support the new format. A first edition of this supplied reference will be available via download from the NCEES website later this year. Availability will be announced in IEEE-USA InSight.
More information on computer-based PE examinations may be found on the NCEES website.
Michael Behnke, P.E., is a member of the IEEE-USA Licensure & Registration Committee, and serves on both the NCEES Electrical & Computer PE Exam and FE Exam Committees.