The Most Difficult PE Exam, Ranked

Choose the PE Exam you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Jul 25, 2024 06:31
The journey to becoming a licensed professional engineer is marked by the rigorous Professional Engineer (PE) Exam, whose levels of difficulty can vary widely across different disciplines. Understanding which exams pose the greatest challenges can aid aspiring engineers in preparation and mindset. It's beneficial to have insights into the relative difficulties, as told by those who have firsthand experience. On this site, each user's vote contributes to live rankings, painting a clearer picture of the exam landscape. Your participation not only guides others in their preparation journey but also helps in reflecting the current state of these exams. Cast your vote today and help influence a resourceful tool for future engineers.

What Is the Most Difficult PE Exam?

  1. 1

    Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Electrical and Computer: Power

    Known for its extensive breadth and depth of topics in electrical engineering, specifically in power systems.
    • Focus Area: Electrical Power Systems
    • Difficulty: High due to complex calculations and broad subject matter
  2. 2

    Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Mechanical: HVAC and Refrigeration

    This exam tests knowledge in HVAC systems, requiring a vast understanding of thermal and fluids systems.
    • Focus Area: HVAC and Refrigeration Systems
    • Difficulty: High, with a wide range of topics and complex problem-solving required
  3. 3

    Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Civil: Structural

    Covers a wide range of topics in structural engineering, demanding a deep understanding of structural analysis and design.
    • Focus Area: Structural Engineering
    • Difficulty: High due to the requirement of mastering multiple complex topics
  4. 4

    Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Environmental

    Tests knowledge on environmental engineering topics, known for its wide scope including water quality, air quality, and solid waste management.
    • Focus Area: Environmental Engineering
    • Difficulty: Moderate to High, due to the broad range of environmental topics
  5. 5

    Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Naval Architecture and Marine

    Covers naval architecture and marine engineering, including ship design, marine systems, and ocean engineering.
    • Focus Area: Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering
    • Difficulty: Moderate, due to its specialized nature and the breadth of marine engineering topics
  6. 6

    Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Chemical

    Involves a comprehensive range of chemical engineering principles, making it challenging for its breadth of topics.
    • Focus Area: Chemical Engineering
    • Difficulty: High due to the wide variety of chemical engineering principles covered
  7. 7

    Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Civil: Geotechnical

    Focuses on geotechnical engineering, including soil mechanics, foundation engineering, and earth structures.
    • Focus Area: Geotechnical Engineering
    • Difficulty: Moderate, with specific focus on soil and foundation engineering
  8. 8

    Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Civil: Transportation

    Covers a broad spectrum of transportation engineering, including planning, design, operations, and traffic engineering.
    • Focus Area: Transportation Engineering
    • Difficulty: Moderate, due to the diverse topics in transportation engineering
  9. 9

    Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Fire Protection

    Specializes in fire protection engineering, involving the application of science and engineering principles to protect people and environments from fire and smoke.
    • Focus Area: Fire Protection Engineering
    • Difficulty: Moderate, unique for its specialized focus on fire safety
  10. 10

    Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Civil: Water Resources and Environmental

    Focuses on water resources and environmental topics within civil engineering, requiring a broad knowledge in hydraulics, hydrology, and environmental science.
    • Focus Area: Water Resources and Environmental
    • Difficulty: Moderate to High, with a wide range of topics to cover

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult PE Exam. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or exam is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


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More about the Most Difficult PE Exam

The Professional Engineer (PE) Exam tests the knowledge and skills of engineers. It is a key step in becoming a licensed professional engineer. The exam covers many engineering disciplines, each with its own set of challenges. Some exams are known to be more difficult than others. This depends on the complexity of the subject matter and the depth of knowledge required.

The PE Exam is an eight-hour test. It consists of two four-hour sessions. The morning session has multiple-choice questions. The afternoon session may have more multiple-choice questions or essay-type questions, depending on the discipline. The exam tests both breadth and depth of knowledge. The morning session usually covers a broad range of topics. The afternoon session focuses on a specific area within the discipline.

Preparation for the PE Exam requires a significant time commitment. Many candidates spend months studying. They review textbooks, take practice exams, and attend review courses. Some even form study groups to share knowledge and resources. The goal is to master both the fundamental principles and the specific details of the discipline.

The difficulty of the PE Exam varies by discipline. Some disciplines require a deep understanding of complex math and physics. Others may focus more on practical applications and design principles. The key to success is a thorough understanding of the subject matter and the ability to apply it to real-world problems.

The pass rates for the PE Exam also vary by discipline. Some disciplines have higher pass rates, while others are notoriously difficult. The pass rate can be influenced by many factors, including the candidate's education, experience, and preparation. Candidates with a strong educational background and relevant work experience tend to perform better on the exam.

The PE Exam is a rigorous test of an engineer's knowledge and skills. It requires a deep understanding of both fundamental principles and specific details. Candidates must be well-prepared and confident in their abilities to succeed. Those who pass the exam earn the title of Professional Engineer, a mark of distinction in the engineering field.

The PE Exam is a challenging but important step in an engineer's career. It tests both the breadth and depth of an engineer's knowledge. Candidates must be well-prepared and dedicated to succeed. The reward is a valuable credential that can open doors to new opportunities and career advancement.

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