The last thing one wants in an FE exam is a failed calculator. Imagine the panic! There’s also the risk of carrying an unapproved calculator and ending up not having one at all. Such circumstances jeopardize our futures and cannot be taken lightly.
Now, out of the 16 calculators that NCEES allows for FE examinations, it is vital to pick the best. Why? Because your calculator is your support system through the exam. If it doesn’t help you, you will not be able to do as well as you’d hoped. All that preparation might go to waste!
Okay, we think that’s enough scaring. Let’s get to the bottom of this by discussing which of the 16 calculators is the best. This will help you purchase the right one and ensure that you have no nightmarish memories of your examination day! But, before that, we would like to talk about the FE exam itself.
What is the FE and PE exam?
The FE or Fundamentals of Engineering exam is the first stepping stone to become a Professional Licensed Engineer or PE. It is for students who have attained or are close to attaining an undergraduate engineering degree from any program that the EAC/ABET accredits.
The 6-hour-long FE exam is computer-based and includes 110 questions. The questions may be multiple-choice or AITs (Alternative-item types), which came into the picture in 2017. There’s a 23-minute scheduled break in the middle too.
Best Calculator For FE Exam
1. HP 35s Scientific Calculator
Hewlett-Packard is one of the recurring names when we speak about electronics and gadgets for students. Its calculators are widely used in medicine, science, surveying, and engineering. This is why we are starting our list with this gem. Listed below are some of its features:
- It is apt for FE exams, SAT, ACT, AP Chemistry/Physics, PSAT/NMSQT, etc.
- It has an LCD screen.
- The adjustable contrast makes it easy to see the screen. The dot matrix and the lines make it even better.
- You can choose between an algebraic entry system or RPN based on your requirements. HP claims that this is the only scientific calculator that offers this feature.
- It has 100+ built-in functions and constants. You can use these immediately!
- The manufacturers offer a 1-year warranty.
2. Casio fx-115ES Plus Engineering/Scientific Calculator
Casio is synonymous with feasibility. Its calculators are very popular because they are functional and affordable at the same time. In fact, they are the number 1 choice for many students. We think that’s the reason why Amazon has also fallen in love with it! You can skim through its features below:
- Its display is outstanding and gives you a textbook feel. You can see results just like you see them in your textbook. This actually makes operation easy.
- It has more than 280 functions to get you started. These include complex number calculations, fractions, linear regression, statistics, base arithmetic, computer science, standard deviation, etc.
- Its multi-replay function is another feature we can’t stop praising. It lets you go back in steps and edit if there’s a mistake. Recalculations are, thus, easy and quick.
- It has 40 metric conversions.
- You can use it for all vector and matrix calculations.
- The calculator is permitted for NCEES, AP tests, ACT entrance exams, SAT, and PSAT/NMSQT.
- It works on battery and solar power. So, if the batteries run out, the sun can help you until you replace them!
3. Texas Instruments TI-30XS Multiview Scientific Calculator
The fact that it is a bestseller probably tells you a lot about this calculator. It is affordable, reliable, and uniquely designed for the convenience of students. Below are a few of its highlights:
- The calculator is constructed to allow the entry of two calculations. This enables you to compare the results without switching screens.
- It has a four-line display.
- You can view decimals and fractions in different forms with the help of the toggle key.
- It has a MathPrint Mode that lets you enter common math notations such as exponents, stacked fractions, and exact square roots.
- You have the freedom to view previous entries when the need arises.
- It allows 23 levels of parentheses.
- You can edit entries as well as cut and paste them.
- It is battery-powered with an alternative option of solar power.
4. Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro Engineering/Scientific Calculator
Here’s another good one from Texas Instruments! It is slightly more expensive than its counterpart, but it is worth the extra bucks. Let’s go ahead and explore its features now:
- If graphic technology is not permitted in your curricula, this calculator will be your knight in shining armor!
- Its multi-view display enables you to see different calculations together on the screen. This makes comparison and analysis easy.
- Its MathPrint feature gives you a textbook feel by showing symbols, stacked fractions, and math expressions exactly like they appear in textbooks.
- You can choose from multiple modes such as number format, floating/fix formats, and degrees or radians.
- The calculator is handy not just for FE exams but also in biology, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc.
How to choose an FE Exam calculator?
If you are preparing for the FE Exam and are in search of a perfect calculator for the same, then you should be considerate about a few points. FE exams are the Fundamentals of Engineering, and for this, you need to have the NCEES-approved calculator and the NCEES handbook. There are various options when it comes to the NCEES-approved calculator. You can choose any according to your necessity and preferences.
You must make sure about the following points while choosing the FE exam calculator:
- Take a known and trustworthy brand.
Not just in the calculator but also in your day-to-day life, choose products from well-established and trustworthy brands.
- The chances of getting a malfunctioned product decrease as compared to others.
- You can also get reviews and tutorials of the known brands, so just in case you have any issues in the future, you can solve them by yourself.
- It comes with a warranty and a guarantee.
- Easy availability in the market.
- With branded things, you get worth-for-money products.
- Use the one which is a graphing calculator.
Choosing a calculator that has the best graphing system has only one primary motto.
- The best graphing calculator comes with the most accessible interface to work.
- There are no complex functions and easy features.
- Know your calculator
For me, choose a calculator that you are best to work with and not the highest priced.
- FE exams are all about time, and you need to do time management.
- For this, you need to know your calculator.
- Be thorough. It’s functions, features, and flaws.
- Top NCEES-approved calculators
There are calculators, which are NCEES-approved calculators, and you should only use those. I have listed a few calculators which, according to me, have approval:
- Casio FX115 ES Plus
- TI36X Pro
- HP 35s
Other than these calculators, others are discontinued, but you can still check the sources.
- Must needed features
The FE EXam calculator should handle all:
- Matrix operations
- Linear systems of equations
- Numerically solve certain derivatives and integrals.
So after reading this article, I hope you have got your answer on how to choose the FE Exam calculator. Take proper care of the above points, and you can select your perfect calculator for the FE Exam.
Using a scientific calculator is complicated. It takes time to get familiar with the functions. That’s why we recommend that you buy the calculator well in advance and start practicing. Use the calculator while studying and taking practice exams so that you understand it thoroughly. This is crucial because using it for the first time during the exam will force you to waste time. And, we all know how quickly time passes when we are writing an exam!
It is also important to understand the full potential of your calculator and figure out how to quickly find functions, commands, and built-in features. Going back to previous logs and editing them is also something you should be familiar with because even one typo can spell disaster.
Your scientific calculator can either help you during the exam or be the reason why you fail it. It is totally up to you to decide your fate. May you make the right choice. All the best!