Why the FE Exam is Causing You Overwhelm (And How to Actually Stop It)

Burnout. Overwhelm. Stressed. I hear these words too often from students while getting ready to take the FE exam. It may be normal, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Preparing for the FE is a journey. And sometimes, you’re going to find yourself taking on too much and becoming overwhelmed, which often leads to stalling your studies — or worse, failing your exam.

This post will identify some signs of overwhelm, what may be causing the burnout, and ways you can overcome these feelings and prepare for your engineer in training exam. Even if you don’t have burnout right now, it’s essential to know what to look for so you can turn it around quickly.

Signs of Overwhelm or Burnout

Here are some signs to look for if you are struggling to study for your exam.

  • Procrastinating
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Irritable
  • Trouble starting
  • Feeling guilt or anger
  • Physical symptoms like unexplained headaches and stomach aches

If any of these sound like what you are going through right now, then it’s time to figure out what might be making it worse.

5 Reason You Have Burnout While Preparing for the FE Exam

1. Poor FE Study Material

  • You might have study material that leaves you feeling stuck. If you’re always studying and not progressing, you will feel overwhelmed.
  • The other common mistake is to have a lot of study material to cover, which also will leave you feeling overwhelmed. 

2. Higher Expectations

  • Many students feel like they have to study 30-40 hours a week to prepare for the FE. That’s a lot of hours to commit to, especially if you’re working full time and have a family. Because you can’t put that many hours, you get frustrated, and you always feel like you’re not putting in enough hours, you never celebrate the small steps, and you feel overwhelmed.
  • You also might want to get it done quickly. But the more you rush the process, the longer it will take you to pass the FE. You have to remind yourself: This is not a sprint. This is a marathon!

3. A Lot of Commitments

  • You have committed to many activities, but there is not enough time to do all of them. You don’t like to say no either cause you feel bad, so you find yourself committed to many things, leaving you no time or energy to study for the FE. 

4. Not Having a Balance

  • You’re not getting enough sleep, not exercising, and not carving out time to recharge. If all you do is work full time, study, and not get enough sleep and exercise, you will always feel overwhelmed!

5. Failed the FE Before

  • If you failed the FE exam before and are afraid to fail again, that can leave you feeling overwhelmed, especially if you need to pass your FE to keep your job or get a job.

6 Steps to Stop Overwhelm while Studying for the FE

Now that you’ve looked at what might be causing the burnout and overwhelm, here are six steps you take today to begin getting back to studying.

#1 Brain Dump

Grab a notebook and pencil and start writing down everything you have to do right now. Include everything that is stuck in your mind and causing you to feel overwhelmed. I did this yesterday and filled up an entire page.

Number them from important to least important. Then highlight the first three and only focus on those!

When I do this, everything becomes clear. My goals are back to center focus, and I know how to move forward.

Now, the other stuff on your list may need to move to the future. These goals are not a priority right now, and you cannot afford to spend time worrying about them.

#2 Study Material

Study material can either help you pass or help you fail. Let’s say you have study material that only gives you practical problems and doesn’t help you understand the concepts, and you’re not making any progress. That would leave you feeling overwhelmed.

But if you have good study material, where you’re learning a lot, you will be less anxious. But, again, that’s because you know you’re making progress.

The other thing you have to pay attention to when it comes to study material is to make sure that you focus on quality and not quantity. There are a lot of FE materials out there, but remember, just cause you’re solving 1,000 problems, doesn’t mean you’re studying the right problems. Ensure that the material you’re using is relevant to the FE. If you study what’s on your exam, you will pass your FE; it is that simple!

Learn more about enGENIEer’s Accelerator courses, where we give you exactly what you need to study.

#3 Try to Find a Balance

Finding balance can be challenging. But if you don’t get enough sleep and don’t exercise, you’re not going to perform at your best or learn as much. And in the end, it will take you longer to pass your FE.

Your exercise can be simple and short. For example, you can take a walk outside, do a 10 min run, or jump on the yoga mat. Whatever is your favorite way to exercise and move your body. You can also meditate for just 1 or 2 minutes and take a big deep breath.

It might not sound like this will help, but trust me, you will feel different when you are done. And ready to crush your goals.

#4 Have Realistic Expectations

When you’re working full time and have a family, you’re not going to be able to study for 30-40 hours a week. It’s just not realistic and will leave you feeling overwhelmed. So instead, try to set out an hour a day and around 5 hours during the weekend. After three months, you will be ready to pass your FE. It’s all about staying consistent.

Also, I know you want to keep building your career, but the more you rush into the FE, the more overwhelmed you will feel. And the longer it will take you to pass. So I would suggest that you try to instead focus on learning and being consistent.

#5 FE Practice Exams

If you use fe practice exam as a checkpoint and not an endpoint, it can actually help you feel less overwhelmed.

By doing practice exams, you will be able to determine what you know, which will help you feel less anxious. Also, this helps you determine your weaknesses, and give you enough time to work on them.

If you are looking for the best practice exams to take, we made a list right here! 

#6 Be Aware of Your Thoughts

If you have negative thoughts or failed the FE before and are afraid to fail the FE again, it’s essential to become aware of your thoughts.

One of our students, Andreza, had to fight her negative thoughts and anxiety, but she overcame it and passed her FE on her second try. One of the things she did was she talked to herself a lot.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, you can say:

Everything is going to be OK.
I will pass my FE no matter what.
It is OK to fail.
I am gonna do the best I can and see what happens.
Just cause I failed before doesn’t mean I will fail again.
I got this!
I don’t need to do everything, I just need to make progress, even if it’s slow progress!

You can write these things down on your desk and just repeat them when you start feeling overwhelmed.

Remember, you got this, I believe in all of you, just keep studying, keep showing up, put in the effort and you will get there. And if you ever feel overwhelmed, feel free to reach us here, we’re here to help you!

Sign Up For More FE Tips & Pass Faster

The weekly newsletter for engineers ready to pass the FE Exam. 

Related Articles


want to pass the fe faster?

suscribe for the best FE Tips & Tricks