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Fundamentals of Surveying Exam (FS Exam)

Last updated 29th Nov 2022


The term Fundamentals of Surveying Exam refers to the first step in a process that candidates will go through as they pursue their professional surveyor license. The Fundamentals of Surveying Exam, or FS Exam, is sponsored by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. The exam is designed for students that are close to, or have completed, an undergraduate degree program.


The Fundamentals of Surveying Exam, or FS Exam, is the first step graduating students will take towards receiving their Professional Surveyor license (PS). The examination is a computer-based test which is offered in centers throughout the year. Examinees are given five hours and 20 minutes to complete 110 multiple choice questions.

The exam tests the candidate's knowledge in the following areas:

  • Basic Sciences: includes geology, dendrology, cartography, and environmental sciences.
  • Boundary and Cadastral Survey Law: includes controlling elements, identifying evidences, legal descriptions, case law, rights, land survey systems, metes and bounds, parcels, easements and encumbrances.
  • Communications: includes oral, written, documentation, recordkeeping as well as alternate forms of communications.
  • Contracts: includes liabilities, risk management, financial practices, management principles, project planning ethics and safety.
  • Geodesy: includes basic theory, satellite positioning, gravity, coordinates, datums, and map projections.
  • Geographic Information Systems: includes collection and integration of data, accuracy, database design, and metadata.
  • Mapping: includes specifications, plans, contours and slopes, scales, planimetric features, land forms, digital terrain, survey maps, plats, and drawings.
  • Mathematics: includes algebra, trigonometry, matrix theory, analytic geometry and calculus.
  • Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing: includes analysis and interpretations, project planning, quality control, ground control, and LiDAR.
  • Spatial Data Acquisition and Reduction: includes vertical, distance and angle measurements along with unit conversions, redundancy, as well as instruments and methods.
  • Statistics: includes mean, median, mode, variance, standard deviation, error analysis, least squares, tolerances, and positional accuracy.
  • Survey Computations and Computer Applications: includes coordinate geometry, traverse closure and adjustment, area, volume, horizontal and vertical curves, and spirals.
  • Survey Processes / Methods: includes land development, boundary location, mapping, cartography, construction, as well as riparian, route and control surveys.

Results of the FS Exam are available seven to ten days following the completion of the test. First-time pass rates average around 70%; however, pass rates for repeat-takers is closer to 30%.

Related Terms

FE Exam, PE Exam, SE Exam, PS Exam

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