Abstract A general method for “redistributing” high order finite element fields into lower order fields is presented. Occasionally consistent finite element procedures lead to abnormal solutions. The heuristic method of reduced integration has been proposed as a cure and good results have actually been achieved. However, the method of field redistribution presented here is consistent with a variational principle and may for this reason be more appealing. The method is applied to a simple shear flexible beam element and it is shown that in this special case the resultant element stiffness matrix is identical to the one obtained by employing reduced integration.