Ballast Practice Exam for PcM is Hard

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    SHAWN RYAN

    Hey Heather, I felt the same way taking the ballast practice exam. I definitely feel like I got a lot out of reviewing what I got wrong, but I also did pretty bad, the actual test felt easier. So I wouldn't worry too much about your results. Stay positive! You got this! :)

    The only thing I would suggest is that you ignore the time the ballast practice exam took you. While the individual questions felt harder, they do not have any of the drag and drop questions, very few calculations, etc. And the case studies don't have any of the supporting info that the actual test will have. I also cruised through the ballast test time wise. And while I did have time to go back through the actual test and review, I needed every minute. So don't let the timing on the practice exam make you slower than you need to be for the actual one. If you go in expecting to be a bit rushed, you'll be better off than expecting to have extra time. Quite a few threads on here are people complaining they didn't have enough time, but I suspect most of those people went it with the wrong expectations of how much time they actually had.

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    Daniel Wachtveitl

    I have come across several questions in the Ballast "Practice Problems" manual which have "assumed information" in the question that is relevant but not provided. Several licensed architects in my firm are providing answers (I was polling) which is incorrect according to Ballast. Ballast seems to be intentionally misleading in its line of questioning. Anyone aware of a location to post a question from the material and navigate the possible answers?

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    Stephanie Waples

    I noticed when I was doing the practice problems from Ballast's PcM section the same things -- really hard questions, with missing information and misleading wording. I spoke to my supervisor at work about it (she tested in 4.0 and used Ballast for everything), and she said that as long as you can get 40-60% correct, you're probably good. She also said that the questions on the actual exam were much more clearly worded.

    I got especially frustrated on one of the case study questions, where the scenario was a historic rehabilitation. The question asked for the best way to document the existing conditions. I specialize in historic preservation projects and deal with laser scanned point clouds on a literally daily basis, so I immediately selected the "laser scanner" option without hesitation. Ballast argued that this was not the correct answer, even though it produces the most accurate data, because it was PROBABLY too expensive for a project of this scope (even though I don't think budget information was included in the scenario -- it's been a couple weeks). 

    Daniel, I don't know of a location to post questions for Ballast. When I got really frustrated with the above example, I actually went to their website to try to check the errata for that book to see if it was addressed (I was really, really sure of my answer). It was blank, so no luck there. 

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    Daniel Wachtveitl

    My frustration was on a question about liability for lighting that was installed by a subcontractor and was evidently incorrect. Will the cost of re-installation be placed on the architect, electrical contractor, electrical engineer, or the general based on the AIA C401?

    Ballast argued that the architect and engineer shared drawings back and forth so the engineer should have adjusted lighting based on the RCP's. However, nothing noted there was a discrepancy between the engineers layout and the arch RCP's. Logically, one would deduce the error was on the electrical contractors end. Just frustrating to understand who is actually liable and could influence my answers on other questions

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    Stephanie Waples

    I remember that question, too! I came across it before I had read AIA C401, so when I got it wrong, I made a note to read through and understand that contract, assuming it was some clause/language in there. But then I read it, and it wasn't that... I agree, really frustrating. 

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    Daniel Wachtveitl

    That's the most irritating part, to second guess yourself as if you are simply missing something that could be a major clause that affects other questions. Funny your remember that exact question.

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    Justin Pelland

    Hahaha Stephanie & Daniel - I got frustrated at the EXACT same practice problems. I don't know if you've noticed when reading the body of the Ballast text book but there are a TON of grammatical errors. One page even had the entire first word of no less than 3 sentences completely missing! I think it's pretty clear that the Ballast editing team was under pressure to be the first study guide in print so they could corner the sales for the new test when it came out in November. The whole thing seems very sloppy.

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    Aaron Guthridge

    The practice problems also don't seem to be fully related to the test in question.  I'm studying for PjM currently and the practice problems/test seems to be pulling from a lot of information related specifically to building systems design which I agree plays into project management but not in the sense of how a project is managed.  This leads to subjectivity, and to me, time wasted not studying relevant information on the actual exam and second guessing what I need to study.  I failed the PcM exam largely because the content studied was not covered on the exam.  The ARE handbook on NCARB has been much more beneficial to understanding what CONCEPTS must be UNDERSTOOD compared to Ballast which seems to indicate that memorizing a bunch of generally related information is the way to go.  Very frustrated with the subjectivity of the questions and material provided by such an expensive product.

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