I wanted to share what outlook and preparation strategies helped me through the PcM exam. I took it early September 2023.
Outlook of the licensure journey
To whoever has decided to embark on this behemoth of a journey, kudos to your courage! For me, this was a big reset. I had attempted PA twice in early 2021 and failed. It was very demotivating and confusing. And I lost momentum, more than a year. I decided to adopt a fresh perspective.
There are so many good strategies to approach these exams, and I was getting lost in them, unable to feel the pulse. What finally worked for me to keep my emotions regulated, momentum going and enjoy small victories along the way, was to think about the journey as enrolling into a 2yr grad program with evening classes. There will be 2-3 classes/ week (my study time) and total of 6 exams in the 'program'. This outlook really laid out, in a very realistic way, what internal resources are required - time, energy, emotional health, support group, etc.
So, find your own realistic way and what you need to keep the momentum going. You may call it whatever you want it - mind palace, north light... whatever works!
Ballast - I exclusively read Ballast. I read it page to page, line to line. I printed out a physical copy and started making notes on the margins. Any topic that got too confusing, I would google/ ask a friend/ refer to AHPP. That's it! I narrowed down my 'study sources' so I want get lost and become tired. But still want to learn the topic.
Once I went through the fundamental, I took one mock exam to assess my sinking-floating situation. Do this early on, as this will help you understand when to schedule your exam.
Contracts - Initially, I went through the contracts casually. I work with them daily, I know what they are! Alas, this soon changed. Don't take it for granted. I read the whole of A201, B101 and C401 page to page. And that was my edge. See my techniques in my post about PjM experience.
Mock Exams + Overlearning
50% of your learning and applying is going to be from mock exams. I used Walk the ARE(used it in quiz format), Ballast practice exams, Designer Hacks (they have quizes too) and Elif Bayram's. with every mock exam/ quiz, I understood how to apply my learning for test purposes. I kept them on a cycle and retook them at least twice.
I used contracts, AHPP to overlearn the same topics. For example, how to understand insurance - based on person/ project delivery type/ project cost. Overlearn! break it down and learn it in another - think backwards and forwards. The mock exams helped me understand the pulse of NCARB's testing style.
Test taking anxiety
Acknowledge your anxiety, and give it support. You can't sleep the night before the exam, then take a nap in the afternoon. You emotion spiral, make time for guided meditation. You can't eat, get some coconut water. Address the test anxiety as a separate component from emotional health.
Prepare a mock 'environment' for your mock exams. Same time, no phones, only water bottle, at a library - create it. That way you can manage anxiety and it won't feel new the day of the exam.
Mental Health + Coping skills
If the licensure journey is an F1 season, then your practice, your team, pit stops, regular car maintenance before the race is your mental health. Candles, positive affirmations, meditation, working out, sprints, cycling, coffee routines, neighborhood walks, spending time with dogs, eating well and sleeping well. You need ALL of this. Keep them on a cycle. I, also used LeBron James's audios from Calm app. It is GOLD. I use Ted Lasso's episodes, would skip to my fav motivational scenes. I know I know, lot of sports references. But hey, they understand what it really takes to keep moving forward.
I hope this helps. This community is awesome. More power to you. Remember you are bigger than these exams.
Just keep swimming, as Dory would say. Cheers!
More about contracts and my PjM experience in a separate post.
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