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    Susan Bruns

    I would suggest reviewing the financing equations. I wish I would have looked at them one more time before I walked into the exam since terms are similar. Also note the case studies, which are located at the end of your exam, use a lot of your time.

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    Jeffrey Giuggio

    Susan I assume you are referring to the financial equations in the AHPP?

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    Richard Wilson

    I just completed this exam yesterday. I had an awful experience. I believed I was prepared with over 15 hours of studying each week for a month...

    The user interface was awful when trying to navigate through the timed exam.

    During the case studies, each time I switched between the resource tabs it would return to the top of the screen, fully zoomed in. So every time I switched between resources, I had to click the zoom out button and scroll back down - on top of that, the user interface didn't respond to my clicks correctly. For example, I would click on the zoom out button, but the resource page would zoom in twice instead, so I had to click the zoom out button four times every time I switched resource pages. Then of course, I had to also scroll back down to where I had scrolled previously. In other words, I had to click and scroll constantly to answer the Case Study questions. I would guess that 25% of my time, during the Case Studies, was spent just trying to click through the resources and then scroll to the appropriate content. On top of that, the LOADING screens would show up for 2-3 seconds on every single resource page - ridiculous on a timed exam! On top of all of that, the case studies had two scroll bars, the one inside of the interface and the interface itself - are these really skills that we are being tested on, scrolling up and down?

    Starting out, the 2.75 hours seemed like a reasonable amount of time to answer all 80 questions. However all of these complications, with the case studies, used up all of the extra time I allotted to myself to go back and look at the previous questions I marked for review. In other words, the mark for review was a useless function. I felt fine about my time during the whole exam, then halfway through the case studies, realized that it was impossible to analyse the case study information and answer the questions well, because a large amount of time was spent scrolling and clicking.

    My best advice for the case studies, is to get these done first. As soon as the exam opens up, find the case studies, and get those done asap (which is a ridiculous problem in itself).

    One of my biggest frustrations was that I wasn't able to use the numbers on my keyboard on the calculator tool. This was frustration, because I was able to use the number pad to enter answers to the exam questions, but not for using the calculator. So using the calculator with a mouse was a challenge, because each equation took a huge chunk of time just to calculate. It's as if NCARB put a barrier between the question and answer with a cumbersome tool - just like the old vignettes from 4.0. Why even bother providing the tool if it gets in the way of answering the questions? I ended up having to come up with crafty ways of using the calculator so that I didn't have to click the mouse so often - was that what we were being tested on?

    The testing center, that I was at, had computer monitors with low backlight, so it made reading the content on the screens very difficult - for 2.75 hours. When I asked the employees about adjusting it, they said that wasn't allowed. Also at the test center, I was given a pencil with a hard graphite, which made writing notes on my scratch paper difficult to read because of the dark green paper they provided, and because the overhead fluorescent lights were dim. I was disappointed with the testing center too, because from what I could tell, the managers of the center brought their children with them to work and let them run around the area with the security cameras, finger print scanner and security desk. So basically, they let just anybody run around the area where they kept scanned copies of drivers licenses and IDs. I also suggest bringing a sweater, because the testing center was cold, which made testing uncomfortable.

    Back on the testing software - I got the feeling that NCARB was tracking every single little motion the test taker makes, for data collection maybe? And in doing so, has created a proprietary testing software that is more about tracking, and less about testing future architects. I wondered too, how data heavy is the ARE software? Because it would take several seconds just for the exam to progress to the next screen - I started noticing that the count-down timer had to adjust for the time lost, between question screens, by 3-5 seconds each time. But sometimes it didn't adjust properly. In other words, sometimes when I clicked the next button, I lost time and sometimes I gained that time back.

    I realize that it's prudent for the test taker to get familiar with the testing software, but I think that was just an excuse to make up for the bad exam quality. Why make a testing software that people should expect to have a hard time using? Especially since the exam isn't graphics heavy - why not just put all the information for each question on the respective exam question page? Why put it on so many different pages on a timed exam and then penalize the test taker for sifting through the resources? This seemed counter-intuitive.

    My request is to fix the software problems - hopefully before I move on to test number 2 - just have all multiple choice questions, and ditch the cumbersome and frustrating user interface. Make it clean and simple - there's no good reason for making it such a challenge to use the software - the exam content is difficult enough as it is.

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    Susan Bruns

    Yes, those are the equations I am referring to. 

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    Philip Viana

    Richard, I agree with your comments about the case studies PDF content being difficult to work with. I spent too much time zooming in on PDFs after switching back and forth between content. The mouse-only calculator was also very annoying. I think the exam content itself is a challenge, and it's important that NCARB invest resources in removable obstacles like these UI problems.

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