Wanted to post some advice for anyone considering doing the 4.0 / 5.0 combo/transition method, and in particular, debating whether or not they should take 3 or 2 exams under 4.0 and the rest in 5.0.
I opted to take CDS and PPP under 4.0 and then transition to 5.0, where I've taken (and passed ) P&A and now have PPD and PDD left. I.E. - I did the (2) 4.0 exam approach as opposed to taking Site Planning & Design under 4.0 as well.
Here's why I think this was the way to go. Others will undoubtedly feel otherwise, but this is my personal feeling on this:
1) ARE 4.0 Site Planning graphic vignettes are the ones everyone I know fails at least once. Everyone blames it not on the task at hand, but on the software. Nearly everyone I know ran out of time on the actual site planning vignette or found that to be difficult solely because of the software's inability to undo/redo things quickly. After hearing nothing but horror stories on this, I decided to NOT take SPD under 4.0.
2) PPD and PDD are the two largest exams under 5.0, which you'll have to take regardless of your transition approach. I found that taking P&A under 5.0 first before these was a very good intro to 5.0's format, and I am very glad that I have one 5.0 test under my belt BEFORE I go and tackle the beasts that are PPD and PDD. I would not want to have to deal with the content of those two tests AND be doing so on a brand new test format. Having done one alleviates the "unknown" for me when heading into these final two.
3) I personally liked the P&A exam and strongly feel that it aligned with the practice that we do every day. If you have work experience, I think you'll like P&A.
If you do in fact decide to do SPD under 4.0, here are the tips I've heard are helpful for the graphic vignettes:
A) Do the site grading one as quick as you possibly can so that you have more time for the site planning one. From what I've heard, the site grading one is not that much harder than the practice one available from NCARB, so use the practice test to get good at completing this vignette quickly.
B) There are several youtube videos out there for the site planning vignette that offer tips on how to draw it efficiently. These focus on ways to draw the parking stalls faster, for example, so that if you find yourself in the exam having to erase all you've drawn and redraw, you can do so quicker.
Best of luck!
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