Practice Management (PcM) - Pass - What I did, How I'd do it different again

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    Jessica Schwartz

    Thanks so much for your overview, it's very helpful.

    I am testing for PcM on the 16th of this month (10 days away). So far I have read all of the Ballast PcM and Kaplan PcM sections, as well as large sections of the AHPP. I have also listened to several of the Schiff lectures, and hope to squeeze more of those lectures in during my work weeks. Now that I have read of the content, I am focusing on reviewing and absorbing.  

    My question for you is: Did you take the Ballast Practice Exams? How well were you doing when you took those? How would you say those questions compare to the exam? Were the exam questions just as tricky?

    I took a Ballast Practice exam a couple of weeks ago (I still had a little more material to cover) and got a 54%. I'm worried that when I re-take it this weekend, I still won't have improved very much :/ . Doing my best to understand every wrong answer, and review where my information is missing. 

    Thanks, 

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    Emily Mader-Holvick

    Patrick,
    Thank you so much for the helpful information, I recently took the exam and unfortunately did not pass. I have been taking the Brightwood exams and the black spectacles exams and have been continusly receiving 96%-98% on those. I think I am struggling with exactly what you explained. I know the words and terms for their definitions but maybe am not so good at the application. Do you have any suggestions on how to test yourself and/or practice this? I have read the AHPP and read the Brightwood study materials along with the 2 different practice exams I took. I felt like the actual exam was much more application based than either of the practice exams I took

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    Patrick Edwards

    Jessica -

    I wouldn't stress about the Ballast tests, I don't think they're at all good indicators of your preparedness. Like I wrote, they're the hardest but not the best. I took one a few weeks ago where I thought I was pretty well prepared and scored a 64%. I kept my results (on scratch paper), and after doing other review, came back to it the weekend before to test again. I focused only on the ones I got wrong, and still only got 80% right the 2nd time (partly because some of them are poorly written/worded or occasionally just wrong).

    The value in Ballast is in their explanations for the answers. I didn't put any value in the results other than making sure I had the concepts down.

    I would recommend using another practice testing service like Designer Hacks, for a better bellweather.

    Enjoy your testing experience!

     

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    Jessica Schwartz

    Patrick,

    Thanks so much for the response :). I'll continue to use Ballast as a resource, and try not to freak out about my actual score. 

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    Patrick Edwards

    Emily -

    I didn't have access to Brightwood for PcM, but I did use it for PjM. I can categorically say that the test questions from that company were way too easy - testing at 100% is only an indication that you understand the concepts, not that you're ready for the ARE.

    I will say that in the two tests I've taken, you do actually know more than you think. When you first see that material you don't recognize, it can freak you out and throw off your confidence. But you can use your knowledge to start eliminating and getting to the best answer.

    As far as building your application-based knowledge. There's two ways to go about getting this information: either you work and have real-life experience in this stuff, or you study your way to knowing it. It sounds like you may be in the 2nd group. So what I'd recommend is first to acknowledge that both ways are going to take time. Remember that these are actual tests of professional capability, not tests for getting a good grade. Once you pass, that's it - you're accountable for that information for the rest of your career.

    From that standpoint, study like the health, safety, and welfare of the public depend on it. I know it sounds trite, but I'm trying to drive home the point that you have to take your professional responsibility with deadly seriousness. If these were medical exams, you just failed surgery. But you'd darn well want to pass surgery before you put your blade in someone, right?

    Take a deep breath, step back, assess exactly what your weaknesses are, and then just hone in on the Why - as in, Why do I care? Your test is to explain modified accrual basis accounting or any other concept to your mom and why it matters. If you can't, that's ok - take the time that you need to have a conversation about that concept with someone at work. Google the term, find YouTubes. Just the search alone will expose you to different ways of thinking about it and why it's important.

    And at the end, you will pass :) you've demonstrated that you can work hard and wrap your mind around a foreign concept. Just like Studio 101 first year of architecture school.

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