PjM PASS, First Exam. A thank you and advice!



  • Avatar
    Scott Barber

    Congrats Nicholas, and great write-up! It's definitely exciting to get that first pass under your belt, and I'm glad you were able to use this forum as a resource. I see too many people joining and posting only after failing an exam, without having read any of the posts before to help with their studying. This forum has definitely been one of the most important factors for me when studying for these exams. 

    I also passed PjM yesterday, and I studied the same information. Glad you had success and thanks for sharing your approach! I definitely used these types of posts when preparing (haven't written one myself for PjM, but I may do it tonight or tomorrow).

    As you prepare for PcM, you'll find that a lot of the content overlaps (I studied for them together and passed PcM last Friday before taking PjM yesterday). The main differences I can think of are for business types and organization (studios, departments, etc), but a lot of the rest is similar to PjM, but as you read through the posts here I'm sure you'll find some good advice. 

    Good luck!

  • Avatar
    Nicholas Civitano

    Thanks Scott and Congrats as well! The more info we can share with each other with what materials work the better for everyone

  • Avatar
    Mahya salehi fadardi

    Hi Nicholas,

    Thank you for the great write up! I am about to purchase the AHPP and was wondering about the "Kevin G highlighted areas" you mentioned. Can you explain what and where that is?

    Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Nicholas Civitano



    This link has links to Kevins and another study guide to help you out.


    Good luck

  • Avatar
    Mai Phan

    Thank you so much for the info.  This is by far very informative.  I have failed the PcM twice, CE once and PjM once.  Trying to figure what I'm not doing correct.  I have studied all those resources you have listed but the one key you have mentioned is staying calm and breath. Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Nicholas Civitano

    Hey Mai,


    Its a bummer failing these tests, I passed everything but PPD and need to retake it. Sometimes it seems like you are fully prepared and studied hard but the questions seem a little too situational or too layered to really feel comfortable enough to get the right answer. I think my success on passing Pjm Pcm Ce Pa and PDD on the first take had to do with a few things. First, for CE and PDD my work experience in construction and in drawing CDs with the added studying made understanding and applying the info much easier. Second, make written notes, its too easy to gloss over dry info once or twice and not remember it. I find writing it down and thinking about how that info applies to the job or real life helps a lot. For PJM and PCM I was incredibly interested in the material because I am in the process of starting my own firm (slowly, but that is my ultimate goal). I have done projects under my own company (under supervision of my mentor) and understanding the business, insurance and firm organization aspects of this profession was something I wanted to really understand. This is true too of the other tests and their info as well. I think you have to find out a way to really understand this stuff so when they ask you a question that has two or three variables in it you can use your knowledge to either pick the right answer or eliminate the wrong ones. That is my issue with PPD in particular, amongst some of my own grievances with the test is the quantity of info covered for this exam and the very, very specific situational questions that are asked.

    So my process for PPD retake may be good for your retakes of these other exams. Theres no nice guy way about it, you just need to take a deep dive into this material. Not in a cram for an exam way but in a learn this stuff so you know it for your career way.  In college I would cram for a night on something like a physics exam and still pass, you can't do that for the AREs unless you happen to have a lot of very direct knowledge on all these topics covered. So for me, for PPD, I am in the process of reading and making a thorough study guide with all the recommended material so I can tackle my retake being atleast 90% sure on questions not 50% sure. Even if it seems pointless or not applicable to what you do or want to do in this profession. You have to become obsessed with it, figure out ways to apply it to your work to remember it and study as much as you can. I think its important not to rush into a retake, I did that with PPD and it didn't work out well.

    In many ways the AREs are a game and you have to play NCARBs game to pass the tests. The game being you need to study and understand the recommended material they tell you to study and the type of questions they are asking. I know architects who are amazing at what they do but if they had to retake these, especially PPD and PDD they probably wouldn't pass without studying because the types of questions are very specific about very specific topics. I know I am just missing passing PPD ( 3, 2's and 2, 3's on the report) because I am picking the wrong choice on some of the more situational questions. The only way I can think of to narrow this down to pass is just to know more.

    The good part is that you have taken some exams so you know how they will potentially phrase questions, look for leading words like "The client is concerned about cost" or "What is the most sustainable choice". When in doubt use the elimination method. If there are four answers and they want one, try to think which ones are false and eliminate those. Usually I can get a question down to 50/50 by eliminating answers that the leading word or question phrasing eliminates on its own.

    And for PCM PJM and CE, study AHPP especially along side the Schiff Hardin lectures on contracts. All in all by the time I got to CE (and to much lesser degree, PDD) I probably listened to the A201 lecture 15 times all the way through and the B101 10 times. So when they ask "What is the architects responsibility when XYZ happens" you just know it.

    Remember, there is a lot of knowledge to be gained while studying for these exams but keep in mind that the way the tests are setup does not correlate directly to how good of an architect you can be. 

Please sign in to leave a comment.

Powered by Zendesk