Hello there! A lot of things are just reiterations of the Torchbearers, thank you guys! You’ve done a great job! Hoping this adds some value to the community….
BACKGROUND, FAMILY & MOTIVATION
I got my B.Arch from India. I have worked with a licensed architect for about 3.5 years. Currently (for about 4 years) working with a licensed civil engineer & surveyor. Have a couple more years of experience when I was working in India. I moonlight some for architectural projects. Currently I am on a Foreign Architect’s path to Licensure.
Happy to say I am blessed with an extremely supportive wife, a 7 year old daughter and a 3 year old son. Preparation for exams takes away from family time, but it has been worth it so far, and am hopeful for the future too.
As far as motivation goes, I’d highly recommend the following, especially for candidates with family.
I took 1 page notes from black spectacles episode mentioned here, framed it and put it up next to my closet. I read some points at least once a day, sometimes the whole thing when I’m getting bogged down.
My most experience has been in PA, PPD and P-Diddy (what do we need to do to make this official?)
NCARB has been friendly, cheerful and helpful throughout. Even during coordination of documents (Fore Architect’s Path) they were a great help! Great job keeping this community moving!
NCARB Community – couldn’t have come this far without you all. Thank you! Initially I subscribed to emails for each and every of the discussion topics. I tried to categorize and take notes. That got overwhelming pretty quick so I only kept General, Meetups, PcM and PjM topics active, rest unsubscribed from all.
PREPARATION-STEP 1, DATES / PREP TIME
The very first thing I did was to read most commented threads from General and PcM. Got a fair inclination to “!-!-! STUDY FOR PcM, PjM AND CE TOGETHER !-!-!” (How do I make this flash? ) also mentioned as Business Exams by some. So that was that and took dates 3 months away for PcM and scheduled PjM for the week after PcM. On the same note, I chose PcM, PjM and CE because I have the least experience in these and wanted to knock these off first.
For PcM I made 4 page bullet notes on what material is essential, what works and what is an over kill. With PcM I only read threads with 1 or more comment(s).
For PjM I made 2 page bullet notes essential-to-overkill spectrum, and read every thread.
For CE I made 1 page bullet notes…… (Got efficient till CE, heheh), and read every thread.
After taking notes I chose to study what I was most weak in and go from there.
My final exam taking dates (and thankfully passing on the first go) were:
May 6th 2018-PcM
Jun 24th 2018-PjM
Aug 19th 2018-CE
I studies rigorously (2-3 hrs/day 5-6 days/week, avg) before each exam as follows:
PjM – about 10 weeks
PcM – 2 weeks
CE – 1 week
Once you’ve studied AHPP and A201 and B101 C401 once during PjM, I’d say the rest becomes a little easier for PjM and CE. More on what I studied in next few paras.
For me scheduling the exam was the most difficult part… Once I saw the axe coming closer my motivation had no other choice. I am not going to mention the $210 a pop… Oops.
EXAM DAY, PROMETRIC & SOFTWARE
Closest Prometric center is about 1.5 hours from my home. Drive time was spent listening to heavy beat music, drinking coffee and trying to not think about the exam. Since all my exams so far (and hopefully ones in the future as well) were on a Sunday the drive was good and I think Prometric is also less crowded during Sundays. Sundays worked for me because my day job is a 4-10 schedule so I got Fri & Sat to bury myself and study/ revise last minute. Although at one time I felt I forgot my tickets, luggage & passport (:p) frisking was not as bad as lifting one’s pants, geez. Prometric people were very courteous and efficient in all. Software all in all was not a problem, except for the fact that pdf reference material took a couple of seconds to load which I was prepared for, thankfully no crashes.
AHPP 15th Ed-
Main Source of study. For the first two months of preparation I studied about 30 pages a day. That knocked off most of the book. If I had to do it again (which I did for revision of PjM and CE) I would read 2 topics a day. That way I could focus more and finish faster. I’d like to add that it is just not a good book to pass the tests, I think it’s a great book to read cover to cover and make a part of your library.
For main study time I used Kevin G’s list to keep at back of my mind to pay more attention to red highlighted chapters, really helpful:
I used this for Final two days review of AHPP:
I took PcM and PjM, but not CE. Extremely helpful. First, they got me in a mindset of taking the exam, how I was performing and why my answers were wrong. My scores in % were:
All these exams were the 10q or 25q tests. I could never take the full timed test.
(I took the PjM mock test as soon as I came back from PcM and felt that I was not prepped enough for PjM which was next week, hence postponed it, best decision). I took the breakdown of results by sections on last day and studies from Narmour Wright accordingly.
I watched videos for PjM only. It was a great break from reading and listing to a little more watching. Great way to cover contracts!
YOUTUBE NCARB VIDEOS-
These were great to familiarize myself to the actual test. Other exam specific videos enforced the objectives.
BUILDING CODES ILLUSTRATED:
Read Chapter 7-Moisture & Thermal Protection for CE. Very helpful.
Great consolidation, good job Tatyana! Very helpful.
CE-(Read first thing when started CE prep) https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/360002071447-Construction-Evaluation-Study-Guide-Contracts.
SCHIFF HARDIN LECTURES-
These are just great! A must for everyone, just not for the exam. For me it took out the fear of a ‘contract’, mostly line by line – great teaching skill… Again.. a must. I only listened to A201 and B101 while taking notes on the sample contracts provided by NCARB. Once again-Must.
A GUIDE TO TURNING DESIGNS INTO BUILDINGS-
Easy read, good refresher of AHPP (not a substitute in any way).
CODE OF ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT, RULES OF CONDUCT
Small content, maybe a couple or more direct questions. Was worth reading for test. Must read for professional knowledge and conduct.
TAS 2012 (Texas Accessibility Standards)
Brushed up most frequently used content for CE – Restrooms, ramps, stairs, doors. Came in handy for maybe a couple of questions.
I did not read it before going into PcM & CE, but was able to refer content based on my experience. May not be worth digging into if you are tight on study schedule.
CSI Master Format
Read and learnt by heart Divisions 00-28 – Corresponding Number to Heading and Vice Versa. Viz-Div 01 General Requirements, Div 02-Existing Conditions. Came in handy. If you have B.Const.I. 5th ed, its on Pg A.19.
EXAM STRATEGY/ TIPS
I read that a lot of people did non-math in one go, math in the next and then Case Studies; some gained momentum during the first few questions then just went to Case Studies. I went from 1 to the end on each exam. My take on this is that each question is worth 1 point and case studies take way more amount of time per question. I’d rather spend a little more time to bag the non-Case Study questions even if it meant sacrificing few questions at the end (See ‘TWO THRIDS’ heading below). Completing most questions in the first two hours is a more confidence booster to me than to finish the beast.
CALCULATOR-it accepts NumPad input.
HIGHLIGHTING- I highlighted important parts of Case Study, when moved to the next question the highlighting was gone. Never used since.
ZOOMING- for reading references zooming in and out was painful. Used dropdown menu to 60%, it was a bliss.
SEARCHING TEXT-It is tricky. If you feed in multiple words then it will find those words separately in all text. Vague example – if you typed ‘height of building’, it will highlight / search individual words ‘height’, ‘of’ & ‘building’ and not as a whole ‘height of building’. I had to be precise in word choice to narrow down search.
BOOKMARKS- I found this option on my last exam (CE). (Some?) Reference material have bookmarks and will take you directly to that content. It was a true blessing when I knew where the information was in a contract. This eliminated need for ‘searching text’.
As many have mentioned, if you cannot remember the answer, take note and move on, you might find it going forward / in references.
TWO THIRDS, CONFIDANCE & CYA
I was the least confidant when finishing PjM. I was so sure that I’d flunked the exam that I wrote down a list on the scratch paper and tried to remember that and prepare for the next time. I was truly surprised when I got the provisional pass. When I saw the result I was not sure if I should be happy or sad. I guess the cause of the faith is failure was my ‘high’ review marked questions… I had 16 review marked question and during the exam I did not percentage it out. It adds to 20%. The cut scores are 57-68% (https://www.ncarb.org/blog/are-50-what-score-do-you-need-pass). Which essentially means that one has to be correct in just north of two thirds of total number of questions. This was a game changer when I took PjM. During PjM using the same math and reviewing my marked questions I was fairly confidant of passing PjM mid-way during the exam. CE I was fairly confidant towards the end. (I doubt I will ever be a 100% confidant)
At times, I thought 'If I were the Architect in this situation, what would I have done?' It was helpful at times. When I had absolutely no idea about the question, I would think about how to cya (I learnt this term just a few months ago) and answered in the best possible manner.
After Passing PjM my wife surprised me with a family cake-cutting ceremony to mark the first achievement. Thereafter we went to Dairy Queen. That day I decided that pass or fail, we will celebrate, it is a great sacrifice not just mine but the whole family’s. Taking the exam in itself is a matter to celebrate, and that’s what we did for the next two exams as well.
Pardon me if I missed anything, typos and grammer. Again, thank you one and all for participation in this community and sharing your insights! Hoping to meet the torch bearers on the other side soon!
Schedule the next date! You got this!
Please sign in to leave a comment.