Woo! I just got the official pass report and wanted to share my experience, since reading the experience of others was a major factor in me getting through these.
First the background: I have 3.5 years experience in IDP/AXP, starting back in 2013, with a 3 year break starting in 2015 for grad school in Architecture since my undergrad was in Music. I graduated this past May and started the test process in July.
Most of the time spent at first was looking on this community at others and their processes, which helped me get a good frame of reference for my own goals and schedule, as well as what materials I would need to acquire to study. I started studying in earnest around September 15th after deciding to start with Practice Management, then go to Project Management, followed by Construction and Evaluation. So it ended up being PcM on October 13th, PjM November 16th and CE November 21st. Didn't need much time between PjM and CE after all the overlapping studying I did.
ARE 5.0 Handbook - Seriously, they actually tell us what they're testing us on. Use this as a your first and last resource, read the section objectives, and make sure you understand the content. This is what the test is on, they aren't trying to trick us.
Black Spectacles - I watched the videos generally over breakfast and lunch, mostly at 2x speed playback but slower if I wasn't sure of the content. The best part about BS for me was the practice exams. They are the same format as the actual test, and I found them to have a few questions that were relatively challenging. The practice exams would force me to think through a question, then if I got it wrong, find out why. The challenging of my knowledge and re-shaping it was the best way for me to learn. If I got an answer wrong that I really thought about, it made the correct answer stick all the more. They also have a podcast/video series that is helpful for the mock exams as a refresher, and for the miscellaneous ones just as a confidence booster.
Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice - Totally invaluable resource for PcM and PjM, using Kevin Griendling's guide followed by the Narmour Wright guides to refresh. I dove deep on the book mostly for PcM, and passed the book to a colleague, so I used an old office copy of the 13th edition for the other exams. There isn't a guide for it, I just looked at the table of contents and used my practice exams to be the judge for where my knowledge was lacking.
Mike Hanahan's Lectures - All of them. They're all great for PcM, but I only listened to the contract ones as I moved to PjM and CE. I basically listened to them on repeat until I knew every anecdote he was about to tell and why it related to the contract.
Tatyana Aksamentova Study Guides - Much thanks to her for putting together really concise and smart guides for these tests. I used them in the last few days of studying for each exam to refresh my info and make sure I had my bases covered. I'd say most of what is on those study guides were on the tests. Don't use the guide as the sole resource, just as a good benchmark.
Brightwood - I used this for PjM, and only skimmed 3 chapters for CE, since there is so much overlap. It wasn't a great resource for me, but I wouldn't not recommend it, only because I think getting info from as many sources as possible is very valuable.
Colleagues - I can't stress this one enough. If I had a question about something in my studying, asking another test taker at the office was great because we could both work through the problem. I would also ask at least one question per day from a licensed architect or admin or someone in the office that had to do with my test. Getting real world situations and stories is invaluable to planting the information more firmly in my brain. I'm also at the same firm where I worked before grad school, which makes the whole thing smoother - everyone is supportive and rooting for each other.
My Wife (and cats) - She is a queen, a beauty, a joy, and the best companion to have in this time. She gave me the support and space I needed to put my head down and work, and also to come back to and unwind. The cats helped by distracting me when my head was in the books for too long, and being the lap warmer I needed for those long hours at the desk.
I put in about 45 minutes every morning over breakfast, 30 at lunch, and at least 1.5 hours every week night, with about 10 hours each weekend. I ended up doing a practice test every week, at least one, often more - primarily the BS exams, but I also threw in the Designer Hacks free tests as another benchmark. The best score I got on the BS exams was in the 75-80% range, which sounds low, but I guess it worked out anyway. I'm also weird in that I don't like to cram, so I take the day before my exam to do anything except study, and I prefer to take them before the weekend for the same reason. I don't think cramming helps me at all.
Make no mistake, these tests are very hard. The big difference between the practice and the real thing is the way the questions are structured. The BS exams were tricky, but the real questions have more reason and thought required. For CE particularly, there absolutely were sections and diagrams that surprised me, but I took a deep breath and realized everything I needed to know to answer the question was right in front of me.
My preferred method is to check the case studies first to look at the resources, then run through the multiple choice. Someone had mentioned that the highlighter and strikethrough functions weren't working, but it worked perfectly for me on all except the case study scenario box. I highlight and strike liberally, together with marking, so that when I come back to the question, I already have a few answers marked out that I knew were wrong.
I make sure I get to the case studies with 1.5 hours to go, but generally get there sooner, and get through all the questions with about 45 minutes left. I spend almost every minute left reviewing and reviewing. I read the questions with the mouse cursor, click-dragging along so I make sure I read every word and highlight the important ones. Each word makes the sentence.
That's really about it. I hope this could be even remotely as helpful to others as this community has been for me. Next up is PA, then PDD and PPD!
Please sign in to leave a comment.