I failed this exam back in September and I'll be retaking it in December. Unfortunately during my exam, all the computers at the Prometric center went down and had to wait an hour for the reboot... (PS, the computers use old Windows). I was in the middle of navigating a case study, and had to scroll through everything again to get back to where I was, whilst the Prometric people were talking on the phone and turning on all the computers in the room consecutively (I was computer #4, so was distracted for at least 20min). NCARB did not care at all, so I have lost faith in the system. Needless to say, after some time, I'm ready to get back into it.
I do find that a whole exam to focus on pre-planning is a bit much. In my extensive experience, pre-planning takes about 5% of a project timeline, if that. For instance, do we really need to know THAT much about soil. I mean, we hire a geotechnical engineer, he/she gives us their advice, and we use it... I must have had about 10 questions about soil... they are not pertinent to being a successful architect, or even a semi-successful one. I completely understand having zoning questions and building location/orientation questions. Questions about historical preservation, sure, that is good as well. But SOIL??? Who cares! I just feel like they needed to stuff this exam with questions because how much can be asked about things we really do need to know in a small phase of a design. They can completely get rid of this exam and put it in PPD. That's how we bill the client, no?
Also for resources. I used Black Spectacles mostly... not very helpful. They do seem to talk about common sense things that an experienced person would already know... but they didn't talk about SOILS nearly as much as I had questions about.
I read the Ballast material, I'm reading it again, as I do think many of the questions were related to that.
I've purchased Building Code Illustrated, I had some question that threw me on a loop about building area/height with regards to sprinklers etc. I thought I knew the code well, but I do use the Florida Building Code, and most height size restrictions are with zoning, so I never go to that section generally.
I also purchased Sun Wind and Light. I'll see if it feels relevant, but possibly a good book to have around.
I have downloaded Site Planning and Design and AHPP. So I'll be reading those soon... must study SOILS!
Other advice I will give and also plan on taking myself. When I did the practice exams, I had about an hour to spare, so when I got to the real thing, I thought I should really focus on the questions and look over them a couple of times to make sure I answered them right... this was not the right approach. I will most likely go quicker with answering, and flagging the ones I'm not sure about. Typically there will be an ADA question that isn't typical (5'0 clearance, 1:12 ramp is what I know by heart) but there is usually the ADA handbook in one of the case studies to get the answer from. Also possible code related questions. The quicker I can get to the case studies, the better and then calmly review the flagged after that.
Hope this helps someone out there. Otherwise I needed to vent.
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