Failed 6 exams. Is it TEST ANXIETIES? Going to retake PjM soon. Please advise!

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11 comments

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    Juliann Chen

    Mai,

    Don't give up! I've felt many moments in life where I felt like my efforts weren't helping me pass, but I finally passed my first one. Still have a long ways to go, but I told myself to change my way of thinking. I told myself to enjoy the process of studying rather than -- let's get this studying over with. It's really changed my attitude towards taking the exams and studying. I think that part is important especially for those who are struggle more with standardized testing. After taking tests, immediately brain dump everything that you can remember from the test - write it down. Brush up on it for the next round. 

    Also, since I have anxiety too.... when I get stuck on a problem, or am totally not understanding what the exam is saying. I close my eyes for two seconds and take a deep breath. It helps me refocus and concentrate. A brain refresher - and it just helps my stress and anxiety go away for a bit. 

    Sorry I don't have tips on the actual studying or test taking part. But these mental changes and practices really helped me. I hope it'll help you too.

     

    Good luck Mai, we are all rooting for you!

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    RJ

    There's a lot of people going through this, myself as well, so rest assured your in good company. Studying is just part of taking these exams, then there's taking the actual exam and all the psychological factors that follow. These exams give you a multitude of questions in a short compressed amount of time and so it's TIME that's a real factor. Generally you're given about 2 minutes to answer each question, and some people can digest it quicker than others, nonetheless if you haven't fully 'digested' the question you still have to 'execute' if you want to finish the exam. Generally I mark a lot of questions because I have to read it fast (sometimes 3 or 4 times!) and then pick my best answer and move on, skipping any calculation questions until I reach the case studies then take a break. Come back,  address the case studies, marking questions and skipping calculations until I reach the end of the exam then answer all skipped questions until I reach the end of the exam and then I'll usually have about 45 min. to go through my marked questions giving me the time to go through every marked question and think about it some more. This strategy has worked for me on a few of them but i'v also failed using this as well so 'perseverance' is also a virtue with these exams, as well as studying, the weather, how your feeling and a little bit of luck. Stay on it.

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    Mollie Pelletier

    I am not sure it is much help, but these exams, in my opinion, are as much about reading comprehension and test taking skill as they are about actual knowledge.  The sentence structure can be very complex and sometimes it is hard to know exactly what the question is asking. My best advice is to read the questions very carefully and answer only based on the information given and only what the question asks. Move quickly through the questions and have time for a second read after you have answered them all.  Some people are better at this than others and I honestly think the pass or fail can hinge on how well you take tests. 

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    Jenny Guzman

    I agree with all the comments said here and empathize very much. I understand your state as I feel the same way. I have been told that you can read/study all the information as possible and still not pass. Your brain can only retain so much and it is more about how you use the information you know and analyze the question given. Giving yourself time to breathe and relax (8 hours of sleep and the CALM APP or similar) works wonders. 

     

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    Kelly Duignan

    Hi Mai,

    I'm not sure if I have any specific advice for you, but wanted to chime in and say that you're definitely not alone in feeling the stress and test anxieties.  I've taken 3 exams and have not been able to pass any, I'm restudying for PcM and PjM right now and scheduled to take them in late Feb/early March.  I have made a lot of big life changes in the past few months that I really hope will positively affect my test taking abilities, but only time will tell.

    I also have made good use of the ARE Handbook suggested materials and often question if there are certain 3rd party sources that are right for me to supplement my studying with.  I am trying very hard to be patient with myself, allow myself time and alternatives to understand materials that are confusing to me at first.  I have found relief in this forum at times and understanding that others are struggling with certain things too.  The process can be frustrating and is definitely not easy.  I'm sure it may feel upsetting to you but I think your persistence in continuing to keep trying the exams is great.  Good luck in the new year.

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    Meredith Harmon

    You guys are SO not alone!! I am either the DUMBEST architect on earth --- who has yet to get fired from my job.. or something else.. I have failed 3 of the 3 exams I have taken as well. I study, read, take the practice tests, score like 80% and then get to the center and BOMB. so I totally understand. DON'T GIVE UP!! :) you will pass.. 

     

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    Meredith Harmon

    Good Luck to you Kelly!! 

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    Rodolfo Martin

    I started failing PM (twice) and PjM. I rested for a couple of months and I restarted with C&E. It is not tht I just passed. I found it very easy and now I am very ready for PjM because they have a lot of material in common. My situation was that I was rusty for testing. I was unable to finish the exams. I am a foreigner with 18 years of experience in the USA. The best piece of advise at the time for texting is to have a good pacing plan, that I already wrote in another post. This is what worked for me: 20 questions answered every 30 minutes. This way, you will have like 90 minutes for the case studies and some time to review questions. After having passed C&E, I feel I am not rusty anymore. 

    The exams are very daily experience based. I never found them tricky. My feeling is that they are made to help the candidates to pass, not to fail.  You need to study but you experience counts a lot. I listen to my colleagues, who are also testing, and the most common comment is that there are many questions that do not come from any book, just can be answered because of their experience.

     

    Don't feel disappointing. I am a father and I  don;t get back home to study. There is always something going on in the family. It is much easier to study when you are single but you are running a family it is not impossible.

    Good luck. You will be licenced soon

  • Avatar
    Yike Qin

    Hi Mai,

    Taking exams as a single parent with four children can definitely very stressful! However, do not be discouraged.

    If you think you know the materials well, maybe think if there is any issues related to test taking strategies. During the exam, make sure you read the questions carefully. Issues such as turn north of a project, what exactly does the question ask you to pick or choose can easily throw you off if you missed them. 

    Good luck!

  • Avatar
    Mai Phan

    THANK YOU all for your input and advice.  I'm greatly appreciate you sharing your personal experience about the exams and suggestions on how I can improve. Unfortunately, I did FAIL my 7th exam.  I am concluding it's how I read the questions.  I understand the ARE was developed to help pass the exams and not to fail us.  Right now I'm taking a coaching programs for the exams and am scheduled to retake 2 exams next month.  Trying to learn how to have a different perspective about the exam, and how I study for it.  I won't quit and will eventually understand the exams soon.  

  • Avatar
    Rodolfo Martin

    Dear Mai,

    We all understand your frustration. I am not born American and, based on your name, you were not born American either. Forgive me if I am being biased. Maybe, like me, you were not educated with multiple choice test. I failed three exams before passing my first one. I was rusty and I wasn't able to finish them. That was frustrating. It is important that you limit the materials that you are using because the more material it can be more redundant and it is time consuming. There are not many exams that you can prepare at the same time. Probably Division 2 and 6 are good to prepare together. Also Div 4 and 5 are the same case. I prepare by one.

    In my case, I thought that my language barrier was a problem because I noticed that some time I have to read the question and re-read it  for a second time and a third time. But I found that my native English speaker coworkers have the same problem. 

    Remember, you don;t have to answer 100% correct. I think a 70% warranty the passing and in some cases even a 52% is a passing score. Flag the questions that you are not sure and it you did not flag more than 30% of the questions, you can assume you are passing.

    Let me know what material you are using, I have a lot of things to offer and I will be happy to share.

    Good luck.

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