I just took and passed Construction and Evaluation this past Saturday, and wanted to do a quick write up of my experience and my study materials. This is my third test and third pass, after I completed Practice Management and Project Management earlier this year. I've found this community to easily be the most helpful resource as I prepare for my test, so I like to give back and help out any way that I can. Below are links to my other two posts for anyone looking into Practice Management or Project Management:
I booked my CE exam almost immediately after I had received the official pass from my Project Management exam. However, the testing centers near me had filled up quite quickly and I ultimately had about 5 weeks in between these exams. I wish that they were much closer together than that, but it just gave more time to study and refine what I needed to know. I originally continued at my study pace of about 20 hours a week, but due to the holidays and some professional projects I ended up falling out of that after about 2 weeks. Then in the last week I had a final push to study before the exam and ended up passing.
I credit a lot of this the overlap of both Practice Management and Project Management. There were several posts on here that spoke about studying for all three of these exams simultaneously and then testing all in the same week. I read those posts and wrote that off for myself because I knew that this was just not possible as there is just so much information to take in so how could you stack up all of that information and then retain and apply it all to different tests all so quickly. However, now that I have passed all of those three I understand what those people meant. It is absolutely possible to knock out these three exams in a much shorter time span than the 6 months I spent on them. I would recommend for anyone that is currently studying for one of these exams to seriously consider this.
Ballast Review Manual - This is always a great resource for the exams, and usually my first stop when I need to begin studying for a new exam. It is a little broad, but that is what makes it such a great introduction into the material you need to know. I'm about to dive into Programming and Analysis and this is my first resource
Ballast Practice Exam - I swear by these practice exams, as I find the information that they ask you is very in line with what you will see on the actual exam. I have even seen some questions in the practice exam that are almost exactly the same on my various tests. I take these practice exams several times before I book the actual seat credit for the test. Usually I want about a 75-80% before I will book the exam and then continue to study. The case studies are very helpful with giving you several resources to go through and teach you that you probably don't need to use every single one they provide. I have noticed some mistakes in practice exams, but it is still one of the best resources to assess how your studying has paid off
Architect's Handbook to Professional Practice - This is a great resource, but I honestly did not use it for this exam.
Designer Hacks Quizzes - I really enjoyed these quizzes when I first started studying for my first exam, but I have really fallen out of even using them. I found that for Project Management the questions just did not align with my other study materials and ultimately the actual exam. I barely used them for the CE exam, but it is nice to take the quick 10 question or 25 question practice test quickly at work or to break up some other study material
Schiff Hardin Lectures - These will be the best resource that you can use for the studying for CE. They are all great but I have really only listened to the A201 lectures and the B101 Lectures for my tests so far. Each of these lectures are broken up into two lectures and are about six hours for each contract. However, he does a great job of taking you through the important portions of the contract and explaining a real world example of that clause of the contract. These little stories are very helpful because you won't find these anywhere else other than maybe your own professional experience. I have extremely limited experience with this in my job, so I was very appreciative
NCARB Handbook - I sort of missed out on this when I took my first exam, but now I know to look through the PDF on the NCARB site quite often. If you haven't looked through this several times for each exam, then you definitely should be. NCARB tells you what it expects from you on the exam, and even provides you with several practice questions. There are several third party materials that are great for studying but NCARB is the one that will be testing you, so you should trust what they say you need to know. I have found that this handbook is also a great resource for testing how well your other study materials are, because they should help you in one or many of the areas that they tell you that will be on the exam
The Actual Exam - Once again, these test will be HARD no matter how confident you are and how much you study. My strategy has been to jump to the case studies and then work my way through the exam as quickly as possible while answering every question. I just flag anything that I am not 100% sure about and know that I will come back to it later. Once I get through the entire exam, I take my 15 minute break and get some water and just take a breather.
I think I spent over an hour on the two case studies in my first pass of the exam, and I definitely spent a good amount of time going over them again. Just note that they will give you a bunch of resources in the case studies and you may not need to use them all. Something good to note is that you may have the A201 or the B101 contract as a resource on your exam, and you should use this to your advantage if you do. The entire exam references the A201 quite often, so if you have that contract to reference you should be all set.
There were several posts on the community that spoke about having to identify parts of construction photos and needing to know different types of details for construction. I definitely agree with these people that flipping through Building Construction Illustrated by Ching is a good idea if you have it, but not necessarily something you must do. I don't have a ton of Construction Administration experience with my job, but I felt I handled these questions alright just based off of my experience of drawing wall sections for residential projects and some commercial work.
There were several questions that require you to know construction details such as roof drains, masonry wall sections, foundations, foundation drain systems, finished grade among others. However, this is not something I personally studied very much. Most of these questions revolve around using common sense and critical thinking so you should be qualified to answer these with even basic construction document detail experience. Just read the questions carefully and studying the image or drawing before you rush to an answer.
The best piece of advice I could give you is to know the A201 inside and out. But you don't feel like you need to memorize anything as the exam, much like what will happen professionally, is entirely situational. The exam will set the scene and you'll need to know how to handle that situation. Knowing how long a contractor has to submit a substitution before the closing of the bid is great, but it's not going to help you know how much the owner is on the hook for if his contractor goes bankrupt but has a performance bond with a surety. This is another reason to definitely use the A201 if you happen to have that as a resource on your case studies, as you'll need to understand where to find the relevant guidelines in the contract to make an informed decision on each situation.
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