I passed my second ARE Division, Project Management (PjM), on January 21, 2019. I passed my PcM November 11, 2018.
I wanted to share again some of my experience with studying for the test that led me to this point and give back to this forum which has been the best resource for helping me study:
- I decided on the Project Management part of the exam since the ARE forum recommended taking all the “contract” exams together PcM, PjM, and CE. So my next test is CE which I’m hoping to take in the next 2 months. Ideally you retain all your knowledge from the previous tests which should help you for each following test. The prior knowledge of PcM did really help for the PjM test and I was less apprehensive about scheduling another exam.
- I started review of around Thanksgiving of last year of generally reading study materials but really started regularly studying right after Christmas until my exam date. I studied the Ballast 5.0 study guide and later the Ballast Practice Exam, the Architect Handbook of Professional Practice 15th edition.
- I studied 1 hr every day either at lunch or after work then 3-4 on Saturday and Sunday. If I missed a day, I would make it up the next day. I tried to not do more than 1 hr of studying at a time. The hardest part was removing distractions, so lunch studying at work may or may not work for you. You have to figure out the time and place for your studying but there is no way I could do it in less than at least a month of studying.
- READ the NCARB ARE handbook and study the required concepts. If you have a doubt of “is really going to be on the test” look back at the require concepts and whether not it applies. Look at the reference materials and concepts.
- The best resource I had for studying is this ARE 5.0 community. I found other people testing experiences, study guides, and words of wisdom. I found this thread the most useful on figuring where I needed to study https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/360023297494-PjM-Pass-Notes-on-my-prep.
- The Ballast study guide is very useful for concepts but I emphasize that the test might pull from more than one division therefore you cannot assume to just study one division and be done. Do not assume that that all you have to do is study the PjM part of the Ballast book and you will pass the test.
- I took the Ballast practice exam to see where I was and I barely got over 50 percent right, but this pushed me to study more material. I would restudy areas and retake the question until I got every question right. I would push for at least 70 percent right. The difficulty of the ballast test was around the same difficulty of the actual exam minus the calculation questions which I found useful come exam time. The Ballast exam was much more useful for PjM than PcM. I also studied some of the Kaplan ARE 4.0 Material to cover concepts like construction estimating and critical path method of project management, which I felt wasn’t covered well with the Ballast Study Guide.
- There is a really useful recorded lecture series called the Schiff Hardin Hanahan lectures. Look for the 2018 lectures (https://www.schiffhardin.com/professionals/attorneys/d-i/hanahan-michael-j/hanahan-lecture-notes-2018) because they go over the latest AIA documents. I mostly listened to the B-101 and A-201 on my road trips to visit family during the holidays. This by far was the most useful guide for the contract questions that were on the test.
- BUY the Architect Handbook of Professional Practice 15th edition. This book is literally key material for 3 tests PcM, PjM, and CE. There is a Namour-Wright study guide for the AHPP that breaks down the sections you need to study for the exam but you should also review other sections to give context.
- Read the AIA documents. In the recent update, they are incorporating the 2017 AIA documents… which threw me for a loop but then I realized that not as much changed just placed in different locations. This is critical of this test. I end up reading every AIA document recommended for study in the NCARB study guide. The PjM notes that were in the AIA lectures we did last year were super useful as a review/study guide. The biggest help for this was using the Schiff Hardin Lecture to study points that I am not familiar with.
- There are measurement conversions you must know. Yards/Ft, Acre to Ft, Sq Yd/Sq Ft, Cubic Yards to Cubic Ft.
- Understand how to read zoning regulations and how they affect your project.
- I used other people study notes to restudy concepts to keep information fresh. If I didn’t have a lot of time to study, I would study a chunk of the study guide
On test day, I was less nervous because I knew what to expect. I went through each question, marked any questions that I skipped or was not 100% sure of, but worked as fast I could to finish the test. When I finished the test, I went back and looked over the questions that I was not quite sure 100% and tried to really try to understand what the question was trying to ask and answer it to the best of my abilities. Something useful is that in the Case Studies, they give you AIA documents to use for your case study. You can use those to answer questions about the AIA contracts in the rest of the test.
On to CE! I wanted to thank you to all the people who spent time to post on this forum, it has definitely helped break down what at first seemed like an overwhelming task.
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