This forum has been a great resource for me, so I thought I would add my 2 cents to the discussion.
I just took the exam this morning and got the prelim pass at the end (YAY!). I ended up finishing the whole exam in 2 hours exactly (I took about a 10 minute break) and still had 1 hr 15 min still on the clock. I was worried about the timing, since so many people have said that the timing was tight. I didn't experience this though, I guess I am just a quick test taker in general?
I just dove right into the MC and then took my break once I got to the case studies, knowing that I could flip to the case studies if I came up on a question about code or ADA I didn't already know. This was my first 5.0 exam after passing PPP and CDS in 4.0 last year. PPP was SO stressful right before the deadline, that it took me 6 months to recover and want to start studying again!
Anyway, once I was about 30 questions in, I sat back and was like, Wow, this test is so much easier than I expected! I felt like the questions were great, that they actually were asking about what architects do every day, and they weren't trying to trick you or trip you up at all. In general, I felt like it was a very straightforward exam -- unlike PPP! And I felt like my work experience really made the difference in this exam. I realized about halfway through that it was really testing my ability to apply knowledge to certain situations rather than regurgitate memorized facts. I probably could have not studied at all for this, and still got at least 50% correct.
What I used to prepare:
- 7 years of school (with an emphasis on sustainable design and urban planning in undergrad)
- 5 years of full time work experience (I'm the go-to commercial person in my small firm) where I do code review and manage projects from SD-CA on the daily. I also take joy in finding loop holes in the code that let us do fun things we didn't think possible, haha!
- Ballast -- half of the chapters were the same ones I studied for PPP, so I just skipped those. This past week I went back through my handwritten notes on that material and it was sufficient. I feel like this is good for site planning?
- Brightwood and Ballast Practice Exams -- KEY RESOURCE! I scored a 60% and 65% on both of those last week, and that made me REALLY nervous, but those questions are tougher than the ones that were actually on my exam
- Problem Seeking -- skimmed, had skimmed it before for PPP
- Site Planning and Design Handbook -- Skimmed at the university library... Probably spent too much time on this (about 3 hours) since I skimmed all of it instead of reading the forum first on which chapters to focus on! Ch 1-4, 7, 8 & Appendix A, BTW.
- Designer Hacks mock exam
- Black Spectacles mock exam on YouTube (good resource, skipped through it quickly)
- Brushed up on the Rehabilitation guidelines
- Googled soil types and which foundations are best for what soils, since the practice exams had a lot of questions about this -- actual test didn't really. Also Googled Radon build up, since I'm not really familiar with it and it didn't show up in my study material (that I noticed, I skimmed a lot!). Had one question on radon, so I was glad I did that!
I think that is it.. again, I think that work experience is key in this exam.
Good luck ya'll -- onward NCARB soldiers!
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