PjM Pass - study strategy for IPAL students and recent graduates



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    Jordan Margolis


    Congrats on the passing of the exams!  I am wondering what portions specifically of Ballast 4.0 you used for this test.


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    Marissa Yee

    Hi Jordan M,

    Thank you! I'm still feeling a mix of joy and relief.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this post! In Ballast 4.0 2nd Edition, I read the following chapters for both PcM and PjM:

    • Chapter 2 - Environmental Analysis and Project Planning
    • Chapter 48 - Construction Drawings and Details
    • Chapter 49 - The Project Manual and Specifications
    • Chapter 50 - The Primary Contractual Documents
    • Chapter 51 - Bidding Procedures and Documents
    • Chapter 52 - Construction Administration Services
    • Chapter 53 - Project and Practice Management
    These were the 4.0 chapters that aligned with the 5.0 PjM based on this conversion chart. Like I said in my post, Ballast 4.0 and other third party materials are good as secondary sources - a good way to fill out your notes after reading AHPP or ASHPP. In these chapters, I skipped over anything that seemed overly complex or too detailed.
    Good luck with the rest of your studying!
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    Yi Li

    Congratulations! I was hoping to find your post on CE but the link doesn’t work. I am about to take CE next month and I also have 0 work experience. I was wondering if you can pass on some tips to me for CE? In terms of what material you use and study strategies. Thanks !!!

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    Marissa Yee

    Hi Yi Li,

    Thank you, and thanks for reading! Unfortunately, my CE link (and a few others) are currently pending NCARB approval. Hopefully they'll be live in the next few days. My study materials for CE were mostly the same as those listed here for PjM. I also studied Ballast 4.0 Chapters 48-52, and listened to the Schiff Hardin Lectures on B101, A201, and Alternative Project Delivery Methods. There will be pictures requiring you to click on something from a construction site (like one of the problems in the ARE 5.0 Handbook). If you can somehow familiarize yourself with this, that would be ideal.

    Have a good understanding of the following:

    • Construction drawings labeling standards
    • Project delivery methods (and their drivers between cost, quality, time, scope, and risk)
    • The role of the architect, owner, and contractor during project bidding, construction, and project closeout
    • Construction scheduling
    • Changes in the work
    • Submittals
    • Applications for payment, and who is responsible for what
    • Non-conforming work, and who pays for what
    • Substantial vs. final completion, and what each party's role is

    Good luck!

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    Yi Li

    Thanks for the reply! That was really helpful! 

    I was wondering if you can elaborate more on ' There will be pictures requiring you to click on something from a construction site (like one of the problems in the ARE 5.0 Handbook). If you can somehow familiarize yourself with this, that would be ideal." where exactly should i find the material to study for this? 



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    Marissa Yee

    Hi Yi Li,

    Check out page 142 of the ARE 5.0 Handbook. It gives an example of the type of problem I'm trying to describe. As far as I know, there is no dedicated study material for this. I'd suggest looking at pictures of construction sites to familiarize yourself, or flipping through the photos in Fundamentals of Building Construction.

    Hope this helps! 

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    Yi Li

    Thanks for the reply Marissa ! 

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    Kellie Locke

    Hi Marissa, thanks for the post - 

    I took and passed PcM late last year, and I'm taking PjM in a few weeks. I've heard from others about the test having more calculation than PcM (and those questions being time consuming). Do you have any suggestions on study content that prepared you for calculation questions? Also, which test objectives the calculation questions appeared to cover? 

    I'm having a hard time coming across calculation-based questions in my practice materials (I'm using black spectacles, designer hacks, ballast 5.0 book for practice questions). I'm wondering what topics I should study up on to prepare for calculations. Thanks!

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    Marissa Yee

    Hi Kellie,

    Thank you for reading! And congratulations on PcM!

    Yes, I agree that PjM has more calculation based questions. However, I do not necessarily agree that the calculation questions were time consuming. While there were a few questions that required multiple steps, most of the calculation questions needed just one or two steps. From what I remember, they were all simple algebra - no tricky math. As long as you understand which numbers the question is asking you to use and how to use them, you should be in good shape.

    Unfortunately, there is no study material I know of that can help with calculation questions. I'd suggest practicing questions from all sections of the ARE 5.0 Handbook. While these questions won't necessarily simulate the type of questions that will be asked on PjM, this will help you become familiar with the way in which the ARE tends to ask calculation questions. I'd also suggest studying how to calculate for net area, gross area, efficiency; revenue, expense, profit; overhead ratio; utilization rate; net multiplier; contractor's overhead and profit.

    Hope this helps! Good luck on PjM!

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    Kellie Locke

    I appreciate the reply, this is really helpful!

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