A little bit about myself - I am a 5th year B.Arch student, and will be graduating in May 2019. I have passed all six exams as an IPAL student over the past six months (read about IPAL here!). As I was preparing for the AREs, this discussion forum was extremely helpful in suggesting study strategies. However, preparing for these exams was quite challenging, as many authors of these posts already had well established careers. As a student with just a few internships under my belt, and no full-time work experience, I could not always relate. I am writing this post to provide my study strategy and perspective on PjM and the other exams as an IPAL student. While I hope to reach other IPAL students and recent graduates, I hope everyone can find a helpful takeaway from this post.
Project Management was my second exam, taken in late August 2018, one week after Practice Management. I decided to take PjM next based on others' recommendations in the ARE 5.0 Community. PcM and PjM content overlaps quite a bit, particularly in the A201, B101, and project delivery methods. Although I have no applicable experience with project management topics, I found this test very manageable, particularly because the exam's focus on budgeting and staffing hours aligns with my personal preference for math type questions. Within the 3 hour 15 minute exam period, I had enough time to answer all questions, review the marked questions, review all unmarked questions, then review the marked questions again.
This was my study strategy: (All repeated from my PcM post. If you've already read this, please skip to the stars where I discuss study timeline and general exam content)
Architecture Student's Handbook of Professional Practice (14th edition)
In the semester before this exam, I took a professional practice course at my school. It was during this class that I read chapters 4-12 of ASHPP (note: chapter #s are different for the newer 15th edition!). When it came time to compile notes, I simply reorganized the content from ASHPP chapters to the PjM section objectives. ASHPP is a must read. 90% of my PcM, PjM, and CE notes came from this source. I was also lucky that my school's library had access to an online version of ASHPP, so I didn't need to purchase the book. I did look at AHPP momentarily. However, I recommend ASHPP because it is shorter and easier to understand, but still comprehensive.
I purchased a Ballast 4.0 textbook from Amazon. Why a 4.0 textbook? At the time, the ARE 5.0 prep materials were limited and had mixed reviews on Amazon. While this textbook was organized based on the ARE 4.0 divisions, I used this conversion chart to figure out which 4.0 chapters would be applicable to each 5.0 exam. Reading the Ballast chapters for PcM, PjM, and CE took about four weeks, four hours a week. I then used this information to fill in the gaps of my existing ASHPP notes. Overall, this is a good secondary source. The following chapters apply to 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
I study most effectively when I'm presented with questions that challenge me to test my knowledge. Thus, I purchased the Designer Hacks tests to help me practice concepts (this was before I found out about Black Spectacles). Although I did find DH helpful, the questions are not nearly as difficult or time consuming as the real exam. If you like actively testing your knowledge as a study method, I'd recommend Black Spectacles, which is a subscription based ARE prep company. Their practice exams are a bit more realistic in terms of question difficulty and format.
After receiving the preliminary pass on PcM, I came home and scheduled PjM one week out at the end of August. I had six days to prepare, and studied about three hours a day. I spent the first day assembling a new set notes according to the PjM section objectives, pulling information from ASHPP primarily, and Ballast 4.0 secondarily. I spent the second day making flashcards on topics I found difficult to memorize. During the remainder of the days, I reviewed my notes, went through my flashcards, and took the Designer Hacks practice tests.
Like PcM, I thought the ARE 5.0 Handbook did a good job of outlining expected exam topics. Have a good understanding of team staffing, finances, team communication, quality control, project schedule, construction schedule, project delivery methods, B101, A201, C401, project budget, cost estimating, cost control, managing scope, project documentation, and zoning/land restrictions. Unlike PcM, PjM seemed to have a lot more calculation based questions rather than speculative situational questions (if X event occurs, what is Y person's best course of action?).
I highly recommend studying for PjM along with PcM and CE because of the overlapping content. Feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!
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