Took the exam yesterday, and it’s insane, I actually passed. Get that clock rolling.
My background is extensive. Long story short my first job in an architecture firm was in 1999. After graduation in 2005 I worked in London for a few years. I then, in Toronto worked at a few good firms. Decided then to move to NYC, and finally, going more south to Miami (done with winter). I finally realized it was time to get licensed.
So I was pretty confident in starting the ARE’s. I redline, I teach, I guide on architectural principals all the time. I have extensive knowledge in many climate zones, building codes etc. I decided to start the process with PA. It is something I know well how to do. Zoning diagrams, site analysis, etc. I failed PA twice. The first time, I had assumed my real-world knowledge would guide me, but nope, not at all. The second time, I was prepared, I even felt like the exam was easier, I gave myself time, Prometric didn’t disappoint etc. So, when I pressed that feedback button and saw the likely fail, I felt I got kicked in my stomach, it’s over… what do they want from me.
So my PcM adventure started. I started off by booking the exam, to set a goal. I will procrastinate otherwise. I then looked over what I need to study, and thought, oh crap, now this stuff, I REALLY DON’T know. If I failed PA, I’m in trouble with PcM. I mean, I don’t run my firm, I don’t do accounting, I look at a contract, maybe, once every 5 years… Insurance? Ethics?? There is no way! However, I really do think this is valuable to learn. I don’t think anyone should think they can shortcut their way out of this. I really don’t think I studied enough, even though I passed, I’m not going to suggest what I actually did, I will suggest more on what I planned to do, because I truly feel if I took the exam again tomorrow, I would fail.
An amazing feature I discovered in Acrobat, is Read Out Loud under the View tab. So much of the reading material can be done this way. I only discovered this a few days before my exam!
This is the order, in my opinion, of value/importance:
(59 hrs of reading) AHPP (The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice), read the damn thing. I would use the guideline, Wiley’s Navigating the ARE with AHPP to take notes, but I suggest reading the whole book. The only downside is they still refer to 2007 contracts not the 2017 contracts. Most of the NCARB questions refer to this book… not third-party resources. So just read it.
(20 hrs of listening) Schiff Hardin Lectures by Mike Hanahan. They are free, and the latest are downloadable and he refers to the 2017 contracts. I listened to him in my car to and from work, even though my drive is only 18min and the lectures are long, I was able to get it all in. I would listen to all of them as he talks about insurance and economics of a practice etc. I would suggest looking at the contracts as he goes through them.
(14 hrs of class) Young architects weekend workshop for PcM, PjM and CE. A few days before my test, a workshop in Tampa popped up on my Facebook feed. I figured, heck, I can use any last-minute guidance. 4hr drive where I prepared to listen to Hanahan and pdf’s. This community is a great platform, but being able to meet in person, people in the same boat and also people who’ve had success is invaluable. Michael Riscica from Young Architects set up the workshop and had Lorenzo, and Esther, both ARE candidates who passed the 3 Pro Practice exams, go through some practice problems and answer questions (I had quite a few). They pretty much drilled in some items I wouldn’t have thought to focus on. Some good tips on how to read the test questions. There are many clues given in the questions themselves.
(7hrs of watching) Amber Videos. These ones do make you focus, and I took a lot of notes. They show a good deal of accounting.
(3hrs of reading) Ballast book. This is when I found out about the read out loud feature and listened to the book during work. It’s a condensed version of AHPP, so it just hammered it home.
(11 Hrs of watching) Black Spectacles. Honestly, I’m not a fan. I would speed up his speech, but it’s really easy for me to get distracted and not focus on him. I do like the practice exams even though I got 50% before my actual exam.
I would have liked to have time to do the Pluralsight Videos. I think they’re a more affordable option. I also think Boot Camp with Young Architects looks like a great way to study. I didn’t find out about it until later, but for those who are just starting, I would recommend it.
I would break up all you need to go through in realistic hours per day. Most people read 2min/page. I think I allowed 3min to take notes. Give yourself daily goals. I said 1hr at lunch and 2hrs after work, at your desk, if I’d go home, it’s over, my brain turns off. I tried to not schedule anything on the weekends so I can catch up on things I didn’t do over the week (life happens). Also, I’d do a full practice exam (3hrs) each week. Then leave the last week to clean up your notes. Make them neat, make sure the stuff sinks in.
I started the test by doing a mind dump in the beginning, on the sketch paper (note, if you need more paper, they take your original away, so write small) I wrote out financial equations and some tables from AHPP that I managed to memorize last minute (due to the workshop!). During the test, I was very doubtful. I felt like I was flagging every other question. I was writing down things I need to study more of so I can pass it next time (I was that convinced). I was confident in the accounting (but I’m a math brained person) but maybe only 10% of the test had those questions. I had about 15 minutes of review time at the end, and went back to the flagged questions, I probably changed half when I noticed those “clues”. But then the test ended. I felt defeated. It’s over. At this point NCARB asks me about my life, like how much did I study etc… just get me out of here, I’m thirsty, I’m cold, I want my mommy. Then the feedback button came. I took a deep breath, I pressed it, the wheel started spinning… and then I saw the blue letters… I likely PASSED!!! What??? Really?? Tears came to my eyes, I nearly ran out of the room without signing out. I still didn’t believe it until this morning, when I got the report. It is possible. In two weeks, I have PjM, and I know I need to cram a lot more in.
Good luck, I hope this helps.
Please sign in to leave a comment.