Oh my god I am excited to say that I finally passed Practice Management on 3/6, which was my 3rd try for this exam. I studied for this exam along with Project Management (which I take Wednesday 3/13). While studying, I did not make a distinction between the exams until the week before. So, the week prior to PcM I focused more on strictly PcM material and this week I will be focused more on PjM material. I found that studying for these two exams together gave me a better/well-rounded understanding of all the topics.
I have studied every single day since January 2nd and tracked all my time on a Google spreadsheet with the hours and roughly what content I went over that day. When I got to PcM, I had studied 180+ hours, which ended up being an average of 20 hrs/week. Some weeks it was more, some it was less. In the beginning of January, I printed out calendars to make a plan for myself and tried to map out what resources I wanted to go over and how much time each would take me. Since I had taken these exams before, I roughly had an idea of how long things would take.
I sprained my wrist pretty bad after getting into a small bike accident at the beginning of February. This really affected my studying for at least a week, since I needed to all of a sudden go to urgent care and have multiple doctors visits, and was generally in a LOT of pain. I actually had to reschedule and postpone each of the exams 1 week because I felt like I had lost momentum and fallen behind. I am glad I was able to do this.
For a lot of these, this was my 3rd time going through the materials.
- AHPP, 15th Edition: I am a very slow reader and don't always retain information very well while reading, so getting through the AHPP (for the 3rd time) was a hurdle. I combined the Kevin Griendling PcM and PjM guides and studied AHPP for 3/4 weeks at the beginning of January. The week leading up to PcM, I reviewed the AHPP with the Wiley content guide which helped refresh my memory on some chapters.
- Schiff Hardin lectures: I think I listened to all of these except one or two. I printed out each of the lecture slides and took notes while I was listening. I sped up the lectures (listened at 1.25 or 1.3 speed) to get through some of them quicker. I re-listened to the contract ones whenever I was able to. Make sure you're listening to the 2018 lecture series where he references the 2017 contracts! I felt like these lectures were seriously valuable.
- Pluralsight: I subscribed for one month and listened/watched these whenever I could. I think the Pluralsight series is an affordable option for a supplemental audio/video guide. After I sprained my wrist I had to stop riding my bike, so I listened to these on the bus, while I was walking around, etc. I'd listen to/watch the slides over and over until I felt like I had a good idea of things I was having trouble with.
- DesignerHacks: I already had these as a resource from previously studying. I think the DesignerHacks questions are an affordable option for practice questions. Yes, maybe a bit easier than some of the actual test questions, but I felt like it helped me with timing out how long I take to get through questions.
- Ballast: A generous friend who has passed the exams has lent me his Ballast materials. I reviewed PcM/PjM chapters when I started studying, and took some of the practice exams toward the end of my studying. Some of the questions/answers were a little weird and felt like they kind of came out of nowhere, and I didn’t end up relying on Ballast too much in relation to the other materials.
- AIA Contracts: I studied all of the contracts for PcM/PjM together. I printed them out and took notes. I don’t know if there’s a good way to organize contract information, but the Schiff Hardin lectures help with understanding.
- Black Spectacles: I did not sign up for their subscription service, but I did watch a lot of the PcM/PjM mock exam videos on YouTube. It was helpful for me to have people talk through questions they proposed.
WHAT HELPED ME
- Quizlet: While I was studying for PcM/PjM in 2018, I took notes and made flashcards while reading AHPP and using Quizlet. This time around, I went back through and updated some flashcards, organized them a bit better, added some extra terms. I loved using Quizlet because it was a free and easy way to organize some notes, and at the end I printed it out and used it like a study guide. You can also use it on your phone and search for others ARE notes as well. If anyone is interested, these are my notes.
- Study Guides: I printed out Tatyana’s PcM/PjM study guides from this forum and read through those a few times the week before PcM.
- One of the hardest parts of these exams is just understanding how I study best. I made Google spreadsheets for myself for Project Delivery Methods, Project Phases & Services and Firm Legal Structures. I was able to organize content in a way that made sense to me.
- Since this was my 3rd time studying for PcM, I tried to really pay attention to what content I was familiar with and what content I was having a had time with. I can get easily distracted and easily tired from reviewing certain things so I needed to learn when to set boundaries and give myself breaks.
- Any time I came across a term or concept I didn't understand, I stopped what I was doing and looked up articles, YouTube videos, literally anything I could find until I fully understood it. I would watch things over and over or search for additional information until I got it. If I didn't have time to look it up at that time, I added it to a running list of items I needed to re-review later.
- Right now, I work on the weekends and have off Monday/Tuesday (my “weekends”), so I scheduled my exams for Wednesday mornings.
- I had a pretty good idea of what to expect since this was my 3rd time taking the exam. I felt the most confident I had felt out of any of the exams, but did get nervous when I got to the more financial math related questions.
- I felt comfortable with the amount of time I had for each question, and found that I had plenty of time to review marked questions.
This process has seriously been a struggle. Unrelated to the exams, I was dealing with a lot of mental health things about 6-9 months ago, and just the idea of retaking the exams would send me into panic. I had to readjust my life a lot to help me deal with some of the mental health obstacles I needed to overcome, and I’m happy that I got to a point where I felt ready to take the exams again. I was very nervous since I had failed PcM 2x and PjM 1x before, but I’m glad my hard work paid off for PcM and hoping that PjM goes well next week.
The best advice I can give is to truly figure out what works best for you. Everyone studies in different ways. If you’re having a hard time with something, give yourself a break and then keep going. I realize this was a long post, so thank you for reading.
Updated to add my post PjM Pass - 3rd Try: https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/360033128234-PjM-Pass-3rd-Try
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