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 CE 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.
Construction + Evaluation was my third exam in three weeks, taken after PjM and PcM last September. During the Spring 2018 semester, my professional practice professor had encouraged all of his students to take PjM and PcM shortly after finishing his course. I had accomplished just that, and was ready to stop testing until after graduation. However, I read a few posts on the ARE 5.0 Community, and found that CE content overlaps significantly with PjM and PcM, particularly with the A201 and B101. Despite my lack of knowledge on CA activities and construction sites, I took a risk and scheduled CE two weeks after PjM.
This was my study strategy: (somewhat repeated from my PjM and PcM posts)
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 CE:
- 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
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.
With a whole two weeks in between PjM and CE, I found some free time on my hands and decided to try out the Schiff Hardin Lectures. I listened to the lectures on the B101, A201, and Alternative Project Delivery methods. They were very helpful in clarifying the roles of the owner, architect, and contractor during BN, CA, and project closeout. Would highly recommend this as a secondary source. It's great for listening to while you're cooking, washing dishes, folding laundry, etc.
I found this exam to be hardest of the three I had taken thus far. (Those with CA experience will likely disagree with that statement.) While I had a solid grasp on most of the concepts outlined in the ARE 5.0 Handbook, I struggled with the questions that required me to click on pictures of a construction site (see p.142 of the handbook). Because of my lack of CA experience and short exposure to site visits, I did not know many of the items I was being asked about in those picture problems. Despite this, I managed to pass CE on the first try. If you do not have much CA or site visit experience, I'd recommend focusing your studying on the other exam objectives. With a higher score in all other areas, this will hopefully provide you wiggle room when it comes to those construction site picture questions.
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
- 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 studying! Feel free to leave questions below!
Check out my other posts!
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