Just got back after taking the exam, which was my first ARE 5.0 exam. I left very frustrated for a couple of reasons -- I ran out of time, and the case study drawings and documents were extremely cumbersome to navigate.
The majority of the exam isn't much different from the 4.0, but the interface is a little better. Some graphics were displayed much too small, but holding control and scrolling the mouse wheel will zoom the window much like in web browsers and other programs. This made reading some of the notes and such much easier. I'm not sure why they displayed so small to begin with. The case study material however, I wanted to use the same keys and mouse functions that any PDF program would have to make navigating the documents easier. This is not the case. The mouse wheel only scrolls the page up and down, the scroll bars have to be used and the zoom + and - keys as well. Switching between plans, elevations, sections, etc. was a long drawn out task. I want to say I spent a third of my time trying to get what I was looking for on the screen and at the right size to read. No amount of practice will prepare for that, it just needs work by NCARB.
I had 4:15 for the exam, but the last 24 questions on the case studies took over an hour for me to get through, and I had to guess on the last 4 because I ran out of time. I didn't expect it at all and thought I managed my time well up until then.
Some other concerns I have is that many equations needed for certain calculations were not given like I thought they would be. Many equations are, but only half of the ones I actually needed were given. The rest I just had to play with the numbers and make an educated guess.
A few graphic questions had details or drawings that were extremely confusing to read, due to a very small scale or having very little context. It's just not what I'm used to seeing after working in an office for over 5 years now. Some hatch patterns were used without knowing what they were but was integral to understanding the application and the subject matter of the question. Read up on graphic standards I guess!
Also, don't assume that the IBC content given will cover all of the questions. I had a question concerning chapter 10 but only chapter 5 and 6 snippets were available, with no questions about those two chapters. Very confusing, but thankfully I knew the answer.
At the end of the exam it did say I most likely passed, so obviously I was happy but still frustrated over the experience.
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