Looks like I am finally done with the madness, so I wanted to share my process and thoughts. I have 3 years of traditional architecture firm experience, but I have been out of school about 10 years and working in a variety of architecture-related positions since completing my internship hours. So, I was a bit rusty. However, I studied a lot and managed to pass all the exams on the first try.
I checked out Architect Exam Prep when I first started easing into studying a year ago and found it lacking and the questions confusing. After the first exam, I used only Ballast and primary materials, like Bldg Construction Illustrated, Architect’s Studio Companion, Architectural Graphic Standards, Fundamentals of Bldg Construction, Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice and Bldg Codes Illustrated 2009. None of my books were the latest edition, except AHPP which belongs to my office. I felt most comfortable with PA, so I started with that and saw it as a practice exam to get me into studying. I was shocked when I passed. Actually, I was shocked every time I finished an exam and saw the provisional pass, but more on that later.
I found the material in PA, PPD and PDD to be similar and progressive, so studying for them in this order worked best for me. Kind of working from the broad to the narrow in terms of content. I took a few months off for the holidays but was studying again by mid-January. I had very little contract experience, but I used the Schiff Hardin lectures on contracts and read through the contracts on my own a few times. I had an unexpected trip between PcM and PjM, so I managed to study very little between those two. But once I passed PjM, I was so sick of studying that I scheduled CE for as soon as I could.
PA – 7/2/18
PPD – 9/24/18
PDD – 10/16/18
PcM – 2/26/19
PjM – 3/11/19
CE – 4/1/19
I studied a lot more for the first three exams, so I think starting with the PcM, PjM, CE exams would also work. Unfortunately, I am incredibly disappointed with the quality of the exams. I had multiple exams that had questions repeat, with only slight differences. For example, I had the same question asked with slightly different answers so that it would have been possible for me to narrow down the answer from 4 options to 2 if I had no idea what the answer was. And one where they basically asked to solve for A, if A+B=C and then later a question with the exact same numbers to solve for B. I had questions where not enough information was given, the answers all seemed correct, but I could only choose the best three, and questions that seemed way better suited to a different exam.
On PA, I considered leaving at my break, I was so frustrated and thought it was a lost cause. I felt only slightly better at the rest of the exams. By the end, on every single exam, I was pretty sure I had failed. I flagged dozens of questions for review, and only managed to review them all on CE. I ran out of time on every other exam and even CE only had about 3 minutes left. I could probably rant for pages about how frustrated I was with this whole process, because every exam seemed like a shot in the dark. Lastly, if would have been incredibly helpful to get a score report even if you passed. The exams overlap so much that knowing the areas that I could improve on would have been helpful for future exams.
Last exam - 4/1/19
NCARB record completed – 4/15/19
NCARB record sent to Texas - 5/24/19 (30 business days)
Texas response – 5/30/19
Paid Texas and Rec’d Registration – 5/31/19
NCARB took two weeks to close my record or something before the 30 business days to process it could start, and then took the whole 30 days. Calling them multiple times yielded very little information except that I should call back the following week to check. Once they sent my record to the state, Texas turned it around almost immediately and even issued my registration the same day I paid online.
To conclude: Everyone is different. You need to find what works best for you. My schedule of studying 1-2 hours every night and then more on the weekends may not fit your life. I had a calendar with what areas I wanted to study on which days and used that to schedule the exams. Use the primary materials listed in the exam guide – you don’t necessarily need to shell out the money for boot camp or prep materials. Once you schedule an exam, it is a lot easier to motivate yourself to study. This whole thing was frustrating, but hopefully the results will be worth all the effort. Use this forum – it was immensely helpful to see what everyone else struggled with and how they were studying. Good luck!
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