So I wanted to come on here for those of you that struggle hardcore with this whole ARE process, and test anxiety. Because that is me. And I want to give you HOPE!
I have always wanted to be an architect so I am very passionate and determined with this process, but have been so discouraged by these exams. I started working at a firm in 2015, and tried by first exam in Dec. of 2016. I passed all but the vignette and was devastated when I woke up at 4am to the fail notification. It dropped my confidence tenfold. I decided to not get too down, waited the 60 days and ended up with the 24 hour flu the day before my exam, still took the test, again, Fail. I decided to try CDS since I thought the content was more up my alley. Took it in June, fail. I was heart broken. My friends were passing, we were studying together and the same material, what was wrong with me?
I decided I needed a long break and was wedding planning so I took almost 2 full years off, transferred to 5.0 and got back on the horse and scheduled PcM for April 2019. I studied everything, bought a Black Spectacles account, took the test and it was terrible, checked my score, Fail.
I took all of May off to focus on the project I was working on but told myself my goal this year was to Pass 2 exams. As much as I wanted to quit after that one, come June 1 I signed up for another Black Spectacles subscription, studied for 5 weeks and scheduled my test a week and a half out, for the Saturday of the 4th of July weekend. (who are we kidding, architects don't get to take holidays)
Long story short I tried to focus on the following things this go around and want to inspire those of you that are as frustrated as I was and still get with this exam process. You can do it!! Don't give up :).
Study Material and order of studying for PjM:
- Week 1: Black Spectacles videos + Black Spec. Practice Test 1
- Week 2: Read areas in AHPP that I scored lowest on the Practice test + Black Spec. Practice Test 2
- Week 3: Read Ballast chapters for PjM and make my own flashcards on italicized words, take Ballast practice problems without timing myself + Black Spec. Practice Test 3
- Week 4-5: Listen to ALL of Schiff Hardin lectures (theres about 36? hours worth, but I found time on my drives to and from work, at lunch, sometimes during work while doing a monotonous task. These are super helpful and worth it, I also recommend highlighting along with the contracts during his lectures and taking notes on how to simplify the provisions in "everyday language") + Black Spec. Randomized Practice Test
- Last few days made a list of all of the "time frames" the owner, architect, contractor, consultants get to respond to anything. I read that this was important to know and I wanted to be prepared and so I wrote and quizzed myself on what each person was allowed for ex. 7 days to respond to this, 14 days give notice to this, 21, 30 etc...
As mentioned above I have extreme test anxiety about these exams. I'm a type 1 perfectionist and get so caught up in the word "Fail" that I go into each test thinking I already have. I listened to the ARE Live podcast on test anxiety and that really helped and I utilized a lot of their strategies and it helped me SO much. I never ran out of time on the practice tests so I told myself I would NOT worry about the clock. I would read each question slowly. Take my time. Mark anything and move onto the next question. I wrote positive affirmations when I first sat down and reminders to stay calm. I also downloaded any memorized information onto the scratch paper before I began to just give myself that freedom to get it off my mind and get ready for the test.
It felt really good and I was very confident leaving, but was so focused on just being calm this time that I didn't want to check my provisionary result because I was just happy that I stayed relaxed! Your attitude, I have found, is just as important as your studying and your memory. You cannot remember anything when you are stressed and overwhelmed. I want to remember this moving forward and to not be afraid of the testing center. It helped me so much and for any of you out there going through the same, I hope it helps you too!
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