I took PJM last week and passed on my first try! Instead of focusing on what study materials I used (mostly AHPP, AIA contracts, and Brightwood) and how long I studied for (1.5 months), I think it might be more beneficial to share some test taking tactics that I feel helped me pass!
1. Skip to the case studies when you start the test: this way you get a feel for what type of attachments they may provide (i.e. aia contracts). I found it helpful to skim through the table of contents on the contracts just to refresh myself on where to find references for the rest of the test in case I would need it.
2. Skip all the questions that involve math and deal with it later: I ran through the test in chronological order, but when i get to questions involving math, i skip it for later. I suggest though to scribble down on your scratch paper the question numbers that involve math and note what kind of problem it is (i.e. fee calculation, conversion math etc..) that way you've categorized it and it will be easier to get back to later.
3. On the topic of math, know your imperial conversions ahead of time: remember - there are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard ;)
4. Know how to navigate yourself through the case study interface: Those tricky pdfs can be annoying to sift through even with a search option because it takes so long to load. What really helps is the bookmark button that outlines the contents of the documents because it hyperlinks you to the section where you need to be instead of sifting through the search results.
5. If you are taking too long on a question, flag it, and come back to it later: i found this test to be really time consuming with the amount of math related questions it had and reading through project schedules and such. if you don't pace yourself you will definitely run out of time. I would say out of the 3hr 15 minutes, 2hr 15 minutes of it was the first pass of flying through the entirety of the test and the last 1hr was going back through flagged and skipped questions. time management really is your friend. don't spend too much time on a question, especially because you may be able to find an answer to that question from another question on the test.
5. On that note, answer every question: even when you know you have absolutely no idea what it could be, put something down. every point counts. i wouldn't get too hung up on the case studies either because those are also just a point each. i definitely bet on answering as much of the standard multiple choice questions correctly as you can than getting caught up on the case studies because they will obviously take a bit more time to answer.
lastly 6. don't underestimate using the ARE 5.0 handbook as a study material: the day before my test, i went over the sample questions on the handbook, especially the math related questions and really worked through the problems. not just reading the question and the write up for the answer, but actually reworking the problems myself on another piece of paper and understanding how they got to their conclusion. i honestly don't think i would have been able to answer as much of the math related questions on the exam if i hadn't done this!
as far as topics you definitely need to make sure you understand:
- AIA contracts (who is responsible for what, relationships between owner, arch, contractor, consultant...)
- project delivery methods (who does what, responsibilities for different phases of the proj...)
- fee calculations
- how to read and adjust project schedules
Hope this helps!!
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