Pass CE last Saturday but the exam experience is horrible.
During the exam, all the exhibit questions are loading really slow. When it came to the case study, it was ridiculously slow. I had like 8 pages materials to load, and each page took like 20 seconds. There was literally nothing I can do but just staring at the screen and wait. The worst part was when it almost finished loading, it pop up a window saying lost connection to the server, all the time I wasted were also lost. The test center staff had to restart my computer. They actually helped me to change from a regular computer to a station, which I assumed would be better, but same issues happened, so they changed me to a VIP room with the best equipment they have. Even in the VIP room, it lost connection again. So frustrating... The people in the test center asked me if I want to stop the exam and ask for a reschedule. But I was only 15 questions away from finish, so I just continued the exam. The exam center filed a report for me recording that I lost at lest 15 mins. In the end, I only have 2 mins left to check all my marked questions, but all my marks were gone. I almost screamed! Thank god I passed, otherwise I'm gonna have a heart attack.
For my exam tips,
I read through AHPP chapter 9 and 10, and took notes while reading them, very helpful. I just read through my notes several times the day before the test. I also used black spectacles lectures, which is helpful to give you tips about how to answer questions within a context. I used Design Hacks for exam questions and I found those are super helpful to review what you have learned. My prep time is a whole week. Day 1 read through Ballast CE part, Day 2-4 read every single word in AHPP while taking notes, it was super boring, so I watched black spectacle videos as a break, also took Design Hacks 25-question exam. Day 5-6 (contracts) read through AHPP notes and took Design Hacks 95-question timed exam, listen to the Hanahan lecture about A201 and B101, and get familiar with G701-G704 and learn how to read them.
I believe most of the exam contents are covered in AHPP, and Hanahan's lecture. I did have some hot spot questions related to real practice, and I just use my instinct. For example, I have questions showing a picture of construction site and ask you to identify components, well, how the hell would I know, so just guess using common sense. I came across three or four questions about weep holes, and I had no idea that that was. If you are worried about construction experience, please don't, since practical questions only takes a small part of the exam I think, and you can probably guess them out if you read the questions carefully. If you completely understand AHPP chapter 9 and 10, and score about 90% in design hacks, familiar with those related contracts, you probably don't need to worry too much. I only read Ballast for CE once just get a sense of it, did not find it helpful for CE.
One recommendation for case study is, if the images are loading too low (20-30 seconds for one page), just guess, or ask to change computer...Some of those questions you can answer by guessing. I guessed probably half of my case study questions due to the extremely slow loading.
Case study image loading is a big issue for ARE, and I really wish NCARB can take it seriously and find a better way. I would love to have those materials printed out instead of waiting for loading for every single questions.
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