I thought I’d write what worked for me, in case it could be useful to anyone. I took a break after architecture school for about 5 years, then worked at a small 2 person firm in Florida and have been working at an 8 person firm in NYC for the last 3.5 years where only the principle is licensed. So I felt ok about some of the construction related items from my work experience, but didn't know anyone who had taken any exams.
I took all 5.0 exams in the following order: PcM, PjM, CE, PPD, PDD, & PA and passed all of them on the first try. I spaced PcM and PjM about a month apart, took CE two weeks later, then planned to take a break before tackling the next grouping but was delayed, then the pandemic further delayed everything so I ended up very tightly clustering the final three exams, PPD on a Friday, PDD the following Tuesday, and PA the following Monday. I felt like the order really worked for me, getting the topics I wasn't familiar with out of the way initially, then doing the longest exams and ending with a slightly shorter one.
Study Materials Essential:
--Hyperfine Architecture ARE 5.0 Courses. https://hyperfinearchitecture.com These were by-far and away the best preparation tool I had, and almost exclusively what I used. I came to them after I listened to an old podcast interview with Ben Norkin about Hyperfine Architecture and decided to spend $35 on his PcM-PjM a week before my first exam. I ended up cramming a weeks’ worth of exercises every night prior to my first test. I decided to write this post because I didn’t see this resource mentioned enough (but I didn’t look super hard). If you are going to spend any $ on study material, this was the best investment I made and way cheaper than most of the other stuff. Hyperfine has been adding study materials and put out the final practice problem sets this year, so now they are available for all 6 exams of the 5.0. The only exam I prepared for without Hyperfine was CE because it wasn’t out yet, but now it’s available.
--Hanahan Lectures - listened on my way to and from work, my lunch breaks, while I cooked.
--AIA Contract Docs
--Youtube Marty Huie Building Code Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjQJje5nUCiwjeojdUapeIobP3z5FxCUT
--IBC, FEMA 454, ADA (all available free online & tied into Hyperfine Exercises)
--https://hyperfinearchitecture.com/are-5-0-free-resources/ - links for stuff above, notes from other people, etc.
Study Materials Useful:
--Designer Hacks - I bought the whole course before I knew that they, very regularly, provide 25% off discounts during regular sale times, like black friday, memorial day, etc. so I’d recommend you wait till you can get the discount. I only ever took 10 question pop quizzes and usually scored about a 7 out of 10, and I’d often get redundant questions, but those just helped to reinforce things.
--ARE Review Manual (ballast)- 2nd edition, was made for the 4.0. It summarized a lot of topics so I’d use it to review or figure out what the take-aways were since other study materials went into way too much depth.
--Architectural Graphic Standards Student Edition, pdf - ended up printing it out and putting it in a binder for easier reference. Again, I used this primarily as a reference, to pull out and clarify something from a hyperfine activity or designer hacks question.
--AHPP 15th edition pdf and paired that with the AHPP pluralsite free study guides for the AHPP study sections. (But I did this before having Hyperfine, so looking back, a lot of the straight reading was not useful.)
--Designer Masterclass Youtube videos & their cheat sheets when I felt lazier but still like I needed to study
--Architects’ Handbook of Construction Detailing by David Kent Ballast, pdf. We don’t use masterformat at my office, so this helped me learn the categories as well as just be able to review a lot of good detailing practices.
--At the beginning I was reading a lot of texts and other people’s notes or re-writing them but it wasn’t doing much so I switched tactics. This guy basically affirmed what I had been feeling about my study strategy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukLnPbIffxE&t=883s and laid out a more long-term organizing strategy here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-zNHHpXoMM&t=1353s. I didn’t fully adhere to it, but I found writing out all the topics I had reviewed or covered and forcing myself to decide what color to code them both made me feel more confident in seeing all the topics I’ve covered and clarified what things on that list I didn’t feel confident about.
--I usually did the hyperfine exercises in clusters on the weekends, multiple exercises in a row, reviewing the answers as I went. Then I’d make flashcards of any of anything I thought was important. I’d also spend extra time reading some of the resources or watching additional videos.
-- intermittently would take the Designer Hacks 10 question practice quizzes.
--I made a lot of flashcards by hand because the act of writing was helpful but it also forced answers to be concise. A lot of them would be set up like “ Describe the (4) types of sprinklers” or “(5) types of insurance required by B101” and in the corner, I’d add a category code, like F for finances or C for construction, so I could organize them into categories and study or review smaller sections over my lunch break or to have on me whenever I’d have a moment. Flashcards really force the active recall.
--In the last days before the exams, I’d read through all the exercise answers again, focus on the cards I didn’t know too well, and then do some final rote memorization: ada clearance numbers, AIA document numbers, formulas, and required conversions like working hours in a year or square miles to acres.
Hope this is helpful.
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