Just getting home after taking this exam. Ended with a likely pass - a huge relief. Wanted to get some of my initial thoughts out there as they're fresh.
Firstly on the test overall, my expectations vs the reality. I must say I went in with a lot more doom and gloom about this one. It's on the lower end of the pass rates and many of the experiences here detailed some pretty terrible formats. The study material covers such a wide range of topics, all roughly at birds-eye height, with a few zoomed-in curve balls that left me feeling very very unprepared.
In the end though, I felt pretty confident throughout the exam. Got through the question set with 50 minutes left, spent about 30 more reviewing questions I had flagged, and checked out with 20 remaining. Very few questions truly stumped me with a topic that I had no clue of (having flashbacks to PM where that was decidedly the case for many of them...). There's the typical abundance of "choose the most correct" scenarios, which are relatively frustrating. But there are usually answers that jump out as either totally wrong or blatantly obvious. Not too difficult to weed through multiple selections.
The study material seemed to correlate almost directly with the test. I read a post here that said the Ballast chapters were almost irrelevant which freaked me out... but as with PM and PjM, the book was a seriously solid resource. It was the vast bulk of my study focus. Over the past couple weeks, I've branched out a little to a few of the other supplemental materials. Building Codes Illustrated and Sun, Wind, and Light were high on lists. I found them somewhat helpful (meh). Marina Curac's comprehensive list of materials and consolidated notes was very helpful and summarizes those well enough. I essentially just read through each PDF document and graphic she provided a few times. They all seem to bolster the Ballast content I studied primarily.
One of my biggest fears going in... the Digital Whiteboard... ended up being serviceable. The presented functionality is sort of useful with the ability to switch tabs and draw shapes easily. BUT, the program is buggy as hell and left me a number of times floundering and afraid of crashing my whole test.
- The Close functionality does not work reliability and I was often left having to keep the board up and just resize it out of the way. Issues with that would usually coincide with being stuck on a tab entirely.
- The draw functionality is extremely laggy. There's a good 1/4-1/2 second delay between clicking and moving the cursor around. It doesn't feel natural. It also interpreted my cursor movements strangely at times, lagging out a bit then missing segments or just snapping to the end point.
So while I didn't encounter a catastrophic problem that inhibited my exam taking, it's definitely obvious the potential is there. I still much prefer to hand write my notes. Pretty baffled that NCARB approved this as the mandatory method instead of offering it as just an alternative. It is not up to the standard of making the test accessible.
Retrospectively, I'd rank this about on par or slightly easier than PjM with PM as my all time low point. I've never felt so frustrated and defeated taking an exam in my life and consider it a miracle I passed that one haha. I have a self diagnosed issue with memorizing details and figures and thankfully these tests have leaned more on the comprehensive concept side. There's certainly a groove to get into in terms of how to study and how to read/approach the questions NCARB gives you - and I think I'm finally starting to feel comfortable with it. 3 down and 3 to go...
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