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    ARE Day 053: CDS EXAM DAY

    Hi Archinect,

    Last week was crazy. Overtime all weekend. Deadline on Tuesday. Sick on Wednesday. Then exam on Thursday! I was so sick and out of it during the exam that I don’t really remember much. But I will try to share with you all.

    My exam was at 6pm on Thursday, so I took a day off from work and lay in bed all day just listening to the Schiff Hardin Lectures – very good overviews of the contracts and delivery methods right before the exam.

    I got to Prometric at 5:30pm, and there was a bunch of people waiting to be checked in. The check-in process took a while - I didn’t start the exam until 6:15pm! I wore a jacket to the testing center, because I had a cold. The attendant there said if you wanted to take your jacket off during the test, you would have to take it off and go back inside. Also, I asked them if I could bring some tissue paper with me, and they were okay with it as long as I leave it on the desk the whole time. A lot of rules! But I finally got into the exam room. Next to me was a loud lady signing during her test. One good thing about having a cold, I just lived in my own bubble and focused to get this thing done.

    So it starts! I stayed the whole time for both parts of the exam. It took about an hour to go through the 100 questions. I marked up over 50% of the questions for review later. Half way through the exam, I caught myself falling asleep. The best way to keep you awake during a test? …Actually I didn’t really find a way to stay awake other than taking a deep breath and forcing myself to keep going. Being super stuffy and drowsy, I reviewed the marked ones and got down to about 10 questions. At the end, there were 4 questions that I just took a wild guess. I just kept reviewing them until the time ran out, and hope that I got most of them right.

    It seems to be a trend lately (as seen on ARE coach) that a lot of questions are not from what we have studied.  There were some questions that were totally not in the books. But even if they are not usual content that I studied, I would say most of the questions are asked from a contract or construction documents perspective.

    I came out of the exam room feeling like I got half of it right. The whole 15-minute break, I was just walking around wondering if I passed the first part.

    Vignette was pretty simple - similar to the practice program on NCARB. I was, however, very sick and sluggish at this point that I was working very slow. It took me almost 45 minutes to draft up the section. 10 minutes before time runs out, I found out that I got one ceiling height wrong, which would totally fail me! I panicked a little, but I was able to fix the mistake right before it ends.  The “move group” tool is helpful when you have to move a bunch of things at the same time.

    By the time I was done, it was 10pm. What’s open at 10pm in my town? Wendy’s! I guess I had to break my “no fast food” rule and get some Wendy’s for dinner. Next time, I will bring some snacks for the mandatory break.

    So there you go – my first experience of the ARE. I will put up a list of study guides and tips soon. I am also going to share my study note with you, once I am done consolidating it. But no matter what the result is. I tried my best and that’s the most important part, right?!

    Thanks for reading!




    • J.W. SmithJ.W. Smith
      Jun 5, 14 9:50 am

      Sounds like a decent start. If I may add a piece of advice. Test early in the morn. This way you can rest the night and wake up and get to it.  Weekends worked best for me. Check your test site. Also, get to test site 45-1hr before. They usually will sit you regardless of your test time if they have space and you are there. Those site rules are pretty standard. Some are even more restrictive so consider yourself lucky. Hope it was a pass! 

      Thanks J. It was a pass! I should probably announce that. I wanted to do it before my birthday which landed on that following weekend and Thursday was the only day I could take off work that week so I did it on a Thursday, and 6pm was the only time available. My office gives us professional days off to take exams, which is awesome. People in my office take Mondays off to take advantage of the weekend for some last-minute studying. But I agree next time I will do it at an earlier time (probably not morning - I am not a morning person)...hope everything is going well with your exams!

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Documenting the life between our graduation from architecture school and becoming a licensed architect. They say it's the journey that matters, so here we are experiencing the joy of being a great intern. Follow me @joannlui

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