Tuesday, December 23, 2008

For those who think they can't pass GS and/or LF...

YOU CAN! Really, you can do it! If I can do it, so can you!

To my complete amazement, I received two PASS letters yesterday - one for GS, the other for LF. UNFREAKING BELIEVABLE!!!! I passed! I passed I passed I passed I passed! I never have to deal with that GS exam again! I never have to deal with the LF exam again!

I really, honestly, definitely thought I blew GS. A few weeks later I thought the same about LF (although I was so burned out at that point that I didn't react the same way I did after GS). One major thing that I would recommend to anyone studying for these is to take Marc Mitalski's On-Line Anytime seminars. I personally liked this format as opposed to the "live" one because I could go back and forth at my own speed. Marc was great about answering questions and spending some one-on-one time with me. Totally worth the $$$.

So now I wait for the last letter, my "Last Waltz." I took PD on 12/15 so I should get results by the end of next week at the latest. Of course, I say that with a grain of salt given NCARB/Prometrics/ARE Oops' track record of late. But that's another post. Right now, I'm basking in the glow emitted by the two letters sitting on my desk - PASS. Oh, and obsessive/compulsively checking the NY state license verification website every hour...

Oh, and Randy was right as usual!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lateral Forces (LF): FEMA Must Read

Just a quickie on a FEMA doc that you should read for LF. It's free, and FEMA sends it out within a week of ordering it. You can always download it and read the PDFs, but I like to have the paper and ink on my shelf.

FEMA 454 - Designing for Earthquakes: A Manual for Architects(http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=2418)

It's got thump value (ie, it's a thick bugger), but don't worry - big print and wide margins make it a fairly quick read.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

General Structures (aka "the horror…! THE HORROR!")

This was, by far, the WORST experience I have had with these exams. I thought ME was bad… GS is the mother of them all. Unless, of course, you are a structural engineer or actually good at this material. I even tried to offer NCARB the name and number for a really good structural engineer I know in lieu of my taking this one, but they wouldn't go for it. I never was good at GS, and have always been equation phobic. I wish I would have paid more attention in Mrs. Schwager's class in high school, but doing well in my acting classes and hanging out at the Greek place on 46th & 6th were much more important… not to mention the "extracurricular activities" many of us were involved in while going to HS in the early-mid 70's. Then there was my absolutely horrid experience in architecture school with a certain structures professor who made life miserable if you happened to have breasts and a uterus. Old, Turkish, misogynist who believed women had no place in this business, and a miserable mo fo to boot. To add to that pain, I had him for studio one semester as well. Thankfully, he left before my last semester of structures and the guy that took his place was incredible. It was too late for me by then, but it helped a little tiny bit (thanks, Ralph).

The long and short of this exam experience - no freaking way will I pass this one. Yes, I know I've said that with all of them, but this time I really mean it. I mean it to the extent that I even upped the ante with my lovely husband to $100 for this exam if I pass. Never say never I suppose, but I believe that there is only a 1% chance of my passing GS. My husband has faith, and so do a lot of others who have more faith in me than I do (and you know who you all are), and they all keep telling me that like all the other exams I will get that PASS in the mail in a couple of weeks.

Here's the story. I have been studying my ass off the past two months. I used Kaplan, which was painful. It took me two weeks just to get through the first chapter. It was very calculation heavy and, as is normal with Kaplan, very convoluted and confusing in the explanations. Archiflash was very useful, as it has been all along. I also did Marc Mitalski's "On-line Anytime" seminar. Well worth it, as he makes sense of everything that Kaplan confused me with. But I don't think any of it helped, because I blanked. I just don't get how NCARB thinks that it is reasonable to answer 85 questions, many of which are intense calculations, in 150 minutes. That's about 1.76 minutes per question… Just one WTF question can eat up 5 minutes!

I began the exam, remembering what others had mentioned about the first few questions were probably going to be intimidating and to mark them for review. So I began marking, and marking, and marking… It was as if all the questions had nothing to do with any of the material I studied. I think I only had about 20 that I felt sure about. At about the 30 minutes left mark, I still had at least 30 unanswered questions! Don't hold me to that number, but it was about that many. I really just started guessing at that point (an a here, a c there, oh haven't had a d in a while). The reference material had the basic stuff, but NOTHING that I thought I needed (like A=3V/2Fv). I wish I could remember the questions that I got stuck on, but I can't even remember my name when I walk out of there. On top of the general agony of testing, they had the heat cranked. It was at least 95 degrees in there ("Sorry," they said, "we don't control it, the building does). To add to that, the same girl was working there as last time - she nattered on in Spanish the ENTIRE time. LOUDLY. I mean, I had ear plugs and I could STILL hear her. Like last time, when I asked her to zip it, she looked annoyed and ignored me. I suppose at least this time she wasn't using the speaker phone to continually dial a busy number. I complained to Prometric again, but obviously that is useless.

So I left the test center in tears… a girl thing, sue me. I sulked for a day, and today I start on LF. I signed up again for Marc's seminar, obviously LF this time around. I've got Kaplan and Archiflash sitting there waiting, and will print out FEMA 454 (chapters 2, 4, 5, & 8) for a little bath tub reading. I'm taking LF on December 2, so I really have to get it together quickly. From what I'm told, LF is a piece of cake compared to GS. But it's all relative and depends on who you ask.

You know what is really ridiculous when I think about it? When I started out in March, all I wanted to do was get everything done by June '09 before the transition (gee thanks, NCARB). I totally expected that I was going to fail them all at least once... But then I started passing them, and after 5 for 5 and then the 6th, the thought of actually getting licensed by the end of this year got stuck in my head. Wow, how cool would it be if I got my stamp before my 50th birthday in December? That's a present! Now it will just kill me if I don't get it by then... If I did tank on GS, it's a loooooong 6 month wait (thanks again, NCARB). I just have to figure out a way to re-program my head back to June of '09.

I need many margaritas... many, many, many margaritas…

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust!

BP - PASS!!!!!!!!! Two-thirds of the way there. I'm starting to get used to this... I'd love to relax and revel in getting this far, but preparing for GS and LF will not allow that.

Prep for GS began with Kaplan a couple of weeks ago. After slogging my way through the first chapter and feeling totally confused and miserable, I signed up for Marc Mitalski's PrepARE on-line any-time seminar. After only a few hours into it and with a lot of help from folks on the forum, I already feel a bit more comfortable. So back to the grind.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Finish Line is Finally in Site!

I just got the results for Site Planning - PASS! Pass Pass Pass Pass! I got a bit wigged out at first because NY State Ed for some reason sent two letters. But I passed! Wow. More than half way there. I never thought I would get this far (yes, my husband knew I would).

So now I've passed ME, MM, CD, SP, and BT. I am still waiting for results on BP (taken 8/25). Since I'm taking GS and LF on the same day and then only PD after that, I should only have to make two more trips to that dungeon called Prometric (a truly horrid place).

Wish I could relax, but there is still so much work to do... like preparing for GS/LF. Not a stress-free subject.

Monday, August 18, 2008

For Those Taking ARE 4.0

While the content of these test versions (3.1 vs. 4.0) is essentially the same, the different format may require a slightly different strategy for how/when to take each division. Since I am on the "git 'er done in 3.1" track, I would suggest that those taking 4.0 read the suggestions on the ARE Forum, and also pay close attention to architect54's blog. I think architect54 has a pretty sane strategy for tackling the order of the divisions of 4.0. Well, at least he's sane for now...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Oops - I Did It Again!

My husband was right, and I have to go and get him a crispy $50 bill...

I did it, despite myself. I got my PASS letter yesterday for BT. Woo Hoo! I am so relieved that I don't have to revisit this one. Actually, I'm relieved that I don't have to re-take any of them so far. So now I can say I'm 4/9th an Architect. It's a lovely little fraction. So the count now is 4 passed, 5 taken, 4 to go. I took SP this past Friday, and will know my fate in about four weeks (seems to be the graphics division turn-around time in NY).

One think I can say with certainty about studying for the graphics divisions is that Dorf and the ARE Forum are MUSTS. You have to practice practice practice, post your vignettes on the Forum, and treat Dorf's "Solutions" as gospel. There is absolutely no way I could have passed this using the Kaplan materials. Quite frankly, they are useless... at least for me.

If you don't know about the late Prof. Dorf's material, go the website: http://www.nalsa.com

On to BP!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The First Loooooong Wait

BT aka Six Hours of Agony (sorry to those who have heard this saga ad nauseum). Why do we have to wait 8 weeks for graphics results, when MC sections only take 2 weeks? Don't get me started...

Actually, it wasn't as horrific as I thought (as usual). At one point, I even dared to think I was enjoying it. Of course, that feeling didn't last long...

I think I did okay on the section and stairs. I will probably get dinged for the ramp (one too many landings), mechanical/lights because I overlit a couple of rooms (but the two were an art exhibit room and a studio), structure (too many columns), and the roof (screwed up the high roof). I met all the criteria, and made sure my clearances were correct, so who knows?

I saved the structural for last on the first half, and by the time I got there I just blanked. Then I went back and notice my ramp didn't work because of the clearances... So I redrew that. On the second half, mechanical was okay and stair was okay (had a big, long landing on the upper floor) but feel that these could pass. I had an hour and some to do the roof - and just wigged out. In retrospect, it was a very simple solution. For whatever reason, I thought that one edge of the upper roof had to be at 9'-6" like the lower roof! Wow, talk about a complicated upper roof! I made it work, but will get slammed for that I'm sure because it didn't exactly follow the program. It met all the criteria, but just stupid stupid stupid...

I don't know what all the fatal errors are, but hopefully none of my mistakes were that bad and I will pass. I doubt it, though (what else is new).

On to SP and the joys of grading!

Monday, June 2, 2008

1/3rd an Architect Sounds Much More Impressive than 2/9th!

I slayed the beast! I passed ME! I PASSED! I PASSED! I PASSED!

Go figure... and another nod to my husband, who was right for the third time. Now it's costing me money - even if I pass - due to a bet we made. You see, we kinda have a ritual going and my husband has to open the dreaded envelope when it arrives. This last time, it sat and burned a hole in the coffee table for hours before he got home. So we added a bet to this last test because he was sick of hearing me say, "I know I failed this one." As I explained to another comrade in hell (womanonamission), it goes something like this: if I pass like he always says I will, I have to give him $50. If I'm right and I fail like I know I will, I have to give him $25. Somehow, I got screwed in this deal! He says it's to punish me for not having any faith in myself. Only an attorney can find the logic in this wager. Only an architect (or blonde...) would agree to it!

Now on to BT... groan...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Studying for Mechanical and Electrical

In the process of studying for ME, I've found that the information contained in the links provided below are very useful.

Monday, March 31, 2008

2/9th an Architect

Woo hoo! Thought I tanked, but I PASSED!!! Got that lovely letter today. Two down, 7 to go. Oh, and once again my husband was right.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

BD/MM Done for Now... Next: ME

I survived MM. What a loooooong 2 hours it was! I can only hope that since I took it on St. Patrick's Day, the luck o' the Irish was with me and I passed.

I really thought they had loaded the wrong exam. The first half hour had nothing that resembled any of the materials I studied (Kaplan/ALS, ArchiFlash, Allen book, Ballast). There was so much cross-pollination from all the other MC sections. I can see the logic in taking them all at once. Study everything, then do a marathon. At least all the material would be covered, and nothing would be that far out of left field.

So now I wait for that envelope. It took 13 days for the last one. Hopefully, I will be put out of my misery just as swiftly this time... In the meantime I've started studying for ME. Trying to wade through that monster MEEB will certainly keep me occupied for a while.

WTF Wednesday

Someone forgot to add a note to use the existing rough openings...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Waaaah! Buncha cry babies - quit yer whining already!

Okay, so I am really getting tired of hearing (mostly on the ARE Forum) about how much the ARE sucks, NCARB sucks, Archiflash sucks, Kaplan sucks, Prometrics sucks, EVERYTHING sucks! Hey, kids - guess what? For now, it is what it is and it is what we have to go through to get where we want to be. Right? Is this process perfect? No. Is NCARB the model for efficiency and fairness? No. I could keep going, but we all know what the issues are. What is really interesting to me is that the majority of these complaints come from the under-30 crowd, but I'll save that discussion for another time.

Quite frankly, the best we can do ("we" being those of us going through this masochistic process called taking/passing the ARE) is this: PASS THE DAMN TESTS, BECOME RESPONSIBLE PROFESSIONALS, AND CHANGE THE PARTS OF THE SYSTEM THAT NEED TO BE. Sometimes the best way to implement change is from within.

So, as my sister says, put on your big girl (or boy) panties and get on with it already!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Back in the Saddle

After 6 months of trying to adapt to self-employment, sell a condo, sell a house, find a new house, keep work coming in, move into the new house, and other miscellaneous mishegas I am back on track. Or at least as much as I'll ever be. ARE Round No. 2 is on the schedule. Building Design/Materials & Methods. This week I start studying again. So far, I've just been hitting the Archiflash and Kaplan cards whilst soaking in a hot tub. If the soak doesn't put me to sleep the cards will, so at least I'm catching up on lost zeds!

Given the impending doom, er, change in exam format next spring I plan on blowing through the next 8 exams between now and November. This will give me plenty of time to re-test if (notice, dear husband, that I am now saying IF instead of WHEN) I happen to tank on any given exam. Stupid 6 month rule. One possibility regarding Lateral Forces/General Structures was suggested by a friend of mine who is also going through the ARE. Since these two exams will be combined into one in the new version, it might be worth it to leave these till last. At least if I have to take them in 4.0 I will only have to re-take one. Who knows? These two are the ones I dread and part of me would like to just get them over with.

Oh fiddle dee dee, I'll think about LF/GS tomorrow! Today I must deal with a load of work. And study, of course...

Beer me...