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Now that we’ve covered the general items (in my previous blogs), it’s time to get into the details of this process!
When I first started this adventure, it was a challenge to figure out where to begin. The best advice I could give anyone is to start small! You are going to feel overwhelmed very quickly if you attempt to tackle everything at once. Start to think about what you currently know and where your strengths are. Do you feel solid in drawings and design, or do you feel more comfortable with the behind-the-scenes paperwork and project management? Would you rather start by taking exams that are more comfortable or start with the hard material first to get it out of the way?
As mentioned in previous blog posts, there are a total of 6 exams.
1. Practice Management (PcM): Understand the abilities in business structure, business development, and asset development and protection.
2. Project Management (PjM): Understand establishing & delivering project services per contractual requirements in collaboration with consultants.
3. Programming & Analysis (PA): Understand the abilities of project type analysis, establish the qualitative and quantitative project requirements, evaluation of project site and context, and assessment of economic issues.
4. Project Planning & Design (PPD): Understand design concepts, sustainability/environmental design, universal design, and other forms of governing codes & regulations
5. Project Development & Documentation (PDD): Understand the integration of civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and specialty systems into overall project design and documentation.
The exams are set up to mimic a project’s process through management, design, and construction. You can take the exams in that order or group exams together that have similar study material. There are two major groups: the business exams and the technical exams. The business exams are Practice Management, Project Management, and Construction Evaluation. These exams cover how to run a company and the finances, running a project, and managing a team. They task you with understanding the contracts that occur in the design and construction process. These exams also have similar study materials & exam topics.
The technical exams are Programming & Analysis, Project Planning & Design, and Project Development & Documentation. They cover design development, system integration, site integration, construction drawings, and sustainability. These exams also have similar study materials and exam topics. Some people group the exams to study all the similar topics at once then take the exams back-to-back. This method did not work for me since I am a very detailed oriented person – but it may work well for others!
Personally, I started the grouping process with the business exams. I was not too familiar with the business end, so I opted to get it “out of the way” first. I wanted to get a comprehensive understanding of everything that could be on the exams. This led me to create a study plan that let topics continue to grow as I passed each exam; allowing me to retain and process information for the long haul as a growing professional instead of a quick remembering game to pass an exam.
That is how you should treat this process – as an opportunity to grow personally while becoming the best architect you can!