“You’ve done these before, right?” the Prometric lady asked as she checked me in on Sunday.
“Yeah…once or five times” I replied with a small laugh. No wonder this process is starting to feel routine, it seems like every few weekends I’m back in East Portland settling in for the day. I even caught myself thinking “sweet, my parking spot is here” as I drove into the lot. That’s a whole new level of Prometric intimacy that I wasn’t expecting.
I’m having a hard time putting into words how I feel about this exam. It went okay, there was nothing spectacular, no major WTFs, and it was absolutely on par with what I expected. I suppose that’s a nice change from the freak outs of exams past. Overall I’m satisfied with how I did. My solutions at least appeared to be decent and I finished both with time to spare. Like always, I think I did alright, but when it comes to NCARB you can never be too sure.
I arrived at Prometric about 25 minutes before my exam time, signed in, chatted with the girl in the chair next to me about the breadth of exams people were there to take, and relaxed. As this is the only ARE division where last minute note cramming is impossible, it was nice to have a moment to clear my head. After getting checked in I found myself at the same station where I took CDS as well as the LEED exam. Here’s hoping my success rate at that spot continues.
The Interior Layout was first and I found it to be a tad more difficult than the NCARB example, but not nearly as hard as some of the forum alternatives. (I’m looking at you, scheme-with-multiple-tables-for-four). I finished my design in just about 35 minutes and used the rest of the time to check, double check, and triple check my solution. On the last round of verification I noticed that one of the dimensions of my clear floor area in front of a door was two inches short and, when drawn correctly, would overlap a piece of furniture by an inch or so. Probably not a fatal mistake, but it just goes to show that even if a solution looks good it never hurts to take a minute and check the pesky details.
During the break as I reread the bulletin board postings I heard a faint “woohoo!” from the other side of the room. The girl who I had talked to before was grinning with her pass letter, and asked me how mine went. “Fine,” I said, “…but I still have four hours to go.” She blinked. “Really? Wow.” Yeah, my sentiments exactly.
After the break I checked back into my desk in the now majorly empty testing room. The Building Layout portion was definitely more tricky than the NCARB example. I was so grateful to have done the alternative vignettes the day before…working through those helped me quickly come up with solutions to a few otherwise strange things in the actual exam. The program chart on scratch paper is a lifesaver, and I spent a good half hour filling it out and checking it over. The layout was straight forward, and the only thing I found myself worrying about was if a few of my rooms were too rectangular in terms of their length/width proportion. Given the overall layout of the building I ultimately decided to stick with them, rather than try and create terrible L-shaped rooms. Knowing my luck that would have only made them worse.
Overall with taking my time on the chart, initial layout, verification with the program, and adding detail and adjusting as required, the whole process took just under three hours. For my final step I flipped between the actual program on the screen and my solution…it sounded like I was sending morse code via spacebar. With an hour left I called it good enough, and checked out.
After the exam I ran a few errands (hello new favorite art supply shop) and then headed over to my aunt and uncle’s place for a toddler-rific birthday party for my second cousin. Anything with a Cars and Spiderman theme is pretty cool in my book…even cooler when it involves ice cream.
Of course I couldn’t neglect my favorite exam tradition, so my sister Amanda graciously and awesomely showed up with beer… I kicked back with the Post Prometric Pint, a Bridgeport IPA, and didn’t even bother with a glass. It’s kind of a go-to beer around these parts. Everyone knows it, you can get it basically anywhere, and it’s pretty decent on tap or via bottle.
I’m already anxiously awaiting my results, but I know that I prepared well and submitted pretty darn good solutions. When I began this examination process I was worried that I’d never figure out and finish the vignettes in the time allotted, but with plenty of practice I was able to get over that quickly. I’m glad to have this exam attempted, and I’m looking forward to enjoying summer for a few weeks before I gear up for the final two divisions.