BS Exam Review

Well, that was something.

I’ve been putting off writing my exam review primarily for the reason that every time I think about it I get sick to my stomach. Yeah…it wasn’t my best ARE experience. (Tell me again why I didn’t save SD for last?)

Now that I’ve had time to get some rest I think I’m able to assess how I did a little better. Overall, I think it was an incredibly challenging and detail focused exam. I felt that all of the overarching concepts I covered per the exam guide and Kaplan served me well in understand what the questions were asking, as well as narrowing the options down to a few good choices, but ultimately I struggled with confidently deciding on an answer. I found myself making a lot of educated guesses, and it’s my most gut-wrenching hope that they were right.

Prometric was fairly quiet on Sunday morning and it seemed like everyone who was testing had been there before…except for the middle aged guy next to me. I have no idea what exam he was taking or what resources he got to use, but it sounded like he was flipping through a phone book rapid fire looking for answers. His heavy sighs indicated that he wasn’t finding them. I kind of felt bad for him.

I used the full two hours for multiple choice. It took me about an hour and ten minutes to get through the 95 questions, and I marked about 3/4 of them (including anything i even slightly hesitated on) to review on my second time around. By the 45 minute mark I was cycling through depressed, panicked, and aggressive emotions, thinking “ohhh why didn’t I study that…crap! shit! crap! crap!….damnit Jenny, calm down and focus.” I finally calmed down about 10 minutes later. On my second round through I was able to think through many of the marked questions and settle on answers that I thought were best. When I didn’t know, I went with my gut. At the end I had about 5 or 6 WTF/no clue questions marked, which is pretty consistent with what I’ve found on other exams.

The leftover Halloween Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup I had during my break tasted extra bittersweet.

The vignette was on par with the NCARB example and I didn’t find it much more difficult than the practice problem. I worked through a few alternative vignettes the day before and they helped with designing around different floor plan layouts, but I don’t think I would have been in too much trouble if I had skipped them. I spent about 40 minutes laying out my solution and reviewed for 15 more. My biggest concern was if my supply and return ducts were spaced far enough from each other. I think they were alright.

Post Prometric Pint #7 – bring on the BBQ

It was kind of surreal exiting out of the exam…could this really be it? Would I ever see these Prometric ladies again? Would I ever hear the low whirr of the white noise generator in the corner of the room? I guess only time will tell.

After the exam and a brief venting to Mom, Nate suggested that I could probably use some serious comfort food (he was right). We met up at Russell Street BBQ, one of the best little spots in Portland to grab a drink and a bite. I arrived first and had the Post Prometric Pint in front of me before he even walked in the door! It was a czech pilsner from Southern Oregon Brewing called Na Zdravi and it was absolutely perfect as far as cold, crisp beers go. I’ve got to see if I can find it in bottles to share. After lunch we ran around to a few of our favorite antique shops in the city and scoffed at all of the Christmas decorations out already. Poor decorative turkeys and pilgrims, they don’t even stand a chance.

So I guess my exam is what it is and I know there’s nothing I can do now but wait for my results. Once I find out my fate I can decide what the next step will be. I’ve already promised Nate that if I fail I won’t spend the next six months studying…I think that would probably kill both of us. At this point I’m at least finding some comfort in the fact that I know I still have a good six months of IDP hours to get through, so even if I do fail, it’s not the only thing holding me up from my license. Still, a little (ok a big) part of me wants to be able to say that I’ve passed all seven exams in one shot. I’m trying to stay humble and not get my hopes up, but you can be darn sure I’m also keeping my fingers crossed pretty tight when no one is looking.

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28 thoughts on “BS Exam Review

  1. Tom says:

    I’ll bet you did better than you think. I felt the same way coming out of that test (and Structures). Because of your preparation and hard work, your judgement is much better than you think (would be my guess). Relax and move on with your IDP. It is what it is now. You’ll be fine. Our fingers are crossed for you!

    • jennypdx says:

      Thanks Tom, I really appreciate the encouraging words. It’s nice to know others felt the same way about the exam. I was beginning to wonder if NCARB made the last one extra tricky for interns just to be cruel. 🙂

  2. Dom says:

    No need to worry Jenny, I am confident you passed
    All the best to you.

  3. Takaren says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I am so sure that you did fine. I had an exactly same feeling after this test, but I passed.
    Everybody knows you studied so hard. If you cannot pass, who can pass???
    I took my last test, SD today. I think it went OK, but of course not sure. I had same thoughts like you had. Is this the last time to sit at Prometric or NOT ?!
    Keep our fingers crossed very tight!

    • jennypdx says:

      I’m so glad to know you felt the same way, Takaren, and thanks for the kind words 🙂 Good to hear that SD went well, I’m sure you passed too! Keep me posted on your results, please!

  4. Kate says:

    I’m crossing my fingers from all the way across the country in Atlanta for you! I find it hard to believe that you won’t pass – you’ve been incredibly diligent in your studies. (And not to mention, you’ve been diligent for the rest of us by allowing everyone to use your study guides.) I’ll be checking in to hear some news, so keep us posted! Stay positive 🙂

  5. Robeta says:

    It sounds like you did your best and I hope the best for you from the east coast.

  6. Jenny: I am confident you have passed your last exam!!! :O)

  7. Cam says:

    Hi Jenny!
    My fingers are crossed for you too. I know the feelings and emotions you’re experiencing now. It will be okay!

    About your IDP have you tried to use any of the EPC assignments to help out with some of the hours you have outstanding? I haven’t myself, yet but, you may have some luck there. Some of the required hours are really difficult to get in a typical office setting and especially when the work is a little slow with the economy.

    • jennypdx says:

      Thanks Cam, I appreciate the support 🙂 I’ve looked at the EPC assignments briefly, but haven’t attempted any of them yet. Now that I have some free time from studying I think working through a few of them is a good idea. My understanding is that we can get up to 40 hours in each content area, which would help me almost finish my Planning, Construction Cost, and Building Code hours. It’s the 185 outstanding hours of Engineering Coordination that has me a little worried! Looks like I better start getting to know our office consultants a little better, haha

      • Cam says:

        Yep, I totally am in that same boat with you on IDP hours. But at 40 hrs each area it should put a dent in it. The only drawback is that it will be quite a bit of work to get through the assignments. But it’s something right?
        Another thing you could do is volunteer your services on review sessions for any project at work. If there’s an opportunity to help/do some drawing reviews and meetings with consultants see if they’ll let you and perhaps doing some of the grunge work with the life safety sheets and code analysis would get you some hours too. Looking back at it I now realize that I missed out on quite a bit of hours for these two areas. It’s tough to really get all the hours documented as you should oh well life lessons.

  8. JG says:

    I took my number 7 exam Sunday too. Lets hope we can celebrate b4 thanksgiving. I am sure you did great. I saved a toughie to the end as well (SS). After prometric being closed for a week due to the NY storm and having complete disaster around us here on Long Island,i could really use some good news. (My town was spared)

  9. mark annen says:

    Hi Jenny, I felt the same way taking the exam on Oct. 29th down south in Gladstone, OR. Still waiting for the results. I am sure you passed with all your prep. and great notes. Thanks for those! They really helped me kick-start these exams after graduating from U of O Arch. school 24 years ago! Go Ducks and Timbers!

  10. dbd says:

    I took BS the same weekend as you and had the exact same thoughts, thanks so much for sharing. Maybe all is not lost…

  11. Altman says:


    I just tested this morning and I am feeling the same way you are. I also, felt like the vignette took longer during the test than when I was studying. The vignette part is driving me crazy, because I had one diffuser I had to relocate to get to 10′, and that made my layout to be not as optimal as I wanted. Oh well, now we sit and wait….this waiting stuff is cruel. I wish there was a way to find out sooner. On to BDCS now, and thank you for all of your study guides. Based on your last one, I am sure you have a pass. Now time for you to kick the IDP’s but!!!

    • jennypdx says:

      The waiting game is the worst part of the process, hope you get your pass letter soon! Best of luck on BDCS, having BS attempted will definitely be of help to you. Glad the study guides are useful!

  12. Same experience as you and I passed. I thought I failed it for certain.

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