2013: or the year we get this BS over with.

time to get back to figuring out what the heck is going on around here

time to get back to figuring out what the heck is going on around here

Well look at the time, is it 2013 already? Hope your holidays were merry and bright! By the looks of the stats for this site it appears that I’m not the only one who took a couple of weeks off at the end of the year. Unfortunately you all put me to shame by getting back to this ARE madness on January 2nd. Nicely done.

The first order of business is to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your supportive words on my BS failure. Heart strings were definitely tugged. Having a mandatory break over the holidays gave me time to come to peace with my exam, and I’ve decided to sincerely embrace the failure as an opportunity to learn even more about building systems than I knew before. Like I’ve mentioned, it’s a fascinating topic, and I’d much rather have to restudy mechanical systems than say, AIA contracts, or lateral forces, or…well, pretty much anything on the other six exams. Plus, as some have said, a little conflict here does make for a good overall story (something to keep in mind for a potential Pritzker Prize acceptance speech someday, right?)  There’s comfort knowing that even the greyest of times will fade away to new sunny moments.   Here’s hoping that all of you who have found yourselves in the same fail boat are feeling a similar renewed spirit this new year.

With every fresh start comes the opportunity to develop a plan that improves upon our previous surefire-bulletproof-no-nonsense strategy (because we all know how that worked out).  While our friends are dusting off their gym shoes, we can dust off our Kaplan/Ballast/Archiflash guides that were tucked away by September after no longer seeming necessary.  Perhaps the best place to start is with a basic analysis of what worked and what didn’t on exam day, and then recap the resources that were used to prepare.  I know that there were so many sites and guides that I didn’t look at because I felt like MEEB covered it.  I was wrong.  For me, pulling information from a wide array of sources helps me better understand the topic as a whole.  As I prepare for BS Round 2, I’ll be keeping better track of what I’ve read and summarized for each content area, and how I’ve been able to build off of them. It’s a large task, but I’m confident that I’ll be able to pull it off by May.  I’m anxious to get an exam scheduled as soon as it’s possible to do so.

And, speaking of scheduling, there’s going to be a little less of it during the NCARB blackout this summer.  In case you missed the ARE E-news of December 2012, no exams will be administered or scheduled for approximately 8 weeks beginning July 1, 2013.  The bad news is that many interns will have lost a few good months to knock out an exam or two before fall…and the good news is that now there’s no excuse not to work on your summer tan.

But for now it’s time to get back to work and stay as optimistic as possible.  January is about making the dreams and aspirations of the last year a reality, and I have good feelings for all of us in 2013.

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14 thoughts on “2013: or the year we get this BS over with.

  1. i2defy says:

    Good to see you back Jenny. I like the the Pritzker Prize part. That makes sense.

  2. Takaren says:

    Happy New Year Jenny! Your blog makes my day very bright. You are a really good writer. Pleas update often. 🙂

  3. Tom says:

    Glad to see you climbing back on,,,I was so surprised that this one tripped you because I know how well you prepare for these things, but like you said it is interesting material and the better of the seven to repeat if you have to. I just repeated PPP at the end of 2012, and I honestly think it was your notes that helped make the difference this time around. I took this one first and failed (without your notes) and then passed all the others and took it last (with your notes) and passed this time. I live in CA, so I still have the CSE, but I want to thank you for sharing your study guides. I hooked into them for SS, CD, BDCS and PPP, and I must say they were an invaluable asset to my preparation for each exam. Thanks Jenny and best of luck to you always. – Tom

    • jennypdx says:

      so glad to hear everything has been useful to you Tom, congrats on passing PPP this time around! Hope the CSE goes well for you, I’m sure you’ll pass with flying colors and have your license before you know it. thanks for all of the kind words and best of luck to you as well!

  4. Cam says:

    Hi Ya!
    I’m happy to see you again =)
    I am full speed ahead for both CDS and PPP Yay. I know it is a crazy thing to do but, I’m going to be scheduling for early March so the pressure is definitely ON!

    By the way, from reading some stuff on areforum, apparently quite a few of the guru’s have decided that relying too much on MEEB is not the best way to go for the BS exam. Who would have thought?! Anyhow that’s what they say. As usual though you have to tread carefully on the forum as some people can get very catty for some weird reason *rolling eyes*

    I also started up a study group, all of 3 people including myself some group hahahaha. It’s essentially a virtual, eastern time zone, study buddy system. I think that helps in a major way, forcing me to stay on track to save face =)

    Here we go, it’s 2013!

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Cam! It’s nice to hear from you too 🙂 Good to know that tidbit about MEEB, but I understand what you mean about treading carefully haha! Also, love your idea of a study group…sometime a smaller set of people is more productive and useful. Can’t wait to hear about how you’ve knocked PPP and CDS out of the park this year! Good luck

  5. Happy New Year Jenny!!! I am also taking BS and I wanted to ask you the additional material to study, besides MEEB. I am planning to read also Kaplan and Ballast.

    Thank you for your help.


    • jennypdx says:

      I mainly relied on MEEB and Kaplan on my first go around…as well as many random websites with topics I wanted more information on. Check the links in the resources at the end of my study guide for more information. I’ll be sure to post any new and useful things I find, but as of yet, I haven’t started re-studying. Good luck!

  6. emily says:

    Hi Jenny, Welcome back and Happy New Year. If you don’t mind, I’d like to take you back a few exams to your #4…Structures. I am in full on Post Holidays slump mode, but I’m determined to try tackling the dreaded Structural Exam in the next couple (few?) months. The problem is i’m overwhelmed already. I haven’t thought about structures since I took the class 5 years ago. EESH. I started reading chapter 1 of the Kaplan guide and it freaked me out. I’m not ready for calculations…yet. Can you suggest an approach that will maybe ease me in slowly and more conceptually before I break out the calculator? I think I need a little push to get back on the horse. Good news is I have tackled the triplets…CDS, SPD, and PPP. Any thoughts?

    • jennypdx says:

      Thanks, and Happy New Year to you, too! I know the overwhelmed feeling…I felt the same way when I drug out my 5+ year old notes from school. My first thought was “oh jeeze, how am I going to remember all of this…” followed by “…and boy did I sure doodle a lot in class!” Kaplan does kind of throw you in, but being in a similar boat as you, ultimately found pushing through it to be the best. I had to read/re-read chapter 1 a few times before I felt like I was but once I did, the rest of the chapters came much easier. Going through the Kaplan book was really helpful for this exam, as was doing all the practice problems and 500+ problems in the Q&A book. Don’t skip them!

      That being said, if you’re looking for something related to start with as you get out of slump mode, kick back with a cup of tea/coffee/beer/wine and a copy of either “Buildings At Risk: Seismic Design Basics for Practicing Architects” or “FEMA 454: Designing for Earthquakes”. Both are available online for free as PDFs (do a web search, you’ll find them) and are actually really interesting reads. They don’t cover everything you’ll need to know for the exam, but do give you a good handle on the seismic portion.

      Good luck!!

      • emily says:

        Hi Jenny,

        Just wanted to report back that your advice here helped me kick it into gear and yesterday I took my Structures exam. Wow, that was a doozy! I was just reading your Structures posts, and if I would write a blog about my preparation and test experience, it would almost a verbatim copy of yours… I just hope I get to write a similar post to the one where you passed. Here’s hoping!

      • jennypdx says:

        Hey Emily, thanks for the update! Congrats on making it through the exam, that alone should a reason to celebrate. Here’s hoping you get that pass letter soon, at times waiting almost seems more difficult than studying. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, but I’m guessing you did a fantastic job!

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