Merry Christmas from AREndurance!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, safe travels, and hopes that your favorite festivities take the place of your all too frequent studying…at least for a little while! May these be the only construction documents you see this holiday week.

Cheers – Jenny

PS: Don’t miss these holiday greetings from your favorite architects!

on failure.

Too soon to add this to my Christmas list?

To summarize: I failed BS. I bombed it with major deficiencies in all areas except the vignette, actually. Dang.

Not wanting to waste both my time and yours, I figured a little break to collect my thoughts and avoid a pity party would be a good idea. I also had a really nice Thanksgiving/Christmas kickoff weekend, which seriously helped my spirits. Yes, I’m still bummed, but I’m also relieved to know my fate and (finally) motivated to come up with a game plan for success six months from now.

The way I see it, when it comes to failure we are (arguably) fortunate to have so many motivators available to help get us back on track. Blogs on making things happen, encouragement from family/friends, a “get motivated” subreddit, Cool Runnings. We’re part of an industry/profession/culture where disappointment is as common, if not more-so, than success. Bad critiques, rejected proposals, cancelled projects…We’re trained and hardened to take lousy moments for what they’re worth and move on.

And yet tearing open that familiar white NCARB envelope with the blue trim, expecting the worst while hoping for the best, and seeing that four letter F word silences all of those motivators with a deafening blow. A fail is not what you want to see printed. In print, failure is real. It changes your mentality, and amidst all the other emotions and thoughts floating around your mind only one thing is certain:

Failing sucks.

It sucks when you’re so damn close to being finished with the whole ARE process. Or when you’re daydreaming of all the books you can fill the space on your bookshelf where your study materials sat for years. Or when you have to tell your family and friends as optimistically as you can that you didn’t do your best this time. It sucks because you know no one else thinks any less of you, but you still feel about as sharp as a bowl full of jello.

But failure is also a surefire way to get yourself motivated. To stop harping on your lack of perfection…and to quit getting teary eyed every time you see a light socket or an air handler unit. (True story.)  It motivates you to realize that not everything turns out the way you wanted it to the first time, but with perseverance it will eventually. Life hardly ever goes the way we planed, but sometime the path it takes is even better than we had hopped. The road to becoming a licensed architect is a long one and there are bound to be a few bumps along the way. God knows there were plenty during studio in school.

I’ve decided to not worry about my retake over the holidays (why spoil my favorite time of the year?) and be thankful for my successes instead. I’m still so thrilled to have passed six so far, and know the final pass will come soon enough. In January I’ll start back up researching the resources I missed and figure out when I can sign up for my retake. I have to wait around until May, but that will give me plenty of time to review what I already know and learn as many details as I can as a slower pace. I still have that pesky IDP to finish too, so it’s not like I won’t have the exams on my mind anyway. I know it will all get done in due time…but dang if I’m not a little anxious to see the day.

I guess we don’t call it AREndurance for nothing.

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My granny always said “Patience is a virture, Jennifer Anne…”

… and at this point NCARB is seriously testing mine. Still no word back on my exam, and I’m feeling like I’m in limbo, not sure if I should feel confident in a job well done or complacent in the fact that I’ll be getting cozy with MEEB again next spring. I guess I’m ok with either at this point, I’d just really like to know. The anxious drives home to check the mail are starting to get a little old.

Regardless of when that letter shows up, I”m looking forward to wrapping up this short week and enjoying the Thanksgiving Holiday. I’ll be running across the metro area with Nate as we celebrate the day with both of our families, and hopefully catching as much of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV as I can. (I’m a total sucker for that tradition.) Wishing you and yours a very happy, healthy, and thankful occasion. Stay safe and full, and enjoy a well deserved day free of studying. Cheers!

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MEEB like this…MEEB like that…

Last weekend I saw tweets from @melissardaniel and @arch_girl to the above video of a UofO student showing his love for our favorite BS textbook. In a word? HAAAAAmazing. Hope you enjoy.

Still a week out on my exam score, but I’ve definitely calmed down a bit. Thanks for all your kind and supportive words. Sounds like most people feel pretty defeated after BS… it’s nice to be in good company. I’m off to Seattle for the weekend with Nate to celebrate our 2nd anniversary (time flies when you’re studying). Hope you all have an enjoyable and/or productive weekend too. Cheers!

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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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And Last but not Least, a BS Study Guide

Mitch Hedberg on conveyance systems (RIP)

Well it’s late…or early now I guess… and it’s been a helluva long week, but I finally feel like I’ve gotten a grip on all this building systems stuff, there’s certainly a ton of it (would that convert to 12,000 BTUs, too?).  I’m so glad that I scheduled my test for Sunday, I honestly don’t know how I’d be ready if I didn’t have one more day for review.  I suppose I’d be up a sanitary waste line without a clean out.

Here’s my Building Systems Study Guide for your use if you’re interested.  Hard to believe that this is the last one!  It’s as thorough as I could make it, although nowhere near as in depth as MEEB.  I kind of feel like by the time I got to specialties, communications, and conveying systems I wasn’t getting as in depth on the  information as I had for HVAC, Lighting, etc.  I’m hoping that’s okay.  Given the types of questions that I’m seeing come up on the NCARB exam guide and the Kaplan chapter quizzes it seems like the emphasis is on the major systems.

I posted an attempt at the vignette over at arefourm and got some helpful feedback on a few little things to fix and work on.   While I was there, I checked out a few posts by other forum members and it looks like I might be in good shape.  All of my practice runs have gone fairly smoothly and I’m finishing with plenty of time to review.   The biggest challenge I have is making sure I’m not over lighting spaces.  I tend to add more fixtures than I probably need.

At this point my biggest concern is feeling more confident with the details.  I seem to have the big concepts down, but am getting stuck on all of the little facts like ADA clearance dimensions keeping all the types of light bulbs straight.  The rest of my time here will be spend reading and rereading, going through the Kaplan Q&A questions, and trying a few more of the vignette alternates.    Also, I’m pretty excited to get more than 3-1/2 hours of sleep at some point.  With daylight savings time ending this weekend at least I know I’m guaranteed 4-1/2.  Jackpot.

Finally, before I close, just wanted to send my words of support to all of you who are reading on the east coast.  I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are all safe and sound.  It’s been absolutely gut wrenching to watch what everyone is going through and I wish there was more we could do out here to help.   Here’s hoping that everyone will come out of this a lot stronger than they were before.   Best wishes for a speedy return to normalcy or better to you all.

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Who knew there was more to youtube than cat videos?

Over the weekend I was pointed to a great series of youtube videos on electronics (thanks again Dustin!).  This video covers the basics of  Ohm’s Law:  Voltage, Current, and Resistance.   As a visual/audio learner I found it really helpful to have some short clips to watch.  I’m sure I learned the concepts much faster than had I been reading about them in one of my old textbooks.   Check it out if you’re interested!


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On jury duty, IDP, reunions, and (oh yeah) studying

found in my old BS/Environmental Controls Systems college course notes. Holla.

You know how sometime you get sidetracked by all kinds of miscellaneous stuff that throws your schedule off?  That’s kind of how things have been lately.  To summarize,  I got to experience jury duty & service for the first time, sitting on a trial for reckless driving.  That was an interesting experience, and I am glad that I got to be part of it.

I also took a few nights off to domy IDP hours.  This is the first round I’ve done with the new system, so it took some time to convert my old custom template to the new divisions before inputting all my hours from my office time cards.   After seeing how everything worked out I’ve got to admit that I’m pretty disappointed with myself and my progress. It feels like I’ll never finish the internship. I only have about 470 hours to go, 12 weeks of time, but most of my outstanding hours are in Engineering Systems, Construction Costs, and Code/Regulation…topics I haven’t been getting much hands-on experience with. I did mention it to the guys at the office so they know what I’m missing, and also looked into some of the supplementary opportunities. I know I’ll need to do some extra work once I finish the BS exam, otherwise I don’t think I’ll have my internship done and license in hand by my goal deadline of August.  Still, I can’t shake the feeling of being genuinely worried.  I guess it is what it is at this point.

Last week I was reminded of an agreement I made nearly a decade ago.  I was given the opportunity to serve as senior class president at my high school, and part of the unofficially official job description included planning the 10 year reunion for the class, “no big deal” I thought, “that’s years away!”  Well the time to plan is now. I’m realizing that if I’m going to pull this event for 200 classmates off by next fall, I’d better get started.  As one peer quipped, “She’s an architect now right? According to the show ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Architects are cool.”  I’d hate to disappoint, but I did quickly mention that I’m not nearly as cool as Ted Mosby. Still, it should be fun, and I hope I’ll be able to find some help soon.

Which leaves us to studying.  I’ve been trying to dedicate at least an hour a night to it, but I can tell I’m slipping and need to do more.  I’m already planning on Saturday being a day to turn off the internet and focus on building systems, and it’s my hope that it will get me refocused for next week.  I’d still like to have my study guide done by Halloween, and with just under two weeks to do so, I’d better get really busy.

Oh and speaking of study guides, there’s an incredible document called exam review.doc on the forum FTP site that I’m building mine off of.  It has references to all of the pages in MEEB that are useful, and is already broken into the appropriate NCARB content areas.  Hooah!  There’s tons to go through, but it looks really useful.

So life is a little crazy right now, but it’s busy times like these that remind me of my favorite Charles Eames quote:  “Never let the blood show. ”  I’m trying my best not to.

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BOOYA, she’s 6 for 6!


I waited oh so patiently for last Friday to arrive…NCARB letters typically come the second Friday after my exam.  Except this time.  Then it didn’t come on Saturday, and it certainly didn’t show up on Monday thanks to the Columbus Day Holiday (no one else got the day off either, right?).  I hoped and prayed that the letter would be waiting for me tonight and sure enough it was.

I tore into the envelope like a kid on Christmas morning, and peeked at the letter before taking it out:  PASS

*insert sigh of relief and fist pump #6 here*

I’m so grateful to have another one behind me.  To be honest I can’t believe how fast it’s all going… it feels like I was just studying for CDS.   Now that I’m almost done I’ve begun to realize just how much these exams teach us.  I catch myself smiling when the guys at work are discussing issues similar to those in my text books, and I feel so much more confident when given codes to research, contracts to look over, details to draw, etc.  Even though we complain about the exams, it’s incredible to think about how far they push us to become more rounded designers.  A part of me has enjoyed the learning process and I hope to have a career with many opportunities to gain knowledge.   Not that there’s much of a choice really…hello Continuing Education requirements.

So now I finally feel like I can focus on BS.  My biggest goal is to study as thoroughly as possible this month so I walk in to Prometric on November 4th feeling confident.  I’d hate to make a dumb mistake on my last exam and have it set me back 6 months at the end.   The only option at this point is to knock exam 7 out of the park.  Let’s do this!

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This November, her world will be transformed

descriptions of autobots and decepticons probably isn’t what they’re looking for, huh?

I had a really nice (and busy) weekend with friends and family, but managed to get a little studying in while I was waiting in line for the Timbers match early Saturday morning. I’m pretty sure my flashcards have seen the most love at soccer matches, so much so that I’m probably going to have to put a “splotches of beer may be visible” disclaimer if I decide to sell them after I’m done with the process.  You’d be amazed at the frequency I have to clean beer out of my purse…I blame the excited/inebriated guys that always end up behind me.

I’ve been going through school notes as rapid fire as I can, using MEEB as I go along.  I had forgotten how much we referred to the book in class, and I’m so grateful that I had the good sense to list table numbers and pages to use…It’s certainly making picking everything up again easier.  I’m finding that working through examples is pretty straight forward and that equations aren’t too difficult (yet).    It’s my hope to have my school notes complied into my study guide by the end of the week…doable with some effort.  Then I can move on to other recommended sources on the forum and study a little more out of MEEB directly.

While perusing the forum during lunch today I ran across a thread with a link to online MEEB Chapter Quizzes.   Chapter 1 was pretty easy, but I hear they get much harder. Yikes.  Still, I’m excited to have it as a useful resource in addition to the Kaplan Q&A book.  I’ve learned that the more study problems I can do before the exam the better I feel walking into Prometric.

Still no word on BCDS results. I’m guessing it will be Wednesday at the earliest…. which means it’ll actually be Friday.


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