Tag Archives: cds

So many flashcards…

reach for the sky, mister

Fun Fact: This is what a set of Kaplan and Archiflash Construction Docs & Services, Site Planning & Design, and Programming, Planning, & Practice flashcards looks like.

Not so Fun Fact (unless you savor schadenfreude): This is the first obstacle to tackle in the next week. Thankfully…and I say that very lightly…I already worked through the bottom third while studying for CDS. I still want to review them as it sounds like those topics are fair game for PPP though.

I guess I can’t say I lack study materials…

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Day 73: 358 days to 27th birthday

Someone posted the best pneumonic for the 16 division CSI format on areforum this morning:

Good Strong Cerveza Makes Me Willing To Date Fat Senoritas;
Even Fat Senoritas Covered in Measles Everywhere


01 General Requirements
02 Site (Now Existing Conditions)
03 Concrete
04 Masonry
05 Metal
06 Wood/Plastics/Composites
07 Thermal/Moisture Barrier
08 Doors/Windows (Now Openings)
09 Finishes
10 Specialties
11 Equipment
12 Furnishings
13 Special Construction
14 Conveying Systems
15 Mechanical (Now Division 23)
16 Electrical (Now Division 26)

So with the changes to MasterSpec, we could revise it to say:

Good, Effective Cerveza Makes Me Willing To Obey Fat Senoritas;
Even Fat Senoritas Covered in… Measles Everywhere?!

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Day 66: 365 days to 27th birthday


I almost didn’t open the letter, at the risk of ruining my birthday, but I knew I’d just wonder about it all night, so I tore open the NCARB envelope and peeked inside. At first I didn’t see it, and looked at what is 3/4 a blank piece of paper. Then I noticed the small confirmation up at the top of the page by my address. I have no idea if I got 100% or 72%, but at this point I really don’t care.

Now it’s officially time to celebrate my 26th birthday (and being 1/7th an architect!) with the family and Nate.

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Day 61: 370 days to 27th birthday

Note: This post has been sitting in my draft box for a few days now. Every time I thought about the exam my stomach would get knotted up, and I’d convince myself there were better things to do than finish this. Sorry. Will try not to let my emotions/laziness get the best of me next time. -j

the test is thataway

Ah Prometric, we meet again. I can’t say that I was looking forward to spending another sweaty palmed Saturday at this testing facility, but it was incredibly comforting to walk into a center I had been to before. Earlier in the summer I passed the LEED Green Associate exam here, and so being familiar with the process and atmosphere helped me feel more comfortable walking in for the CDS exam. The staff remembered me from my previous visit, which caught me off guard, but was very cool. I took the exam at 1pm… strange for me because I’m typically a morning person. There was hardly anyone checking in for the afternoon when I got there, so it felt like I had the center to myself. It almost seemed more relaxed and friendly than when I took the LEED exam on a busy weekend morning. The check-in process was speedy, taking about 15 minutes to from walking in to starting my test. I haven’t quite figured out the best thing to wear to this center yet, but light layers seem to be the way to go. This time I had Portland Timbers match tickets right after the exam, so I ended up wearing my obnoxiously green/gold gear partially hidden under a black sweater. It worked. I felt pumped. I elected not to take my No Pity Scarf in, as much as I wanted to flash it at the NCARB logo on the screen like my fellow Timbers Army members do to the opposing team on the pitch.

So after getting situated, and given the same station that I took the previous exam at (I wonder if it’s the designated ARE/USGBC computer, or if I’m just forever destined to be stuck in the corner of the room by the main path of travel.) I closed my eyes, said a quick prayer, took a deep breath and got started.

I used the whole two hours for the 100 multiple choice questions. It took an hour to get through the set of questions once, marking about 35-40 that I hesitated on (yikes). Then just went back through the marked questions as many times as I could, thinking and working through them, and removing the marks on the ones I had convinced myself I make the right guess on. Within the last five minuets, I know I was down to about 5 marked questions that were still giving me trouble. Not bad out of 100. I finished this portion feeling confident with 50% of my answers, ok with 25%, and hoping I guessed correctly on the last 25%. It’s not exactly the percentage I was hoping for, but I’ll take what I can get.

I think the Schiff Hardin lectures really helped in conjunction with the AIA commentary on the A201/B101 documents. Having 2+ years of full time experience in a firm was also a huge help. When I struggled on a question, I tried thinking about it in terms of how our office might deal with the situation. That strategy worked really well as I worked through my marked questions. I didn’t use the Kaplan books very much, besides working through the questions & answers a few times until I was getting over 90% on the practice tests. I liked both the Kaplan and ArchiFlash cards, and I’ll continue using those for the next exam. I felt prepared walking into the exam, based on my study technique and materials. Next time, I think I’ll spend a bit more time glossing over the Kaplan book so more concepts will be apparent in the next go-around.

The mandatory 15 minute break is alright…though I really didn’t know what to do with myself. Next exam I know I’ve got to bring a water bottle, and maybe a granola bar depending on how long the second half is. Snacking appears to be the popular thing to do. There’s no checking your phone, or going outside, or doing much of anything really, so I sat in the waiting area and flipped through the latest IKEA catalog and watched the clock. Signed back in a few minutes early and sat at my station waiting for the second part to begin.

The Vignette was incredibly straightforward. I found that about five practice runs with the software was enough to feel comfortable during the exam. “Solutions” by Dorf was a useful book to read and practice with. Reviewing other intern’s vignettes on areforum was helpful, and I really appreciated this post outlining the vignette steps by user Anjana. I finished the section in 35 minutes, and spent 20 more reviewing, re-reviewing, and clicking around on my solution. I knew it was correct, but didn’t feel right leaving so early.

The Post Prometric Pint – Cheers!

The key with the vignette portion seems to be coming up with a methodical approach to calculating, drawing and checking the solution. Unless I somehow fail, I don’t see myself changing how I prepare for this portion of the exam.

So I left feeling pretty comfortable with the whole experience. At this point, I know that I did as best as I could for my first try, and I’ve learned a lot about how to prepare for the the next test. I think I’ll give myself a few days to take a break and regroup at this point before I decide which exam to take next. I talked to my mom on the way to the Timbers match from Prometric, and she reminded me “It is what it is.” Having a rowdy soccer match was a terrific way to let go of all the post exam jitters. We sang, we chanted, we cheered, and we watched as our boys in green tied Toronto FC 2-2. Oh, and I continued a tradition I started after taking the LEED Exam: The Post Prometric Pint. This time with Jeld-Wen Field was a backdrop, which was a perfect reminder that creating spaces where people come to laugh, play, and enjoy life together is truly why I want to be an architect and go through this whole examination process in the first place.

So until the next exam… cheers!

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Day 54: 377 days to 27th birthday…EXAM 1

no one says it better than architexts

Well…here goes nothing something!

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Day 53: 378 days to 27th birthday

Last night, as I was sprawled across the bed re-reading notes and study guides, I caught myself smiling. Wait. Really? Am I actually enjoying all this? As dry as the information is, I think I might be. I’m feeling generally prepared for tomorrow. I got through the NCARB vignette in 25 minutes…almost missed drawing a duct though, good thing there was time to thoroughly double check. I also put together a few tables of info on specifications, insurance, bonding, and fees, just because I was having a hard time keeping everything straight. Here they are if you want to check them out: ARE CDS Tables.

It’s my sister Amanda’s birthday today, so I’m looking forward to relaxing a bit and hanging out with her and the folks. (I hear she wants to go to Produce Row Cafe. Win.) I might sneak in a little last minute studying after celebrating tonight, but I can’t seeing it being anything more than trying to finish memorizing the CSI Masterformat Divisions. I guess at this point, if I don’t know it now, then I probably won’t in the next 30 hours, so why worry?

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Day 51: 380 days to 27th birthday

God bless whoever added the ability to adjust track speed in QuickTime. After listening to a SH lecture on B101 as recorded, I ran across a way to speed up the second lecture of the series (option/>> arrow for those of you who are curious) without making it sound like a rejected Alvin and the Chipmunks audiobook. The 1 hr 52 min takes just over an hour, but the pace is steady enough that note taking is still possible.

With that whopping extra 45 minutes, I did a timed NCARB vignette practice exam, which came out like so:

Plot styles? We don't need no stinking plot styles.

I don’t see anything wrong. Do you? Let me know…preferably by Friday evening. I’ve got a pretty good grasp on working with the software, but want to practice a few more times. This run through took 35 minutes, including review, but I’d like to get it down to 30 so I’ll have plenty of time to work my way through the actual exam.

I threw flashcards and B101 into my bag to study at lunch today, but seeing that I have 3 minutes until it’s back to AutoCAD and SD drawings, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Oh well, I guess I’ll save that fun for tonight.

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Day 29: 402 days to 27th birthday

You know what’s terrrrrible workout music? Schiff Hardin lectures. Now don’t get me wrong, they’re a fantastic resource for learning about contracts and basic legal ramifications of professional practice, but when it comes to motivating one to run that extra mile…well, better leave that to the upbeat stylings of Girl Talk.

So here I sit at home, gross from the gym and annoyed that my idea of using treadmill time to learn about contract documents totally bit me in the gluteus maximus. They’re interesting to listen to, but it looks like I have to be totally focused in order to get anything out of them. That’s fine, I guess I’ll just sit down with the actual contracts discussed and go through them with the lectures. I was just hoping to use my time a bit more efficiently. I’ve been working on my schedule for the month:

Some of the text is light, but you get the idea. A chapter of Kaplan a night, focus on a contract document a week, work through the vignettes on Wednesdays and Sundays, and take a practice exam every Saturday. If I stick to a strict schedule the next few weeks, I figure I’ll have the week before the exam to really focus on working through practice exams and timed vignettes, as well as review anything that might still be a bit fuzzy. (My money is on the AIA docs.) This will no doubt keep me busy, but I find that laying out a schedule with my other priorities and events will at least keep me in check…and remind me that it’s time to go back to the gym.

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Day 1: 430 days to 27th Birthday

Now that the initial shock of “holy crap, I’m actually doing this” has subsided, I figured it would be best to start with the obvious, the NCARB CDS Exam Guide Multiple Choice.

39/48 or 81%

Not bad for just shooting off the hip. The questions that get me typically involve those that require multiple answers. There’s always one or two obvious choices, and then I get hung up on the rest and second guess myself. Still, feeling like this might go alright after all (there’s a reason I didn’t start with the structures exam).

Going to hit a chapter of Kaplan tonight.

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