Tag Archives: timbers

BS Take 2: Exam Review

we've got your stack vents and vent stacks right here, folks.

we’ve got your stack vents and vent stacks right here, folks.

I walked into my friendly Prometric testing center on Saturday morning expecting little to have changed in the six months I was away.  For the most part my expectations were correct, except for all the kids (no, not GRE candidates, actual tiny humans) wandering about, bemoaning the fact that they were there on a weekend for tutoring in the Sylvan Learning Center portion of the suite.  (I felt their pain).  As I signed in and waited my turn in the morning rush my eye caught a row of vertical silver pipes in the corner.  Wasn’t there a wall there before? And why does that sign next to it say “Toilets WORK sinks DON’T”?  Before I could start pointing out stack vents and waste pipes and wondering if I could see what was wrong, my name was called.  Investigation would have to wait until break time.

A new gal got me checked in and I found myself seated at a spot right by the door into the testing room.  I hoped that it wouldn’t be too distracting of a spot and fortunately it wasn’t.  The familiar hum of the air filter/white noise machine in the corner hushed my thoughts and my focus turned to the task at hand: facing my BS nemesis for a rematch. 

It’s always comforting when the first multiple choice question is one that you know the answer to.  Having a pretty good idea on the second one is nice as well.  Same with the third.  As I worked through my first pass through the 95 questions, which took me about an hour and 15 minutes to do, I felt that things were going much better than last time.  I knew how to solve the calculations and most of the vocabulary and concepts were familiar.  That being said, I marked over half the questions as I found myself constantly hesitating on the answer.  On my second pass I made the conscious effort to trust my gut on as many answers as possible, knocking the number of marked problems to about 25.  In the last half hour I worked through them as many times as I could, and when time was up I had about six left that I just made a wild guess on.  

Overall, I felt that I prepared the best that I could have, and that the problems I truly struggled on were those WTF questions that I would have never thought to have studied.  You know the ones, they always appear when you’re on a bit of  a roll.  “I know that, and I know that, and….” suddenly your eyes get wide  “… I…I don’t know the answer to that!”  It never fails.  

I took my break and fiddled with the faucet in the bathroom which actually worked, making a liar out of the sign posted outside.  I munched on a granola bar and flipped through the newspaper…how many people actually feel inclined to read when waiting for an exam?  Probably not many given the crisp edges of the front page.  With a few minutes left I headed back to my desk and got prepared for the vignette.  Almost done. 

The drawing portion wasn’t much more challenging than the NCARB example.  It was a little tricky to figure out the most appropriate lighting layout in a few rooms, but once I finally got the right combination of fixtures and orientation  I recognized that there really wasn’t a better solution.  Ducts and diffusers fell into place quickly, and before I knew it I had a pretty solid answer.  I spent the last half hour of my time checking dimensions and wondering if I should nudge ceiling grids and lights to get foot candle levels adjusted even further.  Like many of the multiple choice questions, I felt it was best to go with my gut on my design, and i justified my decision by thinking “well if I was doing this for work, this would probably be what they want to see.”   With five minutes left on the clock I called it good enough.  

My announcement of completion was met with a smile and friendly “Woot!” from the exam proctor.  Would this be the last time that I signed my name in the binder and walked out the door?  I’m still not too sure.   

hopefully the last Post Prometric Pint ever purchased.

hopefully the last Post Prometric Pint ever purchased.

I met up with Nate in Northwest Portland and we headed out in search of beer. I shot down the suggestion of a semi-new BBQ place, as that’s the meal we had after I took BS the first time (apparently I’m a bit superstitious). We continued our walk on the newly reopened Lompoc Tavern and instantly slid into a booth with a good view of the remaining few minutes of the Champions League Final.  I love my Timbers, but European soccer is such a delight to watch.  The Post Prometric Pint was a Kick Axe Pale Ale, light and hoppy.  It might be my favorite of all the pints I’ve celebrated with. We spend the rest of the day kicked back at Nate’s relaxing (aka: I fell asleep on the couch almost instantly) and enjoyed watching the Timbers defeat DC United followed by Chinese takeout and Globe Trekker on PBS.  It really wasn’t anything special, but after 2+ weeks of hitting the books hard in almost total isolation, Nate said it best: “I’m just glad to have my Jenny back.”

Now that I’ve had a couple of days to rest up, and enjoy time with family and friends, I’m feeling ok about the exam.  While I don’t know if my performance was good enough for a pass, I do feel confident that I did a much better job preparing this time around.  The BS exam is an incredibly challenging exam, and I feel that one has to truly dedicate some time to understating all of the different content areas.  The more you know walking into this exam, the better off you will be.  It’s not the division to gloss over and wing…unless maybe all you do is engineering coordination for your day job.  I’m still frustrated that I had to retake this exam, but I also feel like I’ve leaned a lot more about Building Systems then I ever thought I would know.  That alone is almost as important as the pass letter I’m waiting on.  I just hope it arrives sooner than later….not sure how I feel about BS Round 3. 

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Alright, back to work.

I spent most of the day plugged into Pandora listening to a combination of macklemore and paul simon (don’t ask me how that mix works, but it does…oh it does) while drafting and otherwise muddling through construction document sheet preparation. And as it typically goes, the mind wanders a little on days like this. It wanders to where to get the next cup of coffee, or to that sweet timbers victory last weekend, or to weekends in general. While I clicked about Revit and thought of cafes and soccer and visiting gallery exhibits a little voice piped up in the back of my head, likely one of those ignorable Pandora commercials….a split second later I realized that wait no, it wasn’t. Between the beats of lackadaisical hip hop my conscience steered me towards a more pressing dream.

*sigh* Alright. Let’s get this exam over with.

There are certain critical considerations to mull over when selecting a day to sit for any division of the ARE. After one determines what realistic timeframe they need to prepare for each exam, then it’s best to address the major events taking place that will severely distract from studying. You know the culprits: birthdays, holidays, major work deadlines, etc. Even if you say you will, we all know that there will be no preparation done on these days, and in some cases those leading up to them. I’ve found that taking a few minutes to thoroughly consider my personal commitments before registering has paid off by only having to reschedule one exam. Otherwise I’ve felt as if there’s been adequate time to prepare for each…regardless of my results. As I looked over my calendar for the next few months I found my options to be fairly open (save for Mother’s Day, a few Timbers matches, and a handful of after work events). A click into Prometric to search for availability came back with only two Saturdays that would work: May 25th or June 2nd. I’d be damned if I wasn’t taking it when I was eligible to do so in May, primarily for the sake of principle, and I really didn’t want to spend my entire Memorial Day weekend stuck at my desk studying. A few hours that Saturday morning taking the test would still leave plenty of time for fun….and to enjoy the long awaited return of Arrested Development (I never thought I’d see the day).

So I clicked the 25th, 9am, paid my fee, and jotted the appointment down in my calendar. As I said way back on Exam #2, the involuntary urge to hurl after signing up never goes away, even after all this time. For a brief moment it’s hard not to freeze and think that perhaps it would be better to just hold off a little longer. But then as quickly as that cowardly feeling arrives, it morphs into courage. You come to your senses, quit being a chicken, and get back to work.

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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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BDCS Exam Review

It’s slightly unnerving to look around a Prometric waiting room and realize that you’re the least anxious of anyone sitting there. Apparently Saturday was a big day for GRE testing and my center was full of grad student hopefuls full of questions like “Why can’t I have a pen?” and “What’s the exact temperature in there…should I wear my sweater?” I know I shouldn’t have found it so amusing, I was a nervous as heck the first exam too, but you can’t help but simile at the absurd things people wonder about unfamiliar environments. At least one of the proctors tried to lighten the mood with the friendly reminder to “make sure you don’t have any Chapstick, tissues or lint in your pockets”.

I signed in and got settled in the back corner of the testing room next to a gal who must have been amused by her exam given the quiet chuckles I heard coming from her station. After my usual routine of flipping the mouse to the left hand side and adjusting the chair so I could actually see what I was doing I took a deep breath and got started. Moments later, a guy outside the building with a table saw started his work too…thankfully it only lasted about 10 minutes.

who has two thumbs and totally understands what’s going on here now?

The multiple choice was less challenging than I expected. That’s not to say it wasn’t difficult, and I can see why so many recommend saving BDCS for last. There was a noticeable amount of overlap with the rest of the exams I’ve had to date. I felt that all of the topics I saw were originally presented on the NCARB exam guide and that my notes covered everything sufficiently. Reading Fundamentals of Building Construction turned out to be really helpful. Now if I had only memorized every word I read! I used the entire 1:45, and spent about an hour going through the 85 questions slowly. The rest of the time was dedicated to working through everything I marked (just over half of the problems) which included anything I even slightly hesitated on. At the end I was down to about six questions that I made my best judgement call on. There are always a few problems where, no matter how much you think, more than one answer looks correct.

Now that I’ve sat through the multiple choice portion a few times I’ve found myself wondering a few things about the process:

1. I can’t be the only one that has little habitual quirks when testing. Like for instance I always write notes on the NCARB scratch paper from the back page to the front.
2. Do you think NCARB keeps track of the answers people give for the mandatory use-the-mouse tutorial questions? I’d love to know how many people get those things wrong.
3. Can anyone tell me why the calculator allows every number/symbol to be entered on the keyboard *except* the equals/enter button?! Maybe I’m doing something wrong (wouldn’t be the first time)…I always key in the problem and then click equals. Baffling.

After a mandatory break spent observing the teens in the Sylvan Learning Center, who looked thrilled to be spending their Saturday in class, I was back at my desk watching the clock tick down to the vignettes. I did them in the following order:

Ramp Design: completed in about 45 minutes. I roughed out two complete solutions with sketch rectangles before settling on the better of the two options. My goal was to make as few landings as possible and to get the bottom landings of the ramp and stairs as close as possible. I think my design worked and looked pretty decent to boot.

Roof Design: completed in about 30 minutes. I began drawing the first obvious solution that came to mind and then found myself backpedaling after about 10 minutes when I realized all of the elements didn’t work the way I had intended. After scratching my head for a few, I settled on a new design that I would honestly have a hard time proposing to an actual client, but met all the programmatic requirements. This vignette made me realize that it’s best to think of all the roof components at the same time when designing a scheme.

Stair Design: completed in about 45 minutes. This was the vignette I was most nervous for, and thus allowed the most time for. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the problem wasn’t as tricky as I feared. It was still quite challenging, and I found myself checking and double checking my math to ensure I didn’t screw up any elevation calculations. Practicing with the cut stair tool was a good move before the exam and I’d recommend it.

Overall I found the vignettes to be somewhat more difficult than the NCARB examples and I was glad that I took the the time to do the forum alternates for each. After reviewing all of my solutions, and making sure none of my handrails got bumped out of alignment, I decided to call it good enough. I had 20 minutes left on the clock.

Phew. Huge sigh of relief to have that one done.

Post Prometric Pint #6 – Rise Up Red, hoping my results won’t be DOA

I met up with Nate for lunch and then we picked up a couple bottles for the Post Prometric Pint on the way back to his place. Reason number #342 that it’s awesome to live in the Northwest is that there’s so much good local beer you rarely have to have the same thing twice. We tried Hopworks Urban Brewery’s Rise Up Red, a light, organic, citrusy red ale. A pint at home never tasted so good. We kicked back and watched Timbers get trampled by Real Salt Lake down in Utah. I hope that their loss isn’t a foreshadow of my results.

I think this exam went pretty well and I left feeling about the same as I did after PPP. There’s a lot of material to cover, and I know I gave it my best. I’m not 100% sure about how I did on the multiple choice, and I’m more satisfied with my performance on the vignettes at this point. I’m anxiously awaiting my results already! It’s hard to believe that there’s only one more exam to begin preparing for, and I don’t plan on wasting any time while waiting for my pass/fail. Let’s get this thing done!

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another last push and another study guide

By exam number five you’d think the pre-exam freak outs might not be quite as bad as they were before.  They’re really not.  That being said, while I’m nervous for Sunday, I’ve realized that this is the first exam where I’ve felt genuinely confident walking in.  Nerves aside, that’s a pretty good feeling to have two days before showtime.

at least I’m not in as bad of shape as this guy.

This morning I got the appointment reminder from NCARB which included the standard rescheduling policy as usual.  You know the one…you must reschedule your exam by noon eastern (that’s 9AM to us west coasters) three business days before your appointment.  Given that I always take my exams on the weekend, I usually get the reschedule reminder after the deadline has passed. Nice, huh?  It kind of makes me chuckle and think welp…it’s too late to turn back now.

The past few evenings I’ve been focusing heavily on the Interior Layout, and think I’ve got that one in the bag.  I’ve worked through almost all of the alternates, as well as tried the original NCARB example again.  I’ve managed to get my time down to about 35 minutes, which is just about perfect.  I’ll do a few more timed trials tomorrow, but otherwise think I’ll dedicate the rest of my time to perfecting my Building Layout skills.  I still am not quite happy with how near my “near” rooms are, so hopefully practicing a few alternatives will help.  I tend to make a lot of progress in the final push…at least I have for all the exams to date.

Instead of working on the vignettes tonight, I finally put together my study guide as a way to review the notes and strategies that I’ve compiled so far.  While there are other guides that are probably more helpful graphically, I created a step by step written process for each exam.  Here’s the Schematic Design Study Guide PDF for you to use too, if you’d like.

Work has been crazy busy the last few weeks, so between that and late nights studying I’m pretty wiped.  I think the best thing I can do at this point is get plenty of rest tonight and tomorrow, and give myself a bit of time to work though the Building Layout.  Tomorrow night the Timbers take on the LA Galaxy, and while I’d love to be there for it, think it would be wiser to stay home to wrap up studying and get a good night sleep.   Things have been blowing up with the team lately, amazing wins at home and embarrassing losses on the road.  This week they relieved Coach Spencer of his duties, and like many fans  I’m not surprised, but I am saddened.  I sincerely wish him the all the best.  While most of my professional role models are designers, he’s been a shining example of how one can perform a high stress job with honesty, integrity, and a bit of humor.  He really is true class and I look forward to following the rest of his career.

So on that note, here’s to the final push for SD.  With a few final tweaks and a bit of luck, I should have a pretty good shot on Sunday.

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Ain’t no rest for the wicked

In lieu of taking some time off now, I decided to go ahead and schedule my next exam, Schematic Design, for Sunday, July 15. There’s a Timbers match the night before against the LA Galaxy, so my goal is to be done by then so I can go enjoy it.  It’s probably a long shot, but I’m hoping that we’ll have a hell of a shut out against them like we did last year.  A girl can dream, right?  Also, since we’re on the subject of the mighty PTFC, the new Adidas commercial with Darlington Nagbe and the Timbers Army featured is pretty cool (I can almost feel the green smoke in my lungs watching it).

Anyway, my options were to take the exam on the 15th, or wait until after my sister Amanda’s, Nate’s, and my birthdays (aka: 2 weeks of party time).  That would push it back to mid/late August. It seems kind of silly to wait that long, and to be honest, I’d rather have another test under my belt before I get a year older.  27 is, after all, the goal age to have my license.  Time is ticking!  From what I’ve gathered on the forum and from conversations with others, it’s definitely reasonable to knock this one out in a couple of weeks.  That’s probably a good thing, seeing that I have just over four weeks to prepare and I’ll be in Los Angeles for one of them!

I downloaded the software/exam guide from NCARB and will spend today familiarizing myself with it.  I’m pretty excited to have a break from compiling a huge study guide, but I’ll still put together a step-by-step process like I do for all of the vignettes.   I know it’ll take some work, and plenty of practice, but I have a good feeling about this exam already.  It’s kind of nice.

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keep on keepin on

You would think with arefoum being down I would get more work done.  All that time spent reading post-exam thoughts, and reviewing vignettes, and generally lurking on PPP/SPD/CDS forums  (“I passed and so can you!” comments are fun) would go to working on my structures notes.   Yes, you would think that… and you would be wrong.

“Hmmm…I wonder if it’s working now?”  *refresh*  “Nope.”
*10 minutes later*
“Hmm… how about now?”  

I’ve spent a good chunk of time wondering when, or if, the forum will come back.  As of this posting it still hasn’t, but it’s my naive hope that it will spring back to life sometime during the work week.  And if it doesn’t, well, then I suppose we’ll all get through it.   Between Kaplan, ArchiFlash, old textbooks, and Google,  I think I’m in pretty good shape for materials, and in my last post a few people had some awesome workarounds.  Regarding thread posts, JD said:  “Google-search a question (for example: are forum CDs vignette overlap dimensions), within the google results page, click on google’s chache. Access to the google cache varies per browser, but this will display most of the thread, minus images.”

AREweanArchitectyet (another awesome ARE blog you should read, btw) found an old backup of the FTP files from ARE3.1 days.  Contracts are out of date, and the old 3.1 exam structure is used, but it’s still useful to have!   Here’s the link for your use!  I’m seriously relieved to have heard about this one…I really do rely on the FTP info when I’m getting started on an exam.

you can go ahead and guess which half of my weekend was more exciting.

I cranked through a good chunk of Kaplan over the weekend.  I didn’t meet my goal of finishing it, however.  I have two more chapters to get through: Wind, and Notable Buildings & Engineers.  If I can tear myself away from Antiques Roadshow (guilty pleasure) or, God forbid, actually get it done before its on, then I will still be in good shape at the end of tonight.  I’m excited to start working through the Kaplan Q&A book, words I never thought I would type, but my next priority will be finishing my study guide.   Now that I have a basic understanding of everything I think/hope the guide will go together much faster.  That being said, it’s still going to take some serious time, coffee, and ice cream.  I hear Ben & Jerry’s is a good study aid.

So far the exam content is all making sense.  I’m not sure how many of the random equations that Kaplan mentions (eg: calculating shear in a notched beam) I will have, or choose, to memorize, but my general feeling right now is that if it’s explained in the book, I should damn well know how to do it on the exam.  I took the quizzes at the end of each chapter and scored a 70% or better pretty consistently. Recalling and solving equations is still giving me some trouble, but  I seem to remember that being an issue in school as well.   At least I know where my weaknesses are.

My goal is to finish my study guide by the end of the holiday weekend. I don’t know if that’s insane or not.   I do know, however, that it’s probably sad that I’m excited to have next Monday off from work because it will give me 8 more hours of “good” brain time (I study/work better in the mornings/afternoons than in the evenings).   It’s going to be a busy week for extra curricular activities.  The Timbers take on Valencia FC in a friendly on Wednesday evening and we have our first Cascadia Cup match against Vancouver on Saturday.  After finally getting a win yesterday versus Chicago,  I’m psyched for both.   And speaking of psyched, Nate has a gallery show opening on June 1 for a photography project he’s been working on, and I get to help him out on that a bit as he prepares.

Given all this neat stuff going on, I need to buckle down and work hard in the moments I have free.  It’s certainly doable with a bit of willpower.  I think step number one will be blocking areforum so I don’t keep refreshing the page again and again…. *click* Nope.  Still nothing.

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the current state of my (other) desktop

learn all of this? no big deal…right?

Well the Timbers didn’t win (another 0-0 draw) and now haven’t scored a goal in, oh, 427 minutes.  That’s over 4 matches.  Damn.  On the plus side, Houston’s Stadium was gorgeous, we got a point on the road, and no one got kicked in the face.  Sometime you have to remind yourself to always look on the bright side of life.

The same rings true for studying.  I’m now four chapters through Kaplan, and I think I’ve made it over the nasty calculations hurdle.  I’m able to work through equations and problems fairly efficiently,  but my understanding of what all the components mean is still weak.  I don’t know what I need to memorize what resources will be available,  so I want to review the NCARB supplied list before I go too much further.   The less I have to store in my brain, the better.

I’ve got to admit it’s a little strange sitting at a desk with books.  I don’t think I’ve done this since…well since I took structures in college.  While I’m enjoying  the reprieve from typing in a pages document, I feel like I’m ultimately going to have to take all of the information I’m highlighting and jotting down and put it into my notes later.  I hope I’m not wasting time.

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on kaplan, defection for the love of architecture, and (shhh) vacation plans

Things are going better this week.  Huzzah.

I’m working may way through the Kaplan exam guide, writing down equations and practicing problems as I go.  It’s all making sense so far, but unfortunately I’m only on Chapter 3.  I need to pick up the pace a bit, or else I’ll never get through the book.   If I can work through two chapters a night for the rest of the week, then I’ll have it done by Sunday.   There’s not much going on, except for going out with Nate sometime towards the weekend and a Timbers match on Sunday evening,  so right now I think my goal is doable.

I finally took a stab at the vignette and it went much better than I has planned.  I think the SPD site design problem still has me running a bit scared…I was expecting this structural layout to be much more difficult.  I followed dwg’s approach for the first attempt last weekend, and then today during lunch I tried it out for myself.  It took me about 10 minutes to do.  Here’ s how it turned out:

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I liked using columns instead of bearing walls, so I’ll keep running with that strategy for now.  I’m going to practice a few more times, and get my hands on some alternates; Dorf for sure, maybe Kaplan, but to be honest I’ve found that source to be more of a burden than help on the other vignettes.

My exam was originally scheduled for this Sunday, so I’m going to try and push though this week as if that was still the case.   I want to get through Kaplan as quickly as possible so I can move on to the Q&A book, as well as go back to organizing  my study guide and reading all of the supplemental information.  I’m getting tired of looking at the mound of papers and books on my desk.

I’m so glad that I pushed the exam back.  After talking with a few fellow members over on the forum, I got a bit of a boost of confidence that I really needed to help get me through the next few weeks.   My family and my friends have been wonderful and supportive during this exam process, but the people I’ve “met” here and on arefoum have truly helped me work through my doubts.   Hearing that it’s ok to postpone and that frustration is normal  from people who are in the same boat is incredibly comforting.   I know I said it in the last post, but I just have to thank you all again for your kind words and encouragement.  I owe you a beer.

The Timbers  have a match down in Houston tonight at 5.30.   Typically I’m not too adamant about watching away matches, but the Dynamo just opened their new stadium last weekend and I’m dying to see some soccer played there.   As a designer, I think it is a stunning work of architecture and it’s one of my new favorite structures.   As a Timbers fan, however, I hope it’s cursed and the Dynamo lose horribly there… at least tonight.



Final Note:   this is absolutely not AREndurance related…but I can’t resist throwing this out to my nation-wide ARE/architecture savvy peers.   I’m visiting Los Angeles for the first time next month (after the SS exam) for my sister’s grad school graduation.   Aside from that, and Disneyland with the family, we don’t have much planned.   What  architectural spots should I check out?   I’ve got the Gamble House, Disney Concert Hall, and Getty Museum on my list…what am I missing?  Any good historic sites or hidden gems?    Thanks in advance for the suggestions!   Now…back to studying!

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I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.

I did a lot of thinking this weekend (more thinking than studying it turns out, but we’ll get to that later) about my priorities and life, and how they relate to my Structural Systems exam preparation.  It’s no secret that I’ve been frustrated with how the process is going.

The short of it is that I’m in love.  Not a mushy, kissy faced love, but a deep admiration for and bond to people and places that can’t be ignored.   My family and friends graciously include me in their spring plans, and I’ve  found my social circle growing with new acquaintances.  I pine for Nate like we were first dating and try to spend as much time with him as I can…I’m sincerely excited about what our future will bring.  On match days, the Timbers are my life (waiting in line 4+ hours for our favorite seats in the army has become a regular occurrence).  The sun has literally shed a new light on Portland, and I long to be out  soaking up the city rather than stuck indoors.  This urban exploration has pushed me out of my creative rut, and I can’t get enough of design.  My sketchbooks are full of ideas waiting to be acted upon, and I’m becoming increasingly fascinated with photography thanks to Nate, a photographer, who has finally pulled me over to the dark side.

These moments have become my priorities.  I find myself doing anything to appease my heart while my brain goes “waaaaaiiit…you were supposed to study!!”  While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making time to develop relationships and pursue hobbies, the joyous obsession they bring outshines the rigor and dedication the AREs demand. For me, at this point in my life, that’s not  sustainable.  I don’t think I’ve made bad choices, but at the end of the day I’ve neglected a less exciting, yet nonetheless important part of my life.  As my grandpa once said (as only a grandpa could): “Well, that’s what happens when you’re stupid and in love.”

As I was reassessing my situation, I hopped onto areforum to see how others were fairing.  I read numerous post-exam thoughts where people talked about how they prepared for their exams.  Many mentioned similar situations with busy social lives getting in the way of their studying.  I was truly moved by the few who talked about their homes…moms and dad who only got a few hours to study after the kids went to bed in the evening.  I could only imagine how challenging that would be, and I’m sure there are countless more situations that examinees have found themselves in.  I realized that if others could get through the process while dedicating so much of their time to other priorities, there was absolutely no reason why I couldn’t balance my loves with my exams…and quit moping about doing so in the process.

So that brings us to today.  I rescheduled the structures exam, which proved to be a heck of an ordeal. (I don’t recommend rescheduling if you can manage!)  Navigating Prometric’s automated menus only got me to testing center location information on repeat. I ended up just punching random numbers on the keypad (part out of curiosity, part out of rage) until the system got confused and sent me to an operator.  I have no idea how that cunning plan worked…but thank God it did.  After their scheduling program crashed not once but three times, they finally got my appointment confirmed. 42 minutes later my exam was moved to Saturday June 9.

My study guide is still rough, and is currently 94 pages long.  About 60 of those need to be cleaned up and reviewed still…which I think it my next step.  I tried working on that over the weekend, but the quantity of pages and amount of material to revise was more of an obstacle than I was ready for.  I started working through kaplan, and I’m actually excited to try the Q&A book, which I’ve heard is helpful.  Still haven’t touched the vignette, that might become a major priority this week, too.

In general, I’m happy and relieved.  I can’t waste any time and I know I need to buckle down and get to work, but I also feel like the extension has given me a second chance to prove how I can dedicate enough time to all of the priorities in my life.  It’s going to be a jam packed month, but with planning and self-control I know I can successfully get through it.  I’m so fortunate to have the support of my family and friends.  They constantly offer to help, I only wish I knew how to take them up on it! Asking if they want to solve moment diagrams has so far proven fruitless.

As a final note, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to all of you.  I was shocked to see that AREndurance rolled over 10,000 views this weekend.  I never dreamed that the narratives about my experience and the sharing of my study guides would gain such a following.  I’m truly am deeply humbled.  My most heartfelt thanks to you all for reading, sharing your tips, and offering your advice.  While I might not know any of you personally, you remain one of my biggest inspirations.  Cheers!!

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