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  • Writer's pictureMark


Let this be a post of encouragement to those of you starting, restarting, or sitting there discouraged. We believe in You! and You should too!

Here are some quick tips and tricks to help you along.


Your level of book knowledge is great!

But the exams do not test your book knowledge - They test you on your understanding (and analysis - U/A). I speak from experience - the first two times I tested I thought I had all the knowledge I needed, and turned out I did not actually understand everything I knew....

It is important to not feel discouraged or depressed about "how much You did not get to study." - You could get to studying everything, but if you waited until you did that, you would probably never take the exams.

So much of learning is studying the way that suits you best - be it listening to podcasts, watching youtube videos, reading study guides, making flashcards, or taking practice exams.

This is where ACTIVE RECALL comes into play - which is the major strategy we employ at Archizam. It is the major factor that helped Ben and myself finally pass our exams.

Pick a topic, annoy your friends and tell them everything you know about it! Ask yourself deeper questions about the topic. Learn MORE than you need to know! And your brain will connect the dots (literally connect brain thingies - I'm not much for anatomy) and you will remember more than you thought you could.

I HIGHLY suggest study groups.

People in study groups have other experiences and knowledge and may know what the NCARB answer to your question may be. They certainly can guide you to the reference section pertaining to your question.

As far as puzzle questions.

They deliberately put them in there to suck your time away. So what I suggest is this: #1 Anytime you see a puzzle question - read it ONCE and give it your best answer #2 - FLAG IT for REVIEW #3 MOVE ON and finish the test - or whatever breakdown of the questions you are doing #4 - When you have time - GO BACK AND RE REVIEW the question and give it the time it needs to actively solve.

Puzzle questions suck.

And they are designed to kill your groove and make you fail... Same with Calculation questions. Take a deep breath, give it your best shot, move on, and come back later when you are on a roll.

The "best option" questions are DEFINITELY a struggle.

Eliminate the two obvious incorrect options. Then think to yourself "which is the answer NCARB wants me to pick?" Which is also generally the answer that the Ballast book has somewhere in its thousands of pages.

Do not stress about the CSI MASTERFORMAT.

You should have a general understanding of what Section contains what thing. (i.e. DIVISION 008 is OPENINGS) Also, be aware that different items in the same section will have different numbers: for example - things like windows, doors, curtain walls, and skylights will all be Division 008, but different sections of that division.

Pay attention to the tags shown on provided drawings when using the provided CSI Format references.

All in all

Sign up and take our practice exams to prepare yourself for the exam experience.

(Our 75 question exams are a decent simulation of the actual exam experience.)

If you failed an exam, I suggest focusing your studying on the one section that you did the worst on. Read every reference you can on that subject. (this is how I passed PPD after failing the planning section). That way there can not be anything you do NOT know about the subject. Meanwhile, brush up on the subjects you are okay with to keep them fresh and glance over the subjects you did best on - because you know them.


Listen to your PUMP UP song going into the exam. and KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO PASS!

You got this!

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