Building Section Vignette and Multiple Choice


Postby Demeter » Thu May 24, 2018 4:45 pm

I'm not sure if there is still anyone taking this exam in 4.0, so this post may be irrelevant. I found out this morning that I passed, and would be happy to share study suggestions or review vignettes if anyone needs feedback.

If anyone else ever checks back on here - thanks for all the input (especially Coach). This group has been a huge help!
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Postby Guo888abc » Sun May 27, 2018 7:58 pm

Hi Demeter,

Congratulations for passing CDS! I'll take CDS this June. Could you please share some insight for preparing the exam in a month?


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Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:58 am


Postby Demeter » Wed May 30, 2018 3:33 pm

Thanks Jun - it sure feels great to have this one behind me. Here's a general idea of how I approached it:

Multiple Choice:
--I studied all of the AIA documents, especially those with commentaries. If you look at the list of them on the last page of NCARB's Exam Guide, I would say they are listed in order of importance regarding exam content (at least the version of the exam I got). I had quite a few questions that either referenced these documents directly, or asked about scenarios that relate to them. Generic example: "Who is responsible for doing ____ at the end of a project? Architect, Owner, Contractor, or Consultant. (Doesn't directly state which AIA document it is from, but you'll know the answer if you read and understand who is responsible for what.) If you do better with audio, you can listen to the Schiff-Hardin lectures, but I had a hard time staying focused with them. (Others preferred them over reading.)

--I waited until an hour before my exam to review Caroline's notes, but I wish I had spent more time on them, as there were items I hadn't come across in my studying (mostly due to time constraints). The last minute skim still benefited me, because there were at least 6 questions directly related to things I saw in her notes in that hour prior to the exam.

--I read all of Ballast, skimmed through Kaplan, and did the Kaplan questions and practice exam. I also skimmed through The Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice, Architectural Graphic Standards, and Building Construction Illustrated. The first of these 3 was the most helpful for me.

--Remember that there are typically code and accessibility questions peppered throughout all of the exams - this was no exception.

--I spent quite a bit of time reading through comments on this forum to see what others recommended or struggled with. I did a word search to find all of the threads that included Coach's comments about the joist/duct combo, and having that understanding was definitely helpful on exam day. I practiced the vignette several times, and even though it was redundant, it helped me to find my most efficient approach and feel comfortable with the software.

--I came up with my own way of writing down the program information, and did it the same (and faster) with each practice. I had basically memorized the program, so when I did the actual exam, the differences immediately jumped out at me. Because of my comfort with this process, my typical exam day nervousness was much less than usual, and I wasn't panicking like I have in the past.

----I knew that there were 4 or 5 things I had forgotten in various practices, so I memorized 5 key words that would remind me to check them. On test day, I wrote those words down on my paper at the start of the vignette as a reminder to check them. After finishing my building section, I went back up to the 'draw' pulldown to confirm that I hadn't forgotten to place any of the elements listed, like my grade line, interior partitions, ducts, etc. Then I went back over the program one more time and checked line by line to see if I had missed anything.

Hopefully, some of that helps. Good luck!!
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