Alright, kiddies. I just took my Schematic Design exam. I know there are some of you out there that read this blog that are taking your exams, so I wanted to post my own impressions of the test, how I studied, what I studied and how I plan to move forward from here.

First, this was my third test of the seven. I’ve already taken and passed Construction Documents and Services as well as Building Design and Construction Systems (basically the same test in my opinion). These first two have the highest rates of passing, which is why I took them first. It’s alway nice to get an ego boost right out of the gate.

Now, on to Schematic Design. I had actually taken it once before and failed. I failed because I didn’t study or prepare at all nearly enough. This time around I was incredibly prepared. Here is what I used to study:

NCARB practice exams,
Alternate practice exams (found on ARE Forums),
I posted on the forums,
I replied to the forums,
I got really good at using the tools of the software.

In addition to the above, I also left all my practical knowledge of design, spacial relationships, human scale and use at the door. I will say that the alternate practice exams were the most helpful as they offered a higher degree of challenge and required a little more thought on how the spaces would be arranged to allow for all of the furniture and door clearances.

So, if you’re set to take Schematic Design remember, this test is not about your ability as a designer, it’s not about your ability to create “interesting spacial arrangements”. It’s about reading and understand the program, the building code and applying them as written. Think of it like one of those math word problems in school. You take the words and you make a picture. Nothing more, nothing less.

Good luck. Now if my results would just come in. O_o


Lisa Saldivar