A six week prep time example
Begin your six weeks by mastering the vignette and sorting flash cards. This will get you warmed up, and allow you to not worry about the vignette, because you’re going to need time to dedicate to structures formulas.
Preparing for the vignette
-Read the program slowly and thoroughly and then begin the line work. Make adjustments in accordance with what is specified in the program, and take note of the places you felt “hung up” on something. These are likely to be the points that would pass or fail your vignette, so take note of them and review them as pointers on what to not do and what to not forget. Getting your vignette done early will also allow enough time to post it on a forum and request critiques from others. This is similar to a “double check” of your work, and once you’ve confirmed that your work is correct enough to pass you can then focus on getting ready for the multiple choice.
– Make a quick reference sheet (or edit to customize one you download from study materials) so that you can occasionally review the vignette to keep the details current, and especially in the time leading up to the exam when you have less time to sit down and practice with the software.
Preparing for multiple choice
– Flash cards every night if you can, but don’t go less than three nights a week without making it through at least 50. Too many more than 80 though and you’ll go cross eyed unless you’re really in the zone, so don’t bog your brain down too much with repetition.
– There are a number of places you can get sets of flash cards, and a good working set for this exam will be around 200-250 cards. You may have to get cards from a couple different sources to meet this number, which is encouraged anyway. Some of the themes we found include:
Concrete, Beams, Piles, Seismic and Wind Forces, Lateral Forces, and General
– Shuffling and sorting cards is a good technique to help with the monotony of going through the terms so many times. One technique is to make a list of all the terms you get wrong going through the set, and spend time looking up each term and trying to master the concept. It is likely you won’t miss these terms on your next time through the
– The formulas for structures will likely be the most challenging for everyone. Well, everyone who’s not an engineer. Many of the formulas are difficult to remember without fully understanding all of the concepts involved, and learning all of the engineering concepts can be too time consuming to cover everything. There are lots of video tutorials, and a good exercise is to follow along with the video and then find a similar problem and see if you can solve it.
– There’s lots of formula sheets out there to get you started, but take the time to create your own formulas sheet and create your own groups to try to understand how all the formulas relate to each other. Maybe even make two, with the second being groups of formulas you know well so as to highlight the ones you know you don’t know and work on them. Some formulas and AISC beam diagrams (in tables) are available during the exam, be sure to review these materials so you are prepared to use them.
– Seismic and wind forces become a special subset of this study material, or rather you can clearly group all information on this topic. Give yourself a representative subset of this information and master it, it will help build your confidence.
Have these tasks completed by the Sunday of each week. You should be able to accomplish these goals by dedicating 3-4 nights a week with 4 hours of studying.
1 – Know your vignette, and have flash cards sorted by theme.
2 – Begin pouring over formulas and practice problems, and go through flash card theme groups twice each.
3 – Continue going over formulas and practice problems, and begin building formula lists. Shuffle flash cards, and make it through the entire deck one time.
4 – Learn two new formulas and practice problems, do at least one practice problem for all the formulas you know, sort flash cards again (thus going through them one time) and go through seismic and wind terms an additional time. Sit down and complete your vignette one time.
5 – Learn two new formulas and practice problems, do at least one practice problem for all the formulas you know, go through flash card groups 2 times each, review your vignette short notes.
6 – Review formulas sheets, do not try to learn any new formulas, and only do practice problems of the formulas you’ve mastered. Shuffle flash cards and get through them at least one last time, and focus on reviewing what you know at this point as opposed to stressing over those last few terms you didn’t get to fully understanding. This last week is about building your confidence in the things you’ve prepared, and know them well.