How to pass the LARE and CSE and become a Landscape Architect
Study, study, study...as my calendar said before I passed the CSE! These tests are not for the feeble of heart, and along with a lot preparation take a lot of mental work.
1. Stop listening to the Nay-sayers: The people who say it's too tough, too technical, too unpredictable. There are blogs out there that go on about how the test-makers are just into making money, etc. Focus on building your own confidence by passing one test at a time. And take them in the right sequence and the right pace.
2. Get enough Experience: For Section 3 and 4 of the LARE you need design, planning and construction knowledge. While studying all the required material, connect it to a project you've worked on. Have you worked on all phases of a project, from concept to construction administration? Have you prepared a sediment control plan? Have you worked on planting plans and plant selections in differing conditions?
3. Make a Study Plan with Resources: This includes forming a study group and exchanging resources. Your knowledge comes from every contractor, architect, engineer or planner you have worked with. Do not hesitate to reach out and ask questions on construction - listening to and understanding the process helps with understanding the intricacies of confusing questions.
4. Focus on Specifics: These tests question your breadth of knowledge, and how familiar you are with that area. Be comprehensive in your approach, but familiar with what the test requires you to know. Read the areas of knowledge being tested, and study keeping those areas in mind. Remember thresholds!
5. Create a Structure for your Study: I studied at the public library, which helped me focus. A set time and place allow you to focus for 3-4 hours at a time, so you can prepare yourself for the real test. Buy all the required material - flashcards, pens, markers, boards and aps.
6. Time Yourself: The questions are designed to be confusing, and there is usually 1-2 minutes per question. Note down how well you do with timing on the practice tests and improve your timing each time you take it, so it simulates the actual test.
7. Cover Each Section/Area till you are Confident: Create metrics to get confident for yourself first. If you think 10 hours per topic does it, do that. Make note of your progress, can you answer all questions that the flashcards ask? How well did you do on the practice tests? Usually being at 90% on a practice test means you know most of the material, but attempt to get to 100%.