Upcoming Section C; the LARE in general

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE Upcoming Section C; the LARE in general

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    HI Everybody,

    First of all it is very comforting to to see everyone expressing the same anxieties and frustrations about the LARE and CLARB that I have long felt. Someone said we are their “piggy bank”. Hahaa so true. I could on and on about that, but….

    Anyway I have several points of discussion, respond to any or all that you like:

    A– I am taking Section C in 2 weeks. Can anyone relay what the format of the 4 vignettes is, ie.. are there 2 site design vignettes, (the smaller scale, more detailed ones), and 2 planning vignettes (the 100 scale, larger ones), or 1 and 3,, etc..?

    B– I am preparing hard, but still find it so difficult to synthesize a correct design and get it on paper within the time frame. Specifically parking & vehic design, which I don’t ever do at work, much less by hand!  So I’m just so sloooow at it, (ever heard of analysis paralysis?)  Does anyone have any tips for speeding up my process?

    C– I passed the 3 multiple choice sections 2 years ago. I studied hard, but was stil shocked that I passed all 3 on the first try! . So, that’s good, but also now the clock is ticking  – the 5 year window – so I have huge pressure to pass C and E, not the least reasons of which is financially. (Could these tests get any more expensive?? grrrrrr) 
    Has anybody ever not been able to pass them all within 5 years? Did you start over? I can’t imagine starting over, I would never pass the multiple choices ones that easily again. And the cost.. ugh! Did anybody just decide to cut their losses and give up? I just ask b/c if I don’t pass section C coming up, I really don’t know what I should do.

    Thanks everyone

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    The trick to it is to keep it simple. No one is grading you on creativity or artistry, only that you are technically correct. Concentrate on the information that they supply to you. It is as much about following directions as anything else.

    Tanya Olson

    I’m right there with you. I’m pretty sure no who has taken the exams can pass on any specific information at all about the test or format.

    I’m having trouble getting practice vignette C-2 done in time too – I did cut my time by about 25 minutes today by drawing the townhouses as a block rather than the individual units, getting my layout done, then drawing the wall delineations in the ink stage. Still 10 minutes over time. Its the hardest one for me and there are TWO measured plans required in ONE hour!!!

    I’m concerned (perhaps overly so?) that we’ll get docked for the slightest mismeasurement, turn radii and all…. As for parking lots – I’ve kind of picked one type of parking lot design (which, like you, I rarely do) and go with it. I missed the review session on Land8 because I had a project deadline….so, yes, any advice is appreciated.

    Andrew G – I have been specifically following your instructions to FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS and DO WHAT THE REFERENCE MANUAL SAYS. If you can meet all of the requirements on the sheet and meet all of the reference manual requirements will you pass? I’m pretty precise but the ‘passing’ sections that uploaded with the practice vignettes, though not exactly sloppy, are definately not hardlined. Any comments or advice?

    Scott Lebsack

    If you are having difficulties I would strongly recommend Ray Freeman’s Review Course, if it is still available. I took it in the Bay area around 2006. I was lucky enough to live locally, but there were attendees from across the country. I invested money in the review before even taking the test.
    The course spent an entire weekend on Section C, living in “LARE Land” discussing the test and how it is different from practice; what they are testing and/or what they don’t care about, tricks/traps to watch out for and strategies when taking the test. I don’t believe there is any way I would have passed without the class, subsequently passed on the first attempt..

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    The first thing that should be obvious before we get caught up in the minutia of the test is that your overall mindset has to be on safety and minimizing conflicts – slip ups in that will cause you to fail (drop offs on the wrong side of the driveway or car, putting main drives between the parking and he building, unnecessary pedestrian circulation crossing vehicular, Security is next in certain types of sites.(don’t screen a playground from passing by traffic) … and then it is all about weighing what activities work together and what conflict (camping areas right next to a boat ramp where early morning boat launching conflicts with trying to sleep).

    Time saving:
    ADA parking and access should be addressed early in a site plan if it is in play or you will be trying to force it in areas as an after thought.

    One of the things that I did was to bring clear pieces of soft plastic that were easily with scissors (I don’t know what they currently allow). That allowed me to draw a movable and/or repeatable shape or spacing templates that I did not have to erase and redraw.

    Jordan Lockman

    A – The format changes a little per test, general problems that I have heard about at reviews.
    1. Small scale design with drive through, parking area, pass-by lanes, etc. Remember to avoid existing vegetation, driveways far enough apart, are setbacks followed, pedestrian circulation.
    2. Two design Options on same piece. (quick and very unique from each other designs is the key) No two elements in the same place on either design.
    3. Problem with site design and written description of design intent, about what is important. (really practice this one it has shown up recently) one of my study partners failed the written portion. *****The key to the written is to do a quick outline with bullets and then as simply as possible convert to sentences. I believe they have a checklist that they grade this portion with, but you need to have it written in paragraph format.
    4. Development with sustainable design concepts. I would recommend brushing up on sustainable development concepts. Just the basics will keep you from being surprised by something out of the ordinary.
    5. Some problems that are nothing more than bubble diagrams. Selecting buildable areas based on grades and other on site conditions. These may also focus on conflicting uses adjacent to each other.
    6. Sport Facility layout. Remember the sport buffer around fields and facility orientation.
    7. Recreation facilities with hazards and views to account for.

    B Think fast, learn the basic rules, and keep it simple, like Andrew G mentioned.
    Start with a basic layout and make a sketch until you have it worked out that should not take very long 5 minutes(look for conflicts like andrew stated). Then measure with tick marks and blocks to make sure there is enough room. Followed by copying exactly the graphic conventions they give you.
    Basic rules, others please add to the list: Many are listed in the reference manual(I would say that 90% of the things in the ref. manual are for Section C) you need to know(or be able to find fast) all of these. Setbacks-easements shown and know them, Make sure drive through windows are on the correct side, Wetland and water body setbacks, sport facility buffers, sport facility orientations, proximity of conflicting uses. Make sure all the explicit requirements that they ask for are shown.
    What is the max distence for a dead end road.

    The biggest time saver that I discovered was to never touch a pen. Only use pencil it will save a good 10 minutes per vignette and you can erase. I saved my self by noticing a fairly large mistake with 20 minutes left and erased and redrew the problem.

    Come up with a good way to copy the graphic conventions on to a template/piece of trace/vellum so that you can accurately/quickly transfer the convention back to your sheet.

    C – I guess I am not aware of the “5 year window” is that a local thing to your state or a new rule?


    Great tips, thanks everybody for your input.

    It funny you mention the Townhouse vignette. I actually practiced on that one the past 2 days. I couldn’t finish one of the two in ONE HOUR the first day. !!! The second day I got it done 20 minutes faster. Still too slow, though. And I thought it would be a breeze! ugh.

    I took Ray Freeman’s online course. It was somewhat helpful. The session you mentioned sounds awesome. But, I bet it costs several hundred damn dollars, too.

    You just made me realize, to my horror.. that NOT every jurisdiction/ state has the 5 year rolling clock…???? Holy crap. In Texas, we do. If you pass any section, then you have to pass the remaining sections within 5 years, or you have to start all over. This is a HUGE disadvantage. Does any other state have that? I need to get off of here, I’m about to pop a vein.

    Elizabeth Renton

    HI Michelle,
    I’m in the same boat as you….live in Texas, passed the first 3 m/c, now struggling to get through C and E. I took C for the first time in June and failed it. I thought surely i must have made a bazillion errors, really screwed it up. But when i did the redline review i was shocked to discover that i only made really 5 distinct errors throughout the 4 vignettes. And some of them were so small (turning radii shown as 18′, not 15′), so YES, you must eat sleep and breathe that damn reference book. Seriously. Next time i’m going to memorize it until i can recite setbacks in my sleep. It’s just too easy to get all nervous and worked up while you’re under the stress of test taking and easily overlook one or two rules in the reference book, which can cause you to fail.

    Don’t worry about being slow at the detailed parking/vehicular layout design. That ones takes the longest, and there’s only one of those (at least that’s how it was in June). I too was worried about the tight timeframe, but the other 3 vignettes didn’t take an hour to complete, so it’s ok if one or two take a bit more than an hour to do.

    Good luck to us both! Even though I failed C, I’m moving on and trying section E this time. Hahah. That one has the worst fail rate of them all. Sweet baby Jesus give me strength…

    Tanya Olson

    Excellent specific suggestions, Jordan. Thanks so much.

    Tanya Olson

    keep working on it. I’m SLOWLY getting faster. That sucker makes the other ones seem like a breeze! I’ve also started practicing on vellum.
    Did you ‘passers’ draw right on the vellum or did you draw it out on trace paper and then pencil or pen it onto the vellum using the trace underlay?

    Tanya Olson

    What were your other errors if you don’t mind sharing? It might help us to watch out for mistakes! Thanks! And good luck with section E.

    Wyatt Thompson, PLA

    Good suggestions here. I think the best advice I got when preparing/stressing for C was from my wife, who is not a designer, btw. She told me to “pack the suitcase.” When you’re looking at a problem, put all the big stuff on the paper first and then add the smaller elements. It eliminated a lot of stress for me just knowing that that was going to be my strategy.

    I would also encourage you to read the problem, then look at the base map, then reread the problem making sure you really understand it before picking up a pencil to draw anything. And after you think you’re done with your design, reread the problem again to make sure you didn’t leave something out. It may take an extra minute, but it may save you from making an error or leaving out an important element. Remember, the designs don’t need to be hardlined and exact; they just need to communicate the information required on the problem statement. If you need to add a dimension or call-out to describe your intent, do that, but don’t stress over drafting a perfect radius or producing a construction document. That’s not the point of this exam.

    I took 8.5×11 sheets of vellum with me, worked out my designs on those, and then transferred them to the final sheet. I also traced the various project components and cut them out, similar to what Andrew and Jordan suggested. And I would second the advice on not using a pen. I did, and wished, part way through inking what I thought for sure was a mistake, that I had done my final draft in pencil. Fortunately, I still passed.

    Good luck on your exams!


    Hi Elizabeth,

    Wow, we are in the exact same situation! How long do you have left to pass? I passed MC in Sept of ’08, so I have 3 years left. Sounds like a lot, but it’s not really.

    And, do you mean that there was only one of the small scale, detailed parking lot-type vignette on your test in June? Is this how it is each time, I wonder? If that’s the case, that would help me out BIG-time. It sounds too good to be true, I don’t even want to get my hopes up. !!!

    So you’re going to go for E this time, instead re-taking C? Are you taking it this month? That’s a hurdle (section E) I haven’t even thought about yet. In fact, if I don’t pass C (in 2 weeks), I’m unsure if I will continue with any of it. I have heard that the tutor sessions are really worth it (like there is on at UTA I think). Ahhh… more money, flying out of the wallet..

    BTW, your name sounds familiar.. are you an officer in TX ASLA or something like that?> I know I have seen your name in an email somewhere…..


    “PAck the suitcase.”.. I like that! Every little nugget, even something as simple as that, can help us. thanks Wyatt


    FYI -Yes it is true.. I called CLARB myself today. The rolling clock rule does not exist in every state. UN-believable. You must be lucky enough to live in one of that states that does not have this rule. They actually told me some states have a 3 year window, (that sucks!), some are 5 yrs, some 7 yrs, and then some not at all. ( this is not regulated by CLARB, it is regulated by the individual state licensing boards.. so here is one thing that we actually can’t blame CLARB for, I suppose)

    The test is supposed to be standardized, and be as fair as possible, yet you have a better or worse chance of having time to pass, based on where you live? jjeeez

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