How I passed the SITES AP exam on my first try
Do you want to earn your SITES AP credential, but are crunched for time to study for the exam? I enjoy learning, but I hate taking tests and am a busy person who doesn't have a lot of time to spend a studying for an exam. Here's the plan I followed to pass the exam on my first try:
1. Remember the why.
Why do you want to do this in the first place? Why is earning a SITES AP credential an important distinction for you? It helps to have the big picture in mind.
The SITES AP credential distinguishes professionals across many disciplines by representing fundamental knowledge of SITES and sustainable land development, as well as a commitment to sustainability. From marketers to lawyers, landscape architects to education professionals, soil scientists to arborists, the SITES AP credential enhances the careers of those who hold it by representing fundamental knowledge of sustainable land development and a commitment to sustainability.
2. Visit sustainablesites.org/sites-ap to register for the exam.
Pick a date two to three weeks from now, and select a time when you know your brain functions at its highest (for me, that's around 8 or 9 a.m.). Now the heat is on! Announce to others you are sitting for the SITES AP exam, as the social pressure will help you turn up the intensity of your effort. Note that the early bird registration expires July 1, so pay for your test now, even if you don’t plan to take it for a while.
3. Gather the resources you will need.
The resources to study for and pass the exam are pretty straightforward.
- The most important resource is the SITES v2 Reference Guide (available for purchase as a PDF or hard copy on the Resources page).
- Visit sustainablesites.org/sites-ap. There, you will find the SITES AP Candidate Handbook with test specifications. It provides an outline for what the exam questions will cover. Read it (but no need to memorize it).
- You may also find this article on tips for preparing to take the SITES AP exam helpful.
- Watching the 10-part webinar series is helpful too.
4. Start studying.
Here's the plan I followed. With these simple tips, you’ll better prepare yourself to take the exam:
- Read the introduction section of the SITES v2 Reference Guide.
- Read the glossary terms (and consider making your own flash cards).
- Read each credit, skipping over the documentation requirements.
- Read the test specifications in the SITES AP Candidate Handbook. Can you speak to each bullet from memory?
- Reread the glossary terms and work on recall.
- Revisit the credits with the idea that you can recite the general requirements of each without looking. You should be able to reference where the material for the Candidate Handbook test specifications come from.
- Review reference standards for each credit.
- Memorize numbers for each credit's requirements (100 ft. setback, 25% compost, etc.).
- The day before, review each credit. Reread the SITES AP Candidate Handbook to make sure you know what time to arrive, what ID to bring, and so on.
- On the day of the test, review the glossary terms.
5. Know what not to study.
I did not study:
- The Synergies between SITES and LEED document, because this material is not included in the exam.
- Copyright information.
- Anything related to the examples in the SITES Reference Guide.
- Fees: These were not included, nor were any calculations or need for a calculator.
6. Finally, on game day, while at the Prometric Test Center, do:
- Finish studying before you go into the testing room. You can't continue to study once inside.
- Take the tutorial at the start of the exam.
- Use the strike-out feature to eliminate answers.
- Use the highlight tool to call attention to specific parts of a question.
- Flag the questions you are not sure about—you can go back to them later.
What tips do you have about how to pass the exam? Any thoughts you would like to share? Please post your experience in the comments section below.