WA State-specific exam to be 40 questions…Posted by Crashbox on May 28, 2019 at 9:23 pm
I apologize if this is a duplicate of any other thread (though I haven’t seen any), but I just read this morning that the Washington state-specific PLS exam will be increased to 40 questions in the not-too-distant future per the BORPELS meeting minutes of May 9, 2019.
I really wonder what the new time limit will be, and whether or not the exam’s difficulty will change significantly one way or the other. We are known for having one of the tougher state-specific tests, likely due to the unique water boundary statute and case law we deal with among other things.
I just thought I’d put this out there as a heads-up for anyone planning to take this exam in the future.
- 16 Replies
- MemberMay 28, 2019 at 10:01 pm
Board reps at the LSAW gathering this winter forewarned that this was happening. I believe the rational is to use less time consuming questions in order to cover more aspects of what we do. Face it our job is getting more difficult, time consuming and public.
They were also solictating for registrants to write questions and sample them.
- MemberMay 28, 2019 at 11:01 pm
Interesting. I sat for this exam late last year, and going in I would have been more comfortable with 40-50 questions. But I believe the pass/fail cutoff was something like 15 out of 25 correct answers. 60% to pass is pretty lenient for a multiple guess test.
The exam was not particularly difficult, but I did spend the bulk of my time looking up very specific items in my references, with only a small amount of analysis and a bit of computation. I was prepared for a lot of case law and water boundary questions, so no problems there. I would say a third of the candidates had no references with them.
Good to hear they are broadening the exam – I think it will ultimately help.
Personally, I would love to see either the PS or state specifics test at least some basic communication or explication skills, given the amount of judgment, analysis and explanation required of surveyors. Throw some inductive/deductive reasoning and reading comprehension on the FS while we’re at it 🙂“…people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.” -Neil Postman
- MemberJanuary 11, 2020 at 6:02 pm
I took that exam in 2014. At the time I think pass rates were under 40%. If they are going to keep the experience only track open, they are doing the right thing expanding the test.
- MemberJanuary 12, 2020 at 4:17 pm
Way back in the year when I took the PE exam the national pass rate was shown as being about 35 percent in some publication I read a few years later. That really worried me. I had gone into it assuming I would not pass on the first try and was preparing to apply again. I knew how poorly I felt about how I had surely done on the test. When the notice came announcing that I had passed it struck me how incredibly badly the other 65 percent must have done. Some that I had chatted with that day were on their fourth or fifth attempt to pass.
I suppose if you take similar tests enough times you will eventually get lucky and pass one. You may be dumber than a rock and lack all forms of common sense, but you just might squeeze by that one time. Think about that the next time you employ a doctor, accountant or lawyer. A very significant fraction did not pass their exam on the first try.
- MemberJanuary 13, 2020 at 12:15 am
The state-specific exams cover some very granular facets of case law, and like most of the states there are unique things, like water boundaries in WA, that have taken many years and dozens of legal cases to shape.
It would take a long, long time to memorize all of the relevant statutes, let alone the exact dates that every single significant case was decided. They are really just making sure that you have the ability to find the critical issues if needed, and that you understand when it is needed to look up such things. The two full-day exams leading up to the state-specific are the ones that are closed book, since they do not go into great depth on the legal front.
I am gearing up to take Alaska’s exam in the next year or so (to try and rectify my stupid decision to move away), and although it is one of the youngest states the federal and state case law is both lengthy and convoluted. Throw in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and its effect on boundary law, and it’s another level of difficult – and another 2-inch binder full of words. I worked for a long time in Texas, where boundary interpretation can sometimes contain elements of Spanish, Mexican, and Republic of Texas law.
I honestly would prefer an essay section be added. Not only is it a better format to judge someone’s grasp of a concept, it also serves as a test of ability to communicate clearly and coherently.“…people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.” -Neil Postman
You only get to take the MD tests if you pass the courses and graduate from the schools with a 8-10 year degree that is specifically designed to enable you to pass the test. IF you get the chance to take the test, your IQ is already proven to be well above the average.
Surveyors (if using experience rather than degree to qualify) self study for a test…and if they were great at study, perhaps they would be doctors not surveyors…but they also have to find the body of knowledge that they have to study. It means that you have to do a lot of work (which is good), but it also means that there are a lot of unprepared people taking the test, and a lot of people taking the test as a kind of pre-test to simply find out what kind of prep they need to do.
Combine this with the fact that since you do not need to have a degree in many cases, the people taking the test may not be great test takers, or may simply not be qualified. (The experience questionnaire is not extensive enough to allow for a real understanding of the book knowledge of an applicant.)-All thoughts my own, except my typos and when I am wrong.
btw--All thoughts my own, except my typos and when I am wrong.
- MemberJanuary 15, 2020 at 10:27 pm
Sample size/law of small numbers says there is a lot more error in the FS exam statistics, but I would wager if we took a larger sampling of the exact same size for both the passing rate would still be significantly lower for the FS.
FWIW, the PS had a 69% pass rate for first time takers and 43% for repeat takers, albeit with a smaller number of examinees:
Back-of-napkin calculations, assuming those numbers hold steady, work out to 440 passing each exam each year. Wonder how many actually go on and get a state license? I had a gap of several years between my PS and my state-specific.“…people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.” -Neil Postman
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