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MAI Exam Prep

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Roger Dorn

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Jan 22, 2015
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State
Louisiana
Any advice from those who have passed the comp exam in the past few years (recommended material, time spent preparing, focus points for each module, etc.)?

I know this is a pretty broad question, but some of the other threads are old responses and I figured that this would be my attempt at creating a good "catch all" thread for the comp exam for years to come.


Anything will help!
 

Michigan CG

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Michigan
I am going to move this over to the commercial section as I think you will get more views there.

Moderator.
 

Gobears81

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Nov 7, 2013
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Certified General Appraiser
State
Illinois
I spent roughly six months @ 1-2 hours per day studying for the comp exam, but took my Capstone in the same month. Before starting on the Capstone, I was getting really strong on the material, but the two stretched me just a little thin. I passed all four modules, but it still isn't an advisable strategy. I'd try to keep a somewhat clear schedule in the month or so before your exam so that you can really focus on this. A long period of time with short to moderate study sessions is preferable to starting to study a week or two in advance for 8-hours per day.

First thing to do is to review every single one of your AI course handbooks. Actually, if you have taken a residential class, a class on green construction, etc., maybe don't bother with those, but all of the standard QE needed for both your CG license and MAI. If you are weak on a certain spot, focus on that. Then, review the material from the course handbooks all over again. After that, you could go one of two ways-I purchased Ted Whitmer's MAI prep book, but didn't attend his class. You could do that or attend the class. Or, John Urubek has a class to take. If you are deciding between which to attend, I've heard positive feedback for Urubek's course and he is a good instructor, though again, I didn't take either so I can't personally vouch for them, But, if you don't want to take a week off to take those, purchase Whitmer's book. Honestly, I wouldn't have passed without that book. Although some of the quiz questions seemed a little off-the-wall, the actual exam questions are also. I got a little sick of Whitmer's style towards the end and went back to studying the course handbooks, but if I did it over again, I would have put more emphasis on Whitmer's book. There are exam questions that isn't covered in the AI course books that are in this book.

Good luck
 

Bill S

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Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Illinois
+1 on the Whitmer book. Ted also put together some review webinars that I joined in. I think you have to buy the book to join the webinars and I don't know if he is still doing that but worth looking into. Lots of good info during those sessions.
 

Eminent Domain

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Jan 19, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
North Carolina
Ditto on the Urubek recommendation. I purchased Whitmer's books and they provided material to study that was not covered in Urubeks class. Some of the basic math stuff. But if I had to choose only one it would be Urubeks class. Tough 7 days but if your serious about passing the first time it adequately covers the appraisal concepts and their application. It's the best I found. Well worth the money and it teaches too. I don't think the comp exam is one you can learn buzz words for and pass. No matter what one studies the exam will require you to know the concepts and their applications. I am glad the process is nearly over. During this process my work has suffered to a great extent just trying to get through the program. It has been as demanding as my masters degree.
 

hastalavista

Elite Member
Joined
May 16, 2005
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
Gary DeWesse, MAI, has a test prep course. I used it and passed all the modules the first time.
It was "uncanny" how well his test-prep questions matched what was in the exam. There was no question (or type of question) I saw in the exam that wasn't covered by his material.

Good luck!
 

reviewbe

Sophomore Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2016
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
I took it quite a few years ago, but what struck me was that, in addition to being a sort of math test, some of it was just common sense and application of basic appraisal principles. I recall spending a lot of time with calculations to get a cap rate to then apply to the question, when really the question could be solved by a basic understanding of how cap rates are put together, i.e., no math was actually needed. Doh!! Don't leave your common sense behind when you step into the testing room. But be ready for the math too.
 

Gobears81

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2013
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Illinois
I took it quite a few years ago, but what struck me was that, in addition to being a sort of math test, some of it was just common sense and application of basic appraisal principles. I recall spending a lot of time with calculations to get a cap rate to then apply to the question, when really the question could be solved by a basic understanding of how cap rates are put together, i.e., no math was actually needed. Doh!! Don't leave your common sense behind when you step into the testing room. But be ready for the math too.
I found the sales comparison approach module to be quite ambiguous and often with multiple right answers. Maybe I needed to take that common sense course again :) It was a surprise to hear that all four were passed-the income approach module was pretty easy and the other two were a challenge but doable. But the SCA module-that one had me nervous and pretty confident that I only got 3 of the 4.
 

Michael S

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2009
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
New Mexico
Just finished my last class this morning (challenge test for Advanced Concepts and Case Studies) so time to start studying for the comp exam in November. I'm generally very good with tests so I'm pretty confident. I hope I can find enough time to study though. Afterwards I'll either need to immediately get started on the capstone course (February class in Las Vegas with the pre-class portion starting mid-December) or pick a property for a demonstration report. One of my colleagues is recommending the latter as he said he was able to pass it a few years ago just by beefing up our typical format. I have a tendency to go a little overboard on my analysis and reports as is so it may not take that much more.
 

hastalavista

Elite Member
Joined
May 16, 2005
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
California
Just finished my last class this morning (challenge test for Advanced Concepts and Case Studies) so time to start studying for the comp exam in November. I'm generally very good with tests so I'm pretty confident. I hope I can find enough time to study though. Afterwards I'll either need to immediately get started on the capstone course (February class in Las Vegas with the pre-class portion starting mid-December) or pick a property for a demonstration report. One of my colleagues is recommending the latter as he said he was able to pass it a few years ago just by beefing up our typical format. I have a tendency to go a little overboard on my analysis and reports as is so it may not take that much more.
Congrats on finishing the courses and good luck on the test!

As you know, the difficulty in using an existing property for the demo is ensuring it has all the required elements that need to be demonstrated.
The advantage of the Capstone is that it has all the required elements that need to be demonstrated.
If you are fortunate enough to have an existing report that has all the elements necessary to meet the demonstration requirements, then I would agree with your strategy; it may just require some minor tweaking.

My Capstone assignment was data rich and obviously designed to be able to meet the demonstration requirements. The trade-off of the Capstone (IMO) is this: You pay a fee to get an assignment and the data that meets the demonstration requirements. You are put on a time-line and this assists keeping your focus on completing the assignment within the due date. If your first submission is inadequate you can complete a second submission. The disadvantage is this: If you fail to meet the deadline, you are out the fee.
While I believe there is still a timeline and hard deadlines for a self-directed demonstration report, all the responsibility for ensuring that the necessary demonstration elements are met are on the shoulders of the appraiser. Obviously), this is the way it was traditionally completed and it can be done this way. The advantage (IMO) is if one has a sufficiently diverse practice, one likely has done or knows of a property that can meet all the required demonstration elements. And, rather than paying to get a demonstration-eligible property/assignment, one has already been paid to do that assignment and one can hopefully just tweak it as needed.

In evaluating the choices, I think the biggest challenge will be to ensure that there is sufficient data available to do the Fundamental Market Analysis to the level/degree that is expected. My Capstone property was located in an urban area where there was plenty of information (included in the package). If I am in a more remote market, I might not have the data available that the graders of the demonstration reports might expect or require.

Good luck, Michael!
 
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