View Full Version : LS Exam
08-16-2004, 01:44 PM
Is anyone concerned about the extremely low pass rate for the California specific LS exam? It seems ridiculous that the pass rate for national exam in California was 51.15%, while the pass rate for the California specific exam was only 14.75%. Are the PLS's setting the passing rate a bunch of elitests who feel nobody is qualified to do what they do? It seems if we continue on this path fairly shortly there will be no younger PLS's. The excuse I heard in the past was that people sitting for the exam in California were not qualified. But this is obviously not true because of the pass rate on the National Exam.
08-16-2004, 02:47 PM
I have not taken the PLS...yet, but I have been warned about the methods used in grading the state portion. The fact that each answer is checked by two people is slightly reassuring. I have been told that if I was to explain the correct procedures and show some of the work that I could conceivably pass the exam without giving a numerical solution. Obviously, I don't know that to be a true fact but I have heard it from multiple sources. If it were true, then perhaps those that failed it had spent too much time trying to get the right answer instead of explaining the details of how they are going to work the problem.
Any suggestions about the test would be helpful to all of us LSIT's.
08-16-2004, 04:14 PM
Are you certain that you are comparing apples and oranges?
The NCEES Exam is a national exam. It cannot, by definition, ask questions that a regionally specific. That means no PLSS questions, no Tansverse Mercator or Lambert Conformal Projection questions, no Colonial Lands questions, no riparian or water boundary problems, no rancho problems. What’s left?
The state specific exam MUST, by statute, ask questions regarding PLSS boundaries, Transverse Mercator Projection, water boundaries, rancho boundaries, California’s PLS Act, SMA and Board Rules.
The NCEES exam is multiple choice. The state specific exam is not.
Unfortunately, we cannot ask those who took the exams to compare them or to discuss the questions ask on the exams…they’re secure and the candidates signed non-disclosure agreements.
08-17-2004, 05:54 AM
True. When I took the LSIT I was shocked at the number of computer programming and hardware questions. I was amazed at the number of questions about GIS and raster images. As for all of the photogrametry questions...Don't even go there. All of the NCEES study materials seemed to focus on the mechanics of field observations and mathematics. I felt unprepared for the exam. After I found out that I passed, I figured either I guessed right on many of the problems, or the NCEES didn't give those problems as much weight as law and basic math. All I know for sure is that I now have the LSIT cert on my wall! :)
08-17-2004, 08:20 AM
I concur that the two exams are not the same. But I find it hard to believe that the canidates taking the state exam have not studied the required subject material as thouroughly as they studied for the national exam material. I think it is more the case that the panel of PLS's that sets the passing standard for the exam has lost sight of the intent/requirement of the licensing process. By Law, the exam is intended to protect the public by determinig if a canidate is "minimumly qualified". This term is what has been confused. I have sat on these standard setting committees. The definition of "minimumly qualified" is someone who knows the bare minimum, and won't be a threat to the public. You can compare this to a marginal employee. This is the person who is on the borderline of being fired. Or it is the person who you may not even hire to start with.
What the panel has done is taken the position that a PLS should be an expert in every area of land surveying. They are interpreting this standard as being the star employee. They are looking at it from the perspective if they had a list of canidates for a position, they would only award the PLS to the top canidate. Even though the other canidates may be so so, or O.K. Look at the passing rate for the Professional Civil Engineering exam. There are two state specific exams, and the pass rates for these two exams is similar to the pass rate for the national exam. Furthermore, the pass rate for the PLS a few years back was about 2%. What happened that year? Was nobody qualified? What I have heard from canidates taking the exam is that no matter how hard you study they set the standard so high that almost nobody passes.
08-17-2004, 09:02 AM
I believe that we are on course to have mandatory B.S./4yr degree to qualify to sit for the exam. I am not totally opposed to the idea, although I should be since I don't have a 4yr degree, but I don't think the same quality of determined people will be represented. After all, almost anyone with money or talent can get into a college but few are willing to swing a hammer or clear line and sit behind a computer running calcs just so that they can get their six years in. All of that hard work builds character. It also builds an appreciation for quality field and office work. I have worked with people of both calibers and find that someone with a little know-how and a lot of drive can work wonders. Of course, everybody is different. At this point in my life, the only big advantages of me getting a degree are that I would qualify for a management position (if I had my PLS) and my math skills would get a little more honing. I guess time will tell.
08-17-2004, 09:12 AM
C.E. YOUR CONCERN IS SHARED BY MANY, BUT UNFORTUNATELY IN ORDER TO JOIN THE PLS CLUB YOU NEED TO KNOW THE SECRET TO PASSING THE LS EXAM. THE BOARD HAS PURPOSELY SET IT'S STANDARDS HIGH ON THE STATE SPECIFIC EXAM (THE NATIONAL EXAM CAN NOT BE COMPARED WITH THE STATE EXAM). YOU AND INSTRUCTOR'S ARE RESTRICTED FROM DISCUSSING THE QUESTIONS GIVEN IN PAST EXAMINATIONS. SOUNDS LIKE SECURITY CONTROL BUT MORE LIKE PROGRESS CONTROL OR THE EVIL CATCH-22, RIGHT? IN THE FUTURE, THE BOARD WILL BE FACED WITH A PUBLIC PROBLEM WHEN THE DEMAND FOR LICENSED SURVEYORS OUT WEIGH THE NUMBER THAT ARE AVAILABLE. THEN THE BOARD WILL DO WHAT THEY DID IN 1988 (223 PASSED), 1992 (225 PASSED) AND 1990 (401 PASSED - CALTRANS NEEDED PARTY CHIEF LS'S). THIS IS THE REALITY OF A POORLY RUN SYSTEM! CHANGING THE THOUGHT PROCESS OF BORPELS AND THE EXAMINATION STRUCTURE WILL PROBABLY NOT HAPPEN IN OUR LIFE TIME, BUT PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE! UNFORTUNATELY, HOW MANY VIRTUOUS SURVEYORS DO YOU KNOW? (HUMOR...ha..ha)
08-17-2004, 11:44 AM
The pass rate is about average for the last 15 years. The reasons for such a low average have been kicked around for easily that long; the exam, the candidates, the Board's conspiracy to limit licensees, etc. Looking past those 3 issues, it's worth looking at the surveying profession in general. In comparison to civil engineering, we don't have quite the clear-cut typical career path that involves college, the E.I.T., then the PE exam. Many PE's take their EIT while they are still students. The material correlates directly to the exam. When it comes time to take the PE, the same situation still essentially exits. The material is farly cookbook and was covered in their classroom studies they took on their way to their degree. Hence a higher pass rate. Surveying attracts potential licensees from a broader range of avenues. Few have had an academic background that leads them directly to an exam that mirrors their college studies. Surveying requires much more than classroom studies in order to attain a level of knowledge and experience required to competently(minimally) practice. A good combination of both probably turns out the best candidates. But this is a time consuming and expensive proposition, obtaining years of experience AND a degree. A person has to be intensely dedicated to do it. I would surmise that most surveyors still come from the variety and myriad of paths that includes those who "fell into it", or don't have a strong academic background, or could care less for tests. They are all ages and have spent more of their life doing something other than pursuing academic endeavors and preparing for an exam that will be different than anything they have ever encountered. I think there are still more questions than answers to this issue, but 15% doesn't alarm me (moreso than in past years). The test has has its extremes, but I don't think that was intentional on anyone's part. In other words, I don't subscribe to the conspiracy theory, but the secrecy issue does need improvement. The candidates need to have a better sense of what to expect. And when they fail, they need a clearer sense of where they went wrong.
08-17-2004, 12:18 PM
Ditto to D. Ryan!
How many colleges have Survey programs of substance? Fresno (how many graduating students this year 10-15?), Cal Poly Pomona (CE degree w/Survey background), AA degree/certificate Santiago College and some northern and southern community colleges. Not enough depth and unfortunately it will remain this way! The money is better as a CE any way!
08-17-2004, 12:36 PM
That's what you think:)
08-17-2004, 01:42 PM
You’ve hit the nail on the head. I’d love for one of my sons to get a degree and follow me into my business. I would encourage them to get a CE degree rather than an “LS” type degree. The horizon would be broader for them. The can practice Civil Engineering with a registration. They could gain experience under my license and sit the LS exam. The CE degree would be worth significantly more than a “mere” LS type degree.
As far as the secrecy aspects of the exam, I think all too many confuse the security issue with a “Star Chamber” society. The exam security is based on the high cost of developing exams. It is far more cost effective to develop a bank of secure questions and make slight modifications to them each time the problem appear on the exam. Further, this problem “bank” allows a statistical check of performance on the problem each time it is administered. As long as the performance statistics of the problem remain the same, the statistics point to the fact that the exam is NOT becoming more or less difficult.
I would challenge any license holder to call or write the Board and ask to be part of the exam administration process. “Subject Matter Experts” are needed in every aspect of the exam administration from exam writing to field testing of the exam to grading to standard setting to appeals review. It’s a lot of hard work, but the returns are very large. I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s been involved with the exam that places the “blame” in its entirety or even in large part with the exam or the exam process.
Step up to the plate. Make a difference. Get involved. Share your experience and your expertise.
08-17-2004, 01:57 PM
COULD NOT AGREE WITH YOU MORE!
AS THE ECONOMY STARTS TO SHIFT (SLOW DOWN, LET'S HOPE NOT BUT HISTORY DOES REPEAT...) IN THE MONTHS AND YEARS AHEAD SO WILL THE SURVEY WORK.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!
MORE SURVEYORS DEMANDING EDUCATION (MORE TIME TO STUDY) AND MORE ENROLLING TO SIT FOR THE LS EXAM.
AWE WHAT A TANGLED WEB THE SURVEY EVIRONMENT WEAVES!
08-17-2004, 02:11 PM
I would concur with Ryan’s perspective had the state not switched to the combination of a National-State specific format. Previously, you could argue that California’s pass rate was so low because the people taking the exam do not have the proper education, etc. It is interesting to note that the number of people taking the national exam is about half of the number of people taking the state specific exam. What this tells us is that there is a large number of people taking the exam who easily passed the first year the national exam was given, yet are unable to pass the state specific, year after year, after year. It seems to be a moving target! I know two registered civil engineers who work in the field of surveying, and they both felt that they were much more prepared for the LS exam than they were for their PE exam, yet they failed. These are two extremely bright individuals with masters degrees.
Even though the subject matter is different on the state specific exam, people should pass the two exams at relatively the same rate. If you know the “general” surveying on the national exam, why would state specific items be so much more difficult? Furthermore, there is no other state in the U.S. that has such a low pass rate. So what is so special about California? There are other disciplines such as the Traffic Engineer exam which are not traditional “schooled” items, that are learned by on the job experience such as surveying. Yet the pass rates are still reasonable.
I know an individual who has abandoned surveying because it is now getting a reputation as being an “old school” group of guys who won’t let new members into their secrete society.
The profession is going to be decimated if it stays on its present path. Not to mention that prices for survey work will go through the roof, or you will have one LS signing for a bunch of work that he really did not have "responsible charge" over, only because he is the only guy in the firm with an LS (I am already seeing this starting to happen!).
08-17-2004, 02:38 PM
CE, YOU'RE STARTING TO SEE THE SURVEYOR'S DILEMMA, KNOWN AS THE CALIFORNIA LS EXAM "BLACK HOLE"!
THE LIGHT IS NOW ON AND YOU SEE THE CLEAR PICTURE!
THIS HAS BEEN THE DIRECTION BY BORPELS AND THE SURVEY ELITE FOR SOME TIME NOW!
ONCE THE ELITE GET TO THE TOP OF THE PYRAMID, THEY'LL GET THE MONEY AND RETIRE! WAKE UP BORPELS AND SURVEY SOCIETY! REGARDLESS, NO ONE BECOMES A SURVEYOR TO GET RICH! HOW MANY MILLIONAIRE SURVEYOR'S DO WE KNOW?
08-17-2004, 07:47 PM
First can I ask Foster to not YELL all the time, it's rude.
(ALL CAPS = yelling).
City Engineer contridicts himself by saying we need 4 year degrees to pass the LS exam but CE's with masters degrees cannot pass it. Also, if the LS is so bad why do the majority of persons taking the CE fail only the sismic portion???
The conspiracy theory is hogwash, no one is trying to limit the number of LS's in Calif. I know too many people who set up and grade the test and I know it isn't so.
Complaining about the State specific portion of the exam is just what NCEES loves to read, they want to write the WHOLE test. Heaven help us.
If it was possible to find out, I would venture to say that those who pass the LS studied for it, and those who didn't pass either didn't study or were "testing the waters. I know one person who has taken the LS 5 times he doesn't complain about the test he admits he didn't take the time to study.
Ian, my son, who is a very knowledgeable surveyor, passed the last CE exam, better pay, no sun and no being a target in the intersection.
If I had had to get a 4 year degree to be a Surveyor I would be a CE.
08-17-2004, 09:53 PM
Got a shock reading Landbutcher's post until I realize he was not speaking to me conspiratoily but speak of his son, who is also named Ian!
As far as I know, I am no relation to Landbutcher, though I do enjoy his posts!
08-18-2004, 05:55 AM
Maybe if the PLS was an augmented or enhanced PE, in the same manner that geotechs are, it wouldn't be so bad. However, putting in enough field time to be a competent surveyor would still have to be necessary.
08-18-2004, 06:17 AM
CAP THIS LB....
I DON'T BELIEVE IN THAT CAP YELLING HOGWASH!
IT'S THE CONTENT OF AN EMAIL THAT MATTERS NOT THE STYLE!
08-18-2004, 07:40 AM
I was not aware that I said that you “need” a 4 year degree to pass the LS. What is was trying to convey was that the “theory” that the individuals taking the exam are failing because they do not posses 4 year degrees does not hold water. Because I know two individuals that failed with advanced degrees (not that this is a perfect indicator). And more importantly, these individuals have stated that it is much more difficult to pass the LS than to pass the PE. I do not believe that it is a “conspiracy” to keep people from passing the exam. However, I do believe that the committee setting the passing standard has set the bar too high! I too have talked to people sitting on the standard setting committee. These individuals state that they are disgusted with some of the answers they see. However, if you ask these individuals how much the firm they work for would charge to prepare a typical answer on the LS exam they concur that their firm would probably charge 8 to 16 hours per problem. Thus, the LS has about 4 essay problems, which they expect you to complete in under 4 hours. Yet, a reputable survey firm would probably charge their client a total of between 32 to 64 hours billable to prepare responses to the problems.
As far as the pass rate for the PE special seismic exam the pass rate was 35.56%, and 34.49% for the surveying portion, and 43.41% for the national, so I do not see where landbutcher comes up with the statement “Also, if the LS is so bad why do the majority of persons taking the CE fail only the sismic portion???” Looks to me like the pass rates for all three exams is about the same. I would also like to note that I was on the standard setting committee for the special seismic and surveying portions of the exam years ago. I was on the panel shortly after they started the special exams. There was a huge backlash from applicants regarding the low pass rate on these special exams from the previous year, and the girl from BORPELS said she was unwilling to take the heat from another year of low pass rates. What it looks like to me is that the civil community is much more vocal (and a much larger group) while the survey community is just willing to sit back and take what the state dishes out.
I would encourage surveyors to stand up for their profession and complain to BORPELS. These surveyors setting the pass rates may think that it is good for their salaries, job security, and for the reputation of the profession to have such a low pass rates. But what it is doing is undermining the profession. The profession will be eventually destroyed, or you will have a backlash eventually and the pass rates will become too high. What we need is consistent pass rates somewhere in the neighborhood of the national exam, just like the civil exams.
08-18-2004, 07:55 AM
I have enjoyed this discussion very much. It seems to come up about this time every year.
I will not offer an opinion on the fairness of the test, as I have yet to take it. ( I did pass my LSIT in 2002, which was a very humbling experience.)
I know two surveyors that sat for the exam again this year, their third or fourth attempt. Both failed again. I look to both of them for advice on surveying and a chance to learn about the profession. I must admit I am disheartened by their repeated failures, and wonder what it means for me in the near future.
However, I am determined to take the California Exam until I pass, or they tell me I can't take it any longer.
I have given some thought to taking the exam in a nearby state, If I could find a way to get the needed experience. My firm occassionaly works in Nevada, and a license there would be of value. I wouldn't mind putting in the time to learn Nevada laws if I don't pass the California test the first go-around.
I wonder how many surveyors leave the state to get their license.
I imagine I would relocate to get my license if my many attempts in California don't succeed. That would be a sad thing.
I also agree, as a young surveyor, (24), that a four year degree in Civil Engineering holds more of a payoff for potential graduates. I hope such a requirement does not become lay in California. I worry that it would limit young men and women my age in the profession. It is so hard to find them as it is now.
I encourage all to keep trying for the exam. I am putting together an index/guide to the BLM manual during my study for the PLS. If any of the other LSIT's would like a copy, drop me an email.
The Sunburned Surveyor
08-18-2004, 08:08 AM
Sunburned, this is exactly what I am talking about. You are willing to give up and go to another state, because the exam is unfair in California. This is what is damaging the profession! Why don't these individuals you know that have failed stand up for their rights and complain. Possibly file a class action lawsuit with the other individuals who have been wronged. Why are surveyors so willing to roll over and take what the state is giving them? Are they embarrassed? A lawsuit probably would not be successful but I am sure it would bring heightened attention to the problem. Have these individuals written letters of complaint? I would encourage everyone to stand up for your profession and voice your concern to BORPELS!!!!!!!!!!! Enough is enough!!
Dave Karoly, PLS
08-18-2004, 10:30 AM
Your son cannot use you as a reference. I had some experience under my dad (a PE since the mid-1950s) but could not use a relative as a reference.
RE: the LS
I took and passed it on my first attempt. The questions were not terribly difficult but TIME is the big factor. I theorize that engineers, having more schooling overall, are more skilled at passing exams which is a game of getting points, not just correct answers. Knowing how to obtain more points is essential. I did go to the board offices to work a trial problem last year and found the problem somewhat difficult to do in an hour. Maybe it was a bad day.
08-19-2004, 08:02 AM
Someone mentioned that the board wants you to be an expert on everything to pass the exam. I am living proof that this is a fallacy. I took and passed the exam in 1999. I did not complete all the exam. In the morning session I guessed on 5% of the questions (air photo, stats) but only after checking the answers I did truely work out. In fact in the afternoon session I didn't even attempt one complete essay question on statistical analysis because I didn't know squat about error ellipses, still don't.
I took on the task of answering the questions I felt I knew the answers, mainly boundary and plss from my work experience. Water law and california coordinate rote calcs which were re-learned from pre-exam study/brushup and seminars.
Someone also mentioned that the bar has been set so high that we are elitist. Here are the last six years worth of numbers form the board's website:
2004 need 186/399 = 46%
2003 need 186/400 = 46%
2002 need 511/935 = 55%
2001 need 451/975 = 46%
2000 need 476/970 = 49%
1999 need 625/996 = 63%
Out of the last 6 years one ONLY needed only to know less than 50% of the exam material to EARN your piece of paper. In fact most of these grades would flunk you out of college classes. The bar set too high? I think not!
Having had the priviledge of being a grader in year's past (long enough to not be covered by the non-discloser I signed) I can say that of the first 100 or so exams I graded, only 2 or 3 of the test takers had any concept of the boundary principles that were being tested for. I still remember what I mumbled under my breath when I graded the exam that finally had someone who actually knew something (probably about the 50th or so test I had review to that point) and it was "It's about f----ing time that someone got it right!" Simple concepts about Jr/Sr rights, no fences, no unwritten rights to muddle up the affair, just JR/SR rights and what controls in that case.
I left that grading session with the opinion that most of the people taking the exam probably didnt have the breadth of experience and or education to sit for the exam but got the requiste positive references anyway.
That's my opinion and I'm hanging my hat on it....., unless the contrary can be shown.
08-19-2004, 08:19 AM
David is correct that you need less than 50% correct to pass. But from what I have heard about the graders most of them have his attitude that the people taking the exam are unqualified and don't know what they are doing, and as such they give vary little partial credit. Thus, unless you were on the right track, and only made a minor error you would get close to no partial credit.
I don’t see anyone arguing the point that in a typical office environment a “typical” surveyor would probably spend 2-4 hours solving one of these problems.
Statistics don’t lie. Why would so many people pass the national exam, so many pass the state specific exams in all other states, yet in California when it comes to the state specific exam everyone (except for the 14%) is an idiot.
I would like to see BORPELS compare their pass rates on the state specific exam with other states.
08-19-2004, 08:55 AM
I doubt that will ever happen. From what I have gathered, too many examinees spend too much time focused on the math instead of the “concept”. I stand by the thought that most examinees don’t understand what “kind” of answers they are being asked for. I think most LSIT’s grasp the concepts of surveying and, with sufficient time, would be able to mathematically solve the problems (or at least pass). However, it would appear that the math is secondary to the explanations of “how to solve” the given problem. Perhaps more should be done on instructing for “what kind of answer do they want” instead of “what are the mathematical solutions required to complete this problem”. With the new calculator policy I know many LSIT’s that will no longer take the PLS exam because they don’t want to be forced to “re-learn” basic calculations and algebra. I wonder what future exams will ask and how will they be formatted. Will there be even less focus on math and more on legal concepts? Time will tell.
08-19-2004, 09:04 AM
Unfortunately, you should now feel you're beating a dead horse! I've been in this industry long enough to know, one must be familiar and prepared to answer questions to all aspects of surveying! Reality is that much of the industry does not practice all aspects of surveying. Years ago after the exam, the examinee could take home the exam question and study the many possible ways to answer the question. Later, the examinee had to travel to Sacramento to read the exam results under glass. Now, unless you are within the necessary range of the cut score you can not review the exam. The fortunate few (ie. Dave, Davids...) had the right questions before them and were able to find the necessary points to pass! Yes, passing anything over 45% is not something to boast about but if you sat for an exam like the California LS you would understand. The issues here are many and as HISTORY shows there is NO consistency in the California Specific PLS exam format. One of the main problems are: the tools for educationing the new land surveyor on proper "boundary procedures and techniques" from past testing formats has been eliminated (security reasons). Many of the professors and teachers are forbidden to discuss past exam questions! Catch-22. It's not right and the test is improving. One must not be discouraged, continue to study (every opportunity, practice good study habits) and take the test until he or she passes this exam! Patience! May be one of these "passing first time" LS takers will give a seminar in the future and share their intelligence on how to pass the California PLS exam?
Don't hold your breath!
08-19-2004, 09:17 AM
I have to respond to a couple points made by City Engineer. The graders are comprised of all varieties of LS's; rookies to veterans, private to public, north to south, young to old, crotchety and stubborn to curious and open minded. They represent a good cross section of surveyors across the state and sometimes vehemently disagree with each other, and argue a point until some better understanding of an issue is arrived at. There is no pervasive "attitude" or general preconceived notion in the air regarding the qualifications of the candidates. You are wrong about the graders prerogative in giving "partial credit". Partial credit is automatically built in to the grading process by separating the answer into numerous elements or portions. The element is either right or wrong. You'd be best to avoid putting too much weight on loose rumors or misinformation. As to California's exam vs. other states; there's no value or purpose in making such a comparison. Go to a national discussion forum and see some of the answers given by many LS's from other states regarding boundary issues. Embarassing is a term that comes to mind.
Dave Karoly, PLS
08-19-2004, 09:28 AM
It's not just having the right questions before you, in addition, it's knowing which questions to answer because there isn't sufficient time to do them all.
The under 50% cutscore is not really comparable to a college level exam requiring 70% because the LS is not designed to be able to be completed in the time alloted unlike a college exam. In addition, a classroom exam covers a relatively narrow range of subjects that were presumably covered ad-nauseum in the classroom (god knows the average college course has plenty of fat in it in terms of the time alloted for instruction).
As a contrast, the LSIT and the FAA exams I took are finishable in under the time allotted. The average FAA written exam (always multiple choice AND the possible questions are not just available, they are published by the government) is allowed 2.5 hours and if you can't do it in 1.5 hours then you don't know the material.
I wonder how the architects and landscape architects handle their exams. I know they are more extensive and they have interviews.
08-19-2004, 09:51 AM
Again D Ryan has hit the nail on the head when he said "Go to a national discussion forum and see some of the answers given by many LS's from other states regarding boundary issues. Embarassing is a term that comes to mind."
Clearly this is the elitest atitude of the graders, that in California you are expected to be above everyone else. I guess Ryan is suggesting that the exams in other states allow unqualified surveyors to become licensed and california needs to set the standard higher.
I wonder what would happen if this same group of graders were in charge of the special surveying exam section of the Civil Engineer exam. I would bet my license that the passing rate would be dramatically lower.
08-19-2004, 09:56 AM
What? “Statistics don’t lie.”
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” (Attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and promulgated by Mark Twain in his autobiography)
All I see in the posts knocking the exam is “…(i)t seems…”, “…I heard…”, “…I have been told…”, “…I have heard…”, “…I think…”, “…the survey elite…”, “…I do believe…”, “…From what I have gathered…”
Get some real facts instead of shooting form the hip. Quit making assumptions based on a one-sided view of the evidence. Why don’t you get involved with the exam administration process? Get first-hand knowledge and experience. After you’ve worked on a few of the committee’s and functions, you’ll be an “expert” and you’ll be able to tell everybody what the problem is with the exam process in California. Your explanations will come from first-hand knowledge and experience instead of supposition, innuendo and hearsay.
Call the Board. Offer your services. I know more than a few guys who’ve done exactly that because they wanted to find out what was going on. They put their time and their experience on the line. They called the Board and got involved with the exam process.
08-19-2004, 10:00 AM
CityEngineer said “I wonder what would happen if this same group of graders were in charge of the special surveying exam section of the Civil Engineer exam. I would bet my license that the passing rate would be dramatically lower.”
Since Civil Engineers in California are no longer allowed to practice surveying, if I were in charge of that portion of the CE Exam, I’d can the “Survey” portion! What’s the point anyway?
08-19-2004, 10:24 AM
Dave has an excellent point. In all of my college classes the passing score was based on the median grade of everyone taking the exam. I remember one elementary differential equations class when you got an A if you scored above 29%. Because the median was 21. Back to beating my dead horse, just like in college, the instructors didn’t say “you all scored 21 and you are all losers and deserve F’s.” If the scores were that low they realized that the exam was too hard and lowered the passing grade accordingly.
To respond to Mr. Wilson, I believe we finally do have “real facts.” For years I heard the story that everyone was failing the exam because they were not qualified to take it in the first place. But now that they have added the national exam into the mix, we can compare the intelligence of California candidates to the rest of the nation. Did you know that the pass rate of the national exam in California is higher than the national rate? Clearly demonstrating that California candidates are qualified, and there is a problem with the exam, or grading of the exam, not the candidates.
As far as getting involved in the process, as I stated in an earlier post I have sat on these committees. I know how subjective they are. It is based on the opinion of the surveyors in the group what a “minimally qualified” candidate should be able to do. I also know that the stronger personalities in these groups usually dominate the ultimate result. There is also a natural tendency to protect your investment. Once you pass the exam why would you want to lower the pass rate? Why shouldn’t everyone else go through the pain you did, even if it is not fair? Obviously the people passing the exam are the “best of the best” and not the typical person who is “minimally qualified” it’s a self fulfilling prophecy that has got to change!
I also know that BORPELS responds to pressure. The year I was on the committee the representative from BORPELS insisted that we go back to the table until the pass rate was higher because she was not willing to “take the heat” of another year of low pass rates.
08-19-2004, 11:50 AM
Civil Engineer said, "I guess Ryan is suggesting that the exams in other states allow unqualified surveyors to become licensed and california needs to set the standard higher.
Yeah, I guess I am saying that, in part. Of course I haven't seen other states exams, so can't say that with certainty. It's also a generalization not intended to apply to any specific states, just an observation.
CE also said:
The year I was on the committee the representative from BORPELS insisted that we go back to the table until the pass rate was higher because she was not willing to “take the heat” of another year of low pass rates.
So much for the elitest conspiracy. I also felt the pressure from the Board when I was on this panel to keep the standard "fair" and not set the bar too high. Veteran, practicing LS's will have a tendency to set a tough standard (it's what they live by daily), so exam experts and Board presonnel were constantly tweaking our perspective of the definition of "minimal competency".
For the record, there are flaws in the system that need improvement. I think those that have become regulary involved in the system need to guard against losing an outside perspective and stay open to the need for continual reflection on the mission.
08-19-2004, 12:09 PM
I am curious what CLSA's official position is on this subject. As far as the state of the profession, I would think this subject should be one of their highest priorities. If they don’t have one already, I think they should form a special task force to address the issue. Do they think the profession can survive and thrive under these conditions?
You may or may not agree with me, but my only goal is to stimulate discussion on this subject and promote activism. I am concerned that the younger surveyors will give up on the profession.
Unfortunately probably the typical surveyor is not an individual that is typically well suited to political activism. However, I am hoping that there is comfort in numbers, and if enough people become concerned about the subject they will stand up and be counted. Perhaps a model form letter should be prepared that can be sent to BORPELS.
08-19-2004, 05:34 PM
CE, my opinion was formed after the conclusion of the grading week I attended not before. As for partial credit when the correct answer is "West line of Smith's land" and "Jr/Sr rights" to what controls and why, or "Found 1" pipe" and "original subd. monument" where does one give partial credit?
Typical surveyors in the office generally aren't dealing with the very tight time constraints dictated by the exam settings. Heck even getting up to take a leak required presidential approval and an act of congress at the exam. I hear it's even tougher now.
There was enough checks and balances in the grading system in my opinion that the system used to grade is pretty darn fair. The question I graded was pretty straight forward hence the very simple answers. I believe the problem was worth 200 points or so, and until I got to the that first exam as mentioned before, I venture to guess the average score of what I had graded was 40.
08-19-2004, 06:23 PM
Foster exclaimed "May be one of these "passing first time" LS takers will give a seminar in the future and share their intelligence on how easy it is to pass the California PLS exam?"
Please direct us to any quote that said the exam is easy to pass? Geez I felt like I put myself through a meat grinder preparing for it. I'm sure that many of the successful exam takers will tell you the same thing. It wasn't a walk in the park, unless it's Central Park in NYC after 1 am with wads of money hanging out of your pockets.
This was originally posted in 2002 to a thread on continuing ed. that morphed into an what we are discussing here.
Or you can cut and paste this link into your browser and check out the entire thread for yourself.
I saved it back then on my hard disk at work with the file name "Why people fail to pass the LS exam"
"Let's face it the test is design to fail people not establish minimum qualifications to practice land surveying."
An exam that ONLY requires satisfactorily answering 55% of the questions (511/935) hardly qualifies as a test designed to fail people. I'm sorry, in my opinion the fault lies elsewhere. These are my reasons someone fails:
1. It's a cliche' but face it, some people are not good test takers, anxiety, stress etc... cause people's brain's to go on hold. Fortunately, I only had this happen once (my first calculas exam in college) but I've listen to enough horror stories from people who just let the anxiety take over (not just the LS but the PE exams as well)
2. "If I only had more time, I would of been able to do those easy questions at the end". Well duh... go back and read my first paragraph (not the quote). You had 8 hours to ace a little over one-half the exam. You don't even have to complete the whole exam to pass (I personally didn't have time to finish the last essay, but I left it to last because I knew very little about the subject "error ellipse analysis"), just be very very good at that 60 percent you do answer. This test taker will start at question 1 and complete it come "hell or high water" before moving on to question 2. For thirty points you spend 20-30 minutes or more(!) on something you've only read about. I divided my exam into three parts. In the multiple choice, I quickly evaluated each set of questions into (a) No brainer, should take 5 minutes max, I immediately did the problem, (b) I can do this, but I'll have to follow a cookbook guide or do a little reference work, might take 10-15 minutes, pass until later, (c) I've think I seen this somewhere, but it requires a more extensive reference search, Don't give it anymore thought, go to next question. This was my method to do the M/C portion in as an efficient manner as possible. I'm positive I got all my "easy" (a) points (roughly 60% of the M/C) first before I tackled the (b) and (c) problems. Then I went back and did the (b) problems, sure they took longer to complete but I feel I got 90% of those points (about 30% of the M/C). Since the essay portion of the morning was something I felt comfortable with, I attempted it before moving onto the three or four (c) questions. With 30 minutes to go in the morning I checked and made sure I had filled in the correct scan box for the (a) and (b) answers. With 20 minutes to go, I attempted the (c) questions, with 1 minute to go, I simply filled in all the [A] boxes on answers that were unmarked.
You can apply this to the period that is only essays. Look at the points for the various problems as well as the subject, make a quick evaluation as to what would be an efficient use of your time and take the test appropiately.
For the four hours spent in each half I felt I got the maximum points per minute that was possible based upon my education, experience and study habits. I tried not to fight the exam, but roll with it.
3. Face it, some people just don't have a broad-based experience level to draw from. A great deal of their experience has been in one or two areas, perhaps because they haven't requested or been assigned a variety of projects. Great if the test is heavily weighted on those subjects, not so great if it isn't. When someone performs actions or makes decisions based upon precedent or conventional practices as part of their daily job, they will generally do well on that part of the exam. When 75% of the exam is stuff you've only read about and never had to apply in real life, well that's gonna be one tough exam (especially if you fall into 1 or 2 above).
4. Crappy preparation for the exam. There are examinees who are very blase about preparation. "There's always next year." is their motto. I personally was beginning to fall into this catagory around mid February of the year I took the exam, (heck I was initially just happy to finally get the application filled it and get my references lined up and have them fill out the formd) until my wife kicked in the proverbially rear with her comment "You're not really serious about passing this exam are you" followed by an about-face and walk away down the hallway. My first thought was "Well, I'll show you, you dirty so-and-so". She knew the exact words to use, a challenge, the gauntlet was thrown down in my face and I chose to accept the challenge. Anyway the moral of the story is create a study routine and stick to it! Let the family know that this is important for you as well as them and you need the time to study. Face it, you'll have to change your lifestyle for a few months (didn't say it would be easy). If you have co-workers, aquaintences, or complete strangers who want to form a study group get one going. Nothing motivates someone more than knowing that someone else is depending on you to show up for study time.
Foster, there is no secret to success, no secret wink or handshake that will give you what you desire. The test isn't rigged and there is no conspiracy. It's not about dumb luck or even smart luck, but rather an observation that in most cases the luckiest people also were the most prepared people too.
Okay take a breath now. You've gleaned from me (one of those vaulted first-time passers) my vast knowledge of what it takes to pass the exam. Send all required seminar fees to your favorite charity of choice.
08-20-2004, 07:41 AM
David, as I mentioned one must study and develop good learning habits to challenge this exam and PASS, NO DOUBT! The exam is not easy but it's not that difficult either if you have PROPERLY PREPARED, that's a GIVEN! Unfortunately, you still miss my point regarding this exam! In 1999 (the year after only 9 people passed the PLS exam) the exam introduced GPS and Geodetic problems. For many this was a very new subject to challenge! The exam took a new look as well. Various areas of surveying were being integrated into one question. The passing outcome in 1999 was 84 out of 583 (14.4%) and you say that is acceptable
(the number we should be shooting for is at least 25-30%)! Of course you succeed, wonderful, but I don't agree with the statistic as being acceptable! For most who suceed, they pat them selves on the back and move on because they do not want to be concerned about the profession of surveying for the future! We are surrounded in a world of self interest these days and the land surveying environment is about serving the people (that means the land surveying people as well)! The exam needs to be a TOOL as well as TEST of knowledge. To aid and teach the land surveying professionals where their strengths and weaknesses are! Just take a good look at a form that is received by a failing test taker! It's statistical break down on performance or non performance on the exam is of LITTLE or of NO USE to the person evaluating their performance. Therefore, it's back to the one or two weekend seminars ($800), study harder next time and wait for another year! To continue with this current Borpels method of testing structure will continue to degrade the profession until the future surveying prospects will no longer be encouraged to stay with the profession! For those self interest professionals no change is a good thing, more demand and supply! My point is to aid the surveying profession by allowing the test to be another form of education and training!
08-20-2004, 07:06 PM
I guess your results are directly proportational to the sweat put out.
When I took the LS I took a seminar, locked myself in the bedroom every Sat for 7 weeks and studied. I wanted it and I got it the first time.
Do I have a college degree, am I extremely smart, no on both counts. To beat a bush, I have what I have beacuse I worked for it. And I have very little tolorance for whiners.
To say 14% passing is not enough but 25% is doesn't make any sense. Like the man says, if you don't like the process get involved and try to change it.
George Shambech spent about one hour at a CLSA meeting explaining the "politically correct" exam process. They actually use statications (sp) to determine the cut scores. Unbeliveable. For the record it appears too "politically correct" for me to get involved in. I hate political correctness!
NCEES would love for Calif to let them develop a State Specific exam. Their idea of a test is how many multiple guess questions can you answer in too little time. Contant and quality is secondary.
CE: I based my sismic statement on what my son and many other CE's and almost CE's have said kept them from passing. Maybe its a local thing.
Ian; I used the wrong puncation, My son is not named Ian, but he became a CE after spending approx 6 adult years as a surveyor. I don't count the time he spent turning T-2 angles on the Newport Coast at the age of 11.
The internet is great, all kinds of debates are at your fingertips. Haven't had this much fun since high school and we were debating bra sizes.
08-22-2004, 09:14 AM
Well your surveying company can't be doing that much business in the last 7 years if you had the luxury to study every Saturday, how fortunate you were! I'm lucky if I get in 1 to 2 hours a night of study! Most hard working surveyors in the last 5-7 years have being working one or two jobs with 50-60 hours a week (demand is very high right now and surveyor supply is very low). I'm currently back-logged with 2-3 months of work. Study time is a real problem (have to make time when ever possible)! I'm not one to whine about about this PLS exam (it is what is, 25% to 30% is just a goal)! I'm only addressing the real issues surrounding the concerns and improvements to the exam process (ie. tool vs. test debate).
The seasoned PLS and recent PLS are the one's to make the necessary changes to the system, not the un-licensed! You're opinion is quite clear! I know you have more time on your hands because you spend more time commenting your opinion on this bulletin board than most! Good luck in the future finding surveyors. If you worked on Newport Coast you'll need to find some quality surveyors to prevent another one foot horizontal control bust!
You need not reply in a personal sense. If you were as successful as landbutcher you would have as much time as he. I beleive that quality of life is a little more important than working 60 hrs a week...... unless you are younger and trying to climb the corperate ladder.
ps. landbutcher.... I got bored trying to be like you and went corporate again
Dave Karoly, PLS
08-23-2004, 07:48 AM
If you have a goal, then you make it a priority. I was working 50 to 60 hours a week but I set some things aside so that I could study because I knew in the long run it would benefit me.
1) I could get a job I like better.
2) I could make more and work less.
There is no silver bullet. The test was tough; I studied everything although I only needed some of what I studied. That is the problem with test, they can't put everything in it but they don't have to tell you what will be in it. I have a lot of experience passing exams; you want a meat grinder-try to convince an FAA Inspector that you should be allowed to go fly around with student pilots. That makes the LS look like a walk in the park.
Ruel del Castillo
08-23-2004, 08:01 AM
My experience with grading the LS exam mirrors David's except that I also prepared the exam questions. For one question, I took an exam question from 5-10 years before and changed it slightly. I couldn't help it, it was (and still is) an excellent exam question.
The question involved a section truncated by a rancho line. No math, just explain how you would establish the intersection of the section lines and the rancho line, and how you would establish the one quarter corner and center of section.
In my opinion, every surveyor that took that exam should have known what to do to even be minimally qualified to be an LS. What were the results? Even now after all these years, I'm embarassed to say, but...90% got ZERO points. That's right, NINETY PERCENT got zero points. There were only three people who were able to give clear, concise, understandable, and well thought out answers. Some others got partial credit for their efforts, but NINETY PERCENT got zero points!
I believe that the reasons that David gave in his previous reply are right on. People aren't prepared, they don't know how to take the exam, they don't understand the questions, etc., etc.
The questions today are no harder than when my boss at the County of Orange took his exam in 1967. Two full 8-hour days (imagine taking the LSIT & LS exams back to back) with calculations...oh yeah, you could only take a hand-crank "calculator" along with your sin/cosine/tangent tables into the exam to solve those problems. The pass rate you ask? About the same as today!!!
If your going to take the exam, learn the Boy Scout Motto - BE PREPARED. Otherwise, quit your *****ing and get involved.
I would but I'm busy mailing my check to the old boys club.
Dave Karoly, PLS
08-23-2004, 08:15 AM
The Township problem is on every exam. That should be easy points.
There are old ones floating around from when they published the exam questions.
If I was taking the exam today I would have in my binder (that I'm allowed to bring in with ANYTHING I want in it) a drawing of a fractional township with a notation at every corner on how to reestablish it (if lost) and the paragraph reference in the Manual.
Then when I see that problem, in whatever form the current one is in-doesn't matter, I grab my binder and answer that thing in about 10 minutes and get all the points.
Remember the 4 Ps when taking the exam, Points, Points, Points and Points. Go for points, forget trying to finish everything, go for easy points, then medium, then hard is last.
Time is points. If they want "Double Proportion-Paragraph 5-25" you don't write a paragraph, you write exactly what they want, no more or less. If they want a short narrative, then you write it in proper English, neatly so the guy can read it. I haven't graded the exam but I have a hunch a lot of the problem is we have a percentage of people who don't write well.
Ruel del Castillo
08-23-2004, 09:08 AM
Were you a Boy Scout?
Dave Karoly, PLS
08-23-2004, 09:30 AM
No, I was never a Boy Scout. My uncle, Ben Karoly, was involved in Scouting for many years. I occasionally run into people that know him through Scouting and ask about him.
08-23-2004, 12:57 PM
Glad to see everyone is happy with the dismal pass rate (at least those people who already have a license) and the fact that everyone passing the national exam and failing the California specific means absolutely nothing. The fact that Ruel del Castillo said that 90% of the people who did his problem got zero points should have sent up a red flag that nobody understood the problem, or that people understood the problem but somehow gave a different answers than what the graders were looking for, i.e. the question was somehow flawed In the statistics world we would have disregarded the question because for whatever reason it was fatally flawed. Not in the California Surveyor world. Did you ever ask yourself that maybe the problem was unclear, or why don’t people understand what I am looking for? No, the easy solution has always been the old standard that everyone is an unqualified idiot, and there could never be a problem with the questions or the exam itself. WAKE UP PEOPLE, HOW LONG ARE WE GOING TO ALLOW THIS ELITIST ATTITUDE TO CONTINUE?
Dave Karoly, PLS
08-23-2004, 01:23 PM
If Ruel and I are talking about the same problem, it is on every exam and it is really a problem I could teach my 13 year old daughter to do in a few hours. In fact it is maybe too easy. I don't know how you could make that problem any easier or more clear than it already is.
I admit I have never actually double proportioned a corner (I mean in real life). I have reestablished Section corners but so far I've had at least some evidence that was better than just double proportioning it in. I'm sure I aced that problem on the test because it just isn't that difficult to open the Manual and figure it out. If people are failing the exam because they can't read and understand a simple procedure in a book then we are in trouble.
EDIT-I should say I believe the problem is on every exam but I don't have any evidence of that. I just know it is one of the sample problems that has been circulating around for years and it was on the one exam I took.
08-23-2004, 02:44 PM
The 2002 LS exam public land question was a fair question! It was the last year the state had full control of the exam before the national exam was to replace the morning session. Many people that year were in the bubble due to one particular boundary question. The question was challenged in large numbers and Borpels had to re-score all 443 exams. Gosh, isn't odd that none of the people who passed in 2002 didn't get a letter saying: "that due to a re-scoring of a particular question the board has pulled your new license"! Of course Borpels would have faced numerous law suits! Look the survey profession needs to follow the CSLA code of ethics (I-IV) and support the enhancement of survey education (CSLA should set a goal to improve the performance on the LS and LSIT EXAMS).
08-23-2004, 03:04 PM
Work on the exam after passing? Been there, done that, waste of my time. I'll work with our local study group as much as I can instead.
Field tested two exams and with the exception of few minor concerns little changed on the first one (despite major concerns) and on the second one they apparently tossed it and reused a previous year's exam. I guess they don't want to reuse questions but the entire exam is okay.
And don't give me that 'you only need 46% to pass' routine.... there are some very bright, very hard working people taking this exam. If the pass rate is 80% does that mean everybody is a genius? Its probably a bad exam. If the pass rate is 14% does that mean everyone taking it is unqualified? Its definitely a bad exam... gotta have that balance somehow.
According to the Jan-June newsletter of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping the pass rate from 1966 to to 1984 ranged from a low of 20% (1966) to a high of about 45% (1973, hard to nail the year down exactly on their chart). In 1984 (?) the Board changed from "norn-referenced" scoring (curve?) to "criterion referenced" scoring and the pass rate went from 35% to 3.3% in one year and hasn't seen anything north of 20% since. That way if there is an extremely difficult test there is no 'balance to address that difficulty.
Assemblyman Dan Hauser said it best in a letter to the Board in April of 1986:
"The decline in successful candidates during the last two years may be either [due to] the testing procedure or the test itself. It is inconceivable that the quality of those candidates sitting for the exam could have dropped as dramatically as the results of the last two years would indicate. This leads me to believe that there is a problem with the test, its administration, or a combination of the two." The newsletter goes on to say "If Assemblyman Hauser is correct, it would appear that the Board has either licensed numerous unqualifies individuals in the previous years or else in the last two years has failed candidates who were in fact qualified to be licensed."
This same uproar has occurred each year at this time and until we, AS A GROUP WITH LEGISLATIVE SUPPORT AND/OR LEGAL REPRESENTATION, address the problem, it will continue.
08-23-2004, 03:47 PM
I like your idea of helping with your local study group. I think some candidates can use help in studying the problems but others need help on how to take an exam. Will your local group share its materials with the state to come up with a package for other chapters? Would you be willing to help teach another at chapter? Do you know others that are able to assist in developing a course?
Does anyone agree the CLSA should do as president Bob Hart wrote in his goals for the organization? (See the Spring 2004 California Surveyor)
Lets try to eliminate the argument that the candidates are the source of the problem.
08-23-2004, 08:48 PM
Although I may have started our local group, when I had to step back I honestly though they'd drift apart. Not so! Its the members of that group who have maintained their eyes on the prize. I don't participate nearly as much as I'd like but I believe we've had at least one new LS per year from the group for the last 3 years.
As County Surveyor I have the opportunity to network with all of the surveying firms and I start getting calls about the next years study group about this time of year (right after results come out)
Setting up a study group is not difficult. Talk to the County Surveyor or local CLSA chapter and get the people who need to study together. While there are some who can study alone and pass, most of us have a weakness (or five!) and undoubtedly there will be someone in the group who understands it. If no one gets it, bring in a local surveyor who does. I found a lot of support from our local guys.
Open any surveying book and there is your curriculum. Start on page one and work your way through. When you get to the end, start again in another book. Our group meets once a week and then twice a week as the test approaches. We have occasionally put together a practice exam (again with some questions and solutions provided by the locals) to allow candidates to learn from 'free' mistakes.
Our complaining and moaning on this site will accomplish little. You have to beat them at your own game. Its not rocket science.....apparently its even harder!
08-24-2004, 06:03 AM
There isn't a lot of material to share but it would be good for CLSA to put together a practice exam (with the answers! What a concept!) which could be available for candidates to use as a study aid. There are plenty of experts right on this site who could each dream up one question of exam caliber and presto! you've got an exam. If a candidate takes this exam a week or so prior to the real thing they can make their errors, whoopises and poor judgement calls and not have to wait a year to make sure they don't do it again. I grumbled when this was suggested in my study group and said I 'only had onje exam a year in me and its not this one' but I believe it was instrumental in my success.
I would be willing to compile the questions into an exam and distribute them to LS study groups (free I would hope)
I'll do what it takes to assist candidates beat this monster.
08-24-2004, 06:32 AM
Perhaps a thread on here. One question per thread would make a difference. I could see many LSIT's benefiting from it. Ultimately everyone would benefit.
08-24-2004, 07:26 AM
GregCVS - One question per thread would be great. I wonder if more people would be using their real names to post answers.
Does anyone have a batch of questions they could send to the CLSA? Are their any chapters that have review courses that are willing to share actual questions and answers to help move this along?
08-24-2004, 08:41 AM
Pat & Greg,
I think we have two very valuable resources about to start here. One would be practice questions posted (possibly under a separate heading) by surveyors for candidates to use as part of their studies. We've all worked the old LS exams up to '92(?) when they suddenly became the top secret equivalent of Austin Powers' Mmmmmmmmojo. There is a need for fresh material and you guys get it everyday. Think about difficult projects you've had in your office, massage it a bit and turn it into a practice problem. Post your answer along with it so that it can be checked by your peers as well as used by the candidates.
The second resource would be the preparation of a practice exam (complied from unposted questions submitted by LS's) to be taken a week or two prior to the 'real' one. These questions/answers would be reviewed by LS's to be sure they were correct and then distributed as a package to anyone requesting a copy. There's nothing like locking yourself in a room for a few hours to find out how prepared (or unprepared) you are.
Pat, I agree with your full name comment and tried to change it but was unsuccessful so I will just sign myself as:
Gary O'Connor, Sonoma County Surveyor
08-24-2004, 08:54 AM
Sounds good! I will talk with my associates and seniors to come up with some problems and answers. Thank you all for your contributions to this forum and thread.
Greg Sebourn, LSIT
08-26-2004, 06:33 PM
First you need to reread MDL's reply.
Second, I have no idea what you are talking about regarding a 1 foot bust, please elaborate if you are refering to me. Send a email if you want.
Third, MDL and I have seen more of the Newport Coast than most.
Had to get 3 trucks towed out, wet winter. Same job told the CHP I had more right to be there then he did.
Fourth, I am sure there are people on this board with many more posts then me.
Fifth, I got tired of working 60hrs a week, so I doubled my rates and lost less than half my clients, mostly the slow payers and low buck artists, now I make more $$$$$$$$$ and work less.
Works for me.
08-26-2004, 06:50 PM
LB, I figured that's what you did when I read Fosters post. There is more to life than working, although what it is, I am not real sure of. I hope it's not my pipe or spike either. Bruce Hall
08-26-2004, 06:55 PM
The question Ruel is refering to is basic California Surveying. If you can't answer that question you shouldn't be taking the test.
I have heard many other graders echo Ruels statement. Most first time graders are amazed at the lack of basic knowledge of the examinees, for some reason I always want to refer to examinees as testees.
I recently read about CalTrans having to establish a surveying school for their surveyor employee's. What happened to employees taking Sat and night school classes on their own like I and others of my generation did. I get the feeling that this younger generation thinks that getting a License (I am not refering to just Surveyors here) or other life benefit is a right.... not something that they have to work for.
Looking back, I remember getting home about 4PM then two nights a week for 5 years going to night school till 10Pm.. home at 11 up at 6AM. And I wasn't alone. Every surveyor I "grew up" with was doing the same thing. Thats mostly how we networked.
Hey, we worked hard, studied hard, and got our licenses and now we reap the benefits.
Of course Alzhiemers is setting in, but I don't remember those who failed the exams when I was taking them complaining about them being toooooo hard.
08-27-2004, 06:28 AM
Ruel, et al,
A comparison of passing the test in the 60's, 70's and early 80's to passing today is an unfair one because of the change in scoring criterion in '85(?).
And the passing percentage in '67 was NOT the same as it is today. As stated earlier, from '66 to '84 the pass rate had a LOW of about 22% and a high of about 45%. A little cipherin' of the bar graph I have tells me that the pass rate for 1967 was 34%!
The testing procedure is NOT the same, so stop trying to make the comparison with days gone by.
People are still making the same sacrifices, but its tougher to do it alone. Start a study group of LSIT's in your neck of the woods and help them make it through. Its our resposibility to be there to mentor.
Gary O'Connor, LS
08-27-2004, 11:58 AM
So you are saying that everone who passed the Calif LS prior to 1985 took a easier exam? I don't think so.
With regard to the NCEES portion I can't say. But you or others have stated the the NCEES portion has a "acceptable" pass rate. Your complaints are directed towards the State specific.
I really don't think the State specific has changed that much over the years. How could it, Surveying Rancho Lines and Sectionalizd land has not changed in years. The LS act is thicker, but that goes with the terrority. As long as Lawyers and Politicions are involved the rules will continue to propagate exponentially.
I would really like someone in the know to compare what you call old and new exams and give their opinion.
08-27-2004, 12:29 PM
I find this very interesting. I was one of the 85% of test-takers that "failed" this year.
Now, let's dispense with some of the myths:
1) The ones that failed did not put in the required study time.
I started studying 6 months before the exam. I spent AT LEAST 25 hours a week studying. I attended the local CLSA review class for 3 hours a week. As I had already passed the national test, I was ONLY studying for the state specific test.
2) The ones that failed don't have a degree.
I have a BS in Surveying from a well respected University. Graduated Magna Cum Laude.
3) The ones that failed don't have enough experience.
I have surveyed for 18 years in 4 States from Colonial to PLSS to CA.
4) The ones that don't pass aren't minimally qualified.
I have been licensed in 3 other states for over 8 years. So...apparently THEY thought that I was minimally qualified.
5) The questions are fair.
Since taking the test, I have asked 7 CA PLS's if they had ever heard of a type of survey that was on the test. NONE of them had even HEARD of that type of survey! Neither had I....
And Ian, you wrote
"I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s been involved with the exam that places the “blame” in its entirety or even in large part with the exam or the exam process. "
Well I have. I know a CA PLS with a degree from Fresno that graded the test for one year and quit in disgust at the way the test were graded.
Now maybe I am just stupid, but I don't think so. I was ALWAYS in the top 5%-10% in all of my classes. I EASILY passed the National and 3 other State test that I have taken. Two of those states having a reputation as being very difficult. My colleagues could NOT believe that I didn't pass.
I always thought that the reason that the passing rate was so low was because the qualifications to sit for the test were so low.
Now I am very confused. Not sure how to study for it any differently this time...
In fact, I am disgusted with the entire process.
08-27-2004, 12:51 PM
I studied for my test using every early exam I could lay my hands on, the earliest being '66 (I believe) to the latest ('93?). I took the '94, '95 and '96 exams and field tested the '99 and '00 exams for The Board so I've seen plenty of exams.
I'm not saying that the early tests were any harder or easier than the later although it is impossible to maintain an even level of difficulty from exam to exam. What I AM saying is that the method of scoring and determining a passing score changed almost 20 years ago bringing the pass rate from 30% to 3.3% in two years! This has been a problem since that time and yet the survey community continues to blame the candidates for the whole problem.
I'll reprint Hausers letter from the ACSM Jan-June '86 newsletter:
Assemblyman Dan Hauser said it best in a letter to the Board in April of 1986:
"The decline in successful candidates during the last two years may be either [due to] the testing procedure or the test itself. It is inconceivable that the quality of those candidates sitting for the exam could have dropped as dramatically as the results of the last two years would indicate. This leads me to believe that there is a problem with the test, its administration, or a combination of the two." The newsletter goes on to say "If Assemblyman Hauser is correct, it would appear that the Board has either licensed numerous unqualified individuals in the previous years or else in the last two years has failed candidates who were in fact qualified to be licensed."
I agree that there are candidates not qualified taking the exam, but there are more who are than is reflected in the pass rate.
Gary O'Connor, LS
08-27-2004, 02:01 PM
LB (richard m.),
CALL THE KEITH CO. REGARDING NEWPORT COAST, THEY CORRECTED THE PROBLEM (NO, NEVER SAID IT WAS YOUR PROBLEM). YOU'RE BULLETIN BOARD ARROGANCE IS TOO MUCH! The fact be known that a California County Surveyor and many professional surveyors acknowledge the problems we have all spoken regarding this exam! Apparently, you disagree! That's your right! Good Luck With Your Get Rich with Less Hours Worked Mentality!
You are one of the very few remaining "Mom & Pop" survey companies, I'm surprised at you're lack of concern toward enhancing the survey profession. You know the up's and down's with the survey business. You work the hours to keep your clients happy and bring in more business. Yes, as LB said "raise the price and risk losing the business. Success is rated in many ways. Strong work ethic and integrity will produce gratification!
Good Luck to your companies growth, hoping "Mom & Pops" survive!
I'm pro the little guy and have little admiration for the corporate world! Coporate America has very little if no loyality toward the the working class of America! Small (family) private survey business will survive if fellow land surveyors unite to enhance survey education opportunities.
Thanks to Angleright, Pat and Gary O. for shedding some light and support!
08-28-2004, 07:07 AM
Foster, I am having a tough time reading a "lack of concern" into to my last post. It just goes to show that one can write one thing with a certain thought in mind and the reader will get a different meaning.
This thread has been an interesting read. I think I have learned a lot regarding this issue, if what is written is true. If the pass rate is an important issue, I would think that if all the folks who are participating in this discussion would get together, reach a common ground(if there is one), influence the powers that be, then they could come up with a pass rate of whatever number they want. But I am probably out to lunch on this one too. I don't know what else to say. If I say too much you will probably read too much into it. Or maybe it's the other way around. Bruce Hall
08-31-2004, 07:45 AM
I am glad to see that at least there are a few concerned professionals that realize the profession of Land Surveying cannot thrive with the present pass rate on the State specific LS exam.
It is interesting to note that BORPELS this past April licensed approximately an additional 72 Land Surveyors (if you assume that everyone who passed the State specific exam has or did pass the national exam). At the same time the State licensed approximately and additional 600 Civil Engineers. In fact, since the civil exam is given every six months, BORPELS licenses an additional 1000-2000 civil engineers every year. Now, it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that almost every fixed improvement designed by a civil engineer will require a surveyor at some point during the process. How does 72 LS’s meet the demand of an additional 1000-2000 civil engineers being generated every year? It can’t. The only people who are sleeping comfortably at night are the self-centered PLS’s who only care about themselves, and could care less about the state of the profession. These few individuals continue to stand on their soapboxes and preach that nobody is qualified to join their club.
I just read the latest edition of California Surveyor. I was once again disappointed to see that the only article regarding the exam was about the new calculator policy. Is CLSA asleep at the wheel? Why is the dismal pass rate not a huge concern to them? Why do they not consider this a crisis? Do they think that membership will grow? Are they not concerned about the younger generation and the reputation of the survey profession? Or do they share the warped perception that passing 14% can somehow be good for the profession.
Can anyone answer what CLSA is doing about the subject? Every issue of their magazine should have an in-depth article about this subject. They should be discussing the issue with our political leaders instead of focusing on tweaking some language in the subdivision map act. They should be more concerned about what has been happening to our profession!!
08-31-2004, 08:52 AM
Impressive stats. That should give us all something to think about.
08-31-2004, 08:56 AM
The only word I can think of is apathy.
I brought up the test at a local CLSA meeting and was asked "Aren't you over that yet?" NO I'M NOT OVER IT YET AND WON'T BE UNTIL ITS CORRECTED!!!!!!!!
In response to the even more dismal '98 exam (you may remember the stellar 1.8% pass rate) the Board had a meeting to discuss the results. Attending were new surveyors, old surveyors, a couple of failing candidates, a couple of professors (you can guess) and some Board reps. Although we were there to discuss the exam, the main focus of the discussion was how to better prepare the obviously unqualified candidates. I don't believe we ever got deeply into the test itself.
The Board and much of the profession are convinced that the candidates are the problem and as I said in an earlier post, until CLSA speaks as one voice with either legal or legistaltive support, NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE!!!
Gary O'Connor, LS
08-31-2004, 09:56 AM
CE, are you a member of CLSA? If so, you are "they". Where was your article? Where was your letter to the editor? Who are these fairies named "they" who are supposed to do everything for those who want something done?
You wrote, "Do THEY think that membership will grow? Are THEY not concerned about the younger generation and the reputation of the survey profession? Or do THEY share the warped perception that passing 14% can somehow be good for the profession...Every issue of THEIR magazine should have an in-depth article about this subject. THEY should be discussing the issue with our political leaders instead of focusing on tweaking some language in the subdivision map act. THEY should be more concerned about what has been happening to our profession!!"
OUR fine editor Phil would love to fill the pages of HIS magazine with a constructive debate/forum on this important topic. Better yet, I'll suggest THEY print portions of this discussion.
Dave Karoly, PLS
08-31-2004, 10:08 AM
Go gettum, Dave!
The fact is the CEs are better organized and more focused and have been for the past 60 years or so. We can't make their numbers even with a 100% passing rate.
The answer is not wholly in tweaking, changing or otherwise overhauling the exam. Maybe work needs to be done there but that is only scratching the surface even if we have a perfectly fair, perfectly executed, perfectly graded exam.
We need Education programs and students to fill them. We need to wrest our two programs (Pomona and Fresno) from the Engineers.
How do you become an Engineer? It is inately understood that you get a 4 year degree (although not required by law). I think the path is clear.
How do you become a Land Surveyor? Well you work in the field for a while, and maybe you find out you have the aptitude for surveying, then you work under hopefully a few licensed practicioners and get some contacts with Agency LSs then you study a lot on your own for an exam that appears to be a problem for some. You get my drift. Some of who we are is contained in our crooked path but we could benefit from some focus. It will take time; won't happen overnight.
There is no substitute for pay scale; nothing attracts like decent pay. At least in CA we are better off than some, one poster this AM on the RPLS board was complaining about his $17/hour salary, he has an LS (although in a neighboring State) but we have firms begging for LSITs and apparently willing to pony up quite a bit more than that.
08-31-2004, 10:30 AM
You're right. I would like to see a CLSA representative come into high school and college math classes. Enrolment is way, way up at Rancho Santiago Canyon College here in Orange County, but it is not enough. The programs offered are somewhat limited and the equipment antiquated (something that I have taken upon my self to correct). The “catch-22” is what comes first: the student or the classes? At RSCC, the students are enrolled and now it’s time for more classes, covering more subjects in greater depth, and new equipment. I believe a representative from CLSA could and should talk with young students and explain that a little trig can go a long way. I have offered my time locally but until CLSA, the County, and RSCC come to some agreement, I have no formal backing. Give me a little direction and I will go to the ends of the earth for what I believe
08-31-2004, 11:23 AM
Trig Star is a great program. CLSA strongly supports it. See the latest Cal Surveyor for details. You can do it on your own thru the Central Office if your Chapter is not active with it.
08-31-2004, 11:48 AM
Trig Star is good but it is somewhat limited. Reflecting back on my high school years (late 1980's), the people that took trig or even algebra were "the smart ones". I don't know the current requirements for HS grads but I'm pretty sure trig is not required. With that in mind, how do you motivate a non-math-type to take trig and strive for success? I think most HS students and a lot of community college students need to hear about the rewards of learning about surveying. "Sow me the money" is what they want. Explain that the can EARN good money compared to what the record store pays. Many of theses individuals have the aptitude but not the drive. In many cases they don't want to spend an eternity (4 years) in some college studying things that aren't that cool. Therefore, give them the short term goal of quick cash for understanding trig, geometry, and basic algebra. When the math is applied, it becomes much easier to understand. Trig Star is great for the student that has the desire but not the means.
08-31-2004, 02:43 PM
D Ryan, you are correct, I apologize. Please replace all of my “they” or “CLSA” with “us” or “we.” This is everyone’s problem in the surveyor’s community. I hope you do convince the editor to start bringing up the topic in the magazine. The whole purpose of my ranting and raving is to spur “us” to take some action on the subject! There are some good recommendations proposed in this discussion forum, but most of them seem to be long-term solutions that will be difficult to implement. Nevertheless, they are great ideas. I encourage everyone to move forward with them.
But what we need is some immediate action on the subject. I just read the “President’s Message” in the Summer 2004 issue 142 of California Surveyor. I see a lot of effort going into the opposition to the NAFTA-MRD.
What is a bigger threat to California Surveyors, NAFTA-MRD or the fact that we won’t have any licensed surveyors to do the work anyways? Where are the committees, liaisons, etc., working with BORPELS to find a solution to dismal pass rate on the exam? Shouldn’t this be CLSA’s top priority?
I like the part about the proclamation for Land Surveyors week. During Surveyors Week maybe we should go out to all of the high schools and encourage students to get into the profession. The headline could read “Join the Survey Community, you have a 14% chance of ever becoming a professional (in a good year)”
08-31-2004, 03:33 PM
It is heart warming to see there are individuals at all levels of the profession concerned about the future of Land Surveying.
All of this discussion is great, but I fear it may dissipate without an effort to organize it and use it productively.
CLSA is a great entity, but it seems to deal with more political and legal issues. Although those types of issues are important, and involved in the future of our profession, I think more is involved. It is about surveyors taking care of their own, and ensuring their own survival.
Although I stumbled into the profession myself, I do not doubt its merits and joys. There is nothing on this Earth I would rather do than surveying. If people my age were informed about the "world" of surveying, and given the assistance they need, I am positive our ranks would swell.
We cannot depend on the government, or the university system, or even CLSA to do this for us. We need to do it for ourselves.
I propose the formation of a non-profit organization to promote the survival and happy future of Land Surveying in the great State of California.
I will call this organization the "CLSMP" or California Land Surveyors Mentoring Project. (At least until someone proposes a better name.)
The mission of this organization will be two fold:
1. To promote the profession as an enjoyable and rewarding career, and to recruit talented young individuals into our field.
2. To assist those that do choose this career achieve the education, experience, assistance, and mentoring they need to become professional Licensed Land Surveyors in the State of California.
We will need some of the following talent to get CLSMP off of the ground.
1. Licensed Surveyors willing to lend their knowledge and expertise.
2. Individuals familiar with the process of setting up a non-profit organization in California.
3. Web developers. (For a simple website)
4. Representatives of the education system at any level, to help us coordinate our efforts there.
If you fit in any of the above categories, or would like to help out, please send an e-mail to Support4CLSMP@gmail.com.
After interested parties have responded, we can formulate a list of tasks that need to be accomplished, and get some working teams put together. We should make this happen now, while we have the energy, and not wait for another year to slip by.
What happened to the California Foundation for Land Surveyor Education that was sponsered by CLSA in the 80's?
09-01-2004, 10:17 AM
LOCAL ORANGE COUNTY CLSA CHAPTER JUST RELEASED THE WITNESS CORNER. A PARAGRAPH STATING THAT A LS (MIKE WELSH - MEMBER OF PROF. ENGINEERS AND LAND SURVEYORS) IS DISCUSSING THE POSSIBLE CHANGES TO THE LS EXAM:
1) AFTER FAILING THE LS EXAM 3 TIMES, A NEW APPLICATION SHOWING NEW EDUCATION WILL BE REQUIRED PRIOR TO RE-EXAMINATION.
2) CHANGE THE STATE SPECIFIC EXAM FROM 4 HOURS TO 6 HOURS (NOT INCREASING THE TEST, JUST GIVING ADDITIONAL TIME TO COMPLETE IT).
CLSA MEMBERS NEED TO BE AWARE OF THE BORPEL LOGIC HERE!
CURRENTLY, 514 TAKE THE LS EXAM ONCE A YEAR AND ON AVERAGE 14% PASS (72 PEOPLE PASSING) . THEREFORE, IF YOU ELIMINATE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE SITTING FOR THE EXAM; LET'S SAY: 200 PEOPLE TAKE THE TEST AND 72 PEOPLE PASS. BORPELS HAS PROVING THEIR POINT AND 35% IS THE NEW PASSING PERCENTAGE.
BORPELS (AND OTHERS) ARE STATING THAT TOO MANY SURVEYORS ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO SIT FOR THE EXAM! I BELIEVE THIS IDEA AND/OR STRATEGY ONLY DIS-COURAGES CANDIDATES FROM ENTERING THE SURVEY PROFESSION. DOES THE OTHER ENGINEERING COMMUNITIES SUPPORT OR IMPLEMENT THIS TACTIC? NO, I BELIEVE NOT! BEFORE GOVERNMENT MAKES ANOTHER DECISION FOR THE SURVEYING PROFESSION, WHY NOT GET A VOTE ON THIS FROM THE SURVEYING PROFESSIONALS THEMSELVES?SORRY, FOR THE CAP'S, I'M NOT YELLING JUST EXPRESSING AN IMPORTANT OPINION.
09-01-2004, 11:21 AM
With regards to comment number....
1) Probably not a bad idea...
2) While they may expand the 'state specific' time to 6 hours, I'm sure they'll expand the amount of work too. To suddenly become 'candidate friendly' is suspicious.
3) How are they going to pick the 314 candidates who aren't going to take the test and make sure that the 'chosen 72' are still in that group? Believe me, if they only let 200 take the test the pass rate would still be around 14%.
Gary O'Connor, LS
09-01-2004, 01:08 PM
MDL Do you have a phone?????????????
09-01-2004, 02:47 PM
Re Mike Welsh proposals.
I don't agree with the addl education requirement.
The extra time, without increasing the number of required answers, might help to increase the pass rate. Poll the past examinees and if a majority say they didn't have enough time to answer all the questions, then the test needs less questions or more time.
With the CE most say they know the Sismic portion they just don't have the time to answer all the questions, so the LS could have the same problem.
09-01-2004, 03:14 PM
Said “I propose the formation of a non-profit organization to promote the survival and happy future of Land Surveying in the great State of California.
I will call this organization the
CLSMP" or California Land Surveyors Mentoring Project"
See page 3's last posting before page 4.
Bob Hart Response:
We obviously are in the formation stage of just the program you describe. Unfortunately you are painting a picture of encouraging the same people you ask to do a better job of mentoring to begin another organization before the mentoring begins? We may not satisfy your deadline, but we are responding to the first thing you suggested, posting questions to our web site. We don't need to build a web site, we have a darn good one, right now! We do need to recruit our membership to provide questions and answers and put together a study guide, and all of the other things, to help the LSIT's to become licensed. We would rather have you join with us and our other 2,000 members to help fulfill your professional goals.
Bob Hart, President CLSA
09-01-2004, 05:00 PM
Mr Hart, and other concerned Licensed Surveyors,
Although I was aware of some type of CLSA "committee" that was working
on these issues, I was not aware of the steps they were taking.
Please understand that my intention is not to divide our community, or to imply that CLSA is not an effective organization. I do appreciate all that CLSA has done for me, and for Land Surveyors in California. I am a current member of the organization, and I hope to be for a long time in the future.
My only desire was to motivate what at times seems to be an apathetic professional community. I realize all of us are busy, and have lives outside of Land Surveying. I was taught to take the initiative when something needed to be done, not wait around for others to do it. That was my purpose.
As I mentioned previously, I do not intend to divide our professional community, I only wanted to unite it for a common purpose.
Please accept my apologies for any offense or unintended harm I may have caused. I was motivated because of my concern for my profession. I know that in my case, Land Surveying is more than just a job, it is part of who I am as a person. Perhaps, in this situation, this has resulted in some misplaced passion.
I would be happy to assist CLSA with this issue in whatever way I can, and I will consider myself at your disposal. I will no longer pursue the idea of a separate entity to deal with the aforementioned. Patience is a quality I constantly need to cultivate, and I will do so in this regard. I look forward to hearing how I can assist.
The Sunburned Surveyor
09-03-2004, 01:38 PM
If the board changes the rules to only allow candidates to take the exam three times before requiring additional education and application this will send us down a dangerous, dangerous, road!! There are numerous flaws with this proposal:
1. If there are a lack of younger surveyors becoming licensed now, just think what will happen if this rule is adopted.
2. If these individuals were not “qualified” in the first place why did BORPELS approve them to sit for the exam in the beginning?
3. Common sense dictates that if these individuals continue to fail the exam they will never pass unless they obtain additional training, i.e. unless they seek additional education they will never pass. Therefore what is the point of implementing this rule? Who is it protecting?
4. If these same individuals became “qualified” to sit for the exam the first time, they will certainly be able to become “qualified” a second time after they have taken their mandatory training. So what did this accomplish?
5. So what about the 51% of the people who passed the national? Will they need to take it over again?
It just seems that BORPELS cannot see past the fact that the exam process is flawed, not the candidates. If these people are so unqualified why are they passing the LSIT and the National exam?
I'm licensed in California and Oregon.
Had the pleasure of taking the Cal exam twice, once in '99 and again in 2000. I studied hard for the '99 exam but wimped out and only completed about half the exam. Belief it or not, I still scored enough points to appeal the exam (I didn't appeal).
Sucked it up and took the test again with favorable results the following year. I didn't expect to pass that time because the 2000 exam was even more comprehensive than the year before.
I also whinned and complained about the test being unfair until I found out that I passed. Surprise, Surprise.
I'm very proud to have passed the exam, but I only practice in areas that I feel competent in.
Here is what I learned from this experience:
1) Try not to panic when you see how lengthy and comprehensive the exam is. You are not expected to be able to complete it in its entirety. If you truly are qualified to sit for the exam and you are prepared, you should be able to score enough points to beat the generously low cut scores. While taking the exam, you must use your time wisely and work the problems you are familiar with. If you are having a hard time finding problems you're familiar with on the exam, you probably shouldn't be there!
2) Don't be so down on Borpels for trying to ensure that licensees are minimally qualified. Last I checked, property values and the resulting potential liability were pretty steep in California. Borpels and most landowners don't want just anybody trying to determine their property boundaries. It's a huge responsibility with the potential for great liability to carry a PLS license. I've talked with several Oregon LS's who passed the national exam and the Oregon specific portion without the benefit of any real boundary experience. Apparently there are a lot of ls's out there providing references for obviously unqualified candidates. Such a practice can have a real impact on the pass rate.
3) The pass rate of the national exam has no bearing on the state specific pass rate. Apples and Oranges. Also, the pass rate on the Oregon state specific is also much lower than on the National. From what I've heard, the National exam doesn't test examinees sufficiently on boundary resolution. Isn't boundary resolution the main reason for being licensed as a PLS? Engineers are authorized to do just about every other survey function. I'm thankful that Borpels realizes how inadequate the National exam is for testing minimum competency.
vBulletin® v3.6.4, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.