For those who don’t know, the Pathway to Chartership (P2C) is the experience based process used to assess and develop the knowledge, understanding and professionalism of Licentiate members of the Landscape Institute (L.I.). This is the final hurdle of the long training required to become a fully qualified Landscape Architect. When a candidate has made sufficient progress on the Pathway under the guidance of their mentor and gained the approval of their supervisor they may be entered for the oral exam, which has replaced the written exam of previous years. I personally think of this as a very positive move, as it means that assessment is based not only on the regurgitation of facts but also on an individual’s attitude, demeanour and experience, which are all equally important to a Chartered Landscape Architect whether in private practice or the public sector.
In the last week of November, after five years of professional experience (both pre- and post-graduation), the last three of which have been on the Pathway, I travelled to London to take the exam. This would be, at most, an hour long and cover all the topics of the syllabus used as the basis of the Pathway to Chartership. These range from broader topics like professional practice, liability and law to more industry specific areas such as the Planning system and applications, Environmental Impact Assessment, environmental legislation and tendering/administrating landscape contracts. Having covered a lot of these topics directly in one way or another at Terra Firma I was fairly buoyant as I began revision, but as I went along discovered that the decreasing amount of time left until the exam was directly proportional to my growing feeling of unease which, when plotted on a graph, looks like this:
Despite what you may think of the graph, I wasn’t unduly stressed or worried by the run-up to the exam. On the contrary, I felt hugely confident that there was no way I would remember everything I needed to so I simply did my best to keep calm and carry on. On the day, I read my notes one more time on the train and turned my attention to reaching the venue on time and trying not to think about how three years worth of effort boiled down to 60 minutes or less of high pressure chit-chat. In the end I got there early so spent some time enjoying a nearby park wondering what my two examiners would be like.
As it turned out they were very kind and reassuring, making an effort to put me at ease and clearly explaining all I needed to know. As they asked fairly open questions I tried to touch on different parts of the syllabus whilst getting across key points and drawing on my own experiences. For the most part I think this went well and there were parts of the exam which flowed nicely, but I felt I got caught up on a couple of questions related to planning applications and contract administration, common areas of work in landscape architecture. I found this frustrating as I knew that I had the knowledge somewhere in my head, but searching for it only seemed to make it more elusive. As I left the room I didn’t have a clue how it had gone overall, but hope for the best and look forward to finding out later this week!