California Supplemental Examination (CSE) - Test Plan

The CSE is designed to assess a candidate’s knowledge and experience as applied to job activities of landscape architects. The CSE is structured into weighted content areas.

The examination plan represents job tasks and knowledge, skills, and abilities that licensees are expected to know and perform at the time of licensure. Examination questions are developed directly from specific tasks and the KSAs associated with those tasks in the examination plan.

The CSE consists of multiple-choice items and may contain additional items for the purpose of pre-testing (non-scoreable items). Pre-testing allows performance data to be gathered and evaluated before the items are scoreable in a future examination. These pre-test items, distributed throughout the examination, are not identified or used in calculating the examination score.

All of the scoreable items in the CSE have been written and reviewed by California-licensed landscape architects, are based on the knowledge statements contained in the CSE Examination Plan, are written at a level to assess minimum standards of competency necessary for practice in California, and have been pre-tested to ensure statistical performance standards are met.

There is only one correct answer for each item. The "incorrect" answers are typically common errors and misconceptions, true but not relevant statements, or incorrect statements. There are no "trick" questions in the examination. Candidates will have approximately TWO AND A HALF (2.5) hours to complete the examination.

Categories and Subcategories
Weights
  1. I. Site Assessment
    15%

    This area assesses the candidate’s ability to evaluate and analyze the project site and surrounding conditions to determine opportunities and constraints based on the client’s goals and objectives.

    • A. Site Inventory and Analysis
      10%
      Task StatementLinked Knowledge
      1. Gather general site information and data to identify alternative approaches to the project.
      1. Knowledge of methods for collecting and evaluating the information (e.g., regulatory impacts, projected costs, local and environmental issues) needed to determine the feasibility of approaches to a project.
      1. Knowledge of the types of natural site conditions and resources (e.g., sensitive environments, geology, and existing ecology) and their potential effect on site development.
      1. Knowledge of types of hazardous conditions (e.g., fire, flood, erosion, storm water, soil contaminants) and their potential effect on site development.
      1. Knowledge of methods for obtaining site and design history sufficient to understand the significance of cultural/historical site elements.
      1. Identify on- and off-site conditions and evaluate the potential opportunities and constraints for project development.
      1. Knowledge of the types of natural site conditions and resources (e.g., sensitive environments, geology, and existing ecology) and their potential effect on site development.
      1. Knowledge of types of hazardous conditions (e.g., fire, flood, erosion, storm water, soil contaminants) and their potential effect on site development.
      1. Knowledge of procedures used to evaluate the impact of off-site conditions (e.g., environmentally sensitive resources, watershed boundaries) on site development.
      1. Knowledge of methods for obtaining site and design history sufficient to understand the significance of cultural/historical site elements.
      1. Evaluate the potential impacts to the site and surrounding areas posed by the project development.
      1. Knowledge of the types of natural site conditions and resources (e.g., sensitive environments, geology, and existing ecology) and their potential effect on site development.
      1. Knowledge of types of hazardous conditions (e.g., fire, flood, erosion, storm water, soil contaminants) and their potential effect on site development.
      1. Knowledge of procedures used to evaluate the impact of off-site conditions (e.g., environmentally sensitive resources, watershed boundaries) on site development.
      1. Knowledge of methods for obtaining site and design history sufficient to understand the significance of cultural/historical site elements.
    • B. Laws, Codes, and Regulations
      5%
      Task StatementLinked Knowledge
      1. Determine the relevant laws, codes, and regulations that govern the project.
      1. Knowledge of data and information resources available (e.g., agency contacts, technical consultants) to research the potential impacts from on and off-site factors on site development.
      1. Knowledge of methods and procedures for clarifying and evaluating regulatory requirements (e.g. applicable laws, responsible agency, requirements and approval process) and their potential effect on project development.
      2. Knowledge of methods for determining the laws, codes, easements and restrictions that apply to the project and their impact on project development.
      1. Identify the responsible regulatory agencies and their requirements and approval processes to evaluate the impact on the project (e.g., scope, costs, schedule).
      1. Knowledge of data and information resources available (e.g., agency contacts, technical consultants) to research the potential impacts from on and off-site factors on site development.
      1. Knowledge of methods and procedures for clarifying and evaluating regulatory requirements (e.g. applicable laws, responsible agency, requirements and approval process) and their potential effect on project development.
      2. Knowledge of methods for determining the laws, codes, easements and restrictions that apply to the project and their impact on project development.
      1. Coordinate research with technical consultants to evaluate the regulatory and property requirements (e.g., easements, setbacks, restrictions, master/general plans) affecting the site.
      1. Knowledge of data and information resources available (e.g., agency contacts, technical consultants) to research the potential impacts from on and off-site factors on site development
      1. Knowledge of methods and procedures for clarifying and evaluating regulatory requirements (e.g. applicable laws, responsible agency, requirements and approval process) and their potential effect on project development.
      2. Knowledge of methods for determining the laws, codes, easements and restrictions that apply to the project and their impact on project development.
  2. II. Program Development
    10%

    This area assesses the candidate’s ability to develop and evaluate program elements based on the client’s goals and the site conditions and constraints.

    Task StatementLinked Knowledge
    1. Develop project program based on the goals and objectives of the client and users.
    1. Knowledge of methods for determining the project scope and developing project parameters.
    1. Knowledge of methods and techniques for communicating program ideas to clients, the project team, and the public.
    1. Knowledge of methods for preserving, enhancing, or featuring unique site features (e.g., vegetation, geology, views, waterways, cultural/historical elements) in the design process.
    1. Develop program alternatives that support human communities, preserve and enhance the environment and biodiversity, and restore degraded sites (e.g., soil mitigation, constructed wetland).
    1. Knowledge of water management strategies and systems.
    1. Knowledge of current approaches to sustainable and low impact development.
    2. Knowledge of design strategies to facilitate active living (e.g., walkable cities, transit-oriented development, safe routes to schools, bike paths)
    1. Knowledge of design strategies that preserve native habitat and promote biodiversity.
    1. Knowledge of methods for preserving, enhancing, or featuring unique site features (e.g., vegetation, geology, views, waterways, cultural/historical elements) in the design process.
    1. Identify and engage individuals, groups, and organizations that may have specific knowledge or concerns about the site so that the potential impact on the project can be evaluated.
    1. Knowledge of methods for determining the project scope and developing project parameters.
    1. Knowledge of methods and techniques for communicating program ideas to clients, the project team, and the public.
    1. Knowledge of methods for preserving, enhancing, or featuring unique site features (e.g., vegetation, geology, views, waterways, cultural/historical elements) in the design process.
  3. III. Design Process
    65%

    This area assesses the candidate’s ability to develop, evaluate, and refine design solutions to meet the client’s needs.

    • A. Sustainability and Energy Conservation
      6%
      Task StatementLinked Knowledge
      1. Develop project solutions to implement environmentally responsible design practices to assist in resource preservation (e.g., air quality, energy conservation, water conservation).
      1. Knowledge of regulations and best management practices for sustainable development (e.g., CalGreen, LEED, Sustainable Site Initiative, Green Roofs).
      1. Knowledge of landscape solutions that promote energy conservation.
      1. Develop landscape solutions to promote energy conservation (e.g., strategic tree planting, use local products).
      1. Knowledge of regulations and best management practices for sustainable development (e.g., CalGreen, LEED, Sustainable Site Initiative, Green Roofs).
      1. Knowledge of landscape solutions that promote energy conservation.
    • B. Site Remediation
      6%
      Task StatementLinked Knowledge
      1. Develop measures for the mitigation, remediation, or reclamation of impacts to the environment from site development.
      1. Knowledge of the effects of environmental toxicity on soil and plants.
      2. Knowledge of mitigation solutions for complying with environmental regulations (e.g., CEQA, NEPA).
      3. Knowledge of remediation strategies and their application for natural resource restoration/preservation (e.g. bioremediation and phyto-remediation).
      4. Knowledge of strategies for amending site conditions (e.g., alkaline soil, requirements of soil conditions, aerially deposited lead, etc.).
    • C. Access and Circulation
      13%
      Task StatementLinked Knowledge
      1. Design circulation systems (vehicular and non-vehicular) within regulatory design specifications to facilitate implementation of project.
      1. Knowledge of California accessibility requirements and methods for achieving accessibility in the site and the vehicular and non-vehicular circulation system designs.
      2. Knowledge of resources for interpreting and implementing regulatory and technical requirements (e.g. agency contacts, technical consultants) related to site development.
      1. Design site plan for user safety, security, and crime prevention to facilitate implementation of project.
      1. Knowledge of California accessibility requirements and methods for achieving accessibility in the site and the vehicular and non-vehicular circulation system designs.
      2. Knowledge of resources for interpreting and implementing regulatory and technical requirements (e.g. agency contacts, technical consultants) related to site development.
      1. Knowledge of design options for site layout to increase user safety, security, and crime prevention (e.g., equipment, lighting, plantings, site layout).
    • D. Water Management
      12%
      Task StatementLinked Knowledge
      1. Design site grading and drainage plan that facilitates implementation of the project and offers solutions for stormwater management.
      1. Knowledge of federal, State, and local laws and requirements regarding stormwater.
      2. Knowledge of design solutions for water management and conservation (e.g., erosion control, rainwater harvesting, grey water, recycled water, retention and detention).
      3. Knowledge of Low Impact Development (LID) methods and the procedures for their implementation (e.g., bioretention, soil amendments, vegetated swales and buffers, Green Streets).
      1. Develop design solutions for water conservation and management to assist in resource preservation (e.g., water reuse, water recycling, water harvesting).
      1. Knowledge of federal, State, and local laws and requirements regarding stormwater.
      2. Knowledge of design solutions for water management and conservation (e.g., erosion control, rainwater harvesting, grey water, recycled water, retention and detention).
      3. Knowledge of Low Impact Development (LID) methods and the procedures for their implementation (e.g., bioretention, soil amendments, vegetated swales and buffers, Green Streets).
    • E. Planting & Landscape Strategies
      18%
      Task StatementLinked Knowledge
      1. Design planting plan to identify vegetation types and locations based on client goals, suitability, and sustainability to comply with the requirements of the project plan.
      1. Knowledge of factors that affect plant health and longevity (e.g., geography, weather, soils, water quality, water availability, pathogens).
      2. Knowledge of approaches to plant selection and compatibility that support water management and conservation (including WUCOLS).
      3. Knowledge of landscape strategies that support California’s ecological communities and ecoregions.
      4. Knowledge of plants invasive to California ecological communities.
      5. Knowledge of plants noxious to people and domesticated animals.
      1. Knowledge of planting strategies that mitigate site hazards (e.g., erosion, fire).
    • F. Irrigation
      10%
      Task StatementLinked Knowledge
      1. Design irrigation system to facilitate water management and efficient distribution of water to promote healthy plant growth.
      1. Knowledge of principles and procedures of irrigation system design (e.g., equipment, applications, water conservation)
      2. Knowledge of methods and procedures for employing alternative water sources
      3. Knowledge of State and local requirements regarding water management and conservation (e.g., AB 1881, CBC)
      4. Knowledge of how to perform water use calculations.
  4. IV. Construction Documents and Contract Performance
    10%

    This area assesses the candidate’s ability to prepare construction documents and perform administration.

    Task StatementsLinked Knowledge
    1. Prepare construction documents including demolition, site protection and preservation, grading and drainage, planting, irrigation, layout, lighting, etc.
    1. Knowledge of procedures for preparing construction documents and jurisdictional submittals (e.g., approvals, permits).
    1. Knowledge of California law as it relates to contracts and construction (e.g., lien requirements, minimum warranty periods, CBC).
    1. Knowledge of procedures for evaluating work conformance and completeness in relation to the construction documents.
    1. Develop professional services contract in keeping with legal requirements and professional practice.
    1. Knowledge of professional and ethical standards related to practice of landscape architecture.
    1. Knowledge of California law as it relates to contracts and construction (e.g., lien requirements, minimum warranty periods, CBC).
    1. Knowledge of procedures for evaluating work conformance and completeness in relation to the construction documents.
    1. Perform project/contractual responsibilities in keeping with professional and ethical standards.
    1. Knowledge of professional and ethical standards related to practice of landscape architecture.
    1. Knowledge of California law as it relates to contracts and construction (e.g., lien requirements, minimum warranty periods, CBC).
    1. Knowledge of procedures for evaluating work conformance and completeness in relation to the construction documents.
    1. Knowledge of procedures for contract close-out (e.g., punch lists)
100%