Took P & A



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    I agree with you. I just took this exam yesterday. I felt that I did not have enough time to finish it, in matter of fact I actually had to rush the last 10 questions in order to finish the exams on time. In regards to the question, I'm also a bit upset because I study quite a bit and there was a lot of questions that it was not in my study materials. I also think that this exam had some poor illustrative drawings and some confusing matrix concepts to understand. I think NCARB should consider the early tester's concerns to further evaluate the time constraint on these exams. 

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    Daniel Spilman

    Thanks for the feedback Alicia and Bruno, although its discouraging! I'm scheduled to take P&A in a few weeks. 

    I know you both talked about not feeling like you studied the right material for this exam. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations on which resources you wish you would have used more? Any advice is appreciated! Hope your results turn out better than you expected. 

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    I used the new 5.0 Ballast book. and some Black Spectables videos.  But I would suggest looking at other materials suggested by NCARB as well. Just because Ballast says its a complete study guide for the exams its still not enough. As stated on another thread by Yasser you will need to be very careful with the time. The case studies takes a lot of time reviewing the material and the pages actually takes long to download. I hope this helps and good luck!

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    Bryan Hadley


    Thanks Alicia for sharing...I just took the P+A exam this past Monday, as my first ARE division. I am finding your comments reassuring as came away with the same frustrations.

    Regarding TIME:  When testing, I chose to start with the case studies, figuring they would take the most time.  The first one, with only 10 questions, took almost a full hour to complete!  At that point I realized I would need to hurry through the rest of the test.  Scanning the questions before reading through the provided problem statement and accompanying resources, I managed to complete the second case study in half the time. That left me with about 2 minutes for each remaining question.. Not the 3 budgeted for by NCARB, but I found it was plenty and was able to finish all in the allotted time, whew!

    Regarding SUBJECTS NOT COVERED IN PREP MATERIALS:  In studying for this exam, I went directly to the references listed in the NCARB ARE 5.0 Handbook for P+A.  I read 'Problem Seeking: An Architectural Programming Primer,' 'Site Planning and Design Handbook,' and 'Building Codes Illustrated' cover-to-cover.  I even sought what I thought were the most relevant chapters of texts listed as supplemental references in the back of the ARE 5.0 Handbook. In spite of taking this thorough approach, like Alicia, I found that I had not before encountered the content of about 25% of the questions during the exam.

    Unfortunately, I don't know where to point anyone who has yet to take (or retake) the exam for this information, but NCARB, if you are reading this, please try to reconcile the dilemma and name the resources from which this other content comes.

    Thanks and good luck to all.


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    Michael Samula (Edited )
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    Justin Pelland

    I took this test yesterday and agree that the time was tough, although I had about 45 minutes left at the end to go back through all my answers.

    One test taking strategy I've been using which I find very helpful is this process:

    1) First I look at the case studies to see what reference documents they include (but don't read the actual material or case sudies, just look at the reference documents). You never know, they may have code or ADA excerpts that could be applicable to other questions on the exam (occupancy tables, for example).

    2) I go through all the standard test questions from start to finish. If I encounter a question that I'm not sure about, rather than pour over it and spend a lot of time thinking about it, I pick the best answer I can think of and then flag it for review and move onto the next one. For any that require a lot of math / calculations, I take a stab at doing the math quickly, but if it turns out to be really complicated or if I'm not sure my answer is right, I plug it in anyway, flag it for review, and move on.

    3) Then I do the case study questions. I use the same strategy as before - I don't read all the material or reference documents. I just take a few minutes to understand the question, look for the info, and put in an answer. I found this especially helpful for the case studies because when looking through the documents for later questions, I would find information that changed or supported earlier answers and would go back and adjust. Any I just wasn't sure about or that took too much time I would flag and move on from.

    4) after every question has an answer, that's when I'd go back through and double check the ones I flagged for review. There's a button in the exam summary that lets you review all of your flagged items at once, which is helpful. At this point, I ignore the case studies because those questions are worth the same number of points as the regular questions, so you have a better chance of earning more points on questions that take 1-2 minutes to answer rather than ones that take 5-10 minutes to answer.

    Using this approach, I've found myself with about 45 extra minutes in each exam to review flagged items and try and maximize the number of points I earn, which I think is at the heart of the exam's design. I definitely end up with some questions that I just shrug my shoulder at and say "I don't have a clue" but it seems better to have a few of those than a lot of unanswered questions you're guaranteed to get wrong.

    Just my two cents. Hope that helps.

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    James Glenn

    I employ a similar approach as Justin detailed, and so far I have taken PPD, PDD, and P/A and finished all with nearly an hour to review any items I flagged.

    As Justin noted, each Case Study question is only worth 1 point, or equal to each regular question so I do not stress over them but have seen instances where the supplied reference material did help with other questions.

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    Michael Samula (Edited )
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    Rony Vega Hernandez (Edited )

    Hi all,

    I took P&A today Feb 16, 2016, and yes TIMING is a BIG issue, I hope NCARB read this comments and really take into consideration all of the feedback, as I've read 70%-80% of the feedback is against the time not being enough to finish the exam.

    I started with the case studies thinking they will take more time than regular questions, but your really have to digest the cases and some require a lot of analysis spending a lot of time. It took me about 60 min to finish the two case studies.

    I had 120 min to answer 75 questions, but they are not simple questions, some of them are like a mini case study that take between 3-5 min to answer, also they were some that took as little as 15 secs to answer...

    Many of the questions took as long as 10 second to load that was another issue, anyway the time ran out and I left 15 questions incomplete... I don't think I was underprepared I feel the difficulty of the questions need more time to answer.

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    Michael Samula (Edited )

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