I took PA yesterday and went in this morning to schedule my next exam on NCARB. To my surprise and delight I found out that my score was in AND I had passed. I was so elated I forgot to even schedule my next exam.
I figure that since the community has helped me greatly in passing PcM, PjM & PA, that I'd give a little back. Maybe some of these items are already in, but I feel a lot of these testing strategies are in multiple places, and thought I'd take my hand at consolidating a few.
Trick #1 - Time management: I've seen lots of posts regarding time management and especially in the PA exam how little time there was. I've also notice many comments about the lag time between questions. My suggestion would be to, in the time it takes for you to hit the next button and get the next answer to come up, look at the "time remaining" and "answer of" and see how your time budget is doing. Knowing how many questions are on the exam beforehand can allow you to know your quarter, half and case study question marks and see how you're doing on your time management. Figure you'll start your case study questions about 20 questions from the total exam questions. (I found that I had 1:05 hr left when I started my first case study and about 30 min left for my last.)
Trick #2 - Flag and move: A lot of questions I'll know the right answer, not be able to find it then re-read and realize what the question is actually asking. Sometimes the answers themselves will tell me what the question is truly measuring. Before moving on to the next question I'll ask myself, "Is looking at this again going to make me change my answer?" If the answer is no, I move on without flagging. If I'm questioning it gets flagged. Other times to use the flag/mark questions are as follows. (1) Taking too much time. I normally give my gut feeling, flag and return later. (2) Code related questions not related to the case studies. Some of these have the answers in the Case Study tabs so I'll mark to come back after I've seen the case study materials. (3) When mired in doubt of my answer.
Trick #3 - Know your stuff & your resources: What saved my hide was knowing where to go to find the answer in the case studies (code). Also use the search function in the bottom left of the case studies to type in key words in order to find the information you're looking for. It sure beats scrolling through every page and waiting for each to load. Also use the review incomplete and review marked at the end of the test to quickly go through your remaining questions.
Trick #4 - Stay calm: Realize that this is a test, not an insult on your ability or design prowess. I view it as an extension of dealing with code officials. If you've ever received red lines from your AHJ you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Finally, the questions are meant to tax you. The intricacies of codes, spatial adjacency and organization are meant to tax your abilities. But hey, you do that every day. You're playing in the championship against a formidable, but not unbeatable opponent. Practice hard, bring your 'A' game, and play to win. It'll be tough but believe it or not everyone is routing for you.
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