How not to take PA...

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    Erica Spayd

    Kurt... Wow. I wondered what you had been up to. I've been checking in on the forums here and there, but not very active either, due to my own insane turn of events... About 6 weeks ago the company I work for had a major layoff. My boss was let go, most of my team was let go. I've been swamped and scrambling to keep several projects on track PLUS take on new responsibilities left unaccounted for by my departed colleagues. It has been insane. A week before the layoff, I signed up to take PPD on 7/3. It's now 3 weeks away, and I haven't touched a book. I have a vacation planned the week before the test, but I was hoping to hang on the beach with my husband, 1-year-old, and extended family, and not be studying structures and systems in the sand. We'll see how that goes. I'm hoping it goes like PA did for you, minus the migraine. Congrats on the pass, and welcome back!

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Erica -- hey, sorry to hear about the workplace shakeup-- nothing like some added stress to help blow up your plans!
    Hopefully things will straighten out soon at your job -- it's pretty tough to fit studying in when things are normal -- a tense day of work doesn't exactly make a person want to head home and study!
    Three weeks is pretty short, especially with a vacation thrown in -- but it can be done, and several individuals on this forum passed with even less study time. You have just the ppd and pdd left to take -- right?

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Angela -- thanks!
    How about you, where are you at with your exams?

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    Daniel Spilman

    KURT! Wow, that sounds like a terrible day! But hot damn! Congrats on passing! I would say you really know your stuff to be able to pull through all of the distractions, ID forgetting, and freaking migraines and still end up with a PASS! That is darn impressive if I do say so myself. I'm stoked to hear that you got a pass. Hopefully everything else with your house and such is going equally as swimmingly. I have to say, I think you are still doing it all right. I know many people that wait for the "right time" to take the exams, and there are ALWAYS life distractions to get in the way. Pushing through it all and continuing to get it done is how to do it. I think there will always be something in life that wants to get in the way and it will never seem like the "right time." So props to you for fighting through. 

    FYI, I'm sure you can ascertain this on your own, but I did find PPD to pick up where PA leaves off. So you are well prepped to move straight into PPD. However, I found PPD to be significantly more difficult with a much broader range of material to cover. So its a good thing that you have some of these big life situations getting sorted out, because I know I had to spend a lot more time studying for PPD then I did for PA. I'm sure you'll do fine, but just giving you a frame of reference as you move forward. 

    Anyway, for now you can just relish your PASS! You sir, are a gentleman and a scholar - and a genuine badass! Glad to have you back, the community missed you!

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hey, Daniel -- thanks for the congrats!

    And right back at ya for passing PPD -- CONGRATULATIONS!   Dude -- that's a major one!  You're just setting 'em up and knockin' 'em down.  Couple beers after that PASS report I'll bet...???  Wow, awesome.  One left for you!  (and California)  The end is now in sight for you.  (Man, if I actually get through all of this sucker I'm gonna go all Hunter S. Thompson for about three days at a local bar...)

    Heh -- but, yeah, PA day was a crazy day for me -- actually morning only -- I was done by 11:00am.

    I have a feeling I freakin' squeaked by on PA... man I am no genius -- but it's still a "W", and I get to move on to the two BIG DOG EXAMS...

    I definitely appreciate your advice on PPD (and the other exams!) -- I don't doubt you at all that PPD is a steroid version of PA.  I studied about 3 or 4 weeks for the other ones -- less on PA -- but I really think I'll probably look for two months minimum for PPD.  How long did you study for PPD?  

    And I really doubt  could ever pull off the whole "study for both at once and take them close together" strategy -- I love the stories of people killin' it two at a time, hardly studying at all, etc. -- but for me it'll be a lot more like last two will take longer than the first four!

    PPD is a big list of study materials to get through -- I saw your response to Charles V. -- that post seems like great outline primer for those of us just getting into it -- helps make it look a little bit less daunting!  

    I also saw your post about study materials for PDD for your next exam.... see, there's the bad part here -- I'm getting all of this great advice from you, but for you -- I got nuthin'!  Can't help ya!  You're the point man!  I've been observing how to proceed from a place of relative safety...!

    Keep up your successful efforts.  

     

     

     

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    Daniel Spilman

    Hey Kurt, 

    Thanks for all the kind words. You definitely deserve a few beers! I just got a minute here so I'll answer your questions quick:

    For PPD I gave myself 6 weeks to study, a little more than the typical 4 that I had been doing for others. In all honesty, I kinda slacked off for the first two weeks, feeling a little tired, and not feeling the pressure of the exam date approaching rapidly. So while I gave myself 6, I would say I seriously studied for about 4 of those weeks.

    Yes, Charles V. write up was pretty on point so I didn't see the need to rewrite it. I think the big purchase for me was Graphic Standards which was very helpful. Its another one of those expensive books, like AHPP, but also one that will continue to be a resource for years to come. 

    I think you'll be in good shape coming out of PA. I jumped from PA to CE to capitalize on the early tester incentive, but in hindsight, PA is good headspace to be in moving into PPD. You'll do well. 

    I'm keeping the fuel on the fire, I have PDD scheduled for June 22 *freaks out a little bit silently at his desk*. I decided to not give myself the extra cushion like I did for PPD to keep the pressure on. We'll see....I'm starting to get worried. 

    I'll keep you updated! 

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Daniel, thanks for the timeframe input -- great to know how you did it.

    Well good luck next week!  You're doing it right -- wasting no time.  Staying on top of these exams seems to be the very best course -- allotting too much time is as bad as not enough....  soooo easy to put these suckers off.  You and I seem to have studied about the same amount of time for the first four exams -- but you are now knocking the last two out quicker than I planned to attempt!  But, you're success rate speaks for itself -- 5 for 5 -- you just need to go into the PDD exam like you already own it.  

    For me it's been a great help to save any freaking out for before or after the exam -- but while I'm taking the exam my attitude has been:  Of course I know this **** !!!

     

     

     

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    Cullen Hollyn Taub

    Kurt, so glad to see you back and hear you passed! I feel fortunate to be following behind you, Erica, Daniel, etc. in my road to licensure. I have picked up so many great tid bits from your guys sharing.

    I had a different but horrible experience before my CE exam a week ago. The test center I normally go to was filled up so I had to try a new one. Uber prices jumped from $4 to $28 within 15 minutes so I decided to take the bus. As I approached the bus stop, it drove away and the next bus was delayed. The bus I finally made it on took way longer than expected to get across town due to rain. I freaked out, asked the bus driver to stop and speed walked the rest of the way (beating the bus). Upon arriving at the test center, there was a 25 minute wait for intake and my exam starting time was in 5 min! After the contraband search, I was escorted to my computer to find out it wasn't working properly. By the time I got a new machine, I was 40 minutes behind my scheduled exam time. Luckily, the clock doesn't begin until the exam does but I was freaking out!

    Anywho, just starting my studies for PA this week and will hopefully take it before the 4th if I can get through the study material in time. Question: do you any of you think it is worth adding Sun, Wind and Light to this exams reading list? I have seen it mentioned a couple times but know its listed for the next exam. 

    Thanks!

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Cullen -- hey, sounds like the crazy test taking experience is contagious!  Yours sounds like a very urban area compared to my way-out-in-the-sticks life.   

    Awesome that you're knocking the exams out one by one as well -- and also great that your're asking and answering questions on the forums -- that's what it's all about.  

    Sun, Wind and Light -- I did not use it for PA.  I did use the Site Planning and Design Handbook, Building Code Illustrated, and Problem Seeking -- which are all listed as primary study sources.  I've become an advocate of the "primary sources only" approach -- that's all I've done for the first four exams.  The comprehensive study list is not really a feasible option --- I can't read all 20+ books for PPD!

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    Candice Barter

    Congrats on the pass, Kurt!  I got a migraine during my PjM exam.  I pushed through and forced myself to finish and review my answers, but at some point I just wanted to go home and go to bed.  I was out of commission for the next two days, BUT I passed PjM!!  I was certain that my migraine had done me in, but was so relieved to find that my prep had paid off.

    My last exam, CE, I was so worried that it would happen again, but fortunately, it did not and I passed that one too.  I'm 3 for 3 and studying PA for a July 11th exam, so I'm tracking right behind you and finding all of your prep suggestions and study tips invaluable.  I am definitely reaping the benefits of those that have gone before me, so thanks to all of you!

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Candice -- thanks, and CONGRATULATIONS! to you on your 3 for 3 success rate!  You are halfway -- soon to be 2/3!

    Good luck on the 11th -- I found the PA material to be pretty straightforward, but time can be an issue for some candidates on PA -- given your track record, that's probably nothing for you to really worry about, just stay focused on knocking out questions quickly without overthinking.

    So I have company on the migraines while testing!  Interesting, however -- I had a migraine, and passed the exam.  You had a migraine -- and also passed the exam...  I'm sensing a pattern.  It now seems very likely that migraines are quite possibly giving unfair advantage.  Like a sudden surge of brain synapses.

    So not only did I pass, but I did notice that for about an hour after the exam, I could speak some Portuguese.    

     

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    Elif Elise Kandiyoti

    Kurt, what is the best study material or book for space planning diagrams? In Ballast practise exam, there are many questions about diagrams and organizational patterns. I need a book to read and comprehend it. 

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hi Elif,

    You mention Ballast -- are you also reading the ARE 5.0 Handbook recommendations?  All I used were Site Planning and Design Handbook, Building Code Illustrated, and Problem Seeking.

    I really only used Problem Seeking by Pena, and then skimmed Space Planning Basics by Karlen (which I don't think is all that helpful).

    In my opinion, the extent of one's need to understand space planning diagrams is pretty limited on PA -- the exam is really similar to the ARE 5.0 handbook example questions -- understand adjacencies.......... Similarly, most of the diagram-oriented questions seem to require the candidate to use basic logic -- also like the 5.0 handbook examples.

     

     

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