Strategy for PA

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    Theodore Diamond

    I took PA yesterday after CDS and PPP about a year ago.  I passed, but definitely found this exam harder than those.  I did things a little strangely.  I studied for SPD last winter, but never pulled the trigger.  Then, in November, I just rushed into transitioning.  I used as many sample questions as I could (Ballast PPP, Kaplan PPP & SPD, DesignerHacks PPP & SPD).  I read Ballast 4.0 chapters 2,3 and 5 (over).  I practiced all of the NCARB practice exam questions.

    My most useful resource was Archiflash 3.1 Predesign flashcards.  Predesign was pretty much the same as PA!

    I more or less took the exam the same way you did, but I didn't schedule my break.  It was involuntary during NCARB's shutdown yesterday afternoon!

    The questions on this exam are a way broader synthesis than 4.0.  My advice is to answer pretty quickly and flag often.

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    Helen Vasquez

    Thanks for the feedback, and congratulations on your pass! 

    It's interesting, I also studies with all the sources for PPP, SPD, and any practice exams I could get my hands on, but when it came down to the exam, I felt like none of it aligned with these new questions. 

    I'll look into Predesign flaschards, hadn't heard about that until now. 

    I may just skip this one for now and move to the next two exams, hopefully i'll get the hang of it!

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    Randall Hunter

    I find more often than not when people struggle with the new 5.0 exams, it is from relying too much on third party materials and more so, materials from 4.0. I understand there is a ton of overlap and in fact all of these resources have their merit but I would strongly, strongly suggest looking at the 5.0 Handbook and incorporate the recommended study resources it lays out for these new exams.

    I have taken and passed PcM, PjM, and PA on my first attempts while primarily using the recommended resources and using 3rd party stuff as an overview either in the beginning or end of study. I can say that with all 3 exams combined I haven't had more than a handful (probably not even 10 total questions) that I felt made no sense at all and were completely random. NCARB recommends these materials for a reason and so far in my experience, questions relate very closely to them. 

    For PA the Site Planning Handbook and Building Codes Illustrated were very crucial to my passing grade along with being familiar with sections of the code, where they are located(chapter) and how to use them.

    Also for more on my background, I passed CDS in 4.0 but failed horribly PPP and SPD using only 3rd party materials. I have so far felt the 5.0 exams to be far superior in terms of fairness, logic, and actually pertaining to what I studied.

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    "I have taken and passed PcM, PjM, and PA on my first attempts while primarily using the recommended resources and using 3rd party stuff as an overview either in the beginning or end of study. "

    100% agree.  (Hi Randall)

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    Irina Costea

    Hi Randall Hunter,

    Would you mind sharing what chapters you would recommend studying in the Site Planning and Design Handbook? I assume cover to cover reading would totally be overkill.

     

    Also, did you use Ballast ARE 5 version at all? I used Ballast as kind of an overview when I studied for CE, PjM, and PcM (and of course read the AIA documents over and over again) and passed all those on the first try (I had previously studied for CDS in ARE 4.0 and failed because of a fail score on the vignette and then decided to transfer to ARE 5).

     

    I felt like Ballast 5 did a good job on the 3 tests that I took, but I am more intimidated by PA as I do TI work primarily in my day -to-day so my exposure to site planning principles is not quite as great as other architects/architects-to-be doing ground up or a wider array of project types. I have done some ground up, but it has all been residential, but the last few years have all been TI. But I digress...

     

    I am mostly nervous of anything having to do with structures, green building, site work and climactic influences. Anyways, I am testing on 12/22 and any info or guidance you have would be appreciated :)

    Thanks!

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    Randall Hunter

    Irina,

    I used Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 , 9 in Site Planning and Design Handbook and I would refer you to this thread 

    https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/115000341288-Reading-material-Chapters-to-focus-on-

    I have used Ballast 5 for Pcm, Pjm, and PA. I typically just skim through the actual manual and then go through the practice exams at least once. I think the exams in particular (although there is an occasional error) are very helpful because they are difficult. I like reading the answers which is another good study resource. 

    I would not worry about structures much for PA. Site planning handbook will help you with some of your other concerns.

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    Marta Snow

    Theodore

    Thanks for the ArchiFlash 3.1 Pre-Design tip!

    A set of those has been kicking around my small office for years and I was a little dismissive in thinking that they might still be useful for me in 5.0. Pre-Design does seem to align with PA quite closely. More so than looking at the 4.0 Ballast and Kaplan books. Just ignore the architectural history cards!

    Randall

    thank you for narrowing down the chapters on Site Planning and Design Handbook. I bit the bullet and bought it, thinking I might just be borrowing it for a week. But I really like the book! I’m invigorated by the attention to sustainable design and find that there are rational explanations and solutions. The graphics are a bit lacking, but there is heart in it. I decided that I should keep it on my shelf for reference - and make a site planning checklist for myself.

    I take the exam tomorrow morning. . . So I’ll report back if these resources helped out.

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    Marta Snow

    Passed PA!

    thank you all for tips and tricks!

    I paid attention to not hesitating in answering questions and I ended up having 25 minutes to review my flagged questions.

    The immediate likely pass/fail response is super great. 

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    Francis Pham

    Hi Marta,

    Did the Ballast 5.0 help you with this exam?

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    Marta Snow

    Francis,

    I did not look at Ballast 5.0 at all after hearing about what a mess it was.

    Site Planning and Design and Sustainable Design issues were key. Wherever you can find info on those. Soils. And generally how to interact with clients in their best interest. Codes.

    I liked Kevin Griendling's course for PcM, PjM and PA. 

    Now having taken PPD and PDD, I feel like PA was much easier! I am a huge proponent of taking the exams in order. I've felt that the content that I've been studying has built up my knowledge base over the sequence.

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    Francis Pham

    Thank you for the reply Marta. I started to take the practice exams from Ballast and started to notice ramp calculations, and retaining wall calculations and started to freak out. 

     

    I've read Site Planning and Design Handbook: Chapters 1,2,3,4,7,8,9 & Appendix A, any other advice? Thanks again! You're killin it.

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