Ballast Practice Exam

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    Randall Hunter

    I think you'll find many people feel this way.

    If it's one or the other, there is no choice to be made, it's AHPP. However, I do feel that the ballast practice exams are good review. It covers material in a different way than the NCARB recommended resources and it's also very difficult so it helps you see the material from a different perspective. I have read the ballast review manual and taken the practice questions and practice tests for PcM, PjM, and PA thus far. I could easily do without the review manual. I would say the practice questions were beneficial to maybe 10% of the actual exams. NCARB's recommendations have so far been right on the mark.

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    Mollie Pelletier

    I agree. I took PjM this morning (and passed based on the instant prelim feedback) I studied the Ballast books, the AHPP, and AIA contracts and commentary. Also used Pluralsight lecture series. Worth the money. The AHPP is comprehensive, plus you can resell after you pass those sections of the exam. Best of luck!

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    Christine Parisi

    I am also confused about this. I have been studying Ballast, AHPP, and the contracts. I actually like the Ballast review because of how concise it is, which has been helpful for me to have on hand with the AHPP.

    For practice tests I'm using Ballast and Designer Hacks - which based on my scores and time taken to complete both practice tests, are wildly different. Ballast is much more difficult and I feel like Designer Hacks is too easy. Does anyone have any insight on what the actual test is comparable to? Thanks!

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    Justin Beckner

    I think everyone has a different opinion on Ballast. I also think everyone studies and retains knowledge in different ways. What works for you may not work for me, and vice versa. I have taken PA and PcM and passed both on the first try. For PA, I used only Ballast and studied for about 6 weeks (usually about 2-3 hours 4 nights a week). For PcM, I bought AHPP based on all of the recommendations here. I did read through, one time, the sections that Kevin G. suggested as required content (red highlighted areas) over about a 6 month period when I had a few minutes here and there. Once I really started studying for the exam, I never picked it back up. For the 6-8 weeks leading up to the exam, I strictly studied Ballast and B101 and C401. I think Ballast covers everything well, but reading and understanding the 2 contracts is a must. Ballast covers the material, but I personally understood it better once I read it directly from the contracts. I read and re-read the 2 contracts (in addition to the Ballast material) over the course of my 6-8 week study time. The Ballast practice problems are good. In my opinion they are a little but harder than the actual exam, but the commentary is great for understanding why you got one wrong or where you need additional studying. The biggest thing the practice problems teach you is HOW to take the exam. Most questions do not necessarily have a straight forward answer. You must really understand the question and what they are asking you for. Now.... the Ballast practice EXAM is a whole other character. In both PA and PcM, I took the practice exam (once) a day or two before the actual exam and got exactly 50% on both. It was very discouraging. With PA, I went through and read the commentary on each question I missed and it did help me a little bit. On PcM, though, a lot of the questions were way out there, and I was unable to even comprehend how they came up with "their" correct answer. So about a quarter of the way through reviewing my practice exam, I closed the book and said screw it. Regardless, I did pass the exam, so I do feel that Ballast is a sufficient resource (at least for the 2 exams I have taken). I am going to continue with the same mindset with the rest of the exams until I have a reason to change something (basically if I fail one I will re-evaluate my position here). Good luck.

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    Mollie Pelletier

    Christine,

    I took Ballast practice exam a week before taking PjM and made a 52, but I passed the PjM exam.  I thought the practice exam questions were very tricky and subjective. I did feel like reading the questions and explanations from the ballast exam helped me though.  The questions on the actual exam were hard, you did have to really read the question carefully and pay attention to what exactly they were asking but I didn't feel they were designed to trick you like I felt the Ballast ones were. I believe the ballast is the best practice book available.  But you definitely have to read through the NCARB recommended materials in addition to Ballast in my opinion.  I'm taking PcM in five weeks.  

     

     

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    Elsa Contreras

    So we don't really need to go over the Ballast review manual? The practice questions book would be enough? I went through the recommended chapter on AHPP (took me months!) and currently going through the contracts. So i wanted additional resources to go over. I have designer hacks and will purchasing the video subscription to pluralsight. I just feel like more case studies would be helpful. I will be taking PcM in December. 

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    Randall Hunter

    Elsa,

    I think everyone has their preferences and different ways of studying. The Ballast review manual is certainly a usable resource. It packages the material in a particular way that for some can be really helpful. To use it as a primary resource I think would be a slippery slope. I have access to both the manual and practice exams through my work, but I have found the manual to be nothing more than a shortened version of the recommended resources NCARB gives us to study. Therefore, it is good "review" but personally I want the real resources first and foremost.

    As for the Case studies, I think those who haven't taken the exams, and I was one of these people, are concerned with the layout of them and how the resources will look, and how it will be to manage them. After taking and passing 3 5.0's so far this would be my recommendation: do not waste 1 second of your time worrying about the case studies. They are nothing more than another 20 questions based on all of the study material + a given scenario except now you actually have the ability to look the answers up. I have answered numerous case study questions without even going to the resources because they were just additional generic MC questions. If you are familiar with the material and are able to answer the other 80+ questions then the case studies are not much to worry about in terms of being "prepared" for them. Again, this is just my opinion. Others may disagree with me. But after PcM I have not nor will I worry about the case studies in terms of prepping for them. Some, like for PA, take a considerable amount of time just because of how many resources there are to comb through, but nothing in my preparation would have helped me do it faster.

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    Elsa Contreras (Edited )

    Randall,

    Thank you! I have been reading a lot of case studies threads, therefore, I began to get a little worried. Having taken the PcM portion, do we need to memorize formulas from the AHHP book? In particular from chapter 5? I think I have business operations, practice wide delivery of services and practice methodologies down pretty well. Only section that is killing me is the finances section. I was never good at math. 

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    Randall Hunter

    Elsa,

    It's been a few months now but the calculation questions were not very difficult and it's not like there were a ton of them, at least on my exam. I believe chapter 7 and chapter 10 of AHPP is where you want to focus your studies on the "math" sections. I read both of the chapters multiple times all the way through until I understood it. I wouldn't say memorizing formulas is a good practice other than allowing you to recall the components. It is much, much more important to understand what the formula is solving for and why. Where are those variables coming from? What happens if one goes up or the other goes down? What does the answer to this formula actually tell me?

    For me memorizing the equations helped me learn what they meant. Memorizing that "x/y+300 x accounts receivable = sustainability (**not a real equation) just for the sake of memorizing it will be almost useless. You never know how the question will be worded or what variables will not be given. The question might be asking you a simple question but because you only memorized a formula but do not know what it means, you miss the question because of the wording.

    All in all, read chapter 7 and chapter 10 and don't move on from a page until you figure out where all the numbers are coming from. That is what I did.

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    Elsa Contreras

    Randall, 

    Thank you for the breakdown! This is very helpful! I really appreciate it. :) 

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hi Elsa -- great advice from Randall.   PcM was like PA for me -- utlimately, I read a lot of stuff and hoped for the best!  PjM and CE seemed more straightforward -- and for those mentioning Ballast, PjM and CE are covered well in the old 4.0 Ballast material.

    Elsa -- where are you at in the exams?

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    Elsa Contreras

    Kurt, 

    I will be taking my first exam PcM in December. I registered yesterday, when I received my confirmation I began to feel sick already. 

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Elsa -- try not to get overly stressed about the exams -- I think once you take one, you'll feel 100 times better off.  The exams are tough, but very doable.  Good luck with your studying!    

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    Michael Buckley

    Encountered a great deal of error in Ballast's Programming & Analysis practice exam on it's second case study -- incomplete information.

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    Amanda Mercuro-Montuoro

    For anyone tight on money...I am "renting" my AHPP 15th Ed. from Amazon...it's a lot less expensive than purchasing it!

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    Gustavo Diez-Presilla

    It is my opinion that the more sources of real and validate information you use the better, and of course common sense and maybe a basic but strong knowledge of the practice

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    Gustavo Diez-Presilla

    It is my opinion that the more sources of real and validate information you use the better, and of course common sense and maybe a basic but strong knowledge of the practice

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