Firstly, everyone studying, take a breath…you’re doing great!
I took PA today in person in Houston, Texas. I’m happy to say I did not experience any technical issues. Everything went smoothly. I say this for anyone worrying after hearing so many horror stories. I was worrying too, but for me, it went well, so there is hope. I did not try scaling the whiteboard or moving it. If I needed to see information underneath, I closed the whiteboard, then reopened it and all my text was still there. Scratch paper would still be 100x better.
As far as the test, I will not know if I passed until February, so know that while reading this post (Update: Received a PASS!). The test did feel good. The only difficulty was a number of questions that I had trouble understanding what they were even asking. I spent a lot of time doing hefty calculations that seemed absurd just to re-read the question for the 20th time and see it was much simpler. Definitely try and understand what the question is really asking about before answering.
Recent graduate. Taking PA as my first exam. For anyone else taking PA as their first exam, go for it! I decided on this exam first before I had input from friends or enough in-depth research. Then I was stubborn and was deep enough in my studying to push forward with it. I read all the posts and videos saying not to take PA first and heard all the worrisome comments from those I told I was taking it first. After the test, I can say I felt completely prepared. There was not a single question that came out of left field. Again, tbd if I passed.
What I studied:
Ballast PA sections + Practice Exam (59% I think?)
Black Spectacles all videos, flashcards, and practice exams (ranged in the 60’s). Watched the Mock Exams on Youtube, listened to the podcasts while on runs
Erik Walker’s Practice Exam (54%, didn’t time myself on first part so maybe I got more correct because I thought through everything, then timed myself on case studies and rushed too much and got most wrong…let’s just pretend they evened each other out. - very low-tech which makes it frustrating to navigate. Good practice for in-depth Case Studies that make you reference multiple documents. Also, helpful practice for puzzle questions, which weren’t provided on other practice exams.
Amber Book 40 minutes of Competence – Free, HVAC video was the best
Marina Curac’s Notes and Puzzle Questions Video(the sweetest)
ADA and IBC(Plus Ching’s Building Codes Illustrated) in depth… this stuff is dense, read over sections multiple times
Problem Seeking – skimmed and read Marina’s notes
Site Planning and Design Handbook – all chapters look good, I read 3-11 basically
A few pages of the Architect’s Handbook of Pro Practice
NCARB demo but I didn’t spend much time on this. The BS exams were identical.
Architect’s Studio Handbook for structural spans. There are discrepancies between these charts and what’s in Ballast.
Also – used a site called Perelgo for some of these books that I didn’t want to purchase. 14-day free trial and then $18 a month with unlimited access. Was pretty nice.
Time: studied casually for a month, then ramped up a bit for another month, then went hard for 2 weeks. Wish I would’ve taken a practice exam earlier on to find the many areas I was missing earlier.
Test time: Used all the time but didn’t feel rushed. Would’ve used an extra 20 minutes to check the Case Studies.
Good luck to everyone out there, wherever you are in your journey. Keep pushing.
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