Passed PA --- on the 2nd attempt
Good Evening Strugglers!
Please keep fighting the good fight. Stay positive about yourself and your efforts. You will achieve great things in the end.
- https://arequestions.com/ - Elif has this figured out. This was a fantastic resource and frankly a bargain. I'll explain how I used her resource with my old notes farther down.
- My old notes from my previous failure. Yeah I failed..epically, but hey I didnt quit.
- Ballast 50 ARE Review - did not find to be useful
- Ballast 50 Practice Exam - did not find to be useful
- Walking the ARE PA - did not find this set to be useful, which surprised me because I had used this resource for PcM, and it was fantastic.
- Every book that was listed in the Reference Matrix on the ARE Handbook PDF. However if you don't have the resources to get your hands on those, focus your expenditures on Site Planning and Design Handbook, Problem Seeking, ADA 2010, and Planning and Urban Design Standards ...little bit of Sun Wind and Light
For the books, I don't really know how else to put this, but you have to read them. Yeah, cover to cover, and yes it can be brutal at points. I think the most challenging book for me was Sun, Wind, and Light. The information is just kind of...everywhere, if you are familiar with the term streaming consciousness, that is SWL, but in a text format.
How I studied: ( hours of my life I wish I had back...so does my wife )
- I read the books. I wrote down notes that you think are relevant. You are taking a test, that could literally be on anything from those books. Yeah its crazy.
- Reviewed my old notes, since I recalled what was covered from, the disaster that was my first, PA exam. I was able to ignore what was not covered. I know...that doesn't help you at all. Sorry. Turns out my notes were still pretty good. Take good notes people.
How I used Elif's great resource.
1. Since I knew I could not use pen and paper on the exam, I purposefully did not use pen and paper ( at first ) to tackle her questions. I opened up MS Paint, MS Notepad, and MS Calculator. I specifically chose the worst programs to draw, write, and calculate with to appropriately ( yes, appropriately) simulate how handicapped I would be using the exam site resources. I am not going to rant...I deleted several posts about the whole white board thing, I don't even want to get started. It's here to stay, best to find a way to deal with it...this is how I dealt with it.
2. I went through her quiz one question at a time...and instead of trying to immediately answer it and then check the answer, I left the question unanswered. I then began digging through my old notes, and the text books until I found what I thought were the correct answers. This process not only allowed me to remember things from my old notes, but as I read through the textbooks, scouring for answers, I wound up reading other bits of information, while i was searching for the necessary information I needed. This helped me build a better foundation for all the information being crammed into my head. Collateral learning.
3. After that, I answered the question, and checked the result. If my result was correct, I wrote down everything that I did. This provided extra reinforcement. If I was wrong. I read Elif's answer, but then I went to the reference she provided and read it as well. Then wrote everything down.
While there is no way you are going to see a problem on the exam that will have the exact same wording, phrasing, or answers...like Elif's...hell like in any of the books you have to stduy. Elif's exam format, the type questions she covers are excellent prep for the exam. IMHO.
Honestly, not once, in all my prep, with any of the resources I have used, have I ever seen or had a test question that was verbatim out of a text book or study resource. Most of these questions are analysis. I tell people most of the answers are technically correct, but you have to choose the BEST answer...which is exceptionally rascally.
- Minimize caffeine ( diuretic) intake or time it in such a way that your body has adequately purged all fluids. Hey the stuff makes you want to go to the bathroom.
- Hydrate just enough so you don't have to take a break. Laugh all you want, but I needed every minute for this exam, and I still didnt answer 3 ( although I was able to look at them)
- I answered all multiple guess question first
- Flagged ones that gave me trouble, and tried not to linger too much...keep moving forward. ( rather different from how I tackled CE, PcM, and PjM)
- For problems that I knew would eat time, I left unanswered until I had completed all the multiple guess. Just know that while you are taking Elif's exams, if you find yourself taking a lot of time to answer certain questions, chances are that same effect will happen on the exam. Be cognizant of your strengths, but also be aware of time.
- Once I answered all the multiple guess, I went back and looked through questions that were unanswered vs flagged. Then just started working my way through the unanswered ones. I chose the "easier" ones first, or the ones that I though might take less time.
- At some point I ran into two problems that I knew would eat a lot of time, I saved them for the end of the exam, if I had time. After all there were case studies to be dealt with.
- Case studies - I know its tempting to not look at all the questions...so you can take a break. However when I finally got around to the Case Studies, I only had an hour left. So I looked through all of the first question, not quickly, but not slowly. Then tackled them based on what I thought I knew. I did the same for the second set of Case Study questions.
When all was said and done, I ran out of time, however I had ..had enough time to read all of the questions. Which was great, I didn't feel intensely rushed, but I certainly wasn't lollygagging. I never had time for a break. If you whiz through the first 60 some odd questions and find you have time...take break...just be sure you have answered all of those 60 questions...or you are hosed.
I wish you all the best of luck. Struggle on...
Congrats on your pass. For me, this exam was definitely the toughest of them all. I can't give Elif enough credit, she really hit a homerun with her prep material. When I took PA she had not yet developed her PA material. However, I used her material for PPD and PDD. And I totally agree - although at times grueling - you really need to read some books cover to cover really grasp some of the content. If you haven't already done so, you should check out Hyperfine. Ben Norkin also did a really good job on his material, and like Elif's, it is not expensive.
Congratulations on passing PA, I am studying for a retake and agree Elif seems to be great. Thank you for that great test tip, I surely plan to use. I was going to ask the community what h
Chapters to read in SWL I am really having trouble following and targeting my studies. If you have any advice on chapters please let me know.
Congratulations Jared! I am so happy for you and to play some part in your success. I also followed a very similar method to yours. I am a firm believer in reading the books that NCARB lists too. After reading each chapter, I turned important points into questions and then retook the questions to see how much I retained. If I felt like I didn't fully understand the topic, I would read that section again. It is so much work and may be criticized by others as redundant and tedious; however, it works. Especially after failing an exam, instead of feeling helpless, I resorted to this method even more than before and increased the resources I read to overcome that feeling. When you actually read books and find a method that works to retain the information, you feel empowered, and you go back to the test center with higher self-esteem.
Thanks for sharing your experience! Congrats again!
Hello Franco, Tony, and Elif,
Thank you, all, very much.
Franco, yes I have the Hyperfine PPD and PDD package. I did fail PPD recently, and to be honest, I was surprised. Judging by my scores, I think I was close, and just need to hone in on the case studies a little better. Ill be retaking that in a couple of months. I have Elif's PPD & PDD as well. Though I will need to reup on that. Still, worth the price of admission.
Tony, as far as chapters for SWL, well SWL isnt written like a regular book, as you know. I would focus on the four climate conditions you can encounter, hot-arid, cold, temperate, and hot-humid. From there really understand how to solve for each of them, as in what the appropriate response be. I would also spend some time understanding how large urban areas would be setup and how they would respond to those climate conditions. Think about solar access, wind access, night cooling access, and how to deal with storm-water for each of those climate conditions. Hopefully that will give you some direction...especially for a book that doesn't really have any.
Oddly enough, I met one of the authors of that book, G.Z Brown, and almost took a job with him ( this was 15 years ago). He was good friends with my old boss, who is now a professor at the University of Oregon. who still asks me what I think of the book...all I can do is offer a confused look, which makes him laugh.
Thank you for the feedback for SWL and I agree. After reading your original post i decided to make myself read SWL and now have a better understanding of the book. Like you said it gives strategies for the different climate zones and how to design urban cities. I am glad I was able to understand it better now!
Thanks for the thorough breakdown. I just failed PA (first attempt) but feel like I was pretty close. My score report was 1, 2 and two 3s, which I think means I almost had it? I didn't look at SWL at all and will definitely dive into that for the next go round. Do you have any suggestions on resources you used to study for Section 4: Building Analysis and Programing?
1. I felt the first exam I took ( and failed) covered content that I had not read and or seen. It was just one of those curve ball tests. The second exam, I felt the content I had studied for, was indeed on the exam..to a degree. I wont say it was easier, but I didn't feel as lost as the first time.
2. If you haven't done so, I recommend Elif's exam questions. Her exam questions cover a lot of ground, hit SWL pretty hard and Problem Seeking content hard. The questions were very useful with getting me comfortable with the math.
Side note, your old notes are still good! Keep studying those, they may yet prove worthwhile on the exam retake.
Fight the good fight. Stay positive.
Thanks Jared. I purchased the PA, PPD, PDD bundle from Elif's website because these are the 3 exams I have left. It appears to be a great bargain for the amount of content. I also just purchased the Problem Seeking, 5th Edition and already own SWL so I feel confident I have a good path forward for the second attempt. Thanks again for sharing your experience and process!
Thanks for your post & congrats on passing! Your post and suggestions were very helpful for me! I had never heard of ARE Questions before, until your post, and I ended up using that and found it super helpful like you said!! I will definitely be using that resource on future exams. I also was able to pass PA on my second attempt as well. Thank you!
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