Post PA Brain-Dump

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    Chelsea Hoffman

    Hi Michael,

    Congratulations on passing your exams! I have PA coming up and I'm wondering if there's anything you wished you studied more of - topic or source?

    I've passed PcM, PjM, and CE and thought the recommended study material aligned really well. I feel least prepared for this exam though. The objectives seem so much broader. I've read through the relevant chapters of Site Planning and Design twice, relevant chapters of BCI, and read all of Problem Seeking: An Architectural Programming Primer. I've also gone through Ballast 4.0 practice tests for PPP and SP, which I found helpful. I'm pretty comfortable with navigating the code. Is there anything else you'd suggest or add?

    Thanks!

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    Michael Hara

    Seems like you're right in line with what I studied - only thing I'd add is know your ADA, including most common dimensions. I don't think I studied much in addition to what you outlined, and you are right - in most ways, it is a much broader test, but that means you don't need to know the "details" as much as some of those previous tests.


    Best of luck!

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    Brendan Herr

    Thanks Michael! I've got this exam coming in about two weeks. Did you read or study from the actual IBC at all? I've had it recommended to me that its useful to study the IBC and Building Codes Illustrated almost side by side, using BCI as an explainer for the IBC. 

    Brendan 

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    Michael Hara

    So I didn't do a TON of that but it is useful to know, because the 2015 IBC makes the breakout for allowable floor areas and heights much easier to understand than the 2012 that is provided. I would definitely know how to use the 2012 tables as well as calculations for frontage increases and sprinklers specifically from those tables and formulas. 

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    Susan Scarlet-Macaw

    Michael, Congratulations on passing. 

    I see that you do not have Problem Seeking in your list, did you use that resource at all? Thank you.

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    Michael Hara

    I bought Problem Seeking but didn't really find it all that helpful. I have a bit of programming experience but honestly, that book seemed to be more fluff than content. I skimmed through it to pick out any key topics that might show up but overall I didn't like it that much; however YMMV, and it is on their recommended reading list so it's probably worth looking through. 

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    Susan Scarlet-Macaw

    I got the book just b/c it was recommended but i agree with you. 'm skimming through it and I don't like it. Thanks for the quick reply...

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    Scott Barber

    Michael or Susan,

    Any suggestions on what to replace Problem Seeking with? I'm studying for PA currently and that was one I got because I saw others recommending it. I was planning on focusing on BCI, Site Planning and Design, and Problem Seeking (in addition to Ballast as an intro). 

    Thanks!

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    David Kaplan

    Scott,

    I passed the PA test and posted my study approach on this forum.  Check that out (think maybe I sent it to you before?).

    I would solidly recommend to you that when it comes to answering "fill in this bubble diagram" type problems to fully address all adjacency requirements, that you practice, practice, practice the 5.0 Demonstration Exam's version of these.  At the end of the day, these problems are very straightforward, but the key is that you have to truly make sure that satisfy ALL OF THE REQUIREMENTS.  I got quite a few of these on my PA test, and also similar versions such as "what is the best space in the building for THIS piece of program based on these requirements?"  I don't recall any of those questions ending up in a scenario where there could be multiple right answers either.  It truly was if you follow the requirements, there's only one way to lay the diagram out or only one space in a building that the program could truly go. 

    Also make sure you know about the Space Matrix.  It's that method of organizing adjacency requirements using solid black dots and a diagonal grid.  It's actually really easy to use, but I had never in my life seen it before until I started studying for the test. 

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    Scott Barber

    Hey David, thanks for sharing your input. I read through your post a couple weeks ago, but the comments above were the first ones that I saw that stated they disliked using the Problem Seeking book, so I was curious if there was another source that was better. I think your point (here and in your previous comment about your approach) about practice is definitely good to keep in mind. Thankfully I'm familiar with the space matrix for adjacency (from school, not work), but it never hurts to get more practice with those types of problems..

    My impression for this exam is that the questions aren't necessarily that difficult, they just take time. It seems like it's a manner of solving puzzles, going through a process of elimination figuring out programming based on criteria provided. My assumption is that this is why many people are very close on time - it just takes a couple minutes for those types of questions to read through and answer carefully. I know when I've had those kinds of questions in the past, they were pretty simple but took some time. 
    If that's the case, practice could certainly be more important than reading a book of fluff...does that sound like a fair assumption?

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    David Kaplan

    ^^^100% agree with everything you said above.  I ended this test with about 6 minutes leftover and only had time to check the ones I had marked.  It was my first 5.0 test, but I think it was more that each of these types of questions takes time.  You have to go through all the adjacency requirements and then think about how to lay things out.  Takes time.  Not hard though at all.  I can't stress enough that if you just follow the directions you really can't mess it up. 

    The building siting type questions that you got for PPD will apply here as well, but keep in mind that Zoning and Efficiency will be present here (I didn't have so much of that on PPD). 

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    Scott Barber

    Sounds good, thanks David. I still have 3 weeks until I take PA which feels like plenty of time, I just want to make sure I don't waste my study time before then. I definitely need a refresh on zoning/efficiency/FAR, too. 

     

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    Susan Scarlet-Macaw (Edited )

    Scott,

    I have been reading Problem Seeking 5th ed. in more depth and I think they have good explanations of Building Efficiency Factors pg 100, Cost Estimate Analysis pg 104, On problem Statements, Pages 124-145 gives examples that could help the  answer questions from Building Analysis and Programming section 4.1.

    Overall, I think the book is best starting on Part 2. 

    Floor Area Ratio = (gross floor area of the building)/(area of the plot). Floor area ratio is to limit urban density. For example if a lot must adhere to a 1 FAR then the total area of all the floors in the building must not be more than the area of the lot. If the lot is 10,000sf, the building cannot exceed 10,000sf. Since must jurisdictions have setbacks, you must subtract the areas that you are not allowed to build, then you have the allowable building area, if the allowable building area is 7,000sf then you can have a second story with 3,000sf. accomplishing the full 10,000sf of allowable square feet for that site.

    If the FAR is 0.1 then you are only allowed to build one tenth the area of the lot. The area of the building cannot exceed 1,000sf. 

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