After having failed my first attempt at PA as my first exam, it feels great to have passed! I used all of the time, including a little time (10-15 minutes) to go back and review questions.
Couple thoughts and tips for those preparing to take it...
I read, took notes, and reviewed several times the material from the Ballast 5.0 review manual section for Programming and Analysis. As others have said, the test and review manual align pretty well for this section. I also worked through the Ballast practice problems.
A co-worker and I started out using "designer hacks" and while I feel this helps you learn some basic facts, I did not find the practice quizzes/tests helpful in practicing the ARE format.
After both of us failed our first attempt at PA, granted also our first tests, so we'll take into account some testing center and test format anxiety, we purchased a month subscription to "Black Spectacles". I like being able to watch the videos as another way to take in information and review some of the info covered in the Ballast review manual, and also it gave me some good pointers on how to think about certain topics that definitely came in handy on the test. You need to know facts but also how to work through those problems where all of the answers might be correct but you need to choose the three or four BEST answers. The practice exams are also more true to the ARE format so I found that to be very helpful.
I also have used quite a bit of the ADA information that you need for the test in practice, so if you don't have as much work experience with that, you'll definitely want to brush up on clearances, slopes, etc.
I found another couple of resources on soils and foundations, which the Ballast materials don't cover as much.
I'd also advise anyone preparing to take this test to brush up on sustainable practices with respect to basic building design and site placement. You'll also want to know about contaminants and remediation, basic principles and some more specifics as well.
Best of luck!
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