PA pass on THIRD try - personal strategies

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    Thomas Coppin

    Congrats Jonathan!

     

    I'm a big proponent of getting that first exam completed, I hope this propels you to further success with the rest of the ARE.  Also, thanks for the breakdown of the strategies that worked for you.  Just outa' curiosity, what's your experience background like?  I always find it helpful when these postmortems also give a little insight about the background experience.  It helps to get a sense of how similar or dissimilar my own experience background is, and then I can better apply the suggestions.

     

    Thanks!

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    Monica Ximena Gutierrez Lopez

    Hi Jonathan, CONGRATS!

    I have failed PjM twice, and that was after passing a 4 hour certification exam (the PMP) in project management where the principals stem from the architecture and construction industry.  I finally had my first pass, the PjM, two weeks ago and now I am gearing up for the PA at the end of next week. 

    Thank you for sharing your experience!  I also find the material covered in this exam very broad and feel stressed about having enough time to read from all of the material in the reference matrix, and worry whether I am focusing on the chapters that will be most helpful. Jonathan, I agree that accessing that muscle memory using association is very helpful but in addition to that also completely separating the previous question to the next since the questions are sequenced at random.

    I am really interested in the Amber courses/lectures. I have tried to contact them for 3 days to register and have not heard back.  Has anyone had this trouble? Have you used this study material?

    To your point Thomas, my background is more limited to design.  I have had somewhat of an unorthodox path, I attribute it to finishing grad school (Sci_Arc) in 2009.

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    Kung Yu Pan

    Thanks Thomas! Yes it is a good feeling. I now know there's still hope in this world. For my background, I've had a little bit less than 3 years of working experience total. Half of my experience is also largely on interior architecture/TI projects, which made me wonder if it could be the reason PA seemed very difficult to me, but didn't want to use that as an excuse. I guess we will see as I move onto other subjects. How about you? And what's your progress on the ARE? 

    Thanks Moncia, congrats to you too! I totally agree with your point, I think the most critical part of the exam was to be able to access the information quickly while jumping from question to question asking about different topics. Which means one has to be familiar enough with the materials that when certain images/words pop up there are already tons of associations come into mind. I also thought about what if I skip certain types of problems (say all problems with site plans) so I'm naturally grouping them I go through and come back to them after, would that actually be easier? I have yet to use Amber but I've heard some good things about it. I also heard a lot of good things about Black Spectacle so I might try that on PPD/PDD, but it is quite expensive. By the way good luck on your upcoming PA! 

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    Kezia Black

    Hey Jonathan! Congratulations!!! So I am prepping to take my third exam and wanted to know if the list of references that the ARE 5.0 Handbook gives is really helpful for the PA. After my first fail on the PcM, I vowed to stick to Primary Sources only then supplement with things like the Ballast and the Schiff Hardin lectures (which I have a skip-fest on! My god they are verbose!). As a result, I've passed the PcM and the PjM.

    I think my background has helped tremendously through my studies. I have been working in architecture for 8 years at 4 different firms...

    1st Heavy Mixed Use predesign so I had lots of zoning ordinances/design guidelines to decipher. 

    2nd Retail so CDs - Landlord and tenant fitouts and Details

    3rd Retail again - Tenant FitOuts All CDs

    4th Government - I function part as the owner, part as a CM-A. Lots of Specs and Contracts.

     

    This exposure has given me the contracts part but I'm losing design because I don't do it as much. What's a good design/site planning refresher? What should I check first.

     

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    Kung Yu Pan

    Hi Kezia,

    I didn't use a lot of study materials for PA but i re-read some of them multiple times. List of what I used below: 

    -5.0 Ballast (PA section + ch.12-15). Ballast doesn't really go into details so use it as an overview. But i did find the defintions at the end of each chapter to be helpful. 

    -4.0 Ballast (PPP + SPD). As I mentioned, I used these after my second fail and mainly used them as a review. 

    -4.0 Kaplan (PPP + SPD). Similar to 4.0 Ballast, but it gave me a broader perspective and better understanding to programming and site analysis. 

    - SPDH (ch.1,2,3,4,7,8,9). I actually bought this book but I did not find this helpful. It covers a lot of materials, such as environmental site assessments/brownfields and soil types/sit work but didn't feel very relevant to the actual test. 

    -IBC/BCI. I studied these two side by side and mutiple times. But in general it was just getting familiar with the organization. If you have years of experience this should not be a problem. I would say, however, get familiar with how you can find codes/zoning references by playing with the demo test, especially in the case study section. Get used to the search function as well, very handy. 

    -I practiced with Ballast, Kaplan, and Gang Chen multiple times. I went over the answers many times just so I can get familiar withe the logic...because sometimes the logic just don't make sense to me so I had to force my mind to think certain way.

    -5.0 ARE Handbook. I actually studied this very thoroughly. I would say the handbook reflects the actual test very well. There were A LOT of graphics and really long problems/answers (a lot of texts) on the test. 

    -A lot of googling. I didn't know much about soil/groundwater remediation and I just googled and studied every single method I found. 

    I think that's it. I didn't use paid tools like Black Spectacle and DesignerHacks but I probably will for PPD and PDD. I think as a starter just go through 5.0 Ballast chapters I mentioned above and you should have a solid grasp of the materials covered in the test. Hope this helps. 

     

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