Study Materials - Advice Needed



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    Tomasz Mlynarski

    I’m taking PA next week and I read the SPDH. It takes about a week to get through it all. 

    My experience from my previous exams is that you can’t rely on Ballast and other 3rd party study prep material. They are a good review once you get through the material on your own.

    I would amazon prime the book and get go through it ASAP.

    Imagine the money and time wasted if you take the exam and fail. Go in knowing you prepped 100%

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    Theodore Diamond

    Heather, I got this book from the library, but I did not use it.  I skimmed it for under a half hour.  There are a lot of materials that will give you the same information.  The Ballast 4.0 book definitely is helpful on the parking and road making portions of the exam.

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    Katie Merten

    I passed SPD and PPP without reading SPDH.  In my opinion, Problem Seeking by William Pena is extremely important to passing.  You can find a free PDF through a google search. 

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hi Heather,

    I have looked at the Brightwood books -- I'm no fan of 3rd party for the ARE, but the Brightwood books are probably one of the least effective.  They are very general, and the information on any given topic is pretty abbreviated.  My advice is to not rely on 3rd party materials alone -- use them in addition to the 5.0 handbook materials, or as an overview.   

    In my experience -- and that of several other candidates -- PA is kind of an oddball exam within the ARE on it's own little island.  It sort of leads into PPD, with definitely some of the same concepts.  I also think that there may be less consensus on what to study for PA than any other exam.  

    That said, it's very pass-able.

    I definitely agree with Katie -- read Problem Seeking.  And get very comfortable with all of the related terminology -- it's not difficult, but the way space planning terms are used can be very specific, and can have a slightly different meaning than one might intuitively assume. 

    As far as SPDH goes -- I used it, and it's a pretty good resource.  Like any listed resource, however, do you absouletly need it?  No.  Theodore passed without it.  Did I read the entire book?  No.  However, make certain you know what is covered is SPDH, and make sure you have other resources that cover the same material.  You may be able to find an older version online in PDF format for free.

    As far as your worries over buying books -- take a look at this thread I created with direct and indirect input from a number of other candidates. 

    Note how few books -- really -- are on this list.  And they are the books that are mentioned over and over again.  Also note how many you will have free access to, either at your office, online, library, friend, etc.  Like wtih anything else, you'll end up spending some money, but it's far less than it's often exaggererated to be -- 

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    Kathryn Thiele


    Your list is very helpful. For PA in particular, which books out of the list would you recommend? Shaffin / contract docs I haven’t seen come up very much on this exam in particular. Thanks for your help.


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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hi Kathryn -- several references are noted above by some other posters -- specifically for PA -- also, no contracts in PA, so no Schiff Hardin required.

    I would suggest that you essentially read through the PA section of this forum.

    Also, your best and most concise reference will always be the "Top References" found at the end of each exam division in the are 5.0 Handbook.  Really, make sure you read the whole 5.0 Handbook.  

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    Carolina Quintero



    Not sure what to buy or not. 

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