My first post here after reading many helpful posts. Thought I might be able to contribute something to help others as well. Many of the post exam write ups helped me prepare for this exam.
I took and passed PA, my first ARE exam, last week. The test was quite challenging but manageable. It was a relief to see the preliminary pass when I finished and then the official pass 4 days later!
When the exam started, I first jumped to the case studies just to check and make note of what resources were available in case I needed to consult one during the exam. I ended up not using them except during the case studies anyway, but felt that I had them if needed. I then started at the beginning, answering all the multiple choice questions, then the case studies. I made sure to answer every question in the first pass, but not spend too much time on any one question, and marked all questions I wasn't sure about (but not skip any even if they took a little longer). The case studies take time and I made sure to leave enough time for them, but it is still important to not spend too much time on each question (each question is worth as much as any other question). I read the project summary first, then read each question and only read the references needed to answer the question. I finished all questions with 30 minutes left and used that time to review all the questions I had marked. I had planned to take a break either before the case studies or after them and before reviewing, but I ended up wanting to just get it done and didn't take a break. It's a long exam, but manageable.
I studied about 2-4 hours a week for 4 weeks, then about 3-4 hours a day for the 2 weeks leading up to the exam. I should have studied more before the 2 weeks, but life kept getting in the way.
Ballast study guide - good overview, the material covered aligned well with the actual exam.
Problem Seeking - easy read but the most important part of this book for this exam is the section on building efficiency.
Site Planning and Design Handbook - gets detailed, but focus on the sections on soils, stormwater management, topography, and environmental site assessments.
Space Planning Basics - covers programming and space planning - not the most necessary resource unless you are weak in those areas (it was helpful since I have less experience with programming).
Brightwood study guide - covers a lot, but I found much of it to not be very relevant to the exam and did not finish reading it, opting to focus on the other resources instead, which seemed more relevant and helpful.
Architect Exam Prep - this is the only resource that I paid for (borrowed all the other books from different friends or my company's library) and it costed $99 (one time, unlimited use, not subscription), which is less then the other study resources available that include audio. I purchased this for the audio component primarily because I was traveling a lot when I started studying for this exam. I needed something with downloadable audio and not videos so that I could listen while traveling/driving without internet. I listened to the audio during trips (both driving and flying) and when driving to and from work, and studied the PDF on my tablet when flying/traveling. This was very helpful because it gave me another hour a day of study time when I couldn't otherwise have studied (driving) and allowed me to study easier while traveling. AEP gave a good overview and complemented Ballast's overview, with each covering some areas the other didn't.
I did not specifically study/review codes or ADA for this exam, but relied on my prior knowledge/experience in that area, which was sufficient for the code/ADA questions on the exam. However I will be studying both more for my next exam, PPD (which I expect to require more knowledge in this area) and I would suggest reviewing them for PA if you are weak in that area.
Topics to Know:
Soil reports and soil types
Topography - know how to read topo maps and calculate slopes
Brownfield remediation and environmental site assessments/reports
Building codes, zoning, and ADA
Climatic conditions, building type/orientation/layout/etc for each climate
Sun/shading and prevailing winds
Site and building programming - adjacencies, matrix, etc
Building efficiency/net vs gross
Historical preservation - I was surprised how many questions I got about this - review the NPS standards of historic preservation if you lack knowledge in that area
Also had a question about architectural styles, which surprised me, but I was able to answer with previous general knowledge of styles, and I wouldn't worry about studying architectural styles, since there aren't likely to be many questions about it.
Hope this helps!
Please sign in to leave a comment.