I found this forum really useful for working out what the gaps in my study materials were, so thought I would offer up some of my own suggestions.
This was my first exam and I was nervous about time having read quite a few posts from people that struggled to finish, so I moved through the questions as quickly as I could, flagged liberally and tried not to second guess my answers. Some questions took longer to read through or involved calculations, but I kept an eye on the time and felt like there was a good balance of questions I could read and answer quickly so didn't panic when I had to take a few minutes for another. I had more case study questions than I expected and find these pretty clunky to use since all the information you want to look at doesn't fit on the screen at the same time, but they were manageable. I finished with almost a hour left to go back through the whole exam and only wound up changing a few answers.
My exam didn't seem to have a particular focus area as some people have mentioned, though there were a lot of drag in place programming questions like the arena one in the 5.0 Handbook. I find these the easiest since you just have to be careful about following the instructions rather than applying knowledge, so I would make sure you are comfortable with these.
I started with the Ballast 5.0 Handbook and despite the criticism it gets, I think its gives a decent overview and summarizes the salient points in some of the wordier primary sources well.
ADA 2010 - I skimmed the whole thing, but I think ramps, parking and clearances are all you really need to know for this exam. It's a pretty small amount to memorize and worth knowing to save yourself the time looking it up.
Building Code & Building Codes Illustrated - I read these side-by-side, and used an old version of the Ching book my office had along with the free preview on Amazon of the 2015 version. (you can view about 75% of the book) Knowing occupancies without having to look them up will save you time, and feel comfortable with the height and area calculations, occupant load calculations and egress dimensions and terminology. Anything other than that I think you would be able to look up. I find searching by words in the case studies doesn't work that well if it's a term used 100 times in the code. It's better to know what section things are in and use the contents page to search by the section number.
Site Planning and Design Handbook - I really liked this book for it's sustainability focus and probably read more of it than I needed to. For the exam the Brownfields, Environmental Site Assessment, soils and stormwater management sections were great since I felt these were barely addressed in Ballast.
Problem Seeking - I hated the way this was written, seems like all jargon no content to me, I found the Ballast summary more than adequate.
Black Spectacles - A handful of people from my office are taking the exams so we were able to convince our boss to pay for a membership. I have been pretty underwhelmed and am glad I didn't pay for it myself. The most helpful part are the practice exams, less for the actual questions, since they start to repeat a lot after you have done the first one, but more for just getting comfortable with the exam interface. I listened to all the lectures on PA and they are good for generally understanding the concepts but don't go into too much detail that would help you with answering specific questions. I have a lot of work experience, but if you were just out of school maybe these would be more helpful. The free podcast is good for anyone that doesn't want to pay.
Kaplan - I got hold of an old ARE 3.1 Pre Design Guide and skimmed it along with the Kaplan 4.0 PPP Section. I find these guides a bit dumbed down in the way they are written, but the quizzes at the end of each section and exams at the end are great for practice.
Historical Preservation - I tracked down this summary which helped the penny drop for me on the differences between the four approaches and when to use them https://www.dropbox.com/s/sst1l4n13fvxjq8/Preservation_Rehabilitation_Restoration__Reconstruction_Comparison.pdf?dl=0
Architects Handbook for Professional Practice - I skimmed this for the sections on budget and schedule, but had quite a few questions in the exam on what consultant to defer to in a certain situation that I was able to answer based on my experience. This might be a good source for this info?
Hazardous Materials - I googled info on Lead, Radon and Asbestos since I encountered practice questions on it and didn't find it addressed anywhere. I had at least a couple of questions on these, so definitely worth reviewing
Practice, Practice, Practice - I did lots of practice questions and think this is how I was able to get through the exam quickly. There isn't much specific to 5.0 out there so I did Ballast 4.0 PPP, SPD and BDCS questions since we had these in our office and they were mostly very relevant to PA. Kaplan PPP and Pre Design quizzes and exams. A coworker that took 4.0 also pointed me to the ARE Handbooks for 4.0 for the practice multiple choice questions. The are 25-30 for each section (much more than in the current handbook) that gives you a better idea of how NCARB asks questions (generally more straightforward and less trying to trick you than other sources)
Overall, it was a tough exam, but manageable. Good Luck!
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