Number of questions and time available

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    Ethan Warren

    The 15 minute break will pause your timer (3:15 + 0:15), but you cannot access questions during the 15 minute break. You are not guaranteed to only have 20 case study questions. I think I had 22 on my PA exam, but I had 27 on my PDD exam. 

    The questions that "don't count" are mixed in with the rest of the exam. You will never be able to tell the difference between those questions and the rest. 

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    Lucilla Schiraldi

    Thank you, Ethan. I was trying to figure out if I could pre-decide how much time to allocate to general questions and how much to case studies. From what you said it sounds like I won't be able to do that, unless I was to scroll to the case studies, and count the number of questions, at the very beginning of the exam.

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    David Kaplan

    Lucilla,

    Just a quick recommendation: I personally found the PA exam case studies to be pretty time intensive.  I took three 5.0 tests: PA, PPD, and PDD.  I would leave a minimum of 90 minutes for PA if you can.  It's possible that with PA being my first test, the case studies took me longer because I spent time navigating documents and so forth.  The questions weren't hard, but they required looking through zoning documents, drawings, and codes and that just takes time.  I think I personally had 20 case study questions on my test - 10 each.

    Good luck!

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    Ethan Warren

    Lucilla,

    My 27 case study questions for PDD seems like an outlier compared to everyone I have talked to, so I wouldn't expect to see that many for PA. 

    I try to average about 1 minute per question for the multiple choice and at least 1.5 hours for the case studies. I like to have plenty of time to review my questions at the end so you can adjust these time constraints whatever suits you best.

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    Matthew Dirksen

    The thing I've found the most helpful is to skim the case studies right off the bat, and list any resources on my scratch paper which could be useful for questions on the rest of the exam. I also find this list faster to access when I'm actually working on the case studies, since it's right in front of me.

    I'd also literally skip over (not flag)  any questions which require the calculator, and do those all at the end. But I would write all the numbers down just to make sure I check them all. While some folks might see this as risky, I've found the exam summary makes it quite easy to locate all the "unanswered" questions.  So I can use the summary to quickly plow through the math questions together as a group. That's how my "math brain" works, and I judge I've saved a lot of time with that approach since I started it a few exams ago.

    But as is mentioned, It's imperative to always be VERY AWARE of the clock and never get too sucked into a single question. It just ain't worth it, since they are all worth the same. I remind myself there will only be one "correct" answer, but it could be surrounded by several "right-ish" answers (perhaps in a different context), but that's the way the industry works anyway so I try to enjoy the ride.

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    Lucilla Schiraldi

    Thank you David, Ethan and Matthew!

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    Lucilla Schiraldi

    Glad to report I passed PA! Thanks again for the advice. I had really meant to follow it and leave enough time for the case studies, but I ended up doing a thorough job with the questions, and ended up running out of time before I could even read the last 7 or so questions of the 2nd case study. But I passed! I must have answered right a very high percentage of the questions I did answer! On to my last 2: PPD and PDD. So far I have been studying on Ballast. Is it adequate for PPD and PDD as well?

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    Domenico Piccininni

    Hi Lucilla,

    Conrats on the PA pass.  I am taking my PA exam this coming Monday and am very nervous, so far i have completed PCM, PJM, CA.    I feel that this test (PA) is scattered between all the study materials....I see that you have been studying from Ballast.  I have the weekend to crash review, do you recommend Ballast as a last chance study review? 

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    Lucilla Schiraldi

    Hi Domenico,
    For PA I just studied from Ballast 5 and Ballast Practice Exam, including PPD chapters 12,13,14,15,21,30. The mock exam on ncarb website is useful too.
    Buona fortuna!

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    Domenico Piccininni

    Lucilla,

    Thank you for your help, best of luck on your remaining exams!!

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