streamlined study materials for PA



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    Rio Cielo Fama Velasco

    Hi Kathryn,


    Congratulations on passing! Thank you for sharing your study tips.

    I have a few questions, are there some questions regarding sustainability? If there is, which study materials did you use? I've read in the NCARB Matrix that the book Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery is included, but it's for PPD, but just want to know if you think it is recommendable to purchase this book?

    Another question is, is it still recommendable to read IBC 2012? I thought it should be IBC 2015? I am planning to buy the Building Codes Illustrated, question is, which book is it related to, IBC 2012 or IBC 2015?



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    Kathryn Walton (Edited )

    Hi Rio,

    Based on your posts, it looks like you're gathering information/study materials for all sections at once.   I would recommend that once you decide whether you want to start with PcM/PjM/CE or PA/PPD/PDD, to focus just on getting materials for one test (or test grouping) at a time.  The reason being is that so many people will have more insight between now and when you ultimately take your first or last test.  If you go all out right now and get every possible resource, you'll get overwhelmed before you've even started.

    But now to address your questions about my PA post...

    I'm noticing that a lot of people (not necessarily you) tend to forget about one of the best starting point resources of all: NCARB's ARE 5.0 Handbook.  This eliminates any confusion whatsoever about what versions or editions one should be looking at.

    Each division of the Handbook ends with a Resources list, and at the very end of the Handbook is a Resource Matrix, where you can clearly see division overlaps.  Each division also has practice problems and solutions, and the handbook includes case studies.  NCARB's Demo Exam is also invaluable.  Forget about the clock and whether or not you've answered the questions correctly; use it to familiarize yourself with the tools available on standard questions and the resources available on Case Studies (and play around with navigating those resources).

    As for sustainability/sustainable design, in short, yes, PA addresses this.  Understand, though, what sustainability means.  Quoting Ballast: "Sustainability, in its broadest sense, is the practice of meeting the needs and wants of the present generation through judicious use of resources, without harming or compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."  Basically, being good stewards and passing the baton of stewardship down.  How does this translate to site selection, climate, and programming?  It's about taking up the smallest footprint, allowing water to run-off as naturally as possible, how to utilize natural resources (trees, location, orientation) to mitigate solar or wind effects and reduce energy costs, pros and cons of brownfields vs greenfields, taking the best approach to historic structures given a client's needs, and so on.

    I would trust NCARB's Matrix on this one.  If their source material for PPD is not listed for PA, then don't reference it for PA.  I felt fully covered on the topic of sustainability/sustainable design with only Ballast and the Site Planning and Design Handbook as my sources.

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    Rio Cielo Fama Velasco



    Thanks! Yes I was like all over the place with regards of gathering information about strategies and study tips on all divisions. But I have decided to study first PcM, PjM and CE in that order. It's just that whenever I see posts about PA or the other two divisions, I tend to be curious and ask alot of questions! Haha!


    I already purchased AHPP and printed the AIA Documents, and started listening to the Schiff Hardin lectures!


    I've read the NCARB Handbook, just up to the PcM sample problems first and browsed the matrix at the end and the resources. For PA, it says on the reference that it is IBC 2015.


    I want to finish reading the NCARB Handbook first and then do the Demo Exam.


    Regarding the sustainabilty, it's good that Ballast and the Site Planning and Design Handbook (I have it already) covers them all! In addition to that, what I am trying to ask also is if we need to study some things about LEED? 


    Thank you for your answers!!! Appreciate them alot! Right now I'm focusing on Schiff Hardin lectures, then will navigate to the AIA Contracts and then the AHPP. If you have some tips regarding studying PcM/PjM/CE, please feel free to comment them, hehehe! :-D


    Thanks alot!!!!


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    Kathryn Walton (Edited )


    Anything you might need to know about LEED in PA is covered by Ballast and the Site Planning & Design Handbook.

    OOPS on my part!  I downloaded the handbook over a year ago, and it referenced IBC 2012.  I didn't get the memo that the Handbook was updated.  The takeaway here is that it kind of didn't matter!  But moving forward with PPD & PDD, I'll be sure to get all proper editions.

    I suggest that you focus on just one at a time.  While studying, come back to this forum and look at discussions about the one exam you're studying for.  Don't distract yourself with discussions about other exam divisions.  Those discussions will still be there for you when the time comes.

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    Rio Cielo Fama Velasco



    Got it! Thanks!!

    Yes I just confused about the IBC 2012 and IBC 2015, but no worries!


    I will take note of these advices that you give me. Appreciate it alot and thank you very much!! :-D

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    Cesar Diaz

    Hi Kathryn, Congrats on passing your exam. I went in yesterday to take my PjM Exam and failed it. I had already scheduled PA Exam for early June. Do you still have your Ballast book(s) available?

    Thank you in advance!

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    Kathryn Walton


    I'm sorry to hear about your PjM exam.  I've already sold the PcM/PjM/CE bundle and won't be selling the PA/PPD/PDD bundle until I've finished the remaining exam.  PA material has some crossover in the other divisions, so I'm hanging onto it for reference.

    Best~ Kathryn

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