Since February, I've taken and passed on the first try CE, PjM, PcM, and PA (yesterday; provisional pass). Admittedly, preparing for PA gave me a lot of anxiety due to the volume of recommended reference material and the broad spectrum of topics covered. Before landing on my game plan for this division, I spent a lot of time scrolling through this forum for suggestions and found a number of good reminders, too. As discouraging as it is to read about failures, many who have failed had thoughts on why they did and what they would focus on next time. Insights from those who passed and from those who failed helped me streamline my own process. Here's my two cents on the study material I used.
International Building Code 2015 (IBC)
- Knowing how to navigate through the code and familiarity with what each chapter covers are critical. In my opinion, the only thing that you need to remember is that there is a bookmarks tool for Case Study resources, which makes scanning the table of contents and going straight to specific sections very efficient.
- I agree with forum consensus: IBC Chapters 3, 5, 6, 10, and 11 are most relevant to this exam division.
- Building Codes Illustrated may have been useful to some folks, but it seemed a bit redundant to me to look at both that and IBC, so I didn't bother.
ICC A117.1-2009 and 2010 ADA Standards
- Remember that this test is about programming and analysis, not detailed design solutions. The bigger picture focuses on approaches to buildings, site accessibility, and life safety/egress.
- If you're looking to streamline your reference materials regarding accessibility, IBC and ICC should have you covered if you're also utilizing Ballast. Lacking Ballast, reviewing 2010 ADA Standards for the bigger picture elements is a good idea.
- There are basics that we all need to know without necessarily memorizing them; i.e. 60"Ø turning radius. Get a good handle on the basics.
Site Planning and Design Handbook 2nd Ed. by Thomas H. Russ: Chapters 1-8 and Appendix A. This book is absolutely critical. It does dive deep into formulas and charts/statistics that are above and beyond what we're being tested on. A good rule of thumb here is that if you're getting lost in higher mathematics or thumbing through pages of charts, move on.
Problem Seeking: An Architectural Programming Primer 5th Ed. by William Pena: A good resource to thumb through in order to understand programming (problem seeking) versus design (problem solving), calculating net or gross areas, building efficiencies, methods of data gathering, etc. Not necessarily a cover-to-cover read. In hindsight, I probably could have done without purchasing this book, as I feel like Ballast concisely covered all the same bases very well. Happy to sell it to anyone interested.
In lieu of reading the entire Secretary of the Interiors Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (a free download), someone in this PA discussion graciously put a nice summary of the differences between Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Reconstruction in this drop box. Ballast covers historic properties in a PA chapter as well.
Ballast 5.0 Review Manual, Practice Problems, and Practice Exams: I live in a rural area and rely on my phone as my hotspot, so any lengthy online courses, videos, practice exams, etc. are simply out of the question for me. Besides, I prefer flipping pages to scrolling through screens when it comes to studying. The Ballast books are spot-on. In addition to the chapters devoted to PA, I also read through PPD chapters 12, 13, 14, 15 and 21. I read all chapters and other source materials listed above once, then did the Ballast practice problems and practice exam. In reviewing the answers, I read all of the solutions whether I answered correctly or not. The solutions often offer deeper insight or additional definitions. Once I've got through all of the materials and practice problems/exam once, I repeated the process -- reading everything a second time, then taking the practice problems/exam again.
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