PA Pass - Here is my study strategy



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    Ramy Hanna


    Can i ask you what was your average score when you took the Black spectacles  Practice exams?

    i m between 40% to 60%.

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    Nguyen Huy (Edited )


    Thanks! My highest BS score for PA is 74%. In fact, that was the best score I got for all the BS practice exams (including PcM, PjM, and CE). All my other BS practice tests are from 40% to 60% and I've passed all four easier tests. Getting good scores on BS practice exams are good but I don't think it's a good indicator for your real test result. Many BS questions are ridiculous and irrelevant. I know people who always do great on Black Spectacles but fail the real one and vice versa. 

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    Ramy Hanna

    thanks alot for your answer, that is encouraging, i felt like i m not doing well every time i take the exams.

    Also i saw that the videos on the Black spectacles are not in deep with all the areas in the PA study.



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    Nguyen Huy

    Yeah, I use Black Spectacles only for practice exams. Sometime I used their lectures to help me sleep.

    Pluralsight and Amber are way better than BS if you look for lecture videos.

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    Hi Congrats on your success..!

    I passed  PjM, PrM and CA in my 1st sitting by only studying Ballast and Ballast practice tests. 

    But today I failed PA...! looks like Ballast study materials alone did not cover all. Felt like there were so many questions with strange terminology and focusing on areas that ballast hasn't put much weight on. Some areas I studied hard with ballast didn't show up even with a one question..! 

    Ballast practice test shows 4 hrs for 95 questions. I practiced my timing on it..! but the actual test was 3hr15 min. with made me panicked.  

    Probably I should go over other materials you listed before my next try. 

    have you studied Brightwood materials? I felt they are not focused on subject matter that much. Your thoughts?


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    Nguyen Huy (Edited )


    I'm sorry you didn't passed PA. I would not rely entirely on Ballast especially for bigger tests like PA, PPD, and PDD. 

    Going through the NCARB ARE 5.0 Handbook is a must do before getting into any other study materials. It's the official information about the test from NCARB. If you check that, you'll know the 4h is 'appointment duration' which includes checking in and out. The testing duration is 3h15' for PA. There are also a matrix of recommended books from which NCARB uses to create the questions. I would use these books as primary resources. 

    Third party providers like Ballast, Black Spectacles, Pluralsight or even as good as The Amber Book cannot replace the primary sources. They provide good overview of the test and help explain things better but in no way they can cover everything.

    I have not tried Brightwood materials before. As I understand Brightwood, Kaplan and Ballast now merged into one entity called PPI2PASS. Personally I use Pluralsight and The Amber Book for overview, then use the primary sources to dig deeper, and then try different practice tests (Designer Hacks, Black Spectacles, Hyperfine, Ballast...).

    Good luck with your study.

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