Hi All! I passed my last exam - PA last week and still cannot believe it!
This journey has been a process of learning how to focus, be disciplined, to learn the content, and to simply become a better advocate for the industry. 7 years after graduation and nearly 20 exams under my belt between 4.0 and 5.0 (pass and fail) - I finally did it. I could not have done it without the support of my family, friends and most importantly this community and Bootcamp. I wanted to share some lessons learned that steer away from content and sources (there are so many post and sources in the community) that hopefully can help some of you through this difficult and challenging process. As Michael Riscica mentioned, if it were easy, everyone would be an Architect.
1. Know yourself. Know your strengths and work with that. If you are visual learner, find those resources. I HATE reading and it took me 5 fails back to back to change my mindset and focus and rethink my studying strategies - I then started to use visual sources like Bootcamp meetups, Amber, Pluralsight, and all the pretty construction details and pictures to learn and apply the material and make little rhymes and graphics.
2. Be Strategic and set realistic expectations- Time is a precious commodity so use it wisely. Whether it is passing all 6 in a year or getting through a portion - Pro Practice or Design/ Technical, setting expectations upfront will help you succeed. If you are planning a wedding or going on a big trip - factor those events in and build a buffer. Be prepared to allocate 15- 25 hours a week in studying for these exams and try to fit in practice questions inbetween. If you get a question wrong, take the time to read the references.
3. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Studying sucks especially with all the noise in the background. Stay focused and learn that it's okay to be vulnerable. If you are stuck or have questions- just ask / search the group. We have such a great community with a diverse source of knowledge that someone will be able to guide you to the "right" answer. Advice is free here!
4. Confidence is half the battle. You put in the time and did the learning. In bootcamp- we were given a study log to keep track of our time. I spent well over 1700 hours in studying for PA, PPD, and PPD since last October. When I saw that total and noted the content I covered, I realized that I actually know this shit - whether it's 20 designer hack questions a day or doing a marathon of questions from various sources on the weekend - log that shit. Your mental state sets the tone when you hit "Begin Exam."
5. And last but not least Be Kind to yourself - Pass or Fail - celebrate the hurdle. Everytime you take a seat at that testing center is one step forward. Life happens- don't get discouraged. Take your time and most importantly take care of yourself. Study Materials- Start with the Handbook for a list of sources. DO NOT USE the Ballast book as your main resource- IMO it really is only good for vocabulary and practice questions. What worked for me differently than before: A week before my exam, I stopped reading. I built in a week to review my notes and do a shit ton of practice questions aka the Yury method (50-100 questions during the week, 300-500 questions on the weekend). There are some really awesome sources like Elif Bayram's quizzes/ exams, Erik Walker practice exams, Ben Norkin's hyperfine - use ALL OF THEM. *The only real reading I did during this week was when I got a question wrong and needed to go into depth about the whys and hows. Last thoughts: If you are stuck and are needing to rethink your test taking strategies and are seriously and open to changing the game - Join Bootcamp- It is worth the time, $$$, and commitment, and bonus you meet and make some really great friends! It is completely worth it! When I joined last October, I was 3 down 3 to go - exam number 17. Within the last 10 months- I passed PDD, PPD, and PA back to back! https://youngarchitect.com/arebootcamp/ I truly believe if I can do it, so can you. That's all for now! As always reach out if you have any questions and Good luck! - Sonya
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