I've been a lurker on the forum for a month or two now, and other's stories of passes & fails have really helped me adjust my own study methods. So I hope I can contribute some useful info.
I took PA yesterday after 6 weeks of studying. Since we've been WFH since March, the lack of a commute gave me a lot of extra free time and I decided to dive in. I've got my BS and M.Arch, and have been working in the SF Bay Area for just over a year now. I chose PA for my first test because I did a lot of early stage design work at my old firm, and many of the concepts felt familiar from school. Because of this, I was able to build on the foundation that was already there, with the exception of topics like soils and historic preservation. I studied 1-2 hours a day for the first few weeks, and larger chunks of time on the weekends. The last two weeks before the test, I bumped it up to full evenings and most of the weekend. This was because after two practice tests (WeARE and PPI) I was able to identify weak spots in my knowledge and focus there.
I had to wear a mask at the testing site, it wasn't so bad. I would recommend having an extra strap to attach to the ear loops so that you can anchor it on your head, instead of having the loops pull on your ears for 3+ hours.
Best resources for me were Brightwood for a first time intro of topics & quizzes, then Ballast for a summary. From there, SPDH and Architect's Studio Companion (particularly for the many structural system questions that I had in practice tests, just asking for ideal system for a situation). I also utilized WeARE's PA quizzes. The full practice tests were why I bought the package, but they always timed out on me and I couldn't complete them. I also made 200-some flashcards of terms so that I could memorize them, and this helped with recalling concepts during the test. Also helps to run through the flashcards with a non-architect friend or partner, as I found myself explaining concepts to him that he had never heard of, and this helped me clarify my own thinking.
The biggest test tip I could give is slow down when reading a question. I have a tendency to skim a question, missing crucial information. Several times I caught myself doing that, and forced myself to close my eyes and take a breath before going back to it and reading every word.
Next test is either PcM or PjM
Best of luck to all!!
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