PA Fail...Twice

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    Sean Marshan

    That’s a great question, I hope NCRB has a good explanation

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    Patricia Bourgeois

    Katie, I took the test Tuesday (yesterday, gosh it feels like a month ago already), and just received my score, it is the same exact scenario as you!  I had to go to the page on how to read the report because this is my first fail.... I was needless to say kinda upset when I saw that I had 3 level 2's, and one level 3.  So I must have been on the low end of the level 3.  But I really felt like I had passed compared to what I had done on the other test (PcM, PjM, & CE).  I also read what you had wrote in the comments under the score explanation.  We are supposed to just accept what they tell us we did and that's it. 

    Personally, I can't afford to keep doing this over and over again, and it's not so much the money as it is time!  I have a family (4 grown kids and 8 grandkids) that are staying away so I can study.  I miss my family and this is why I have never attempted this before... I put them first, my career second.  I just want to be done.  It's all very dissappointing.  I'll keep trying, and take the test till I'm done.  But I can't help but think that NCARB could give us more information with regards to our score... even a percentage in each division would be helpful.  

    I'm on to PPD now, it's in 3 weeks, PDD in 4... Hopefully with my 20+ years of experience I will do much better with these exams.  PA was not something I ever really had experience with.  The little bit I remember from school and just in conversation with co-workers taking the exam.  That's it.  All new information, and honestly, nothing I will ever use in my position. 

    Good luck to you the next time you take it, and for all your other exams.

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    Mark Baker

    Katie -  you have learned the hard way that the test is not graded as an OVERALL.

    You must pass EACH section in order to PASS the exam. 

    And this is the hard part of the whole testing process.  There are different versions of the exam, and you will not face the same exam twice in testing.  So the breakdown of the "three" different test versions will not be the same by exam.  That is why NCARB gives you ranges of "percent of the exam" on a certain topic.

    And as far as I know, NO ONE KNOWS the cut score for exams.  We DO KNOW the PASS RATE.  But the cut scores are kept secret.  And in my opinion, no one should ever count on "just beating the cut score."  That is the wrong approach to taking these tests, and probably will not work in general.

    Keep learning Katie.  You will get it!

    Patricia, God bless you and I wish you the best.  I am two kids and 12 years out of school and it has been hard for me to devote the time to studying (and I certainly do not have an extra $230 laying around each time I need to re take one) 

    I also HIGHLY recommend getting an official reference guidebook for the tests.  I too thought my years of experience would easily allow me to pass the test, but unfortunately, NCRAB is looking for SPECIFIC answers on specific questions.  A lot of which does not come up in normal practice.  I found this out the hard way, by failing an exam.

    Mark, Archizam

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    Gang Chen (Edited )

    NCARB probably has a specific cut score but does not publish it.  NCARB did publish a range of cut percentage that you need to pass. See link below:

    https://www.ncarb.org/blog/are-50-what-score-do-you-need-pass

    Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)

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    Gang Chen

    Mark,

    Correct me if I am wrong:

    You must pass EACH section in order to PASS the exam.”

    Your statement above is incorrect. Per NCARB:

    A pass/fail decision on ARE 5.0 is determined by the total number of items answered correctly; however, performance in the content areas with the larger percentage of content will have the greatest impact on a score.

    You needs to pass each division of the ARE exam to pass the entire ARE exam series to get your license, but within each division, you can fail one section but excel at another section and still pass the division of the ARE as long as your total number of correct answer exceed the cut score that NCARB knows but does not publish. See NCARB original link below:

    https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/articles/115006151687-How-to-Read-an-ARE-5-0-Score-Report

    Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)

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    Mark Baker

    Gang,

    Yes, I too have read that.  I thought it went the other way. 

    I think its just unclear in general.

    I am with this person in wondering how one can get the best grade on 2 out of 4 sections and then a 3 or 4 on the other two and not have scored high enough to pass the test.

    Mark, Archizam

     

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    Gang Chen (Edited )

    Per NCARB:

    “The levels as described at the end of a failing score report are:

    Level 1: Performance at this level exceeds the minimum performance necessary to demonstrate competency.
    Level 2: Performance at this level meets the minimum performance necessary to demonstrate competency.
    Level 3: Performance at this level does NOT meet the minimum performance necessary to demonstrate competency.
    Level 4: Performance at this level is far below meeting the minimum performance necessary to demonstrate competency.”

    Katie scored Level 2 on 3 of the 4 sections, and a Level 3 on the one remaining.  My guess is the total number of Katie’s correct answer is still less than 68%, i.e., the performance of the 3 sections are at Level 2 (Performance at this level meets the minimum performance necessary to demonstrate competency), but still not high enough to make up for the loss of the 4th section that is at level 3.

    If Katie is at level 1 for3 sections, and level 3 forthe 4th sections, that may be another story.

    Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)

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    Kathryn O'Regan

    Katie & Patricia,

    I feel for you guys.  I am really frustrated with the lack of feedback, especially since different firm/practice experiences may shape how a candidate understands the concepts.  I've worked at the same firm for 10 years and even though I've passed most of the sections, I have this nagging uneasiness that there are things I don't know that I don't know.

    Anyway, for PA, I felt that brushing up on basic adjacency diagrams was very helpful.  The most helpful study items, for me, were the practice problems in the Handbook.  I picked them apart to make sure I understood every concept that they touched upon. I also identified ways in which I misinterpreted or misread the questions.  I purchased Site Planning & Design Handbook and skimmed the first half, though I felt that items on test were more detailed than explanations given in that book.  I also purchased Problem Seeking by Pena and it felt like a throwback to studio :P  The theoretical approach to programming as a distinct step prior to any design solutions was a beneficial shift in my understanding.  For context, I have a lot of experience in code reviews and accessibility because most of my design work is renovations, and I think that working through the IBC/IEBC/IEEC with an existing building is more complex.  

    I hope that gives you some worthwhile nuggets of info and I wish you the best!  

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    Kelly Ann Collini Colberg-Amador

    I ended up studying Building analysis, which is 37%-43% of the exam and Site analysis, which is 21%- 27% , thinking, if I could master those sections it was almost 60- 70% of the exam , answer at least 50% correct in the other 2 sections, it would surely get me a passing grade...  I figured wrong.

    I FAILED my first of 4 exams to date last Friday. I am disappointed of course, but more confused as to what is really being tested on this exam and how or what to study differently. 

    My score report read as followsL:

    Level 3 in Building and Site Analysis

    level 2 in the other 2 sections.

    Perhaps I studied something correct in the 2 I passed and not enough in the others.. Still, I felt good about the exam while taking it and thought I for sure failed the other 3 while taking it and the outcome was the opposite each time. During PA, I felt I knew way much more than was asked of me and even some topics were never even touched on. 

    The experience with this test has left me a little confused as to what or how I need to study for the retake.

     

     

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    Mark Baker

    Kelly,

    Sounds like you did not do too bad and perhaps you just need to focus a little more on the two sections you did not do well on.

    These exams are very difficult.  And the questions vary by test version - so the next time you take the exam you may get some of the same questions and you may get completely different questions.  

    Site analysis can be very tricky depending on the way the questions are asked.  I always recommend reading a section and then quiz yourself on what you just learned.  Try to think of how you would explain it to someone else.  Read it, put it aside, and then come back to it a few days later.  Rinse, repeat. 

    I will 100% tell you, the sum total of 1000 or so questions these exams ask you comes nowhere close to what amount of information you read in studying for these exams.  I could not believe that all the content I was NOT questioned about.

    Keep at it and do not lose heart.  To paraphrase another wise guy on this forum - failing is a feature of these exams and not a shortcoming.

    Mark,  Archizam 

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    Kelly Ann Collini Colberg-Amador

    Thank you so much Mark for the response and the encouragement! I truly appreciate it.

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    Patricia Bourgeois

    Hi All,

    Update on my testing.  Since my post nearly a month ago, I have taken PPD and PDD and PASSED!!! Woo HOOOO!!!  I am so excited.  Now one test left!  I am so grateful and really excited about studying and getting this over.  In hind site, I would have given myself a little more time to study for PA than the 3 weeks I had alloted from the time I took CE (and passed)... plus coming off of CE which was easy (in my opinion - well - in comparison) after taking PcM and PjM, I think I was feeling a little over confident.  My mistake and I won't make it again.  

    I have scheduled the test for mid Jan. and I am studying already.  I have got to keep the momentum up and with the on coming Holiday's and a LOT going on with my family that is by far out weighing COVID and my test taking, I did not want to do it sooner.  So I am enjoying the time, because that's all we have.  A good mix of professional, family and personal.  And not in that order or any particular order.   Just doing it.  Because ultimately it's all important.  ALL of it. 

    My focus for studying will be the references listed in the handbook and taking as many practice test as I possibly can.  That's how I learn.  I have discovered Quizlet, and I'll take the time to make up as many study items as I can.  I like more focused sessions.  For example I have one made already that is on slopes, and another with the Preservation definitions.  Quick and easy.  And as much as I don't want to, I'll actually read Site, Planning and Design at least the chapters relative to PA.  I found that book to be boring at best and hard to read.  I know a lot of people have said it was easy to read, but not me.  And luckily my local library has copy.... guess who is the ONLY person to EVER check it out!  

    This exam is more subjective than objective in my opinion.  You really need to be comfortable with the concepts.  Having said that, I am not a designer.  I am a detailer.  I like putting the puzzle together, researching the best materials and putting it all together to make the designers ideas work.  Give me a sited design and I can make it happen.  Not the other way around.  I'm great at putting a set of documents together and with coordination.  Just don't ask me to design.  So, this is new territory for me.  I'd say that 22 + years since my last studio class does not qualify as experience.

    And one thing I can say about taking the test that changed my outlook... I used to be "scared" to take the exams.  But then I read a book by Mel Roggins, The 5 Second Rule.  In it she describes the feeling of being scared as the same as being excited.  So now I am "EXCITED"  to take the test.  And it really does change how I react to the whole experience. 

    Good luck to all of you.  Please keep us updated on your progress!   NEVER EVER give up.  

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    Kelly Ann Collini Colberg-Amador

    Congratulations Patricia!! and thanks for the feedback in general!

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    Patricia Bourgeois

    lol, it was kinda windy.... How are your tests coming along?

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