These posts have been incredibly helpful for me on my path to completing this exam, so I thought it was only fitting that I chime in now that I have officially passed the PA exam.
Let me first start off by saying - this exam is hard. There is no sugar coating it, no getting around the fact that I firmly believe this test is very difficult even for experienced licensure candidates. A little background about me - I am 28 years old with a master's degree and 4 years work experience. PA was my first exam, and the reason I chose this exam first is because I have completed my hours in this category and it just seemed like that logical exam to begin with since I have the most experience.....I think I was wrong. Nothing about this exam is relevant to work experience and real-world situations cannot really prepare you for it...so if that is your reasoning for starting with this one - don't!
Unfortunately for me and my bank account, I failed this exam twice before finally passing on the third try yesterday morning. What I found most frustrating about these exams is the fact that of the three exams I took - probably 75% of the questions were the same across all three tests. This might sound like a good thing to some, but when you aren't given any real feedback on what questions you got right or wrong, you're faced with the possibility of answering the same questions wrong every time. To each their own though, if some of you have a good photographic memory it may be helpful for you, because you will be able to remember the questions and answers and maybe better prepare yourself for your second try.
As far as studying goes, I practically studied for 6 months straight with the exams sprinkled in between, so I don't know that it is really all that helpful to spell out exactly what I did. In a general form, I read through all of the resources listed in the handbook and took notes, read them again and highlighted as I went, then made notecards and a study guide from all of the notes and highlights to review in the evenings as I would watch TV. I watched the Black Spectacles video lectures before the first exam, and they were just okay. Very broad in topics and information and don't really help with the logical thinking you need to use during the exam. For this last exam (the one I passed) I took the BS practice exams several times. They offer 4 different forms and I'm pretty sure I took each of them 2-3 times. Though I did find myself sort of "memorizing" the questions and answers, I do believe it helped me learn how to read the questions and answers in a way that would help me understand what was being asked. I also took the designer hacks practice exams a few times, which aren't really great comparable question types to the actual exam, but they are good for quizzing yourself on terms, vocabulary and concepts. Well worth the $40.
As for the actual exam, the new process is funky. The first two times I took it, it was before these changes were enacted and I must say I prefer the process of those. I didn't like not having scratch paper - not that the whiteboard technology gave me any issues, it was just inconvenient to use. I found that I didn't take a break this time either, because the questions lock at that point and I was afraid if I took the time to review questions in the middle of the exam, I wouldn't have enough time to finish.... so that was a bummer. But overall the new process went smoothly, so I can't complain too much.
The study guide I created is, I believe, 20-21 pages long and full of relevant information necessary to pass the exam. I've attached it to this post if anyone would like to use it for their own studying process. Needless to say, I don't want to ever read that thing again, LOL!
Good luck to all of you, and keep your head up if you've failed - I know first hand what a punch to the gut it is to see "fail" on that score report, but you've already come this far so you just have to keep pushing forward.
Link to my google doc study guide:
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