First I wanted to say that this community was a great source to gather and organize information about study material and learn from other candidates' experiences, I even compiled an extensive checklist of topics that were referenced repeatedly throughout the PA forum and took a good deal of time to learn and study them for the test. However, I regret to say that I received a fail on my exam this weekend, and I am thoroughly confused. I repeatedly read posts across the board that encouraged studying Brownfields, ESA phases, Zoning History + its Origin, Soils and Foundations, Historical Preservation, Hazardous Materials, Construction types, Erosion, Development Patterns, the list goes on - yet my exam experience served to be nothing of the sorts. Can anyone relate? Has anyone read this forum, the resources and topics to know and have the real exam be vastly different?
I studied for 6 weeks, 10-20 hours a week. I didn’t really have a problem missing days of reading and studying, I enjoyed the time spent learning and I know I will apply this all in the future, regardless!
I watched Pluralsight, took and studied practice tests like weARE + Walking the ARE, Designer Hacks quizzes and tests routinely, I felt that this was right in sync with what I was learning in SPDH, Problem Seeking, Brightwood, Ballast ARE 5.0 Review Manual - but n/a in my experience.
I found that the ARE 5.0 Review Manual PA chapters 7 - 11 were entirely a waste of time. I thought this was going to be key for me (I mean it’s the PA chapters, it’s Ballast/PPI, this has to be essential right?) Wrong… I know that PA can bleed into PPD but Ballast should probably rethink what they call PA in their book. I'm disappointed that I spent $200 to be completely misled, do not waste your time. This has made me question whether or not to trust this resource on the other tests.
Site Planning and Design was actually a great read, really easy to understand and had some helpful charts - I was disappointed to have read and studied these resources and felt like useless information come exam day.
Problem Seeking was also a fine read, learning about the 5 Steps of Programming and associated topics was cool, again, not applicable for me.
I will say however that another candidate recommended going through the guidebook and creating your own study guide this way - I thought this was an awesome idea. It was definitely helpful to write out what the guidelines said they would be testing you on, and kind of filling in the blanks with what you know. This was really helpful for me, but still found the test to have lacked about 80% of what I laid out from the guidelines. Even knowing Building and Analysis was the largest section of the test, what I had been exposed to on that topic through DH, Ballast, Brightwood, Pluralsight did not serve to be the right information you need for the exam.
Long story short, after getting in a groove with the resources, practice tests, probably a couple hundred flashcards of concepts and reading chapters - I feel like my test was entirely from left field. Does anyone have a similar experience with PA? Just bummed that what I figured would be at least a percentage of I would see in the forums come up on exam day wasn't the case. I guess that's the way algorithms work though, right?
I have been considering purchasing my exam, it’s a lot for $300 and only seeing my incorrect answers without the solutions, but if what I was studied was supposed to be the PA exam, and what I took was the real PA exam - I guess it’s better than nothing! If anyone has any tips, suggestions, comments - anything is helpful at this point! If you’ve read this far, I hope my experience can be useful and help to scope out some of the uncertainties that come along with resources and what I found to be true.
Please sign in to leave a comment.