What is your ARE 5.1 break strategy?

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    Brandon Bibby

    Hi Afxentis, I took the new PA exam this week and was very concerned about this as well. My strategy on the other five exams I’ve passed was skipping directly to the case studies, taking and break and doing all of the multiple choice and review afterwards. The new format forced me to approach it differently and while I do not know yet if I passed, I was a lot more calm and felt the pace went well. I divided my exam into questions of ten and forcing myself to 20 mins to answer the group of ten. I first went through and answered any quick question that didn’t require any math or diagrams as quickly as possible giving me more time to allocate to the more time consuming questions. I saved the hardest question for the end of my 20 minutes to give myself the most time for that question and if I couldn’t get it I marked it and moved on. Did the same for the next set of ten and when I got through 40 questions actually had about 5 minutes I didn’t use towards those questions that I went back and reviewed my flagged questions and took my first 10 minute break. I took it confident that I did not need to see those questions again. I did the same thing for the next questions until right before the case studies. I made sure to know what question number the case study began before clicking onto the next question, had about 3-4 minutes to review and was able to take a second break which is nice about this new format. Came back and had exactly one hour to get though the case studies which was not a lot of time but got though all the questions with exactly one minute left. I didn’t want to go back and change any answers so I finished the exam there. With this new format I encourage you to take more breaks to stop the clock and allow yourself to breathe and stay calm. Don’t worry about reviewing at the end. Hope you may find my approach helpful!

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    Julia De Vito

    Hi Afxentis,

    After a break, you'd still have access to any not viewed Case Study questions and all the resources within them.

    My strategy during a recent exam was to take a break mid-way through the exam time. In the first part I completed about half of the multiple choice questions, and a few questions for each Case Study, so that I could access resources available within the Case Studies after the break.

    I gave myself 10 minutes before taking the break to review any flagged items.

    You can test this in the Demo exam.

    I hope this helps! 

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    Caitlin Torrance

    My plan is to power through without a break. I've taken 4 exams and haven't taken a break for any of them - the thought of waiting to leave the room until a proctor is free, having to re-check in (especially if it's crowded, no covid-19 limits on number of people in the testing room despite what Prometic has been saying about precautions), worry about the pause clock the whole time...not worth it for me. It would totally break the "zone" I find myself in during testing. I'm just going to limit water and food before the exam and hope my contacts behave. A stray fuzz on a contact lens can now literally cause me to fail this exam, and I hate that, but this is the best I can do with ncarb changing the rules half-way through my testing experience.

    Good luck finding what works for you!

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    Robin Kuc

    Caitlin, I've taken little plastic ampules of saline and Prometric-provided tissues in with me each time in case something bothers my contacts lenses.  Luckily, I've not had a problem but it relaxes me to know that I have eye drops available, should it happen.

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    Afxentis Christoforou

    Thanks all for the ideas. Brandon, you mentioned something I completely forgot about, that the break timer is not a 1-time thing, instead it's all about "remaining time" so in theory, you can have a bunch of mini-breaks to just pause and catch your breathe but of course, you can't go back and rework anything.

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