Most likely fail



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    Gen Li

    Christopher, I can understand your frustration. I felt the same way when I failed PA for the first time, then the second and third time. I am taking my fourth PA in 2 weeks, and what I have felt missing from studying ballast was the following:

    1. Understand slope. 5% (accessible walkway) vs 8.33% (ADA ramp), 10% etc.

    2. Understand soil reports, type of different soils

    3. Sustainable design methods, solar panels etc.

    4. Read articles about asbestos, radon and other remedies

    5. You can read from a few other people's notes on studying materials in this community.

    If you are feeling stressed, do take other exams first. I actually started from the beginning and took PcM, PjM, PPD, PDD, CE in that order and have passed everything on my first tries except for PDD. On the other hand, one of my colleague has studied nothing else besides the ballast and have left only PPD and PDD to pass. So don't get too stressed out!

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    Rebekka O'Melia

    Brush up on Programming by reading Problem Seeking (I remember reading it in college), read parts of the Site Planning & Design handbook.

    Read sections of Sun, Wind & Light. This exam overlaps with PPD in my opinion, so study that material in Ballast as well.  Use both practice exams in ppi to prepare.

    Read up about Historic Properties from the National Park Service website.

    Read up about brownfields.  I worked on some brownfield sites, so I was familiar with the concepts, but others may not be.  

    Keep pushing forward with studying!  Good luck!


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    Kylie DiLiberto

    I was able to pass on my first try for PA (caveat- this was my last exam and PPD and PDD, which I studied extensively for beforehand definitely prepared me for this one). Keep your head up! I also strongly recommend Ben Norkin's PA homework assignments. Look up Hyperfine and you can purchase for a reasonable $40 I think. They are pdf downloads and you can complete the assignments on your own time and use them to get into topics you might have skipped over elsewhere. Then they become a nice resource to review as you get closer to test day. It really helped me condense/focus my studying. I also recommend Elif's Practice Questions for PA, PPD and PDD. I have also used Designer Hacks for some easier quick questions to do on the couch when you're burnt out, but it was nice to have a different set of more difficult questions to review reasoning for. 

    Generally, I think having a clear understanding of rules of thumb for where to put a building on a site, topography, Brownfield remediation, types of soil, codes and zoning concepts. I would also say that just knowing the basic ADA distances and some code basics without reference is helpful to fly through those questions easily- like ramp slopes, egress hallway widths etc. Practice reading geotech reports and be aware of flood plains. Like Rebekka said, brush up on approaches for Historic projects. Also, budget changes, building efficiency, and life cycle cost analysis.

    Good luck! You can do this! Think about the wording of the questions when you are stuck- are they asking for budget-friendly solutions? Or is sustainable design important? (for example).

    When I took this exam, time was the limiting factor once I got to the case studies. Just stay focused and don't spend time on questions you know you're not going to get. 

    Hope this helps! I failed PPD and PDD on my first try. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

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    Adam D'Elia

    I just had the same experience Chris. I would say maybe 10-15% of what I studied had relevance. Multiple questions for calculations, more than a few in the case studies, The general complexity of the case studies I thought were not reasonable.

    I studied Amber and some ballast notes, design hackers, all the usual suspects. . Did not feel prepared at all. Felt like I sat down to a test filled with never ending complex questions and way too much info to digest.

    Any help to bring better prepared for the css studies would help.

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