Time used for reading study material

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    Caitlin Torrance

    You're not going to like this answer, but take the time that you need to take to study. You're not racing anyone to get these done.

    I read very quickly, but I need repetition to remember things. I would read, make flash cards, make study tables, and constantly edit all of those as I read more resources and concepts started to click together. I started studying full time because work was slow, but once work picked up my weeks looked like this: work 8-5, break with dinner 5-7:30, study 8-11, relax for half an hour, then bed by midnight. Weekends is when I would typically tackle the practice exams because I could give myself 3-4 hours for the test, take a break, then spend 2-3 hours reviewing the exam and updating notes accordingly.

    I studied pro practice for 3.5 months before taking my first exam PcM, then took PjM two weeks later, and CE a month after that. For the technicals my study group did a sprint for PA in 6 weeks (this was to get one attempt in before ncarb took away our scratch paper - it was intense, but paid off with a pass!). I then slowed down a bit and took PPD and PDD 11 days apart, after 3 months of constant studying for them together. I finished in 11 months because everything else in my life stopped because of covid. It would probably have taken me at least twice that had life been "normal". You have to make these exams a priority, though. Good luck with everything!

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    Jane Chung

    Hi Caitlin,

    Thanks for your input and sharing your schedule. I pretty much was in the same boat as you. Work got slow at times and was 100% remote so I was really able to get more studying in literally right after work. I would get at least 2 hours of study to 4/6 hours max on the weekdays with 6+ hours on the weekends. I always made myself some time to take a break and have a life but with covid it has given me the advantage to just sit down and study. So i was able to get most time in on the weekends. I really wanted to get at least a round of each section because I'm not the best test taker. So i found myself needing double or triple the time or study material than many around me to pass any kind of test. I'm really happy with the study material that I have but wanted to be sure I wasn't wasting my time taking too long on a book. I found to waste time getting distracted or doing other stuff when I scheduled my exam too far out. So i thought 6 month was too long for me because I didn't focus as much as when I scheduled for 3 months of studying. I think scheduling 1 month has really pushed me to stay focused and get studying done but PA itself has been quite a lot of material to cover. It was really unmotivating when I didn't pass the first two exams but I kept reminding myself and thought in a positive way that retaking these will just get me better at taking exams as well as obtain more knowledge and understanding of everything. 

    So really appreciate the input! 

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    Peter Mall

    What worked for me for every exam was two-three weeks of straight reading (Ballast and other primary sources), one week of YouTube videos (search for playlists) and audio lectures (ie Schiff Hardin), and one full week of practice exams (Designer Hacks, Ballast, etc.). I had about 1 hour after work Mon-Thurs to study, took off Friday, and did 4-8 hours between Sat and Sun. Flash cards every night before bed. Passed all exams on first attempt. Its good to have a week or so between tests to decompress and gear up for another. I would space them 5-6 weeks apart.

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    Jane Chung

    Hi Peter, So that is actually what I have scheduled and i'm really relieved to hear that you spent 2-3 weeks of reading because that is about the same amount of time that i've spent on every exam. That's great that you were able to pass all on the first attempt and definitely need that break to step away and do anything other than study. Did you ever reschedule you exam just because of stuff just getting in the way that you couldn't end up studying that day or do you find that more of an excuse to just not study? I just started a new job and doing a lot more overtime than my previous so I started to freak out for this PA exam and actually ended up rescheduling about 2 weeks after the original schedule so I can even have time to finish my flashcards and go over them. 

    I have all my other exams 1 month apart but wasn't sure if it was rushing. it's nice to hear from someone who has taken the exam that far apart. 

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    Peter Mall

    Jane, I never did feel the need to reschedule an exam. I did PcM, PjM and CE back to back, took off a couple months and did P&A. Then Covid came and closed the testing centers. Once they opened I did PPD and PDD back to back. When I kicked off studying for each exam and had them scheduled I did not let anything get in my way. My firm was good about not overloading me so that I have time (and capacity) to study. 

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