Just took PA yesterday and passed. I am now done with the AREs!
For PA, know how to read site plans, topography and soil boring logs, know how building efficiency works, know the historic preservation levels and what each entails, understand different types of soil remediation tactics and hazardous materials. Also know various sustainable passive cooling and heating strategies as well as materials for a building in its respective climate (It's not on NCARB's matrix but Best Practices for Sustainable Building Design by Vassigh is a great, easy book to read for this; I used it for undergrad and I found it super helpful for climatic building design).
As some words of advice for the AREs now that I'm done:
With this exam and the others as well, if the questions are long, flag them and come back to them. It's easy to get hung up on one when you know you have to move on. Make sure you read everything in the question. Every word is in there for a reason and it could be the difference between a right answer and a wrong answer if you didn't every line or bullet point.
It's also very important to not try and find the right answer per se (because some questions you'll know the right answer right away), but eliminate the obvious wrong answers and before you know it, you go from a 25% chance of getting it right, to a 50% chance of getting it right. With the 3 or 4 that apply questions, it definitely helps even more to eliminate obvious wrong answers first then you're left with the 3 or 4 that are correct. Attack these questions like this, these tests will be less daunting.
This exam is challenging I'm not going to lie. I was on the fence on how I fared before I read my provisional feedback.
I can't thank The Amber Book and Michael Ermann enough for his amazing study content. Best study resource on the planet if you're on a time crunch or just hate studying and can't retain info from the mountains of books and documents NCARB has on their matrix. He makes this content so easy to read and follow it's perfect for us architects. I swear it made the exams feel 5x easier to tackle.
Michael Riscica and Young Architect Academy has great content for ProPractice and I highly recommend you give this a look.
Ben Norkin and Hyperfine Architecture also has great ProPractice content.
Erik Walker has a great practice exam for PcM and is currently developing more for the other divisions. He has PA exam too but I didn't use it for PA.
David Doucette and Eric Corey Freed at Architect Exam Prep has awesome audio content for each division.
Other resources include: Ballast (didnt use too much after PjM), Designer Hacks, Quizlet, ArchiPrep by the AIA, and Black Spectacles (practice exams only; the videos aren't that great IMO).
However, I did supplement AB and the other test prep providers with other resources like AHPP, Architect Graphic Standards, Building Codes Illustrated, Building Construction Illustrated, Architect's Studio Companion and Fundamentals of Building Construction to get a better grasp on the content. For the other ProPrac exams, the AIA docs NCARB recommends in their reference matrix are a must read and you have to understand this stuff (PcM, PjM and CE); it's a non-negotiable.
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