Looking for study advice for those who have passed!

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    Kurt Fanderclai (Edited )

    It's great that you are hanging tough and still pressing forward. That is awesome.  

    I'll wait for others to weigh in since I've yet to take this exam, but I will guess as to what's coming for you in the way of advice:  your reliance on Ballast may not be the best approach.  The 5.0 study materials matrix lists about 15 sources.  So in light of that, there is no way that Ballast can be your primary source.  

    As I move through these exams, I'm hearing less about third party materials in general.  Which, given the 5.0 philosophy, makes sense -- the matrix references are tools of the trade -- AHPP, Steel Manual, CSI Manual, IBC, Ching, etc, etc.   Third party materials are test cramming references, but are not referenced by practicing architects.

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    Stephanie Waples

    I'll echo what Kurt said. I am can't speak directly to PDD since I haven't taken it, but I did take and pass PcM and thoroughly believe that if I had only studied Ballast, I would have been completely screwed -- even if I knew everything in it forward and backward. Some may attribute that to overlaps/content in the wrong division, but I read PcM, PjM, AND CE to be safe in case of that and I feel the same way. Even that wouldn't have been enough.

    It seems that a combination of on-the-job experience and matrix materials is what's really helping people get that pass. 

     

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    Kurt Fanderclai (Edited )

    Not to imply that I don't have some sense of frustration regarding some of the unknowns of the new exams.

    I definitely like the form of the 5.0 exams so far -- but I am also empathetic to anyone trying to get adjusted to the new exam process.  There is just not a ton of feedback out there yet...  which was what I was getting at in the linked post... 

    The feedback -- on study materials and whatever else -- from the select few candidates who actually take the time download their post-test thoughts is invaluable. 

    https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/115007125548-Fellow-lab-rats-guinea-pigs-and-other-assorted-test-subjects- 

     

     

     

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    Russell Dilworth (Edited )

    I passed both PPD and PDD first try.  I don't say this to brag, but rather to demonstrate that my method was effective.  I attempted to study the 5.0 ballast material and found them to be complete garbage!  I liken my experience to studying a science text book.  The material is too dense, incoherent, and unhelpful.  Plus I found many mistakes.  It led me to believe I couldn't trust the material.  What I found to be very helpful was to study the 4.0 material.  NCARB lists for each test the material that will be covered in the test.  I took that list and found in the 4.0 materials the sections that aligned with the 5.0 test.  I would highly recommend this course of action.  The 4.0 materials are far more vetted and clear than the 5.0 materials.  I almost exclusively studied Kaplan.  I used some flash cards in addition. 

    My single best advice to anyone transitioning from 4.0 to 5.0 is to have a strategy for time management when taking the new tests.  My first test I did not feel like I had enough time.  I had 1 minute left when I finally finished.  The second exam I strategized my time management better and ended up with 30 minutes left.  I used the final 30 minutes to check my answers. 

    I hope this helps you!  Don't over think the tests and good luck. 

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Russell -- Congratulations on the passes!

     

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    Aviva Galaski

    Russell, that was super helpful to hear, because that is the study methodology I have been using (although I've mostly studied with Ballast 4.0) and I test for PDD on Saturday! What was your time management strategy for your second test?

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    Russell Dilworth

    I did a couple things:

    1st:  NCARB doesn't give a recommendation for recommended time breakdown between the multiple choice portion and the case studies.  So it would be very easy to spend way too much time on the multiple choice without leaving much for the case studies.  The case studies need a decent chunk of time.  I found about 1 hour to 1.5 hours to be a necessary amount of time for the 20 questions of the case studies.  So if you reach the 1.5 hours left point in your test and you're still far from completing the multiple choice, consider moving on and going back after you complete the case studies. 

    2nd:  As you may or may not know, some of the questions are quite lengthy in the multiple choice portion.  I found it very overwhelming to see a whole page of information.  When I came to a lengthy question like this, I marked it for review and moved on.  I did not read one sentence.  I just skipped it and moved on.  Thus, I was able to get through all the shorter and less time consuming questions first. 

    3rd: I didn't second guess myself.  If I knew the answer I didn't hesitate.  I answered and moved on.  I think this single strategy is what led to me having 30 minutes left after I answered all questions (including those I marked for review).  It was seriously so nice to have all that time to go back and re-read/re-check my answers.  I ended up changing about 5 of my answers. 

    The ballast 4.0 material is way better than their 5.0.  Good luck Aviva!

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    Jesse McConnell

    I agree with Russell in his post above.  Leaving around 1.5 hours for case studies is wise.  Also as he points out in his 3rd point don't second guess yourself.   I would answer every questions, allowing myself to spend no more than 1 min per question if it took longer i would mark an answer then mark the questions to review later.  This way if for some reason i didn't have time to go back at least I had answered the question.   

    The study material I primarily used was ArchiFlash Cards from 4.0 ( I just studied the whole box for PDD and PPD)  And I watched the videos on the paid subscription for Blackspecticles.com   I watched some structures videos by Dilip Khatri on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsroawNCMJA

    Using those 3 resources I was able to pass PDD, PPD and hopefully soon P&A in 5.0 and PPP and CDS in 4.0

    Hope this helps!  Good Luck!  

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    Ryan NCARB

    Very helpful insight in here for folks Russell and Jesse.  Thanks for posting.  And Russell, congrats on both of those passes!

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    Kurt Fanderclai (Edited )

    Ryan:

    Russell's 16:16 posts seems to indicate that he studied only 4.0 third-party materials in order to pass 5.0 PPD and PDD.

    If you have a moment, could you expand a bit on the "very helpful insight" nature of this approach? 

    The verbiage at the top of the ARE 5.0 Reference Matrix describes the matrix as a "comprehensive list".

    Is this not the case?

     

     

     

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    Ryan NCARB

    Hey Kurt,

    Russell touched on a strategy we talked about back around the launch of ARE 5.0 when less third-part study material was even available.  A lot of people asked if they needed to buy all new ARE 5.0 study material and the answer is "no."  We moved almost 6,000 items over from ARE 4.0 to ARE 5.0, which means a lot of the content is the same.  The biggest differences between the two versions is just the way they are organized.  So if you use the ARE 5.0 Handbook to review the way content and topics are organized, the older ARE 4.0 study material can still be useful.

    That being said, I also don't think you necessarily need any third-party material to study.  Focus on the content not individual sample items.  When you focus on the content, the ARE 5.0 Reference Matrix is very much a comprehensive list.  Each reference on that list is used to author ARE 5.0 items and covers the objectives in each division.

    Hope this helps.

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    Joy Newberry

    I took PDD yesterday, and failed.

    I focused mainly on Ballast.  I felt confident after the exam, as I thought I knew a lot just from work experience.  Obviously, that didn't quite cover it!

    I felt like Ballast didn't prepare me, as hardly any of the material directly helped me on the test.  I'll be looking at more direct source materials for my next go around. 

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    Erin Rensink

    Hi all. I too passed PPD and PDD by studying 4.0 material (5.0 material was not released yet.) I had already passed 4 of the 4.0 exams so knew what study strategy worked well for me but was intimidated by the amount of material. Rebecca it sounds like you already studied a lot and I'll share what materials I used because mine are different.

    I already owned the ArchiFlash 3.0 flashcards so used those to study. It was an intimidating stack of cards with the amount of content in the 5.0 exams but they helped immensely.

    I used the Kaplan 4.0 exam guides. As I hadn't taken structures in 4.0 I closely went through the guide and made sure my math was spot on and that I understood all the concepts. Then I took the practice exam. It took me 2-3 days to take the final exam and another 2-3 to go back and understand what I had missed. I used the other 4.0 Kaplan study guides if they covered relevant content.

    I also went through the reference matrix in the AIA Handbook and ordered as many of the relevant books through my library as I could. Many of the books were in reference and I spent a very long day at the library reading as many books on the list as possible. I also found out they had ordered the ARE 5.0 study materials.

    One thing that I realized would have helped is to have browsed through details and product information for materials, lighting, doors, windows, etc. as the drag and drop sections in the practice exams look just like some of those details.

    To echo the other posts above studying materials in the reference matrix plus experience was what really pulled me through on these two exams.

    Good luck!

    I don't think this is applicable to PPD or PDD but I listened to the Schiff Hardin lectures for the AIA documents (pro tip - you can listen to them at 2x speed):

    http://www.schiffhardin.com/professionals/attorneys/d-i/hanahan-michael-j/hanahan-lecture-notes-2017

    http://www.schiffhardin.com/professionals/attorneys/d-i/hanahan-michael-j/hanahan-lecture-notes-2016

     

     

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    Sarah Wright

    In all honesty, I relied pretty heavily on my work experience. I studied both the PPD and PDD sections for this exam, but when I took the exam, I felt almost like I had studied the wrong material. And I felt the same way when I took PPD. Though, I passed both exams somehow.. I wonder if the 4.0 material would be better than the 5.0? There were so many mistakes in the 5.0 material, I started to loose a bit of trust in it. It did seem that a handful of problems were able to be solved not necessarily by performing time consuming math equations, but by analyzing the charts/information/code provided and using process of elimination. That saved me quite a bit of time on a few questions. Also, I did the same as some have previously mentioned, first run through, don't second guess. I just answered, marked for review if I wasn't sure, and moved on. I ended up with 30 minutes to review at the end, which wasn't enough time to review all that I had marked, but I did change my answers on probably 3 of the questions.

    Good Luck!!!

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    Meredith Guy

    Everyone- THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR COMMENTS!  I am taking PDD the 2nd time, and have shifted all my focus on studying 4.0 material.   This is my last test, so I really want to get it behind me.   I really appreciate you feedback - and Congrats!!!

     

     

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    Darci Lorensen

    Hi All-

    Not sure if it's been said, but Building Construction Illustrated was probably the most helpful study reference for me. Also Graphic Standards. I took PDD and PPD 4 days apart (and got lucky enough to pass both!), and these books were helpful for both divisions. Good luck to all testing! :)

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    Meredith Guy

    Awesome!  Thanks Darci!  I actually have both of those books, and haven't spent much time studying them, so that is very helpful!  

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    Darci Lorensen

    Yes, definitely take a look at them! I unfortunately didn't crack open BCI until about a week before my exams, so I wasn't able to look through as much of it as I would have liked to, but the whole thing is relevant haha. 

    Also, remember that the about the two most important things for an architect to know is 1) life safety and 2) how to keep water out of buildings. Make sure you understand how to deal with those two things for this test! :)  

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    Daniel Ostfeld

    Darci,

    Could i ask in what chapter of Graphic standards you focus your studies.

    I'm studying for PPD & PDD together. I've been reading Building construction illustrated cover to cover, also reading Fundamentals of Building Construction and MEEB. I've seen that a lot of people have been also reading thru Graphic standards which i have in my library. But is such a beast that i don't know what to focus on and what to skim thru.

    Thanks,

     

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    Darci Lorensen

    Daniel-

    I actually never got to Graphic Standards. I happened to open it up at work a week or so after my test to look something up, thumbed through a little, and thought to myself that it would be a good reference if I needed to retake a test.

    So I don't have specific sections to recommend, but I'd think if you scan it a little to supplement what you're already studying, you'll be golden. Good luck!

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    Jennifer Whitney

    I have 2 coworkers who passed their tests after only using Ballast. To each their own. 

    I would suggest trying out all the options. Take an area you aren't confident in- read a chapter in Ballast, read a chapter in Kaplan/Brightwood, read a couple of chapters from the books mentioned in the Matrix. See which one works for you. Everyone is different. Personally I use everything, mostly focusing on the books referenced in the Matrix. But seriously, try out a little of everything, and don't assume that someone else's study method is the study method for you. You will find one that "clicks"

    If you decide to use the Ballast/Kaplan study guides - make sure to check them against the handbook. Both of the coworkers who used Ballast mentioned that they felt the material was a little lopsided - multiple chapters devoted to sections that weren't that important, and vise-versa 

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