2.5 Years, Done With ARE

Comments

20 comments

  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai

     Nice wrap-up, Brendan -- and CONGRATULATIONS!

    Pretty long and rough process you went through -- way to persevere.

    Well done.

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Rachel Gubser

    Great job and thanks for taking the time to write up your strategy! Did you take any structures courses to get you thru ppd/PDD? From your post it seems you relied on the structures info in Ballast perhaps??

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Brendan Reilly (Edited )

    Hi Rachel, I actually did not even waste my time on any structures whatsoever. I was familiar with the main concepts of moment calculations, basic stress on columns (P=F/A), etc. I slowly realized that PPD and PDD are about knowing main concepts of everything and how they could apply to certain situations.

    Other than that I felt the structures studies were a waste of time both in my studying and on the exam. I didn't want to waste time memorizing formulas while studying and I didn't want to waste time on the exam calculating one problem while I could answer 3 or 4 other questions in the mean time. That's why I skipped over any calculation questions during the exam (until I had answered any other ones). My time was best spent elsewhere. Just my $0.02 though.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Rachel Gubser

    Thanks

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Hannah Davenport

    Brendan:

    "Someone to help cook, clean, laundry - heavily used"  -- Kudos to the unsung heroes.

    Did you use any MEEB, or did you feel like the BS / Ballast chapters were good review for that subject matter?

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Brendan Reilly

    Hannah,

    My girlfriend thanks you for the unsung hero label.

    I did not use any MEEB and I truly felt that the Ballast book was enough for both exams. I really recommend studying both the PPD and PDD for both exams. I felt one complimented the other pretty well. This is just my personal take, though. I've seen other posts saying they didn't like Ballast all too well.

    For what it's worth, I do own a copy of MEEB, but the shear amount of info seemed very daunting. I truly believe that just understanding basic concepts for each subject allows you to tackle the scenario-based questions on the exam. Hopefully that helps.

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai (Edited )

    Brendan -- thanks for your additional comments.  -- very helpful.

    Roger that on the daunting MEEB book.... wow.    I got that 2000 page book in the mail and kind of got that sinking feeling!  The basic concepts approach sounds like the ticket, and seems to be the consensus.

     

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Brendan Reilly

    Kurt,

    Yes. It took me a while to realize that it's the most beneficial to just know concepts. Most of the exam is "what is the best answer for this scenario" rather than "define this piece". Instead of memorizing pieces of things, it's better to understand overall concepts to better answer those scenarios.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai

    Yeah, that makes it sounds little more doable.

    Congrats again on your success!

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Charles Green

    Hi Brendan,

    Congrats on passing your exams!! I've passed the 3 4.0 exams, I just failed ppd and am signed up to take pdd in a month.

    Did you find the content of the Brightwood qbank questions to be relavant and accurate to the exam? I'm debating about buying that one or The Ballast practice problems book, I've read many bad reviews about the Ballast practice problems though so I'm undecided.

    If you could let me know your thoughts, I'd greatly appreciate it!

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Brendan Reilly

    Charles, 

    If I had to choose between the Brightwood questions or the Ballast practice problems, I would probably choose the Ballast ones. I always have found the Ballast questions way more challenging than other study sources (even in 4.0). I felt that while they are more challenging, I learned more by getting questions wrong and understanding what the correct answer is based on their summaries and feedback. I also liked that the Ballast practice exam had sample case studies. I felt they aren't as challenging as the ones on the exam, but it gives you the feel for understanding a main program with 10 questions related to the program problem.

    I bought the qbank questions because they were cheap and I feel like I learn most from the questions. I took questions everyday (35 a day, mixed between Brightwood and Design Hacks) which I think helped.

     

    Hopefully that helps.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Charles Green

    Yes this definitely helps! I totally agree with you about Ballast practice problems being more challenging.

    Thanks for your input and congrats again!

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Craig Johnson

    Congrats on finishing.  I also took the 3+2 road, and am unfortunately still on it...  I'm trying not to think about if transitioning to 5.0 was a bad move..  I have surpassed the point of saving myself any money/exams/time by trying this expedited route, and am feeling pretty beat up with having yet to pass a 5.0 exam.  While friends that started after me with this route are already finished. Ive already retaken both PDD & PPD.  Most recently my retake of pdd yesterday which I just found out was a fail...  It's demoralizing.  And especially when coworkers keep asking about them/how they're going/are you done yet?

    I did a brain dump in the parking lot after the exam (not to share, don't worry ncarb), and hopefully that will help with the next retake which I am going to schedule right now so I don't put it off.

    Your detailed strategy is nice to see, and something I might implement as I'm pretty burnt out at my current juncture.  This time I took the case studies first and am not sure it was the greatest move... as I still had a time crunch at the end.  Pdd is a beast..

    Next up is my re-retake of ppd.  Unfortunately I didn't brain dump (I think I was a little more naively optimistic leaving the exam), and will have to rely on ncarb feedback and my best recollection of the exam. 

    I still have 3.9 years to go. Missed my goal of finishing within a year, but ehh.  Congrats again and thanks for the detailed strategy!

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Brendan Reilly

    @Cjohnson I used to get frustrated with the failing, but I took each exam as a learning experience. The brain dumps helped a ton. A big thing I learned was not to tell anyone in my office about when my next exam was. I didn't need that extra pressure from people asking me if I passed or not. If it came down to it, I would say I'm taking my exam later this year and sort of brush it off. I'd also schedule my PTO as if it were an appointment. 

    A big thing is to not get discouraged after failing. In the end, it all comes down to lost money. That truly hurts right now, but in the long run that's it. You'll complete these exams well before the 3.9 years is done, so all it is right now is lost money and a little bit of more study time.

     

    After realizing these exams were about understanding overall concepts, it started clicking for me and I was able to nail it down.

     

    Good luck! 

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Mary Rixey

    Hey Brendan, 

    Thanks so much for your study approach and for making those of us that haven't passed on the first or second try not feel so bad about it! 

    Would you mind clarifying the Ballast book that you studied with for 5.0?  Is it the ARE 5 Review Manual by Ballast? That's the only book I see by Ballast referencing the 5.0 version, but I want to make sure I'm not missing something. 

    I've studied with the 4.0 materials for the 5.0 test, but so far have failed PPD twice (I just retook yesterday and found out today). I'm doing the 3+2 and passed the 3 (4.0) tests on the first try.  I'm really struggling with 5.0.  

    I also like your advice about not telling people when you're taking your test. It adds extra, not needed stress when people are always asking you about how it went! I'm going to try that too. Thanks.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Brendan Reilly

    Mary,

    These are tough exams so I hope no one gets discouraged when they have to retake them. They are not easy.

    The Ballast books I used:
    ARE 5 Review Manual
    ARE 5 Practice Problems
    ARE 5 Practice Exam

    The practice problems and practice exams were separate, smaller books. Found them helpful seeing as I'm more of a question person when it comes to studying.

    I ended up using a mix of 4.0 stuff (Caroline/Jenny's notes) as well as the Ballast 5.0 stuff and any Ballast 4.0 questions as well.

    I liked keeping the testing to myself to avoid the stress for that exact reason. Your own personal battle!

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hi Mary -- 

    Don't get discouraged in any way.  You've knocked out three exams first try.

    Plus -- the pass rates are just a bit over 50% on the average for 5.0:

    https://www.ncarb.org/blog/check-out-the-new-are-50-pass-rates 

    The pass rates appear to have have been significantly higher in 4.0:

    https://www.ncarb.org/pass-are/are4/pass-rates 

    And the 3+2 route is not easy for another big reason -- you are essentially learning two exam processes.

    Keep in mind that most candidates have not had great luck treating 5.0 like 4.0 -- as most have noted, the third-party materials may make a decent supplement, but are not a substitute for the reference materials outlined in the ARE 5.0 handbook:

    https://www.ncarb.org/sites/default/files/ARE5-Handbook.pdf 

    Also, read the PPD/PDD sections of this forum.  Post questions and answers -- really helps a lot.

    Good Luck!

      

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Mary Rixey

    Hi Kurt, 

    Thank you for all of that info. It definitely helps to look at the challenge from all of those perspectives. I have been using the Matrix references as outlined in the ncarb handbook, which is why I was so bummed that I failed PPD the second go round.  The first time I took it I had not studied with those materials.  

    On my second PPD test much of the material that I studied (MEEB, hvac, plumbing, electrical, structures) hardly appeared on my test, so I was confused and frustrated. Other than that, I mainly studies BCI and code, which I improved in. But I think I just need to go back to the matrix materials again. I'm also planning on looking through Ballast 5.0 as an extra resource this time around. I'm hoping that practicing the Ballast 5 questions will help me because I get particularly messed up on the questions that ask for the BEST of a bunch of seemingly correct options.

    I hadn't been using this forum as a resource until now, which I think has turned into a huge help. It's nice to know we're far from alone in the process!

    Thanks for the luck and advice!

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Mary Rixey

    Hi Brendan, 

    Thanks again for those resource recommendations. I think the Ballast 5.0 practice questions should help me too. I feel like I have a pretty good overall understanding of the concepts, but a hard time answering the tricky questions. Particularly when they ask for the "best" of a bunch of seemingly correct responses, and don't offer a lot of information about the angle they are asking the question from.

    Did you find that the Ballast questions were a similar style to those on the test?

    I'm going to go back to the ncarb matrix materials and also add Ballast 5 to the list of extra study material.

    Thanks again!

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Yadira DeSantis

    Congrats and great write up! Thank you for sharing your process.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink

Please sign in to leave a comment.

Powered by Zendesk