PDD Fail :(



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    Joy Newberry

    I also failed.  I feel a bit flustered about this as well.  I felt like I knew the material and was well prepared, and got a result that I was deficient in Construction Documents (NOT my impression leaving the test, even what I felt I didn't know was not in this area).

    I'm at a loss - "Construction Documents" is so vague and could be considered almost any question on the test.  

    Have you taken PPP / SPD / CDS in 4.0?

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    Michael Maciocia

    Yup, I breezed through PPP/SPD/CDS passing first time. I'm kind of regretting switching over at this point, at least the previous  4.0 exams were clearer in topics covered.

    All the study material I've been using covers literally everything, but even still there were a number of questions in the exam that simply were not covered in any study material I read, and left me feeling very flummoxed.

    I'm also in total disbelief at how bad the lag was during my exam, I lost at least 5-10 mins of time waiting for questions to load, and reference pages to load. 

    Are we to spend thousands of dollars buying all the reference books on the ARE 5.0 handbook and spend the next 5 years studying them all?

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    Anne Lebo

    I'm going to venture a guess that since you're reading a TON (which is great - the exposure to that amount of material can only help), the amount of information you're trying to memorize is spread over so many topics, making what you're taking with you not specific enough for the exam. 

    I've consistently experienced in all four exams I've taken that using as many practice tests as I can get my hands on for a topic is the best way to understand not just the content, but *how* you'll be expected to relay the information you know. There's always going to be slightly obscure pieces of information to know, and specific ways in which decisions about one system will affect other systems. It also seems to me that figuring out exactly what the question is asking for can sometimes be a huge hurdle, and the key pieces given to solve the problem are not always the most obvious. 

    Since you got a 75% on the practice exam you took, it might be worthwhile to go back through and explain why you knew the right answer, and see if it matches the explanations given in the book. If you're getting more lucky guesses than you can explain, that might be an indicator. Again, its odd and I'm sure frustrating that you've dedicated so much of your time and effort to studying, but don't give up! It is quite possible that taking practice tests from 4.0 material will help you to identify those types of questions that throw you off. 

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    Michael Maciocia

    Thanks for the reassuring words Anne.

    You're spot on with your analysis. I totally understand all the content that I'm presented with (besides some super complex structures stuff) but don't get too into the weeds trying to memorize specific content, and data. 

    I guess something that I have been typically doing so far has been to dedicate my time to one resource, and study it all the way through, then move on to the next resource, in a linear manner. I might be better off focusing on one topic using many resources. Week 1 = Mechanical Systems; Week 2 = Structural Systems etc.

    And yes, I think I need to do as many practice problems as possible.

    How long have to typically been spending studying for each exam?

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    Anne Lebo

    Ouch! It sounds like you're making it more difficult with the linear method than necessary! I'd plan your studying around the topics from the NCARB guides and definitely not resource-by-resource. As you suggested, going back over specific details of topics like mechanical systems and structural systems would be helpful. I wouldn't even go so far as to split it up by a topic per week like that, especially since part of the goal of the new tests is synthesizing what effects selecting a specific mechanical system might have on, say, your interstitial space between the ceiling and floor above and the structural system. 

    I studied around 3 to 5 weeks for each test, so I don't think you're lacking on effort! I've studied around an hour each weekday, and 2 to 5 on weekends. I aim for 30 minutes of serious "getting into the weeds" study a day. Skimming topics I'm already partially familiar with does not seem to help me progress on growing my depth of knowledge on a certain subject.

    I don't think you need to bust it all out for 3 months to get a pass on this test! Pretend like you're going to class and accept the fact that the "teacher" is going to present things you don't know and your goal is to learn 3 to 5 specific things in that 30 minutes. That's where the practice problems will help :)

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    Stephanie Dornbusch de Halfen

    Hi! Thanks for the advise Anne. I also believe that's the best way to study but I'm a little lost in regards what practice exams to use for this test... can you suggest what practice exams to take?

    thanks in advance for your help!

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    Anne Lebo (Edited )

    Hi Stephanie. I've been working through the 4.0 Kaplan practice questions and practice exam for BS and BDCS. I've also used the practice exams from Ballast 4.0 BS and BDCS. I've also watched almost all of the youtube videos from Black Spectacles practice exams, and reviewed structures from my college class notes & youtube videos.  

    Websites with questions (I'm actually not sure what is allowed to be recommended, so Mods delete if necessary, but google is your friend for finding resources!):





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    Stephanie Dornbusch de Halfen

    Hi Anne

    Thank you very much for your answer this really helps!

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    Erika Duran

    Any updates on this thread? I failed and I feel like I studied and prepared really well - very similar to what most of the comments are stating.

    This is very tough. How have people revised their strategies - any success out there?


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    Carlos Nunez

    Any other recommendations? Has anybody taken the Funkaar Institute courses?  Are they worth it (Lots of money)?  I passed SD, SPD, CDS and PPD in 4.0. I have been working on this field for nearly 17 years (12 post graduation). Studied most of this year for PPD and PDD in 5.0, and failed each twice.  Super frustrating.  We are having our second little treasure baby in July.  I simply want to wrap things up and be done with it. Even if it means spending a little more. 

    I am having difficulty identifying how to improve my score on the test because after I am done with the exams I feel like I did great based on the information provided, only to find out that's not right. I have an idea of which may be the ones I responded wrong, but the reason is that the questions are so tricky and open ended that I simply wouldn't have the perfect response unless more information is provided.  What is your strategy to attack these?

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