Guys! It’s all worth it. The exams are strenuous on your psyche, on your body, mind and your family... There are no two ways about it... but still it’s worth it. They make you study hard and study again till you pass them. It’s as much a grind as real practice and once completed you are a much more informed professional!
So go ahead start taking them one after another. Momentum is the key. Book your date and study for it. I followed a two month schedule and that worked out quite well for me. I did PPP, SPD, CDS and then transitioned to ARE 5.0. Overall I completed all exams in 1 year 4 months that included retake of two exams.
I want to tell you particularly how it all worked for me. I am a mom of two, and my two daughters are age 4 and 6. It’s very challenging with children especially cas they don’t understand why their mom can’t spend time with them and has to study all the time.. But I completely believed that seeing a mom who is immersed in studies is much better than seeing a mom who is wasting time watching TV, that way I had every right to tell them to switch that TV off when they exceeded their time limit. Having said that, to mitigate the challenge that I cannot keep my kids locked away from me once I reached home, I decided to make maximum use of the entire day activities towards my goal. Starting with the way I tackled my day to day work in the office. Luckily, I am working on a really large infrastructure project that is currently under construction. So I made sure I did my work very thoroughly, and did invest my time and energy in understanding real construction, products used in building assemblies, detailing of systems etc. Exposure to various construction issues, their remedy and contractor’s feedback on everything made me aware about a lot of scenarios that are being asked in the exams. I would definitely recommend everyone to get as much site visit experience with a senior professional in your office and understand minute details. At home I focused on watching a number of you tube video channels that provided information for areas related to structures, mechanical design, electrical lighting etc. What helped me was discussing the topics with a study partner and being focused on learning beyond the study guide to understand the concepts. I studied with my study partner while driving home for an hour and additionally I studied home for about two-three hours daily. I routinely discussed the issues with engineers and senior architects in my office and that knowledge was definitely helpful.
Resources used by me are:
Black spectacles: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZkrgFedR-1DU8eKeH5QBUg
The engineering mindset: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk0fGHsCEzGig-rSzkfCjMw
Dilip Khatri: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtgFM2JcosSHoIIK2KKsLVw
Others: Kaplan, Ballast, Flashcards, Quizlet, Are Exam prep, NCARB monographs
There resources are really limiting for PDD exam which is a much more graphical exam. Architectural graphics standard is very helpful. What was most helpful in PDD EXAM was understanding the exam specification published by NCARB. The content area for the test is so huge, that you have to understand what the exam will focus on. That gives a realistic idea about what to study and how to retain the information. For example.. Seismic loading and wind loading on structure is quite critical and can be a cause of structural damage. So that is critical to study. Various scenarios that are critical for building envelope for these environmental conditions are critical as well. Major structural failures that have been learning lessons are informative as well. NCARB has a number of digital monographs published online that are great resources. In the exam itself I used the given references quite a bit to confirm that I was using correct formulae. At times you can use the formula for a question to analyze relationship of two entities. I will agree with others that PPD and PDD are a monster exam, and need much more prep than others. But nothing can prepare you like taking a real test.
Overall, I must say that the experience of taking these exams made me realize how badly I wanted to do this for myself and how much support I needed from everyone around me. My family, office colleagues, and friends everyone was on board with me on this drill and that really helped ease the stress of grueling schedule. I am really thankful to people on this forum who took the time off their busy schedule to provide feedback and study techniques. I wish you all best of luck.
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