Be wary of switching to 5.0

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22 comments

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    Ryan NCARB

    Hi everyone.  A lot of things have been said back and forth on this thread...some opinion – some fact.  Some helpful – some not.  And a lot of the original posts have also been highly edited so portions of this thread no longer even make sense.

    I want to just comment on a couple portions.  First, Tim, you asked if the three test limit is the same as Rolling Clock.  No.  They are not.  Neither of these are new policies and both have been in place in ARE 4.0 and ARE 5.0.  I recommend reading the ARE 5.0 Guidelines on each: page 7 for the Rolling Clock and page 23 for the retake policy.

    Sean, you left out an important detail.  NCARB did not take a pass away from you.  You were sent someone else’s score report because you originally tested under the incorrect person’s name and eligibility.  Those are different things.  You have since been issued the correct score report for your performance that day and provided a free retest because of the inconvenience.  Again, NCARB did/does not take away passing score reports.  Believe it or not, we actually want everyone to pass!

    Daniel and Erica provided some helpful perspectives above.  Erica’s post on scoring is spot on.  I also recommend watching the YouTube link that Matthew posted.

    I am going to close this thread because it seems to have progressed beyond was is helpful or productive.  Please continue to ask questions, make posts, and get feedback from others on new threads.  But please remember to do so in a courtesy way.

  • Avatar
    Darguin Fortuna (Edited )

    I am very happy with my results. It shows progress. Substantial progress over a period of a few months. A few more months will do the job. I already paid and I am ready to retake asap. I never back down and never give up. 

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    Timothy Galano

    I just got off the phone with NCARB and the scheduling issue is because apparently you can only take the test three times in one year, meaning I need to wait until my 1 year anniversary of failing a first time to take it again now. :(

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    Daniel Spilman

    Timothy,

    I'm sorry to hear about your struggles with PPD. Such a bummer. However, I honestly couldn't disagree more. I have nothing but positive things to say about 5.0. When I first started studying for the AREs I was looking at 4.0. Then I decided to just take all of them in 5.0. I couldn't be happier. Ever aspect of the exam relates to my practice of architecture so much better then 4.0 exams. I would encourage you to really focus on the the ARE Handbook objectives, and use the study resources that NCARB suggest. I think this will prove a successful approach. That's exactly what I did and I went 6 for 6 on 5.0 exams. I would caution blaming the exam format and content when others have found it successful. I would suggest deeply examining your approach. 

    Lastly, I would just ask, how much professional experience you have in the objectives tested on PPD. I know that I relied heavily on my professional experience in combo with my study. Nothing can help you prepare more then real world experience. 

    Good luck moving forward! I hope you're able to turn a corner and find some new success! 

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    Timothy Galano

    Dan, thanks for your comment and may I say you are absolutely right - at this point I need to acknowledge the disconnect between what I am studying and what I am seeing on the exam.  I should take the time-out NCARB gave me and delve deep into that MEEB book, which will be relevant for the PDD test as well.  The current approach of trying to appropriate old study materials from the 4.0 is too much hit-and miss. Time to really get to know the original texts themselves. I have experience with the subject matter, but that is with the crutches of reference materials and consultants in an office setting, a little different than an exam setting for me.  Again, thanks.

    With regards to the three test limit, is that a rolling clock as well?  Would i be able to try 3 times in November for PPD or will I need to wait until the anniversary of each of my failings ?

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    Rebecca Phipps

    I would venture to say the number of years does not matter.  There is a lot in PPD.  I have plenty of working experience and did not pass PPD.  Trying to study a second round for this exam is extremely difficult, as you are rereading the same information over and over and it is extremely broad.  Yes, good study material would help to focus. I'm with Timothy on this one.  Have not retaken, because I can see this is a shot in the dark when it comes to guessing where to focus, but can't study for this any more than I have without feeling I'm just rereading the same thing over and over.  Casestudies may be the only way to go.

     

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    Dennis Dragon (Edited )

    I am feeling the same way after failing Practice Management for the second time.  I ace certain sections, while seeming unprepared for some other questions being thrown at me.  I know there is little study material out there that goes over everything adequately enough for one to pass on that alone.  I am hoping a review from black spectacles and the new material from Brightwood will help for my 3rd take at it in October.  I have studied from the Ballast PPI review package and the AHPP, but still feeling defeated and unprepared for everything that is on there.  This 5.0 test definitely seems a lot harder than I what I had expected.

  • Avatar
    Sean (Edited )

    Experience means absolutely nothing on these exams. It helps, but it does not mean you will pass. I would encourage anyone that is eligible to take the ARE to study the material they recommend and take the exams. Studying the materials they tell you to helps, but again, it doesn't mean you will pass.

    Just a quick comment on scoring, I have my own issues with this as NCARB had delivered me a passing score report only to take it away a few weeks later because they said it actually wasn't mine, but someone else's. So now I have to move forward retaking an exam I believe I passed and having to question whether or not my scores are being returned to me accurately.

    **I appreciate the clarification by Ryan, but NCARB did take away a passing score report that I received, with my name, information, and testing center all correct. Ryan is correct that when I took my scheduled exam, someone else's name was on my test. I reported this to the testing center, they acknowledged the issue and I was directed to continue taking the exam. When I reported the issue to NCARB the next day they did not acknowledge the issue until over a week later after calling them and explaining the issue multiple times. After another week went by they told me it appears I failed the exam. I'm sure anyone else who had a similar issue would have a lot of questions as to what happened and how they can be so certain that they have returned the correct results as I have now received a failing report, a passing report, and then another failing report within the past 2 months.  And this is where I have a problem as the handling of this situation was completely unprofessional from NCARBs end, they were not transparent with me from the beginning and I was only told we found your results and for the inconvenience we will give you a free retake as if that answers any of my questions. Ryans comment about scores going to the wrong people wasn't something I was told until 7 weeks later and I don't think they would have ever told me if I had not received notification that I had completed the ARE. And if anyone still feels like you're not getting all the details, you know about as much as I know now. If exam results are going to the wrong people, that's not a problem on my end, that is a problem on your end, and I'm glad NCARB decided to share that in response to my comment. I think that's important for people to know when considering testing in 5.0. NCARB was never proactive in helping with this problem, I had to reach out multiple times to get them to even acknowledge this issue so when they tell me they looked into it, I don't really feel all that comforted. And I resent the idea that a free retake makes up for any of this.**

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    Erica Spayd

    The amount of content on PPD is immense, no doubt about it. I agree with Daniel in that the matrix materials are key. I think MEEB and Architectural Graphic Standards are very important resources, as they both do a great job of not only explaining each type of system, but why it might be beneficial over another. Still a lot of material to absorb, but it is there, it just needs to be distilled down and understood. These two texts will cover you for the two biggest content areas of the division (areas 3 and 4), and my guess is that it would be tough to pass without getting at least a Level 2 on both.

    Also, a bit about the scoring (or at least my understanding of it)... You do not have to get a Level 2 or better on all five content areas to pass. You do have to get the minimum number of questions correct, with each question counting equally. NCARB has stated that the percentage of correct questions resulting in a passing score is between 57% and 68%, depending on which form of which division you get.

    It's my understanding (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that if you do achieve Level 2 on all content areas, you will pass the division, so presumably, the cutoff for receiving a Level 2 is somewhere in the 57-68% range. Though you can theoretically pass with a Level 3 or 4 in one or more content areas, you'd likely have to offset that with a Level 1 in one of the larger content areas or a few of the smaller ones. Again, it's about total number of questions right, and getting to that cutoff; if you're below 57% in some areas, you need to be above in other areas to get to the minimum total.

    All that to say - give appropriate credence to the content area breakdowns; not too much, not too little. NCARB provides the levels in your score report to help you adjust your strategy and focus where you need to. Simply studying for your weakest areas and re-testing might not do you any good if your weak areas are also the smallest. It's important to do well on the larger areas - the biggest two on PPD amount to at least half of the exam's content, and could amount to enough to pass all on their own. Review all content areas, but focus where you think you can get the biggest bang for your buck.

    Some other advice that I found invaluable - flag and skip those time-sucker questions. If it requires a calc or a multi-step solution, save it for later. Get through the easy ones with enough time to dig into the meatier ones at the end. This was my strategy with PPD after running out of time on PA, and it made such a huge difference. And, I actually used my scratch paper to keep a tally and jot some notes about questions I was flagging, reminding myself why I flagged it, and helping me prioritize my approach on the flagged questions. I think I had five categories in all -

    No brainer (felt very strong about my answer)

    Flagged - calc (requires lengthy calculation)

    Flagged - reference (requires reference material search)

    Flagged - guess (I answered the question, but might have second thoughts)

    WTF? (I had no idea what the question was asking for)

    When I got through all questions, I had something like 72 no brainers, 6 flagged for references/calcs, 32 flagged as guesses, and 10 WTFs, with an hour left on the clock. I was able to go through the flagged questions strategically, wasting as little time as possible. I think this strategy really helped me get through this exam, so maybe give it a shot.

    Ultimately, I do think 5.0 is a good format that tests knowledge of the content areas well. Take the down time as a blessing, take some time off from studying, fine tune your strategy, and go back at it hard when you're able to test again, and I'm sure you'll do great. Best of luck!

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    Darguin Fortuna

    Sean did I GET THIS CLEAR. You got a score report that said you passed. and..they took it away? Did it say your name in it? NCARB seems to be accepted as a full proof testing and licensing process with no room for actual verification and challenges to the process. I find that troubling somehow. I worked extremely hard from my first attempt which was a horrible fail into this very amazing result which makes me feel very proud yet upset cause it was so close its almost unbelievable. 

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    Matthew Harris (Edited )

    There seems to be some highly divisive (and frankly incorrect) things being said. 

    No matter what you think, you did not pass. You did not answer enough questions correctly. You did not meet the expectations that others before you (and after you) will have passed. The problem isn't with NCARB, and if it is, offer helpful suggestions. From personal experience NCARB implemented a ton of the feedback they received from the early testers. They will do so with future testers. 

    Ultimately this is on you, and your inflammatory title is going to have negative impacts on future test takers. Let them be confident about their choice to transition. Let future 5.0 test takers form their own opinion, and not try to poison this board with your highly negative one. 

     

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    Rebecca Phipps

    Wow! That would defeat the whole purpose of a blog.  I believe a number of us are still first test takers still weighing in.

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    Matthew Harris

    Yes, exactly. You're weighing in, and you should have actual facts to base your opinion on. Most of the things being said in here seem to be fueled by the emotions of a failed test, and skewed toward that. 

    Honestly if the title were changed I think that would help, but as it stands its click bait with negative consequences. There have been plenty of negative things posted here (see my post history) This isn't constructive in the slightest. 

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    Rebecca Phipps

    I have to disagree, I think we are all capable of listening to each other and making a decision based on our own knowledge of where we are with the exams.  I like the 5.0 format, but there are times I feel I would have at least narrowed down the problem areas if I had stuck with the 4.0 a year ago. The purpose is to share experiences good or bad, if I only read the good ones, I'd feel really discouraged. It helps to know others are struggling through this, so yes this is inspiring to some of us.  Also, a number of people did have problems with the tests, for me it was questions disappearing and reappearing without numbers or reference to the case study that it belonged to.  I questioned NCARB on this, they did not deny it, but only stated it doesn't matter because I get a free retake.  I'm okay with that, it does not make restudying any easier.

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    Dennis Dragon

     

    Mathew, since you are so bold and righteous why don’t you go ahead and enlighten the ARE world on the factors that helped you pass the 5.0 exams.  I read the paragraphs about how you don't like what people are saying, starting a petition etc., but still this is all just wasting my time and blowing up my email threads with useless online arguing. Let me thank you, first, for just adding to that.  Now, since you seem to have the confidence, point us to the light Mathew.  You seem to be confident on knowing the way.  Maybe you can tell some people what they may be missing instead of criticizing someone else’s opinions.

     

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    Matthew Harris

    I get it. I had issues with my test as well, its extremely frustrating. I posted about it. All Im saying is that misrepresenting the test taking process, and telling people not to switch is unacceptable to me. 

    Also the title has changed. That works for me. No complaints. 

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    Timothy Galano

    Matthew - I edited the title to be more in line with your view of what this forum ought to be.  I would have deleted this post long ago if NCARB offered that functionality.

    If your advice to those having trouble with the new format is simply to suck it up, then my original point stands. For many, it's not worth it to switch.  For others, 5.0 is an improvement.  I'll admit I have no idea how NCARB scores the test, but I certainly have asked them and they say they can't disclose how the grading works(hence my conjecture about that in the post).  I'm not going to be some cheerleader for 5.0 when I have had decidedly worse experience taking that test.  

    I feel mine is a view that I would have liked to been exposed to prior to making the switch, as well as one that is underrepresented in these top-line posts.  

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    Timothy Galano

    Erica,

    Thank you for your helpful breakdown of you experience with PPD and your test- taking strategy.  I will certainly take some notes from your run down.  Everyone else, sorry for all the emails - I think the "unfollow" button at the top left of this page should do the trick.

  • Avatar
    Matthew Harris (Edited )

    You're allowed to be frustrated, you're allowed to be upset. You're totally allowed to post your opinions on this board. I am all for that. There are plenty of other posts detailing a negative experience. 

    Its a tough process, and failing is a hard pill to swallow. I would know, but I also like for people to form their own opinions based on this board. I appreciate you changing the title, and honestly believe that changes the whole tone of this thread to something I feel is constructive. 

    For others wondering NCARB outlines how they score the test here ( I have also seen it written down elsewhere):

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p2huNrE3DA&index=7&list=PLG3glq7vX77ATPLeAuP7PW4h15BadS3OK

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    Dennis Dragon (Edited )

    I made the switch too, sometimes wishing I had not and knew more before I did, but we all know that isn't going to change.  I have found the biggest problem being that there isn't enough, from one study guide alone, to help everyone pass. I found several things missing from the Ballast study guides for practice management.  I found more information in the AHPP that is valuable for that test.  Its a new test and study material is still being developed and released.  It would be most helpfull to get feed back on where people are getting artcles, materials, chapters, formulas, etc. that pertain to each division.   Put emphisis on the subjects that need to be address for each division.  If you feel like there was something missing that your study guide did not go over, than call it out and lets see where other people found this information.  This will help everyone more than the ranting and raving, of course this is hard and they are all going to suck to some degree.

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    Rebecca Phipps

    I've read almost all the resources, but given myself plenty of time to do so.  The problem is once you read MEEB, followed by Fundamentals, Building Structures, Building Code Illustrated, Ballast, reviewed Black Spectacles videos and Thaddeus videos several months have passed.  There needs to be a concise resource for review and Ballast is not it, black spectacles skims the surface .... I think casetudies is the only way to go at this point.  But I would like to hear how people found they distilled this down to a few critical items that helped them when they walked through the door.  I would hope with my experience alone I would have passed, but I'm frankly delaying the retake because I don't know what it is that would have made the difference.

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    Rebecca Phipps (Edited )

    So here is my recommendations for PPD after taking the test:

    If there is a occupancy type that you think you would never design for in your life time, be prepared to design for it in this exam.  Don't know that you'll get what I got, but be prepared. I work on Hospitals and Laboratories, so I thought I had this down. Nope.

    Know how to read your electrical bill in detail, I don't think I'm giving anything away here, there are a an unlimited questions that could be asked. Just think of it as another resources to study.

    Thaddeus videos, even though they say less structural, I watched these for 30 hours and focused on the calculations since it has been so long.  They do tell you that they focus on concepts more, I thought I had that down and calcs were my weakness.  As I restudy and watch 30 hours of video all over again, I realize he answers 10-15 of the questions on my exam.  Focus on what he says, not the numbers.

    Any other retesters with useful suggestions.  We all know the standard resources, what worked that surprised you?

     

     

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