Passed PDD yesterday! One more to go, PPD next week.
Big thanks to all the people who have provided feedback after they took the test. Swapna P, Linda B, Elise, Brendan, Cedric, Magdalena and Erica, much appreciated! If you’re just starting in this forum you should look up these people and do what they said.
(Edit: I had previously posted my email address and had a lot of people contact me for my study plan. I cleaned it up and put it on my website. You can download it here: http://hyperfinearchitecture.com/resources And of course you can still contact me directly if you have any questions, email@example.com)
I studied for 8 weeks. Started very methodically and organized and became more manic and disorganized as test date got closer. Even though it was 8 weeks I only got 4-5 nights a week and usually wasn’t even able to start until after 9 pm, so not exactly as long as it sounds.
(Edit: read study material review: https://hyperfinearchitecture.com/ppd-pdd-study-resource-review/)
I used a LOT.
Brightwood 5.0 PDD book
Ballast 4.0 book (cheap used ones on Amazon)
These were good overviews, I didn’t use them at all the last two-three weeks.
Ching Building Construction Illustrated
Ching Building Codes Illustrated
AHPP, especially chapter 10 (def. worth the cost)
MEEB (Still had this in mint condition from school)
AGS (def worth the cost)
Fundamentals of Building Construction (Still had this in mint condition from school)
FEMA 454 Manual (free online)
The Ching books are great. Can’t beat them for value.
AHPP, AGS and MEEB are really good as well. I think AHPP and AGS are worth the price, especially because you use them on multiple exams and will keep them, and use them, for a long time. I read AHPP, I used AGS and MEEB to research answers to specific questions.
Black Spectacles. Can’t decide if this was worth it or not.
The Actual Test
(Edit: Test strategy video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXJscWU0Bbg)
This thing was all over the place. It was oddly very generic and very specific at the same time. I really don’t know what else I would have studied or what to tell you. If you have a lot of PDD AXP hours maybe you’ll be fine.
I only had one straight up “calc this beam” kind of structural question, make sure to know Fb = M/S. I could not find the section modulus equation S=bh²/6 in the references. The problem had all the info you needed, but I still recommend memorizing that one. I also had to use the Fb=M/S equation in a more generic sense, just understanding how it works, like what happens if M goes up, S goes down, etc.
I can’t remember any mechanical calc questions. There was a point and click version of the CDS vignette.
One question about footcandles on a work surface, one point and click about a generic electrical distribution system.
Lots of questions of all types about details, vapor barrier locations, air gaps, connections, flashing, material properties, R-Values, U-Factors, K-Factors. A lot of questions about wall assemblies for fire separation and sound separation.
- Fire/Smoke detector types and best locations of
- Invert distance
- Wood grain patterns
- Egress sizes
- Control/isolation/construction joints
- Watch out for units, i.e. question given in ft, answers in yards, etc.
- Can’t remember, it’s all a blur
I had two, 21 total questions. I found these to be easier questions than the PA case study, but more difficult to find the answers. It was basically 21 questions of scanning through poorly-coordinated plans looking for text notes. There was a question about the R-Value of a wall which I could probably do in my sleep, but I couldn’t find the section or detail that specified the layers of the wall. If you can navigate a set of plans you should be ok-ish, but the case study plans wouldn’t be acceptable for a CD set in my office, so prepare for frustration. Know fire walls/partition locations, occupancy types.
I finished all the MC with 1:45 left, then it took me 1:15 to do the case studies. I took my break then came back with 30 mins to review. I was not able to review everything I wanted in this amount of time. Of all the standardized tests I’ve taken in my life, the only two I have ever had time issues with are PA and PDD.
I have taken CDS, PPP, PA and PDD. I found this one to be the most straight-forward. Can only recall one question where I felt I was choosing between two "right" answers. Everything else I think was clearly right or wrong and if I struggled with a question it was usually because I didn't know enough.
I learned a lot in my studies for this exam, and looking forward to getting through PPD. The 5.0 exams are definitely better than the 4.0 exams, but I think there is still room for improvement with the UI of the case studies.
Happy to answer any questions.
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