PDD Pass - Test Recap and Study Plan

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    Daniel Ostfeld (Edited )

    Benjamin, Congratulations!!!

    Thanks for such a great write up!! I'm taking PDD in 2 days and started to freak out a little bit about it. However, it seems we have study almost from all the same resources. Only 1 question what is Dartmouth X's link, I've google it with no results showing anything related to architecture.

    On the other hand, I will recommend taking PPD as soon as you can. My original plan was to take them 1 week apart, but life got in the middle. I took PPD and passed it, with the same study resources that you just mention. It was an exam that would test you on all the concepts more than calculations.

    Good luck!!! 

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    Benjamin Norkin

    Hey Daniel,

    Thanks for the info on PPD. I have it on the 20th.

    I was definitely in freak-out mode too, but the test isn't impossible or any more scary than any of the others. 

    Dartmouth X are engineering/structures YouTube videos. See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ONVGO-iU4g

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    Carly DuBrey

    Wow, great post! Thanks so much for the info, will be taking PDD in December. 

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    Matthew Taylor-Rennert

    Thanks for the advice, taking PDD in December too. 

    "oddly very generic and very specific at the same time" seems to be my experience with the ARE too, spot on, haha. 

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    Kala Bailor

    I just took PDD yesterday (didn't pass) and felt the same way about the case studies.  I felt like I really had to dig to find what I was looking for, and I'm pretty sure some important information wasn't even given in the scenario.  Also, it would be nice if NCARB could work on the graphics.  When you can't zoom in on a MC question, the text can get really difficult to read.  There were also a lot more questions about seismic stuff on there than I expected.  Being in Colorado, we don't deal with that in practice so I wish I had looked at the FEMA stuff more.  I also felt that it was very calculation heavy.  Some of them were long too, which eats up a lot of time.  Just my two cents for PDD.

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    Alix Daguin

    Hi! This is a lot of good info. 

     

    What did you do to practice for the case studies?

    Can you also talk a bit more about your study strategy. Did you read through those text books and take notes? Did you go through the ncarb doc and work section by section? Then reread your notes a bunch?

    Did you take practice tests, if so which were helpful?

    I am going through the source material ncarb suggests, but don't see what AHPP and AGS books are. What is the un-abbreviated title?

     

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    Benjamin Norkin (Edited )

    Hi Alix,

    I didn't do anything specific to study for the case studies. I don't think those questions are any different than the regular test, just maybe a little more involved and you have to sometimes go looking for answers. It would help if you were very prepared to answer questions about fire separation between occupancy types and were confident in reading plans, like knowing where to look for dimensions, or how to identify which section cuts through a certain area. Don't be worried about the case studies...think of them as free answers, you just have to spend a little more time on them. Also, you could potentially go 0/20 on the case studies and still pass! (I don't recommend trying this)

    I did use the NCARB Handbook to figure out which kind of details to study, so I made sure to look at a lot of curtain wall details. I don't think my study plan followed the test outline step for step though. I started out really organized and read something, and highlighted passages and made note cards. Then I became less meticulous as time was winding down and I got scared that I hadn't learned anything at all. Over the last two weeks I concentrated heavily on Ching Building Construction Illustrated, Building Codes Illustrated, AGS and AHPP. I can send you my study plan if you want, send me an email: bennorkin@mac.com

    AHPP = Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice
    AGS = Architectural Graphic Standards

    AHPP is really great, like a ProPractice class in a book. Chapter 10 will get you most of what you need for PDD Section 3 and this is a pretty big portion of the test! Same chapter will also answer your Project Manual questions from the other thread.

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    Erica Spayd

    Benjamin, congrats on the pass!! Looks like you had a sound study strategy and really covered a lot of information, which is key for PDD and PPD, as they are both so broad. With your success on PDD, you are in good shape for PPD. Best of luck to you on that one!

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    Benjamin Norkin

    Thanks, Erica! I have PPD Friday, so we'll know soon. Feeling like this one is going to be more difficult than PDD, more choosing the "best" option from multiple possible options. I felt PDD was really straight forward, just look at some details and click on where the water stops. Is that accurate-ish?

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    "I felt PDD was really straight forward, just look at some details and click on where the water stops..."

    That is totally the PDD exam experience I'm signing up for...

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    Benjamin Norkin

    It was weird, I got that same question 95 times in a row. Maybe your test will be different though.

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    No, that one works for me...

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    Erica Spayd

    Lol at "click on where the water stops."

    But yes, you are correct in that PPD is more of a "best option" kind of format, although I didn't think that was a bad thing - I actually found it to be an easier exam, so it was somewhat straightforward in it's broadness. In a way, it's an intersection, or the step between, PA and PDD. In pushes you to take programming conclusions a step further and consider systems before a design is fully developed. It's schematic design, basically, which is fun.

    I think if you have a good understanding of site analysis and programming (bubble diagrams, building placement, etc.), heating, cooling, and lighting concepts (both passive and active), and structural systems and their pros and cons (what's good for long spans, what's most affordable, what's good for seismic, etc.), you will be good to go. Again, the concepts are the important thing.

    I found AGS and MEEB to be the best resources for this exam. AGS actually does a great job at discussing pros and cons of each building material within the text of the chapters, and because it's such a graphic book, these sections are pretty quick reads. MEEB similarly gets into a lot of detail on different types of heating and cooling systems, which was great. I learned a lot about systems I see in use every day, so it just felt like a good read to me, and definitely helped with with the exam.

    Good luck on Friday!

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    Caleigh Wright (Edited )

    Benjamin,

    Congrats on the pass! I have found all your posts to be helpful and would love to see your study plan. I am beginning to study for PDD.

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    Benjamin Norkin

    Erica,
    Thanks! You have reassured me and terrorized me in one post.

    Caleigh,
    Happy to share my plan with you, see my email above.

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    Erica Spayd

    Oh no! That was not meant to terrorize you! In all honesty, I felt that PPD was the most intuitive division because it's the most conceptual and the most rooted in design. If you understand design principles and can think logically to apply them, you're golden. 

    I will say in terms of actual testing strategy, it's important to have confidence in the answers you know, and on those where you're unsure, flag and move on quickly. Don't waste time early in the exam trying to decide between two good answers - get through the ones you're certain on, and then circle back. On many of my flagged questions, when I got back to it in my second pass, I was like, "Duh." The answer was obvious, I was just overthinking in the moment on my first pass, and the second reading made things crystal clear. 

    But honestly, PPD was the most enjoyable division for me. And I know it's weird to say that taking a test is ever enjoyable, but it just kind of was. So be reassured, not terrified. :-)

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    Benjamin Norkin

    Erica,

    Ha, was mostly kidding, no worries. My point was that I personally find it more difficult to choose the best option...you really have to know your stuff. 100% with you on being confident in what you know. If I get that Pass I'll mind dump about my nerdy approach to test strategy, just gotta get 82 questions right somehow! I kind of "liked" PDD, so I'm glad to hear this one will be more fun.

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    Benjamin Norkin

    Erica and all,

    Passed PPD Friday and I’m done with ARE! Will post a thread about it soon, but a little busy today...heading to the delivery room to welcome our 2nd kid! Passed just in time!

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    Erica Spayd

    Bravo, Benjamin! Congrats on the pass AND the baby!!!

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    Ruth Gould

    Hi Benjamin, 

    Congratulations on all your success! I'm sure it's a relief to have it all out of the way! 

    I was wondering could you elaborate on two points you listed: Connections & Material Properties 

    Connections - assuming structural? bolts, welding, ect? Floor slabs to walls / columns? Or what is the focus area?

    Material Properties - Specifics about the make up of individual materials? Chemical makeup? Is this related to R/ U Values -- assemblies combined? Or are you referring to concrete makeup, etc.? 

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    Benjamin Norkin

    Hi Ruth. Thank you! And yes, it is awesome.

    Ok, connections. This was less specific than types of welds, but yes mostly related to how does one system attach to another system. So they might show an anchor bolt in a foundation wall and ask what it does (that wasn't a real question on my test, but similar scope)

    Material properties was more about the physical properties, like concrete and masonry are good in compression, not tension...wood shrinks...steel is ductile, etc. What materials are elastic, which are brittle? Most of the R-Value questions gave the numbers and had you calculate an assembly, though I think you might also need a general understanding of which materials have higher or lower r-values, like metal has a low r-value, concrete is slightly better, wood is slightly better still and actual insulation is even better.

    Concrete, I think maybe understand what happens when there's too much water or not enough water, and what you might have to do if forming in cold or hot climates.

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    Johanna Glinsboeckel

    Benjamin, 

    Huge congrats on you PASS & on the new arrival!!!!

    You mentioned AHPP for Section 3 of PDD ("AHPP is really great, like a ProPractice class in a book. Chapter 10 will get you most of what you need for PDD Section 3").  I have the student version and chapter 10 is on contracts and agreements.  Is this the section you were referring to or is there a disparity between the standard and student versions?  Thank you for your ti

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    Edward Bilek

    Johanna,

    I have been using AHPP 15th edition 2014 for exam prep so far, my last is PDD on Monday. Chapter 10 is entitled Design Project Management and covers Budgets, Work planning, Design phases, CDs, Specs, Bidding, CA services, and post construction. I hope this helps. 

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    Johanna Glinsboeckel

    Edward,  Thank you for responding.  Looks like my ancient student version has some of those topics in chapters 13 & 17.  I really appreciate you taking the time to note the topics.  My last is PDD on Tuesday- best of luck to us both. May this piece of the journey be complete soon!

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    Ruth Gould

    Benjamin, 

    Thanks for your detailed response!! Best of luck to you!

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    Benjamin Norkin

    Hey Johanna,

    The items Edward listed are what I was talking about.

    Ruth, thanks!

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    Edward Bilek

    I took PPD today and based on the instant feedback I am "likely to pass". This test is a bit of a beast, there is so much material to cover! Most of the M/C could be answered in a well under a minute, but a few required some calculations and took longer. I was able to start the case studies with 1:45 left on the clock but only just finished in time to check over a few of the troublesome flagged questions. If you understand CD's very well and as many possible construction details as possible, you should do well. 

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    Benjamin Norkin

    Edward, woooooooo! Congrats! PPD or PDD? Either way, informal poll shows 2/3 people got the instant feedback.

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    Edward Bilek

    Sorry, PDD, maybe Kurt was right and we should call it P Diddy to avoid confusion!

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hey, Edward "P Diddy" Bilek -- CONGRATULATIONS!  

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