Failed PDD again

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24 comments

  • Avatar
    Ana Barragan

    Hi Brian, 

    Believe me when I say I empathize, I just failed it also, and for the second time as well. And while I saw an improvement on the performance report on some categories, the dot moved the wrong way on one category and not at all on another. The worst category for me is Construction Cost Estimates, I've been at the lowest performance level on both tests, and I can't find any study material or any resources that can prepare for those types of questions, which are formatted in the exact way as you describe above, arbitrary at best if not purposefully misleading. I agree, it feels like a game. However, I find support in posts like yours, lets not despair and lets continue to play the game until the roulette lands on our number. Good luck to us on the third time around. Cheers! 

  • Avatar
    Brian Starkey

    Just tired of wasting money when it seems like trickery. More so than 4.0. Just wish it reflected real world. 

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    Rafael Enriquez

    I had the exact same thoughts taking PDD yesterday and although I got a pass I was frustrated during the exam. Graphics need help especially on this exam. Lineweights people! They would give you too much information and not what you needed. It seemed like that at first on many questions. So I would have to really dumb it down and figure out what are they asking and what did they give me to work with. Cost estimates for me were confusing in that way but I had to get them to super basic takeoff type to get an answer. I found it really easy to get into overthinking it. Not sure any of this helps since it’s so vague but I’m confident you will both be successful your next try.

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    Brian Starkey

    Can we get legitimate answers to why it is so damned hard to actually navigate these drawings? What can there not be a zoom box to get where you need instead of the very 1990s pick a percentage then scroll? And why the graphics on the questions themselves can’t be made bigger and more legible? Or am I asking too much for a professional licensing exam?

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    Kathleen Hogan

    "Nothing I studied was on the damned test again."

    That is exactly how i felt when i took both my Project and Practice Management tests. There were a lot more calculation questions in my Project Management exam than the study materials (they were obsessed with square yards, what the hell?).

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    Luke Quebe

    Brain, I’m with you on this. This is my first post, I’ve been stalking all of you for a year now. Passed all but PDD, failed it in November and retake next week. My first test I didn’t finish. I got to the case study you are speaking of and immediately was shocked at the poor quality of drawings, details, notations and the questions asked from those plans. NCARB, I’ve never been in an office where a plan detail callout is not on the floor plan itself. It’s our job to make our plans as easy to read as possible so that the subs in the field don’t have to guess. Why is this not the same for NCARB? Next week I plan on leaving those types of questions alone until I get all the way through the test. Good luck on your retake. Hopefully this next test is my last.

  • Avatar
    Brian Starkey

    This issue is one that gets the least attention. Most will pass, move on and forget about it. I am not willing to do this because, quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing about all the “improvements” but none of which actually make the test more about architecture..it’s more about “hey look what we came up with”. I want to see one of the developers try to navigate these after even a few years of working with real drawings. And enough of the intentional time waster questions. And enough of the horrible graphics. This isn’t a CPA exam. If we sent 8nformation like this to a client we’d be fired. 

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    Abigail Lupien

    I completely agree. I'm about to take PDD for the 4th time....

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    Jessica Medrano

    Took PDD again today and the preliminary results said I failed, again. This is my second time. I too read books cover to cover, listened to audio lessons, did countless practice exams, etc. and it felt like such a waste of time, money and effort. I could understand if I just didn't study enough but even now I'm still not sure what exactly to study that will properly prepare me for these ridiculous tests. Took PPD a few months ago and failed that too and it felt like the same ridiculous questions. Some questions were so strangely specific, some that were awkwardly written or didn't have all the info (like the sprinkler comment above). I highly regret switching to 5.0. At least with 4.0, you knew what the target was and what to aim for. With 5.0 it really is a game with a moving target. Very frustrated by these new tests. 

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    Brian Starkey

    The funny, and absolutely enraging part of all of all of this is the fact that I got a level 4 on Construction Documents.....you read that right. I've been doing this for 19 years. I'm pretty sure that I kind of know what I am doing by now. When you get a client and you meet with them, and you discuss. And you understand what they are trying to do, you do it. They don't try to trick you by asking silly, time consuming questions whose real question has nothing to do with the discussion prior. It becomes rather obvious that those responsible for writing these questions are just making them up based on fantasy. Basing them on how we all know the profession does not work. And, yeah, i will reiterate, for a graphically based profession, NCARB and Prometric have to do a better job of actually being able to show a set of drawings. 

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    Colin Lumsden

    I feel you  Brian. got a 3, 22 years experience.

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    Anna Badyoczek

    Hey guys, did anyone here pass on the 3rd try? I just took it for the second time and got the “likely fail” and am super discouraged. Studied for 6 weeks both times, and definitely read cover to cover and watched the videos, did the practice exams, etc. Not sure what more to do and just super pissed because I don’t think it should be this hard. So did anyone have any luck and what did you do?

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    Brian Starkey

    Going for number 4 in November. My hope is that it’s improved now that they moved to IBC 2015. But I’m not holding my breath. 

  • Avatar
    Anna Badyoczek

    Good luck Brian, and definitely let us know what you did to pass!

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    Brian Starkey

    20 years here. And I’m good at what I do. 4 times for one “not based in reality” exam is ludicrous. But they count on it for some cash and bragging rights that they’ve developed this cool software equivalent to a windows 95 program. NCARB claims to want to increase ranks of Architects, yet they cannot master a real world, working exam system that is a true measure. And hey are zero help. “Buy black spectacles”. Whose stuff is just as convoluted and bloated. 

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    Brian Starkey

    Yup!!! Same exact issue. My favorite was a question about the R value of the exterior wall. The only description was "brick with block backup". No other description. Is there an air space? Is there insulation, how big is the block, is there GWB on the inside? Normal, every day questions that we need to ask as professionals to get our job done. But, instead, we deal with 120 questions, of varying importance ("substantial" detail changes), mind you, but they are to test own "knowledge" of HSW. When, in reality, they are testing us with tricks and gimmicks (hello "where does the flashing go"?)

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    Brian Starkey

    Good stuff....Thank for compiling all of this. Hopefully it will help get through this quagmire of PDD.

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    Brian Starkey

    Well, happened yet again. Codes and regulations and project manual and specs. 

    Something is absolutely wrong here. They’ve changed the test again slightly with more case study questions, which was ridiculous. Still severe issues with trying to navigate through drawings in just a portion of the window with the question below it. Constant scrolling to see the question then back to the drawings. Has a question asking to select 4 but never could find the fourth answer. With the exception of one or two case study questions I believed I had these portions wrapped up. Didn’t expect to pass at the other three sections. 4 times now with this damned thing. Angry doesn’t quite describe it. I expected the fail after taking it but it doesn’t make it any less infuriating. And let’s not even discuss the shear number of “resources” to study or the fact that all of this is asked in such convoluted, not real world ways that you have to read the question three times to understand the logic. (Calculating reactions for complex diagrams are enormous time sucks).

    More graphic questions again and some repeat questions (quite a few actually). And, yes, the “existing building” case study was just amateurish and both don’t come close to real world. If we presented any of this the way they do in these tests, we’d be fired for being amatuers. 

    Had a grading question with windows. “Grade” was a slanted line on the right that never actually crossed the building. Then a bunch of height markers. And, again, no description of the wall assembly. 

    And just for general knowledge, 20 years of experience, dealing with code and specs day in and day out. I’m growing very tired of having to adjust my professional thinking for one stinking test that throws all of the real rules out the window. 

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    Anna Badyoczek

    That's really unfortunate to hear, Brian.  I was really hoping your next post would be advice for the rest of us on how you passed.  I haven't started studying again for another try, and this certainly doesn't make me want to start! Ugh.

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    Brian Starkey

    Anna, these exams seem to target those with less experience. 

    As long as you’re willing to fork over a lot of money, accept sub-standard graphics, navigation, and coherent thought, and change the way you’ve worked, you’ll be fine. 

    I kind of equate it to common core. Making things more complex because we can, not because it has purpose. 

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    Megan Yoder

    Took PDD today, 5 yrs out of school CD experience, I am a 3/2  taker 4.0 transfer and this entire process has been infuriating. I trudged through 4.0 and it took me taking all three tests two times each to pass. And then I got cocky and quickly signed up for PPD 5.0 last year . Everyone at my firm was passing it with their eyes closed so I just crammed for two weeks. I should've known better, failed.  Took a year off and in January set my goal for the year to get licensed. I have studied for 6 weeks, sacrificing time with my newborn and family, purchasing resources and practice tests and studying cover to cover. I wanted this to be my first test I pass on the first try (of course I chose the "hardest" one). The most frustrating thing is 5.0 is even worse than 4.0 that the material dictates you need to know "a little bit about everything" , so why even have the categorical exams? I just feel like every single one of these tests I sit through the questions and feel like Im Getting tested on a "medium" amount of everything, which makes studying impossible to retain a medium-expert amount of knowledge on all trades. Bright wood spends 75% of their book with structural calculations, and it was not useful whatsoever. I open my email tomorrow for my results but I don't feel good about the case study, me too on the finicky software. Every time I flipped between references, the screen said "loading" for a good 6-7 seconds and I just had to sit there watching the seconds tick away. You can do better NCARB; no wonder young professionals are giving you a Hard Pass on this circus. 

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    Maria Casey

    Brian,

    How are you doing with it now? Are you going for a fourth time? I am wondering if this is all worth it. I saw your first post and feel exactly the same with it all. I failed PJM a few times and questioning life thanks to NCARB's exams as they have no real world application. How many times can you take one test and expect more of the same terrible exam questions going forward with future exams. 

  • Avatar
    Brian Starkey

    Maria,

    I have scheduled my next attempt for the end of April. But, once again, even though I am kind of sure what to study, I am not at all sure what to study. Last time I got more structural stuff. And irrelevant to boot. I, too, am a 3/2 test taker. And what is probably by biggest gripe about this whole damned thing, is the fact that PDD and PPD look like they should be A. the same test and B. should have already been credited for the first 3 in 4.0 we've all taken. Not one question that I can remember had anything to do with project management, firm management, and all of that information they have been called out on for not providing. I am not hopeful, honestly. I has been a ridiculous journey that seems to have no end. I had no issues with PPP, CDs, and only failed my first attempt at Site planning because I tanked the vignette. So I think I sort of know what I am doing. And then, of course, i keep getting reminder emails "Renew your NCARB soon, it's expiring." So close and so far......

    I wonder why we all accept such sub-par professional licensing exams. But then, I remember, this is looked at another form of complaining, so most write it off. And, again, it's a service we have to pay for. If our clients were provided the same level of service, there wouldn't be an architectural field. 

    Wish me luck...I will need it.....

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    Joel Wasser

    Brian I am hoping you passed. It was therapeutic to know i'm not the only one in this situation. 

    On my 5th try. If my wife had not already passed all her tests and gotten licensed I would have given up already. It has become such a burden because you think and think about what you should study and fret about what you should memorize or whatever and night after night neglect living so you can study and then get to the test and its like it all that comes down to whether I can figure out what this pix-elated elevation is trying to show or whether this vague question is really asking me a straightforward question or is it a trick question or what does ncarb really want here? I keep saying I am just a bad test taker and eventually I will pass but I just don't know anymore because my professional experience just hasn't helped at all for this exam and the studying hasn't either... and that rolling clock will eventually cancel out all my other tests. If I had it to do over I would probably just start with PDD get the hardest test out of the way first and not have to worry about that rolling clock.

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