Need Some help and Inspiration

Comments

6 comments

  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hi Nick -- 

    Sorry to hear of your exam trouble.

    If you've not done so yet, read all of the PDD posts on this forum -- many good mind dumps that may help you get some perspective on study methods:

    Here is mine from the PDD section:

    https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/115009584768-PDD-post-exam-notes- 

    Good luck to you!

     

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Daniel Cancilla

    Nick,

    I hear you. I have also been practicing for a number of years and I too received the news that I too failed. Sigh...

    I would try not to get too down on yourself or the system. In my opinion, passing or failing the test is not necessarily a reflection of your competency level, rather it is a baseline for demonstrating that you are sufficiently knowledgeable (at that precise moment) to satisfy some requirements for practicing with a license. 

    In practice, you would not rely on memorized snippets of code, rather you would act with due diligence and research the codes in depth. You would also not spit-ball estimates to your clients with 1 minute calculations. And certainly you'd not spend 4.25 hours to produce the volume of work we were asked on PDD. 

    Multiple choice tests cannot fully quantify your capabilities as a professional, but NCARB has to quantify our knowledge some how. I believe that most professional licensing boards test in a similar manner. Personally, transitioning from 4.0 to 5.0, I'm generally pleased with the new format of the test because I feel that the material is better derived from reference texts that are in the office rather than requiring 3rd party test guides (Kaplan and Ballast) to navigate the tests. The latter approach really suggests learning material to test rather than to practice architecture. 

    That said, there are a lot of materials to cover. My approach was to read other people's strategies and post-test summaries and note the materials they used. I made a study outline for myself and tried to follow it. I also made note of the type of questions I saw on the test and knew that I needed to improve on. I did this in the parking lot of the test center while it was still fresh, just in case I failed. I plan to use these notes to better prepare for next time. 

    The last thing I'd mention is that time management is crucial for this test. I spent a fair amount of time learning the navigation and zoom function of the case studies while testing. This took up a good chunk of my time. Also, I completely guessed on two fill in the blank questions because I ran out of time. I knew how to calculate them, simply did not have time to do it. Again, not exactly a measure of my capabilities to practice, but it is the animal we have to wrestle. 

    I've been procrastinating so long on these tests. I'm ready to be done, as I'm sure you are. I'd suggest that schedule the next test and/or retake of PDD and roll your frustration into motivation to study harder for the next one. 

    Of course, all this advice is coming from a PDD flunky, so take it as you will. 

     

     

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Luke Quebe

    Nick,

    Below is a link to my post on my PDD retake this week. 

    https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/115010578708-PDD-Provisional-Pass

    I've been working for architecture firms going on 13 years now and I understand your frustration. I started the ARE process with a 4.0 SPD pass in October of 2011!  I then decided to do the 'easy' 4.0 SD and bombed it... twice. Needless to say, I'd had my feel of 4.0. I let my SPD scope lapse and decided to take on the 5.0.

    I took PcM 1/17 and passed, then I took PjM, CE and PA in June and July of last year and passed. I was stoked and I got cocky... I thought to myself, you do SDs, DDs and CDs every day in the office and have for 12 years, these last two are going to be a cakewalk! I rolled into PPD in September and failed... It was a blow to the gut and an eye-opener. I studied hard for PDD and decided to take it and my retake of PPD back-to-back in November before Thanksgiving. I took PDD and failed (see link above for why I failed). Luckily my PDD studies opened my eyes to many of the items I'd remembered on PPD (thank God I found the MEEB book). I retook PPD and passed.

    That left the PDD retake as my only hurdle left. I took December off on studying because, as you know, no architect works in December...  I did, however, review the three items I knew I didn't know on my first PDD exam. I picked up my notes after the New Year and hammered out studying (review of notes and diagrams in books). Ran through simple beam calcs, refreshed on R-value to U-factor stuff, poured through structural systems again and finally rehashed my electrical diagrams. The last thing I did was sit down with my consultants (Structural and MEP) and asked them questions. I also ran through our drawing sets at the office. Then I told myself how I was going to attack this exam. For me, I needed to start with the Case Studies, and that's what I did. Got my 'official' pass today.

    Failing is tough especially when you know the time this takes away from your family and job. There's also a ton of pressure to pass so that you can take the next step in your career. I put a lot of pressure on me just because I know what this can do for my family. My best advice would be to think about the questions that surprised you. Try and remember those things and start your studies there. If you have other tests to take get them scheduled. When you get a pass, it does a ton for your psyche.

    Good luck, and keep trucking. This test doesn't reveal your skill in this industry, it's not a reflection of your ability to put out a great set of drawings, it is simple, as Daniel said, "it is a baseline for demonstrating that you are sufficiently knowledgeable (at that precise moment) to satisfy some requirements for practicing with a license."  

     

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Nicholas Faehnle

    Thank you all for the input. This is my last test and I want to be done with this awful process. You have all been inspirational. Cheers.

     

     

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Brian Starkey

    Boy do I know the feelings....I failed PPD and PDD earlier in the year (2017). Retook PPD and passed it in October. Retook PDD and failed again in December. The reason most of us who have quite a bit of experience are having problems is because these tests are very far removed from reality and our day to day. Your comment about the football game is dead on. You study what they recommend and you feel like you ended up at a hockey game instead. 

    I just rescheduled again for the end of March. This is also my last exam and I have been at this at some point or another, over the last two years. I just want to be done.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Michael Mezzetti

    My first recommendation would be to first establish the right mindset. Don’t approach the exams as if NCARB is trying to trick you. They’re not. You definitely need to read each question carefully to determine what knowledge or ability they are asking you to demonstrate, but they’re not trying to trick anyone.

    My second recommendation is aimed at those with a lot of experience: recognize your cognitive biases. For those of us with many years of experience, we tend to read and think about the exam questions in light of our experience - but that’s not the way that they should be addressed. Just because you had an experience similar to that which the question is asking doesn’t necessarily mean a) that your experience was the correct way to do it, and b) your personal experience may actually be fundamentally unrelated to the question being asked. Until you recognize these things, you will continue to approach the questions in the wrong way.

    My advice is a little zen: separate yourself from your experience and place yourself in an objective position. By looking for keywords and carefully reading the questions and answers, take the time to determine what the exam is asking you to demonstrate your knowledge of. And remember, it asking you to demonstrate your knowledge and ability to apply your knowledge - it’s not asking you for your experience.

    I have 30 years of experience in architecture and found the 5.0 exams to be good tests of an architect’s abilities in those particular areas. Sure, there are some odd WTF questions (one exam had a word I’d never even HEARD of in my 50 years) but let those go and answer the next question. Then shake off that question and answer the next one. Don’t let the questions that you struggle on affect your approach to the next question, and don’t let a question that you easily answered cause you to think that the next question will be easy also.

    Good luck. You got this.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink

Please sign in to leave a comment.

Powered by Zendesk