FAILED PDD 2nd time - what can I do better?

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    Gang Chen

    You have it backwards:

    You should ALWAYS understand the question and answer first, then then read the ones you got wrong a few more times, and you will remember the info.

    It will not help you if you do not understand and just memorize the info. ARE exams are testing your ability to UNDERSTANDING of the concepts and use them.

    Gang Chen, Author, AIA, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)

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    Rebekka O'Melia

    Hi Sabrina,

    I am wondering what your work experience is like?  And how many years?

    I'd recommend doing some site observations on projects under construction, if you haven't lately.

    Also the order in which you take these exams is important, and based on what you said, it seems like you've bounced around out of the order I'd recommend.  You should have continued to study for the first exam you failed, rather than bouncing around to 2 others. 

    Have you read Ballast?  What other material have you read?  You need to switch up your study materials.  Buy a new book, get new practice exams, take an ARE class and/or find a mentor.  Just because someone sold you their collection of architectural topics, doesn't mean those will be on the exam.

    And I agree with what Gang said.  Read the question again if you don't understand it.  You won't get the answer correct if you don't understand it.  Ask someone for help.  

    And most of all, KEEP STUDYING!

    Rebekka O'Melia, R.A., NCARB, B. Arch, M. Ed, NOMA, Step UP ARE 5.0 Courses

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    Charles Miles

    I just failed mine for the second time (I've passed all the other ones) and I am just despairing at this point. Apparently the first time I took it, I failed by like one question so that makes this failure even worse. It doesn't feel like a conceptual exam *at all*, it feels like a trivia test (name this random fastener!). I've done Amberbook (twice), I have Ballast, Building Construction Illustrated, Building Codes Illustrated and I have lost track of what I have online, but it's not working...I feel like this test more than any other had me just randomly guessing and giving up

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    Liran Timiansky (Edited )

    Charles, are you me? Lol.
    I just returned my second failed PDD exam and feel exactly the same as you. I studied with all the same materials, even AmberBook twice too. You perfectly summarised this exam, much of it is trivia type questions. Don’t know how you can study for that other than memorize all sorts of bolts, straps, etc. Not sure where to go from here for the next 60 days.

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    Christina Fu

    Charles Miles and Liran Timiansky

    I just failed PDD today and I laughed when I read your comments because that is exactly how I feel also!  I thought I did pretty well but I guess not good enough for the trivia type exam.  Now I got to go research these uncommon details. 

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    Camille Vigil

    Gang Chen is so right. 

    Use practice questions to dissect each answer choice - even the wrong ones. understand exactly WHY each wrong answer is wrong. Just by doing that, you will unlock so many tidbits of knowledge. 

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    Maggy Brooks

    Hello I failed PDD by 1-2 questions. I almost read all the reference material including MEEB plus most of Mehta but now finishing fundamentals and trying to tackle Olin’s construction. I don’t learn well with videos and when I take practice problems they do help alot but then I completely forget them and when I retake them it’s like I never took them in the first place. I do remember diagrams and concepts from the books tho

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    Rebekka O'Melia

    Maggy,

    Hang in there.  Reading Mehta alone should give you all the nuts n bolts knowledge for PDD.  Of course, it's over 900 pages long!!!  I say read only the chapters on topics you are less familiar with.

    If you have difficulty remembering things, one thing that helps me is taking notes.  Most architects are visual learners, so notes/sketches will probably work best.  I had 4 full one-subject notebooks by the time I finished the ARE.  Turn verbal topics into a graphic sketch if that helps you memorize it.

    Mnemonic devices can also help you memorize things.  Make up your own.  Things like RISMI = Review, Identify, Standardize, Measure, Improve.  Sometimes just remembering the RISMI (even if you only remember 3-4 of the steps) will mean you are able to 'find' the correct multiple choice answers on the exam.

    I have lots of tips n tricks for exam day that could easily improve your score by more than 1-2 questions without even learning more content.  Read the questions carefully.  And the answers.  Many times we get questions wrong because we misread it or misunderstood it.  Also start with the case studies.  The case studies are long and complicated.  NCARB places them at the end of the exam because by then most people have exam fatigue and will make more mistakes.

    It's good that you understand that you don't learn well with videos.  It is passive learning, and to be honest, I don't think it works for everyone.  I found that I paused the videos so often to take notes that it really wasn't faster than reading.  And reading is not passive learning.

    Mastering professional exams will serve you well throughout your career.  The AREs are about planning and time management.  

    Good luck!  Sounds like you'll pass next time for sure!

    Rebekka O'Melia, R.A., NCARB, B. Arch, M. Ed, NOMA, Step UP ARE 5.0 Courses

     

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    Charles Miles

    An update- I took (and passed!) PDD on my *third* try and now I am done with this ARE testing-hopefully the last tests I ever have to take in my life! From my first fail to this, it took four years (two jobs, COVID, bereavement, etc.) but it's over. Honestly the advice I got to really drill down on construction details helped a lot even just in terms of confidence-I don't think I memorized much after a point, just tried to get the concepts down and apply them to the questions quickly so that I could figure out what was being asked and at least narrow down the possible answers. Good luck to all of you!

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    Joel Edwards

    Congrats! I passed PPD this week and taking PDD for the first time in a couple of weeks. Using the recommendations in this post to help with studying.

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