To transition or not to transition



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    Yes, I'm not but my friend has passed every test but structural.  We are currently studying with a structural engineer on the weekends but its hard to prepare with a 65 hour job a week.  The construction industry is booming in California.  

    Do you have all of the study material?  I may be able to help you.  email me DeniseLarson@gmail

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    Annalise Baird

    I'm stuck making the decision.

    How much do I invest in 4.0 study materials (to take CDS, PPP, SPD) or do I just spend it on 5.0 since I'm going to have to transition anyways... I have not taken any 4.0 tests yet. I think I'd prefer to not do the vignettes.

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    Mary Puckett

    Annalise, if I had not started taking the tests already, I would just start in 5.0. Although, there is a ton of study material floating around for 4.0. The vignettes aren't that bad, once you learn how to study for them. If you're interested in 4.0 material, send me an email:

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    Michelle NCARB

    Hi Annalise,

    A good place to start (without spending any money!) is to review the 4.0 Exam Guides and the 5.0 Handbook, all on NCARB's website.  You can get a good sense of what's on the various tests and how the content is organized.  Also look at the list of references in the back of the exam guides/handbook.  You might have some of those books already!

    For what it's worth, if you haven't started testing at all, I would just get a fresh start with 5.0.

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    Annalise Baird

    From my perspective, I would like to see if I can get away with taking my 5 tests (per the transition plan)... but I do see that I may spend extra time studying how to take the vignettes and use the vignette software for only 2-3 tests and then have to then study the 5.0 software for the last 2-3 tests (depending on when I make the transition). I also have a history of being good at taking tests and answering MC questions. I just know if I fail on my first test (in 4.0 or 5.0), it will be very discouraging for me. And If I take 5.0 first, I will be waiting a while before I get my test result.

    Nothing seems like the hands down right choice.

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    Michelle NCARB

    Hi Annalise, remember that there's no software to study in 5.0!  I encourage you to try out the ARE 5.0 Demonstration Exam, available through My NCARB.  You'll be able to see the actual interface that'll be used in the test center and try out examples of all the item types.

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    Roberta Militello (Edited )

    I've passed SPD, PPP, SD, and CDS in 4.0. The idea of transitioning to 5.0 and taking two exams seems like a good idea, but the decision is very stressful. I've spent a great deal of time and resources acquiring and studying materials for the 4.0. exam. I tried using the Transition Calculator to guide my decision, but it is not entirely clear how passed divisions in 4.0 actually count in the 5.0 exam. For example, do I need to re-test CDS topics if I take the PD&D 5.0 or do I receive partial credit for that areas because I passed it in 4.0? This will impact make my decision and how I would focus my studies. 


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    Ryan NCARB


    I am not looking directly at your testing record, but if you have passed SPD, PPP, and CDS in ARE 4.0, then you will receive credit for PcM, PjM, and CE in ARE 5.0.  You will not have to retest any portion of those ARE 5.0 divisions.  You will only need to pass PPD and PDD in ARE 5.0 and it will be the entire division - no partial divisions.  Please keep in mind that your rolling clock is still active, even for ARE 5.0 credits.

    There are a couple of blog entries on this topic you may find helpful, but you can also contact our Customer Service department to help walk you through your specific scenario and answer any other questions.

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    Kelley Miller

    For what its worth:

    I just took my first 5.0 exam after transitioning. The questions were super similar to the 4.0 exam (I even had a couple of the EXACT SAME questions that I had gotten on my previous 4.0 exams). So the only problem with the transition would be that there is SO MUCH content for one exam (specifically PPD and PDD). However, I do think this is made up for by have no vignettes and utilizing the hot spots, drag/drop, and case studies. I personally LOVED these styles of questions and absolutely do NOT regret transitioning in the slightest.

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    Brendan Bailey (Edited )

    ~ So much soul searching ~

    I too have passed the ARE4.0 PPP, CDS, and SPD Sections -- all on my first attempt!  I'm currently studying for ARE4.0 Structural Systems, as I know if I transition that this content will be present on the next two exams.  I am planning on purchasing the Ballast ARE5.0 book soon, to review PPD and PDD to determine the organization and content, and to decide whether to transition or not.  Either way I wish to keep the ball rolling, and book my next exam soon, so as not to delay my momentum.  As I'm looking at the ARE4.0 SS Exam, I noticed that you have 3 1/2 hours to answer 125 questions.  To compare, I've heard that you have 4 1/2 hours to complete PPD.  ( On a side note, I had also taken the GRE about a month ago -- antoher 4 1/2 hour exam -- which, in itself is Brutal.  This makes for 4 Exams down in 6 months).  Granted, I have also had to complete 7,540hrs of IDP prior to qualifying for my exams, as per my jurisdiction's requirements for holding a pre-professional degree.  I feel like my career has always been taking the long way around, and the idea of a "short-cut" is enticing.  In short, I am giving you this information as you are all in the same boat as I, and I need advice.  Stick with the 4.0 path -- or take the leap?  Any feedback is greatly appreciated.  Thank you!!!


    - Has anyone reviewed the ARE5.0 Ballast Book?  

    - If so, how do you feel this helped you to prepare for exam day?

    - Are there other resources available?

    - How heavy was the Structural Design Content?

    - Has anyone received a score as of yet?

    - To transition?  Or to stay the path?


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    Nishu Sinha

    I have passed CDS and SPD in ARE 4.0 and having tough time passing PPP. I have to wait until Septemebr to retake it and transition to ARE 5.0 to give remaing 2 tests (PPD & PDD).

    Any suggestions? Should I transition to ARE 5.0 and give rest of the 5 exams or wait until September to give PPP again.

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    Nathan Baker

    I've failed both PPP and SPD but passed the vignettes sections in each with ease (or so it felt) I'm a year out of school and am considering switching to 5.0 purely for a different exam experience. So it's kind of like I'm starting over and could start fresh with 5.0 but I like the 5 exam path but at this point even if I pass all of them from this point on then it's still 7 tests.

    What would you guys do?

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