PDD fail

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    Marie Samek

    Hi Grace, I passed PDD back in September so maybe this will help? When it comes to sources, my absolute must-haves were Building Construction Illustrated and Heating, Cooling, and Lighting (I skipped the chapters on daylighting and passive systems for PDD and focused on the basics of thermal comfort and active systems.) As I went through these books, I took my own notes and made lots of sketches to try and retain what I was reading. I read the least amount of MEEB that I felt I could get away with because that book is unreadable lol, but it filled in some gaps for me about architectural acoustics and DOAS systems. I also highly recommend the "Mehta book" (Building Principles, Materials, and Systems; I saw Elif praising it on this forum and found it really valuable), I did every single quiz in that book and then read about the topics I had missed lots of questions on. Mehta's especially good if you haven't spent much time in the field on construction sites, the book has lots of photos and descriptions of how materials and systems are actually installed. FEMA 451 is an absolute must-read as well. I don't use Amberbook but attended one of their free live sessions discussing free body diagrams, which was enormously helpful and really boosted my confidence about structural questions (though I barely got any on my actual exam, go figure!) 

    The sheer amount of content we have to consume to prepare for PDD is overwhelming, and the only thing that helped me retain enough of what I read was to make my own charts to compare various pros/cons or properties of materials and systems. For example, I made a chart with all different kinds of insulation and properties of these insulations including R-value, fire resistance, water resistance, where in the building it can be used, etc. The most important thing, I think, is not to stress about remembering facts exactly but rather how a material or system performs in comparison to others of its kind (for example, it's a better use of time to learn that EPS has a higher R-value than XPS and can be used below grade rather than spend time trying to memorize the exact R-values of EPS & XPS.) This concept helped me focus the firehose stream of content somewhat. As I went along I made other charts comparing structural systems and building materials, I really recommend doing this for systems with similar-sounding names (flat slabs and flat plates always tripped me up!)

    This is your last exam, you are so close!! Best of luck! 

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    Elif Bayram

    Sorry about it Grace… I think Marie’s recommendations above are priceless. I recommend a similar path to everyone who is studying for PDD, especially if they tried it a few times and couldn’t pass. It is a lot, yes, but it pays off. I wish you the best of luck with the next time. Hopefully you pass it next time.

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    Alexander Mcclane

    Hey Grace, 

    I'm in the same position, I had no real issues on my other 5 exams and I've now failed PDD twice, 490 and 538 scaled scores (the last one was particularly painful getting 62% and deemed a fail) 

    Both versions of the exam were so different to each other, I feel PDD is a more like a casino trivia slot machine, there is just so much content compared to the other exams. The other 5 you can really focus on the selected subject areas and its ok. 

    The biggest issue I have with the exam is that you can really tell that the questions are sent in by volunteers, there is no consistency to how they are worded, each question feels so different from the one before. Even as a native English speaker I struggled to distill what they are asking, and I have so much respect for those of us taking these with English as a second language. Also, the diagrams and case studies have a tendency to be of a really poor level, even pixelated at times. This last attempt I was about 20 questions in and starting to panic a little as each question was so wildly differently written from the last, I took a breather and began to re type the key words from each question into the whiteboard as for whatever reason, highlighting doesn't work with my brain. It was so slow but I usually felt like I had a rough idea what they were asking and the answer was often in the question I felt, I just ran out of time to go back and check those first 20 questions :')

    One final complaint is the use of the bell curve and 10 ungraded volunteer based questions, I can see why NCARB does this approach but in my opinion setting the pass rate at 60% and having professional exam writers would be wonderful. 

    I'm taking this again next month, I've previously used Amberbook, Black spectacles (not good for PDD) Hyperfine (great for my first PDD exam then not one similar concept on my 2nd which was annoying) The usual recommended books that Marie also listed. I actually just got Elif Bayram's practice exam questions and highly recommend, that along with hyperfine and building construction illustrated is what I will use to push for that higher % along with Amberbook's youtube vids on the way to work. 

    Good luck on your next exam!!! 

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    Grace Cheri Davis

    Alexander, thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I feel like we had identical situation. I had one question that didn’t read grammatically correct at all whatsoever - and i couldn’t even understand what they were asking. Another question I had was a graphic that was so small, and i had no ability to increase the size of it - i was squinting and couldn’t make out what they were asking me to identify. It felt so unfair.

    I think one of my downfalls was not even cracking the Mehta book. Im going to review that and Elifs questions.

    Best of luck to you! You are getting so close!!!!! 🫶🏼

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