Passed PDD!

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    Randall Hunter

    Great info Scott! I'm gearing up for this one now having just passed PPD. It seems we hit the question milestones on each of these exams about the same time. I had roughly an hour remaining to run through my flagged questions. While I actually didn't mark a lot of questions on PPD, in all of my exams, I have kept an additional note on my scratch paper of the flagged questions I specifically want to go back to because I know I can work them out and get them correct. It's amazing how things just open up for you when you're not subconsciously racing the clock. Being able to go back to a question with a clearer mind helps a lot.

    I had a particular question on PPD that was so basic and simple and yet I spent 5 minutes on it at least just spinning my wheels. When I went back it took me 30 seconds tops and that included rechecking my math.

    It looks like you'll be hitting PPD a week or so before I get to PDD so I"m anxious to hear your comparison of the two. Good Luck!

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    Scott Barber

    Thanks Randall, congrats on passing PPD! I've been reading through a lot of PPD posts making sure I focus my studying for the next two weeks, and have a post of yours saved to read through. 

    I definitely agree about racing the clock, coming back and reading some of them again made a big difference. I know 'going with your first answer' is what most people always recommend but being able to take the confusing questions more slowly helped me figure out if my first answer was right or not. And knowing I already worked through them all once made me feel ok about taking 5 minutes to figure out why I was having issues converting from square yards to cubic yards, haha. 

    I'll be sure to share my two cents after PPD, knowing at least one person may take a look at it! Hope your studying goes well in the meantime!

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    ANGELA FERRIGAN

    Hi Scott...congrats on passing! I have a question about AEP. I used them for CDS and found it super helpful and then used them for PPD and was really disappointed. How helpful do you think it was for PDD?

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    Kirsten Solberg

    Angela,

    I agree with you.  I used AEP Flashcards this past weekend to study for PDD and was disappointed.  For the most part, they weren't even in flashcard format.  "Answers" were often 2 or 3 paragraphs of information.  The question "A building's configuration" isn't in question format and could be about many different aspects of a building.  It turned out to be a seismic question. I was able to glean some good information from Module 1 Flashcards, but it took way too much time to sort through them to find it. I find it hard to believe that "Crustal Conveyor Belt" would be on the exam in any form.   I'm not going to bother with the other modules of AEP PPD flashcards. I love learning, but for an exam with such a huge amount of content I need well-honed 3rd party study materials.

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    ANGELA FERRIGAN

    Kirsten,

    I'm not a fan of their flashcards either. I typically read their study guide and then take their online practice exams. For the CDS exam I found them to invaluable. I credit them as being one of the top 3 reasons I passed CDS. I tried the study guide for PPD and it was extremely vague. It contained very few images, which are crucial especially when you're covering hvac systems and structural aspects of construction. Did you get a chance to review their study guide or use the online practice exams for PDD?

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    Scott Barber

    Hi Angela and Kristen,

    I wasn't impressed with AEP's material for either PDD or PPD. As these two exams are the first ones I've taken, I don't have much input on the benefit for others, but I don't plan on using them for any other exams. 

    One of the things that annoyed me was the repetitive and, at times, slightly confusing content...there were times where the same sentence or paragraph was repeated within the same couple of pages, and while I understand that repetition is helpful for learning and retaining information, it just felt like a poorly written research paper trying to meet a word count requirement. I tried to use it as a general refresher and foundation for my studying (I read content I already knew coming in, thinking it might be useful or tell me something I didn't know), so reading the same material felt like a waste of time. It also seemed like they repeated the general intro to different sections - not any information relevant to the exam, just trying to make it easier to read - which felt like they didn't give a lot of effort. One of the charts that I found helpful in their study guide I found later in one of the resources NCARB lists, which made me question the study guide more.
    I took 2 of their practice exams for PDD but found them way too focused on seismic issues and lightbulb types; the exams didn't seem to align with the sections of the exam and put too much emphasis on the wrong things. I tried to listen to the audio, and personally didn't find it helpful. I know others enjoy it so it may just be the way I learn, but I wasn't able to find much use for it. And I didn't use the flashcards either - for me that would have been trying to memorize definitions or details (the 4.0 mindset) rather than understanding concepts and being able to apply them in a given situation (which is what ARE 5.0 is geared towards). 

    I've saw someone else say this and have repeated it a couple times in other comments, but I think until 5.0 has been out for a while most of the 3rd party study material will be incomplete and insufficient for these exams. I thought it would be hard to study from the "primary" sources that NCARB references (that was one of the arguments the AEP guys made - that their content is focused on the exams), but didn't find that to be the case at all. I regret spending so much time on Ballast and AEP, and will be focusing my studying on primary sources for future exams.

    BCI (Construction) and ASC were the most beneficial for these two exams, in my opinion. AGS and FEMA (chapter 5, I wrote the wrong one in the initial post and am going to edit that) were also good. I think having passed PPD as well and looking back I'm able to think more clearly about the resources that were helpful.

    Hope that helps, good luck!

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    ANGELA FERRIGAN

    Thanks for the info, Scott. I'll stay clear of the AEP and Ballast materials. I took the big three 4.0 exams and have only used 3rd party materials. I don't like the idea of wading through giant books from primary resources, but there are so many posts on here about how helpful they are that I feel like it's the most logical resources to use. One last question, what was the chart that you found useful (you mention it at the end of your 2nd paragraph)?

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    Scott Barber

    Angela,

    Happy to be of some help! I think the chart I was thinking of was one that showed the typical spans for different structural systems. In the grand scheme of things I think it's important but not necessarily more necessary than other material to be familiar with. I mainly meant that when I was reading the AEP study guide, that was one of the first times I thought it had been of real value. I don't remember if I came across the same chart in BCI or ASC (or maybe even AGS), I just remember recognizing it as I was studying.

    I felt the same way about studying the primary resources. Most of them are expensive and at least a hundred pages (I was pretty overwhelmed with MEEB's ~1700 pages), but they weren't too bad. This was my approach when going through those books that made it more manageable, and helped me get through most of them listed above in the last 3-4 weeks before my exam:

    1. Reference the ARE Handbook (and other posts on this forum) and make a list of the chapters/sections that are relevant for each book. I'm a fan of lists, though mostly for the opportunity to cross things off to see progress.
    2. Determine which content I already was pretty familiar with, and save those chapters for last.
    3. Read the chapters for the content I didn't know as well, not spending too much time on them, but highlighting and bookmarking sections that I wanted to review again later.
    4. Skim the content I already "knew," primarily looking at headers and lists to see what might be worth reviewing more closely, and looking at diagrams/details/graphics to make sure I understood them. (This was my main approach for AGS - if I knew the details I didn't linger, if I was unsure I would read the associated paragraphs)
    5. Review the sections I marked the first time through, removing my bookmarks when I felt comfortable with the content, and keeping some that had lists/charts/graphics that would be good overall review to refresh before the exam.
    6. The last two days before my exam I spent flipping through the bookmarks that remained, keeping those areas more fresh since I didn't have as much experience with them. 

    This approach may not work for everyone (others like to take notes to review, make flashcards, etc), but I thought it helped me prioritize my time and it felt good to see only a couple dozen bookmarks in a 300+ page book (even if, in reality, I only had to look at 5 or 6 chapters). I cut up post-it notes into strips for my bookmarks, so they were about 1/4" wide, which kept it at a reasonable size. 

    I also think it's worth remembering that NCARB made 5.0 to be a better reflection of "real-world" practice, and those books they reference are also made for "real-world" situations. From what I've heard, 4.0 had a disconnect from what practicing architecture was really like, so it makes sense that the 3rd party materials were more beneficial, because they were focused towards passing a test. All the books that NCARB references most not only help us learn what we need to for the exam, but also become better architects (once we're licensed). I already feel like I'm of more use to my office having just taking PPD and PDD, though it's probably more distinct for me since I've only been working full-time since last May. Others who have been working for years probably don't see as much increase in their knowledge for work, but also may not need to study as much for the exams. 

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    ANGELA FERRIGAN

    Awesome...thanks for the help!

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    Jacob McKinney

    Great information, thanks for sharing!

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