Thought I would make a post because I have found other people's posts so helpful during this process.
I transitioned from 4.0 to 5.0 at the beginning of the year and after reviewing many posts here and doing research elsewhere online, I decided to study for both PPD and PDD at the same time and attempt to take the two back to back. In the end, I was 50% successful(!) and feel confident that I can pass PDD on my second attempt, which I plan to reschedule ASAP.
I studied for just under 2 months and probably spent about 20 hours a week studying (though that was more like 10-15 hrs to start and 25 hrs as I moved closer to the exam dates).
I studied using the following resources:
Amber Book video tutorials (watched all videos except the professional practice ones, taking notes and making flashcards along the way)
Building Construction Illustrated - F. Ching (skimmed the whole book, but focused mostly on occupancy, building type, mixed use occupancy, etc.)
Building Codes Illustrated - F. Ching (skimmed the whole book, but plan to read more carefully in round 2 for PDD)
The Architect's Studio Companion - E. Allen (The best book I purchased, worth every penny)
Architectural Graphic Standards (12th edition which has a lot of great content on Type A and B apts and UFAS standards)
MEEB (skimmed electrical and plumbing and mechanical sections)
ARE 5.0 Handbook, online videos, Demo exam (all very helpful)
I took PPD first and found I was very well prepared from what I had used as study material and my work experience to date which involved a great deal of code and zoning reviews and getting jobs through DOB. The Amber Book videos are great at distilling concepts for building systems and structures. I learn better through visuals which is why I went this route, and then I used the other listed study materials to fill in the gaps.
When I took PDD a week later, I knew I did not study "right" for this exam 30 minutes into the exam. I did not anticipate how detailed it would be by comparison to PPD and really needed to dig one layer deeper than I did across the board. For my re-take, I plan to spend more time studying building details like those in Building Construction Illustrated and spend more time reviewing structural concepts in more detail. I did study structures via the Ching books and graphic standards, but I did not focus on it as much as building systems. I also plan to spend more time reviewing specifications and building materials. I was hopeful that with my experience working for a small firm and having passed CDS and PPP four months ago, that I would be able to handle questions regarding material selections, specification types, project protocols, but in the end I needed to spend more time reviewing these concepts and relating them back to a set of drawings.
I would still recommend studying for these exams together and taking them close to one another. I feel if I had one more week in between (two weeks apart), I could have done better on PDD and potentially passed. The questions in the ARE handbook are definitely a good indicator of the types of questions you will get. I plan to go over the PDD section again and look at all the RATIONAL paragraphs on each Q & A and make sure I am referencing all these study sources.
I hope this is helpful to others, even mildly! Good luck on your exams!
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