Provisional Pass in PPD - Review of Process

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    Chelsea Wagner

    Thanks for the advice Michelle. 

    I recently failed PPD after studying REAL HARD for 10 weeks using all of the resources you listed (I actually read all of them). I felt great about the exam while I was taking it which is why I was kind of shocked to receive a big fat FAIL. For the past two weeks I have been trying to figure out what went wrong because if I take this test again, I think I would choose the same answers. 

    Your final tip about checking your answers is what I am intrigued about. I assume the reason why I failed is because I chose the TRICK answer many times. Do you believe the wording is tricky for many questions? I wish this was something I had caught on to during the test. 

     

     

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    David Kaplan

    Congrats Michelle!!!

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    Michelle Gonzales

    Thanks David!

    Chelsea, I'm sorry that your try at PPD ended up negatively, especially with all the work you put into preparing for the exam. Reading back at your first post last week, and also reading posts from other transitioners, I realized that there could be a big difference between the 4.0-to-5.0 approach to PPD and PDD, and that of the new-to and pros-at 5.0. That's just my observation and inference as I wear my tin foil cap for a moment, but I could see a lot of frustration on this community and I'm not sure what exactly is the major cause. My hope is that the divide in experiences with these exams can continue to narrow down and everyone's expectations can be regulated somewhat, whether it is through NCARB's influences or through continued dialogue on this forum.

    That being said, I would hate to say that NCARB is deliberately tricking us just for the fun of it, but I do believe that some of the questions are meant to be challenging and are sometimes cloaked with a lot of information to test our abilities to put everything together to come up with a solution. The misunderstanding of one word in a sentence could cost you the right answer, imo. That is why I always question and doubt every answer I give until I feel like it is the best answer to address the question, especially when faced with other options.

    The most taxing of questions are those that sound like:

    "A man has a cow and the cow is from Spain. The man is looking for a suitable lodging for his cow that would give him enough ventilation, bring in sunlight and contain his noisy "moos". What would be the best choice of lodging for this man's cow?"

    At the end of the day, you might find a 2-bedroom townhouse in your choices that would 100% adhere to all of these attributes mentioned - best acoustical properties, large operable windows, etc. However, you would have to also note that, while it may be a luxurious accommodation, cows don't stay in 2-bedroom townhouses (for reasons never verbally expressed in the question, but they expect that you should apply your background knowledge about cows to the question as well.) Therefore, you might want to suggest a barn instead, which ends up fitting the cow but will adequately (but not perfectly) address the other variables found in the question.

    Yeah, I know, it's a bit out there and a wacky example; NCARB is a lot more subtle in their approach. However, that's the essence of that type of "scenario" questioning, without me divulging any actual questions on the exam. These are the hidden elements that wouldn't be too obvious when you are hurrying through a question, or what you don't realize would be relevant, and that can cost you. It was the first thing I noticed when I started reading though the example questions in the ARE Handbook and I prepared to never take questions at their face value. Always try to dig deeper. Does it matter that it is a hospital? Or that it has 10 employees? Or that it is fully sprinkered? Question, question, question... Every little detail could count.

    I honestly hope that this helps somehow. Good luck, Chelsea, and please don't give up!

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    Brendan Herr

    Thanks, Michelle! I've got this one in five weeks and am just kicking off my studying. 

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    Asra Zaidi

    congrats David!

    I was wondering if you could share which chapters did you go through in Building construction illustrated and architect's studio companion. I took 2-3 week studying through ballast and I'm not sure if that was the best strategy. but for structures do you think i should prepare since i don't have access to Thadeus? I plan to take my exam on April 16

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    David Kaplan

    Asra,

    I did both books cover-to-cover.  With BCI though, it's not really "reading."  I leafed through the pages one by one and looked at the details.  If there were some that I had never seen before or hadn't encountered much in my work experience, I read some of the text and looked at those details a bit more closely.  I would tell you that you should review the ARE 5.0 Handbook for the PDD test and zero in on the details that NCARB identifies - those really are the ones you'll encounter. 

    ASC is an amazing book and completely worth your time reading.  You can skip the Parking Design chapter though.

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    Asra Zaidi

    Thanks David,

    for the ASC does it matter what edition I use. I found a free 5th edition pdf and I'm wondering if I should buy the newer 6th edition or not?

    for BCI construction, I get scared every time I read people saying "cover to cover"  because I'm not very good I remembering details. And if I have to read it cover to cover what should I pay attention to?. I only have 1 year of experience after graduation and that too only in the design area, I have barely worked on construction docs so I can safely say I do not know much about construction details which means that everything on the BCI book will be fairly new to me. is there a strategy you would recommend that will help me utilize my time? what are the questions geared towards?

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    David Kaplan

    ASC 5th Edition is the version I studied (which was the free version).  You're good to go.  It's an awesome book.

    Yes - look at the ARE 5.0 Handbook under the PDD section.  They tell which details you have to focus on.  I believe off the top of my head it says "roofs, floors, parapets, curtain walls."  Something like that.  Look it up - it's definitely there and it's definitely the ones you can zoom in on.  Other than that, I would know your typical wall sections, as in exterior stud walls, CMU walls, masonry cavity walls, that sort of thing.

    No one can remember all the details in that book, and I don't think you'll have to.  I do think that you should look through the entirety of the book though, it really is helpful to at least see these things. 

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    Asra Zaidi

    Thanks again David,

    is there a good recommendation for the structural sections. is the ASC book good enough for it?

    also what chapters would you guys recommend for the site planning and design handbook? it seems like this test covers that a lot. 

    Thanks a lot!!!

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    Michelle Gonzales

    Hi Asra,

     

    When I started studying for structures, I began with Dilip Khatri's YouTube channel and playlist. I would highly suggest you check him out. The only part I started getting lost at, was when he got to trusses. That was where Thaddeus came in handy for me. However, there are other free tutorials out there on Youtube and Google. Other than knowing the basics of shear and moment as they relate to beams, it would really help to understand how to use trigonometry to determine resultant forces (e.g. sine, cosine, tangent; Pythagorean theorem; law of sines). Chapter 2 in Building Construction Illustrated also lays out the major structural principles to be aware of. Googling terms, watching random free tutorial videos and reading different online resources can help you cover what is needed for the exam. Just heard about AWC Beam Design Formulas, which I plan on taking a look at for my PDD exam.

    Other than that, ASC is really good at laying out the major structural systems and which ones to use under certain circumstances (long spans, flexibility, aesthetics, etc.) Know the differences between horizontal and lateral forces and the types of structural systems to use for each (the FEMA document - Chapters 4 and 5 - helps in this aspect). I probably only got a handful of structural calculations and more concept-driven structural questions that tested my understanding of the principles rather than having me do loads of math.

    As for the site planning and design handbook, if you never read the book, I would encourage you to brush through Chapters 1-4 and get in-depth into Chapters 7-10. I had to read most of those chapters when I did PA so I just brushed through Chapter 10 again this time around and didn't regret it. 

    I hope this helps. I have a tendency to ramble so I apologize in advance.

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