I just passed PDD this past weekend after taking it 3 times. I am officially done the ARE’s and AXP. I wanted to thank everyone who has contributed to this forum as I have been browsing many responses regarding this exam. This exam was the hardest exam I took out of the three 4.0 exams and the two 5.0 exams.
This exam really is a beast and you need to stay focused the entire time to finish and finish well. The first 2 times I took this exam I barely had anytime left without any time to review. Losing track of time on the case study questions and a few of the mc questions can throw your time off. Keeping track of time and not wasting too much time on one question is important to get through everything.
As many other have said, knowing architectural details will benefit you greatly as there are many questions regarding this on the exam. Other major items I think are important are knowing how to read/coordinate consultant's drawings (MEP, lighting, etc). Pretty much what is described in the ARE Handbook. My work experience helped me in both Section 1 and 2 type questions via the ARE Handbook. Grabbing some drawing sets from your office can be a real help regarding these sections. As for the smaller sections of this exam. I would recommend understanding the CSI MasterFormat for Section 3, constantly browse the 2012 IBC for Section 4, and understanding the ARE handbook examples for Section 5.
Here is a list of my study materials: I pretty much looked at almost all the recommended references from the ARE Handbook since it took me 3 times to pass this exam.
Architectural Graphic Standards – Amazing resource that I continually looked at for detail drawings. I looked at this book again and again to understand different assemblies.
2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design – Good for knowing key clearances, dimensions, etc.
The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice - Specs only
Ballast 5.0 – Not much help, compared to some of the other resources. Don’t get too lost in the structural equations.
Building Codes Illustrated: A Guide to Understanding the 2012 International Building Code – I honestly preferred looking at the 2012 IBC because the exam references that and being able to navigate the IBC is more helpful than understanding how the information is presented in the book.
Building Construction Illustrated – Great quick read to help you get started thinking in a more architectural detail mindset.
CSI MasterFormat – Know the different spec sections is key for this exam and having a base understand some of the items that go in each section is also good. Ballast 5.0 actually does a good quick job of describing the sections of the CSI MasterFormat.
Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods – I didn’t use this book until the last round of studying and I think it was a really important resource for understanding construction material, mean/methods. This book definitely goes more in depth than BCI.
International Building Code (2012) – I would definitely recommend knowing your way around the IBC as it is something we use all the time in Architecture. Understand standing major chapters like Ch3, 5, 6, and 10 will help you on this exam and in practice.
MEEB – There are maybe one or two diagrams in this book that are good, but other than that it far beyond the needed knowledge for this exam.
Architect’s Studio Companion – Good for understanding MEP systems and general structure info. This was more useful for PPD.
Olin’s Construction Principles, Materials, and Methods – This is a top reference but I actually preferred Fundamentals of Building Construction as I thought it did a better job of explaining construction processes.
BlackSpectacles – I used this the first time I failed PDD but then cancelled it because I didn’t find it useful. The information given is too generic for this exam.
DesignerHacks Exams – I continually used these and thought they were a great help! They are quick ways to become familiar with different topics that may be on the exam. They also help you get in a mindset of answering questions in a quick manner which is necessary for the exam.
Other Misc quick read resources – FEMA 454, AWC Beam Formulas, Lintel spec guide, YouTube on topics I was confused about.
Best of luck everyone!
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