PDD pass! (On the fourth try) - test taking strategy

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14 comments

  • Avatar
    Ryan NCARB

    Congratulations Sara!

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    Mandel Cameron

    Thank you for the advice, and congrats!!

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    Kate Frisbie

    That's the strategy I used during the PPD exam and it worked for me too.  I would say 45 for each case study minimum.

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    Austin Fox

    Congrats Sara! Im taking my second attempt in July. I took some time away after my last fail before tackling the books again. My question to you is what changed from your pass attempt compared to the others? Did you do anything different or was it the time away that helped you gain clarity?

     

    Best,

    Austin

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    Sara Murado Arias

    Hi Austin, 

    I think what helped me was going to the original sources listed by NCARB as a complement to the third party materials, especially Ching. Also, Googling stuff to get a wider view of a specific topic, as well as more examples of implementation (of MEP systems and construction details in particular), was very helpful.

    The test-taking strategy I mention above was also key. Time is just as crucial for this exam as knowledge, and I think having a strategy really helps. 

    Best of luck to you, it can be done!

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    Eric Curry

    Congratulations! I just failed today! IF I may, what order have you taken the 5.0?

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    Sara Murado Arias

    Hi Eric,
    I took the three exams from 4.0 and then took PDD and PPD only from 5.0. If I have any advise about these last two, is to take them close to one another. The material overlaps quite a bit and I think it’s more efficient to study for both at once.
    Hang in there! Good luck!!

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    Kate Frisbie

    Eric, I’m curious how long you’ve been working?

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    Eric Curry

    Sara,

     

    Thank you for the prompt response. I have seen where folks have suggested to take PDD and PPD close together. I have a lot of study material for all of these; I underestimated the amount of content within PDD; and I did not realize this until i scheduled the exam. After I scheduled the exam, I really started looking at the 5.0 community and I saw that it was the hardest of them all, big mistake. I saw that most people, the average candidate, was studying anywhere from 6-8 weeks, whereas I only studied for 4 weeks! My new new strategy is to start from the "beginning" and take PA, PPD, PDD (retake), CE, PjM and PcM. I plan to take the PA in September.

     

    I will map out a detailed study plan and stick with it.

     

    Again, I appreciate you sharing your advice.. 

  • Avatar
    Eric Curry

    Kate,

     

    I have been in the game a long time, first job was in high school back in 1990...I've been many places while in college and  out of school. I have been working away from school since 1999 

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    Kate Frisbie

    Eric, sounds like you and I have been in the field the same amount of time. I started testing 6 years ago in 4.0 and pretty easily passed 6 out of 7 exams, but could not for the life of me get though structures. In the end I was forced into 5.0 and had to take PPD and PDD. I studied for PPD for 4-5 weeks (about 25-30 hrs a week). I honestly didn’t even touch structures material since I had been reading the study material for years. Based on a combo of work experience, practice exams, and reviewing 3.1 and 4.0 Kaplan guides, I found PPD pretty easy. I took PDD 4 weeks after that but didn’t study much as I found the material I read for PPD was almost the same. I found YouTube videos on mechanical and electrical systems very helpful, especially ones that had animation. I also read much of Ching’s Building code illustrated and found it very helpful as well as his olther book everyone keeps mentioning. But mostly I used Kaplan/Brightwood books and found them valuable. The written info is almost the same from 3.1 to 4.0 and 5.0 books. You just have to figure out which old divisions translate tot the new. I also like Black Spectacles online practice exams, but they’re not cheap...but after failing structures so many times I was willing to do anything to finish up. Hope some of this helps.

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    Eric Curry (Edited )

    Kate,

     

    That definitely helps. I decided to go with arechitect Exam Prep with David Doucette and Eric Freed in lieu of Kaplan for the 5.0. I keep seeing folks refer to BCodesI by Ching. I have BConstructionI, Architect's companion. I discovered Black Spectacles late. I am definitely contemplating subscribing for the rest of my exams. I discovered late that youtube and BS were very helpful, but as I said, a bit too late. I am visual and the reading content in the study guides from Doucette and Freed and other 5.0 material is helpful, but the reading became mundane. I utilized the the Cornell note taking method as I listened to the audio, but felt it was extremely time consuming. 

     

    The funny thing, of all the material and references, for PDD was structures heavy; today i had a lot of questions on U and R value and a majority of questions I felt did not pertain to the health, safety and welfare of the public. But I could just be bitter, lol! 

     

    I plan to get this figured out. Too much time in the industry to be out here failing and not passing this stuff!

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    Jason Vico

    Sara,

    I took PPD today, my fist 5.0 exam. I also took the big 3 in 4.0 and transitioned over. Provincial feed back is telling me I didn't pass PPD on the first try, that test is a BEAR!!! Almost ran out of time. I reached the Case Studies with 1 hour left on the clock, and found myself rushing through them.

    My study materials were;

    - Architect Studio Companion, 6th Edition

    - Building Construction Illustrated

    - Building Codes Illustrated

    - FEMA Seismic Design, Chapters 4,5,6

    I read ASC and BCI (construction) cover to cover.  I paged through BCI (codes) and FEMA, looking at diagrams and becoming familiar with the main concepts. Used Designer Hacks and Gang Chen for practice tests, to which I was getting high scores.

    My question is, now that I have 60 days before I can PPD agian, should I schedule PDD right away or wait and take it closer to my PPD retake. Also, what did you use for study materials for both exams?

    Thanks!

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    Sara Murado Arias

    Hi Jason,

    I would schedule PDD about 1 week or 10 days after PPD. It sounds like you what you studied so far is the right thing. The only additions I would suggest would be to, in these 60 days, read Brightwood and Ballast for PPD and PDD. Many of the chapters are repeats between the exams, so you won’t have to read the full 4 books, more like 1.25 for each Brightwood and ballast. If you don’t have enough time, do Brightwood first and skim through ballast, paying more attending to material that is additional to what you read in Brightwood.

    Do all the quizzes and practice exams for both B & B, and the questions you get wrong, or you think that, even though you got the question right, you don’t have a good idea of the full picture of that topic, I would google that topic or look it up in Ching if it’s a detail.

    I don’t think that Brightwood and ballast are better sources than what you studied, but I think they are a good overview and a “structure” to kind of put all the other information in place.

    But, I think that the most important advice I can give you is to follow a test taking strategy. Don’t let yourself get to the end of the exam with one hour for both case studies. See the test taking strategy I described in my original post. I really believe that this is what got me through the finish line.

    Good luck and hang in there, you will get to the end!!

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