Passed PDD and am officially done with ARE!
Everyone's recap/study strategy posts were very helpful! This was my second time taking PDD but reading the posts helped me narrow down what to study this time around. (I had previously taken it with PPD as there is a fair amount of overlap between the two exams.) So for this retake I focused on:
-Thermal (k, U, R, C) Be familiar with their relationships and their impact on a building assembly.
-different types of HVAC and plumbing and electrical systems
-different types of fire protection systems
-be familiar with shear and bending moment, seismic and lateral forces
-ADA 2010 (all) and IBC 2012 (min. ch 3,5,6,7,8,9,29)
-know how to navigate a CD set
-labeling details with correct information like in the demo exam
-Water table and waterproofing
-Construction details and material properties (read all of Building Construction Illustrated)
-Designing for acoustic issues
-be able to calculate the cost of a material if given a specific area/volume
-Specifications and project manual
-watch your units!
-Occupancy types/load calcs
-watch out for your units
-historic preservation with regards to building materials
-Ballast 4.0 BDCS, BS, CDS (read plus took exams) (aim for 65% or higher)
-Kaplan 4.0 BDCS, BS, CDS chapter quizzes plus practice exams (aim for 75%)
-Ballast 5.0 PcM and PjM practice exams and problems
-Building Construction Illustrated
-Amber videos (samples here)
-Architect's Studio Companion (skimmed mechanical and structural, YMMV)
-MEEB (skimmed for diagrams/things I needed clarification on)
-FEMA 454 ch. 3-5
-Architectural Graphic Standards (skimmed for construction details that I wasn't familiar with)
-NCARB ARE Handbook
-NCARB demo exam
-Jenny's Notes (BDCS and BS)
I studied for about 1.5 months, mostly on the weekends. I tried to fit in an hour or two during the week, often during lunch or on my commute. I used this approach for all the tests.
First, I read Ballast as an overview as I came into this with only a few years of experience. I used Ballast and the practice tests to gauge how much I knew in each category. Then I dove into the available primary materials that I had available. I read Building Construction Illustrated and parts of AGS, ASC and MEEB, etc in order to fill in the gaps.
Like others have said, don't overstudy structural formulas. The few calculations I got were very straightforward and took very little time to do. In general, if I found a question that looked very time consuming, I marked it, skipped it and came back at the end. There were bigger fish to fry.
Taking the Test:
Time management is key! Skip questions that are calculation heavy or will take more than a minute to solve. Pace yourself and make sure you take your break. It's a good way to take a breather and refocus. I aimed to get through the general questions in about 1.75-2hrs which left me the remaining time for the case studies and to review marked questions. I don't have much to add about the case studies as others have covered the topic very well. My only advice is to be familiar with navigating a CD set and to really practice navigating the sample set on the demo exam. Practice zooming, changing pages, zooming in again, the search function and bookmarks. Oh and assume the pdfs will lag a little. (and if they lag for more than 20-30sec or freeze, raise your hand and ask for assistance from your Prometric staff.)
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