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    David Kaplan


    Yes.  Building Construction Illustrated I thought had a very good synopsis of the CSI Divisions towards the end of the book.  If you are using this book to study for PDD (which I recommend), then take a look.

    When it comes to CSI Divisions, you are not going to be presented with a question "what is division 08 71 00?"  No one can memorize what all the various divisions are.  However, you should know that Division 8 covers Openings.  You should know that within Division 8, that's doors, windows, curtain wall, storefront, etc.  I went into the test knowing what all the Divisions were, but that was it in terms of "memorization."

    You need to able to apply the spec sections and relate them to a set of drawings.  The sample problem in the Handbook where they ask you to click on the drawing on the element missing from the specs is a prime example.  Those are the types of questions you'll likely receive. 

    Know as well about Divisions 00 and 01.  I ended up googling these to find out what they included. 

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    Katherine Loecken

    Thanks David! I appreciate your wisdom. I have BCI - just haven't gotten to that part yet! 

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    Jonathan Chertok

    it would be nice if we could communicate better on the forum in some way. it would be helpful to compile this and share with others. if i get time to organize it i will post it.

    there is a canadian specifications site that explains it well. ballast 4.0 and 5.0 explain it (one does a really, really good job). there is a post on ARE Coach that is very good. you can also print a number of topics from wikipedia on it.

    if you shoot me your email i can send some of my notes on it with some illustrations...

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    Katherine Loecken

    Hi Jonathan - I just reached out to you on facebook messenger , as to avoid putting my email on a public forum! 

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    Jonathan Chertok

    good deal. ping me if i don’t respond in a day.

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    Jonathan Chertok

    AHPP pages 689 - 700 (or something along those lines) as mentioned elsewhere. there is a very good section in ballast 5 and one in ballast 4. also some good links (maybe someone can post them): canadian specifications institute, one on ARE coach, and wikipedia has some good material. fwiw.

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    Brian Jones (Edited )

    Although I can't be 100% sure, this link may be the ARE coach thread that Jonathan Chertok refers to in his August 02, 2018 post above:

    The thread contains an extremely clear explanation of the Groups, Subgroups, Divisions and Sections. 

    This post along with Wikipedia will probably help to clarify any questions you may have.  The resources below go into a little more detail (history of MasterFormat, etc.).

    The post also contains a link to the Construction Canada site that Jonathan Chertok may also be referring to.

    Here are a few other resources:


    Gang Chen's Mock Exams

    Chapter 2 of Gang Chen's practice exam books for PPD and PDD (not sure about his others) have a mnemonic that might be helpful to anybody trying to memorize the divisions.

    Architectural Graphic Standards

    In the appendices Construction Information Systems of AGS (at least in the student edition it's organized here), there is an explanation of the MasterFormat system. 

    Fundamentals of Building Construction - Fifth Edition

    Page 16 has a general explanation.  It's more or less at the same level of detail as Wikipedia. 

    Pages 919 and 953 have a list of sections that outline some of the "trickier" (i.e. not so straightforward) assemblies.  Page 919 has the sections for Interior Walls and Partitions and page 953 lists the sections for Finish Ceilings and Floors.   

    Building Construction Illustrated

    Within the Appendix, Francis Ching has a clear explanation as well as a comprehensive list of all of the Divisions and Sections.

    Emily's Notes Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice

    You can do a Google search for the notes. 

    Emily has a very brief explanation of some of the different types of specifications.  This may be a helpful complementary reference for those who are trying to get a better handle on specifications in general. 


    Since all of the above information simply references books, notes, and forum posts, I believe that this info should be ok to post on this forum. 

    I apologize in advance if I have posted anything that I should not have (e.g. links, etc.).  If I have, please delete this post.

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    Jonathan Chertok

    this is what we’ve been reduced to.
    memorizing mnemonics...

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    Brian Jones (Edited )

    Although I agree that it's probably a bit excessive to *memorize* all of the MasterFormat divisions, I think that mnemonics can be pretty useful in the right situations... just saying.

    I guess people learn in different ways... I was just posting the resources that I've come across in hopes that it might save somebody out there there the time that I put in to clarify it for myself.  Since I don't work with MasterFormat myself at work, I found it a bit difficult to wrap my head around it at first because of the limited explanations in most of the study resources that are out there (or at least the ones I came across).  This is the reason why I felt it was worth listing out what I've come across. 

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    Jonathan Chertok

    hi brian
    sorry. it’s a helpful post. i just find the exams between 4.0 and 5.0 to be seriously lacking, well, as exams.

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    Jonathan Chertok

    i should be clearer brian. this to me is a 4.0 question (memorizing very specific random facts). the actionable 5.0 aspect would be how to use this “information” in a highly specific and highly confusing context.

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    Brian Jones

    Hi Jonathan, 

    No problem.  Thanks for your follow-up messages.

    Your earlier "memorizing mnemonics..." post was actually really helpful to me since it made me realize that I was falling into the memorization trap (my PPD exam is tomorrow).  I think this goes back to some of the points in David Kaplan's post above.  It's about knowing the "important" information/points and how it all relates to the bigger picture. 

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    Jonathan Chertok (Edited )

    yeah. you only need about 60% correct. so in a 120 point exam that’s 72 correct. then there is supposedly 10 - 20% “test questions” that don’t count. so call it 70 correct to be safe.

    all questions including the case studies are worth one point and there is no need to pass an individual “area”. so case study or math or whatever is the same point as a straight verbal MC question.

    bottom line is you will find a lot of “50-50” questions wheee no amount of knowledge or study will help you answer correctly. just guess. some will be mind boggingly impenetrable (confusing logic, confusing graphics, confusing language etc). don’t think twice about it and just answer and move on.
    it’s not really an architecture exam so don’t stress about not “knowing” something.

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