PPD + PDD Study Time



  • Avatar
    Scott Barber

    Hi La'Veesha, it depends on a number of complicated factors:

    - How much experience do you have in these areas?
    - How much time are you studying per day? 
    - Are you a fast reader, do you need to take notes or flash cards?
    - How quickly do you retain information from reading alone, or watching videos?

    There are certainly more questions that could be asked, but ultimately your timeline will vary from anyone else's. Personally, I studied 2 months, averaging 1-2 hours per day, and passed them 2 weeks apart. A friend of mine hardly studied at all and passed them both (after years of working in construction and already having a good grasp on the content). For context, I then studied about 3 weeks for PA, and 4 weeks before taking PcM, PjM, and CE within 10 days of each other.

    I strongly suggest considering studying for the two together, which adds a little bit of material but there's a lot of overlap. Understanding how you learn and retain information is key - I was comfortable just reading the books and looking at details for the most part, having a decent foundation to build off of from my personal experience. 

    2 months made me feel rushed at the end, but I think the pre-exam pressure could have made me feel that way regardless. I also spent about a month reading Ballast and Architect Exam Prep, where in hindsight I should have just spend 2-3 weeks reading Ballast and not looking at AEP, and then focusing the rest of my time on 'primary sources' from the ARE Handbook. 
    I think that 2-3 months would be fine if you could get in a couple hours a day and if you're an average-speed reader. I don't read particularly fast but I had to skim through some of the content to get through all of it. 

    I'd suggest looking through the posts on this forum to determine what you need to study, and then come up with a study plan from there. If you can reference the table of contents for the books it can help you determine what you need to read (based on your current knowledge and the content the exam tests you on), so you can come up with an idea for how long it'll take you to read each one. 

    Ultimately you know what works best for you. I primarily read and re-read the material. Others take a lot of practice exams, watch videos, listen to audio content, or make flash cards. Depending on how you learn and how quickly will learn will impact your study time. 6 months sounds too long for me (by the time I got to the end I'm not sure how fresh the content would be that I studied at the beginning), but it might be better for others. 

    I realize that doesn't directly answer your question, but I hope it helps a little bit! Good luck!

  • Avatar
    La'Veesha Rollins


    You answered the question correctly. To answer your questions, right now I am averaging about 2 hours a night reading material. I have taken Project Management and Practice Management and passed these. My best strategies is to go through the books and write down what I am weak in. I have the Kaplan 4.0 books and also have MEEB, Architecture Companion Handbook, Building Codes Illustrated, Building Construction illustrated, and Sun Wind and Light. 

    From what I have been reading on this Forum most people are saying the PPD & PDD are the monster exams and that its alot of content. My only area of concern is structures, as most of my experience, my structural engineer has taken up that slack. I have practiced in an architecture firm for 6 years and in residential construction for 6. I've been around for a while. 

    I am going to take your advice and go for the 3 month time frame. 


  • Avatar
    Scott Barber

    Glad it was helpful! It sounds like you're making progress and planning ahead well, which is always good to see. Congrats on your success so far!

    I will say that the structures portion of these exams isn't too in-depth. It's very different from the 4.0 exams, you won't need to do very many, or very detailed, calculations. If you're familiar with the concepts that will get you a long way. I know there are different versions of the exams but I was surprised how few structural calculations I had on these two exams.

  • Avatar
    Luke Durkin

    Yeah, I reckon it depends on a lot of factors but 6 months is a big NO in my book.  Have a go at it and see how you go.  I think people tend to over study rather than under study.  I think work experience is very important in 5.0.  If you're coming recently out of school or haven't had good work exp, 6 months might be appropriate.  If you think you need 6 months of study time, I'd recommend at least considering holding off on AREs a couple of years while you get high-quality work experience.  To go along with that, if you're in a job that isn't preparing you for the ARE and you aren't in love with the job, I'd consider finding a better job. This is especially true with PDD I think.  I think work exp is the best study material for PDD.

    The other problem with 6 months, is that you're not going to remember what you studied 6 months ago much less 2 mo ago.

    I spent 1.5-2 months for PDD and back in 4.0 I was at 1.5 mo for PPP, then 1mo for CDS then 1.5 weeks for SPD.  The exams and studying build on itself.  If you find your self-going through the mock exams, and you say, wow these questions are easy, could the test really be like this? Pull the trigger and schedule the exam for a few days away.  That's what I did in SPD and it saved me a lot of time. (I was also running out of time on 4.0 so 

    Remember, you only have to get around 57-67% correct to pass the exam.  (This is from a NCARB post a while ago)

    I also wouldn't recommend starting with PPD and PDD.  I'd do those two last.

    If you find yourself struggling and studying a lot, I'd consider getting one of Black Spectacles private tutors. (I never done that so idk anything about them)  I'd do that because it's probably more about how you think, like are you using logic, reasoning and critical thinking skills.  Aka think about what the difference between a professional (as in a licensed architect) and an average person it.  For example, professionals will analyze trade-offs and how things are connected, while non-professionals will think about things individually or with tunnel vision.  You should be able to answer a lot of these questions by reasoning your way through them just like an architect reasons through situations in real life.

    Like the ARE Handbook says, Understand and apply, Analyze and evaluate.  

  • Avatar
    La'Veesha Rollins


    Thank you for that feedback! It makes a lot of sense. I think from my unsuccessful try with 4.0 the ppd/pdd exams are packed with the most information. I am now scheduled to take PA in the next week and have been studying for that. From your post it seems like I should take construction and evaluation next and leave the Pdd/ppd for last.

  • Avatar
    Luke Durkin

    La'Veesha good luck!

    Also I just wanted to clarify in retrospect, I didn't read anyone else's posts, and your question didn't mention you had already taken any exams (I assumed you had yet to take these two)  so I wasn't speaking to anyone directly, I was just thinking if I could go back in time 3 years that is what'd I'd tell myself; wait, get more experience and leave that job that wasn't preparing me for the ARE.  I realized someone might take my comments the wrong way, especially since I didn't read other responses.

    As for which exam to take first, I made a post about this yesterday.  I mainly advocate for taking PPD&PDD last.  It's hard for me to say which to take first since I started in 4.0.  I think it ultimately comes down what fits you and what strategy you want to take.  I think there are good arguments for taking each of the other 4 first. C&E has higher pass rates and I reckon it'll serve as a good base for the other exams.  (AIA contracts & procedures for dealing with consultants, contractors and the project in general)  I imagine CE will pair well with PjM.

  • Avatar
    La'Veesha Rollins

    I’ve taken project management and practice management and passed those. I’m gearing up for programming and analysis next. I’ve been in the field for over 6 years so I’m hoping that will relieve some of the stress of ppd and pdd.

Please sign in to leave a comment.

Powered by Zendesk