Exam Timing - PPD & PDD



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    Anson Nickel

    Hi Adelina,

    There are a variety of strategies but I'll lay out mine (passed PPD, taking PDD next week!):

    1. Do the Multiple Choice questions first. (90-120 minutes)

    2. Take 15 minute break to have some water, move around. I've found that just taking a breath helps to ease to stress on my brain. Water definitely helps keep your mind active and quick. None of the individual questions should be so taxing that an extra 15 minutes is required. My thought here is that the benefits of a sip of water and a stretch far outweigh the benefits of trying to nail "that one question".

    3. Do the Case Studies (60 minutes)

    4. Review questions (60 minutes)

    This should leave you with about 15 minutes to spend where you need it the most. So if you have more 'flagged' questions than other tests, add some to the review. If after reviewing the resources for a case study, your eyes glaze over in shock and terror (hopefully not :P), than you'll feel fine adding another 15 minutes to those 10 questions.

    I'd recommend zooming through the MC questions. This will remind your brain of the relevant topics and get you started on a solid pace. 

    Case Study questions are worth the same as the rest, true, but the answers can often be found "within" the test, so to speak.  This means that extra time spent answering these questions can often prove fruitful. 

    Best of luck,


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    Adelina Koleva


    Thank you so much for your advice! This is really very helpful. I will attempt a similar approach, especially in trying to really go quickly through that first pass through the MC. I think that was my mistake before. I'm hoping that my improved studying will pay off in terms of saving that time.

    The case studies do make me nervous, my eyes did actually "glaze over in shock and terror" my first time around. I wasted so much time floundering around...I'm determined that won't happen again!

    Thank you,


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    Luke Durkin

    I took 1.7 min/question for ~100 non-case study questions.  That left me 40 min each for 2 case studies, 4 min/ question.  But that didn't leave me time to review marked questions.  Near the end of the non-case study q's I realized I was on a great pace so I spent about 8 min on a tough structural question.  Probably shouldn't have done that.

    The main tip I can give for time management is don't spend time on questions you know you don't know.  Think about it for 1-2 min then if nothing comes to you, guess, mark it and move on.  That time is better spent on questions you have somewhat of an idea of or questions like the case study that more time is going to give a better chance of getting.

    Some questions are just big too, lots of info and so on, so not every question is going to be a 1-2 min question which was kinda the case in 4.0.  

    Also realize there are shortcuts in some of these questions, like you may not have to analyze everything.  So I found reading the answers first, then reading the scenario helps. 

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    Anton Gross

    I just took the PP&D and passed. For me, it was difficult on the time management side specifically. I mean one point I would stress is to relax if and when there is a technical glitch of the program taking a while to regenerate. It WILL happen so don't stress about those few seconds here or there.

    I can't tell you or anyone else how to take the exam, but I would stress the points from my experience:

    1) from what I've been told all questions are weighted the same. Meaning 1 wrong in Case Studies is the same as 1 wrong in the multiple choice. However I think you will have minimums categorially to be competent in all aspects.

    2) That said, the most time you'll spend/ question will be in the Case Study questions. I tried to take the first 2 hours for all 100 multiple choice questions then spend about 1 1/2 hours on the Case Studies and have about 30 minutes for review. I needed more time than that plan for my multiple choices on my exam and I was stressed a bit but relaxed and just take 1 question at a time.

    I have a lot of real world experience. That is both a positive as well as a a negative in the testing environment. For me, a big thing is top just push the pace.

    Good luck.

    It's not a horrible option to go through the multiple choice questions somewhat quickly and answer all the ones you know and that aren't too long and then go back and answer the longer ones. Find something that works for you.

    I found the Black Spectacles practice exams to be a great tool for building up my speed and for using the reference materials like in the exam case studies.

    I would also stress to read the questions carefully for those key words that change a problem completely.


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    Christopher Bennett

    This is a great question. I had to keys...

    1) What I found was most helpful was to actually take the break at question 80. Sounds odd for time, but I found it was a welcomed break just after half the questions. 

    2) Start the case study with at least 1-1.5 hours left. I found no matter how hard I try, the case study always took about a hour. then I had about 30 minutes to review questions. 


    Good luck!


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    Adelina Koleva


    Thanks very much for the advice! I'll take it all under consideration :)


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    Kung Yu Pan (Edited )

    Hi Addy! 

    Nice to see old friends on here:) Looks like you are far along on the licensing path.

    I'm just about to start on PPD/PDD. Good luck on your upcoming exams! 

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    Jonathan Chertok

    not what you asked but - i skipped all the math questions and answered all the MC in the first go - while marking the MC to review as necessary.
    then clicking on Review Exam and click on Review Unanswered and did all the math questions.
    this allowed me to get on a roll with MC and crunch the number heavy all at once.
    i came upon it one morning when my brain immediately knew that math heavy questions were not going to get their proper due at 8:15 in the morning and all chopped up in between the MC.
    just as a side note i counted 19 of them (including tabular intensive questions etc).

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    Kristen Charters

    When I took both tests, I used the following strategy:

    1. Start with MC (about 90-120min total) with no more than 2min/question. If it was math heavy or I couldn't figure it out in that time I marked it and moved on.

    2. Moved on to case study (about 60-80min) using a similar strategy as above. For case studies, I would read through the scenario and go through all the questions for that case study and answer the ones that I could (or that required minimal digging) before going through the harder ones. Sometimes I found that earlier case study questions helped with some of the later ones-so going through all the questions helped.

    3. Took break (got water, stretched, etc)

    4. Spent remaining time with math questions/review all questions. Tried to have at least 30-45min to review.

    Good luck!

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    Julie Brown

    Just a consideration: if you take the break, you have to leave the testing room. They don't let you hang out at the computer with your scratch paper and problem-solve while not 'on the clock'. Your 15-minute break also needs to factor in time spent checking out of the room and checking back in. For me, I didn't want to risk having the Prometric folks busy with someone else and have to wait for them to process me back into the room, and I didn't want to disrupt my focus, so I went without the break.

    In regards to case studies, I aimed to leave myself about 1-1.5 hrs to tackle them, especially on PDD and PPD because they were so graphic-heavy.

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    Luke Durkin

    I've taken PDD and PPD now and I'd recommend +/-1.5 hrs for two case studies or 4-5 minutes per item on those two exams.  4 min per item would be the min.  1 hour is definitely rushing. I was up against the wire on PDD and spent 3 min on the penultimate question and that was a rush, I would have liked to spend another minute checking another thing.

    Also, I heard in a podcast where they interviewed someone from NCARB that it's very likely you'll get 2 case studies.

    For reference in that suggestion, I work with the code a lot at my current job and know my way around it, but that is primarily residential and related occupancies such as Business for leasing offices.  If you don't do code reviews or otherwise know your way around the building code I may recommend 1.75-2 hrs.  Other references they may provide are more straightforward like zoning codes or drawings so working knowledge isn't as much a time factor.

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    Jonathan Chertok

    this one could probably go on for awhile.

    i would just add - i wouldn’t underestimate the fact that navigating i the UI may be an acquired skill. i’d practice scrolling within the case study “view window” and when moving the mouse out and scrolling down to the answer or back up to the question. and then back in to the resource material back out again etc etc.
    also i would practice turning the pan back on for the drawings. it seems to default back to “non-pannability” which i found problematic.
    also practice the search tool for the drawings.
    lastly, if you find yourself in a drawing set looking for something like a schedule that you think should be there get back out and reread the question. it is probably in one of the answers or you misinterpreted the question.
    if you are in the zoning (or other) tab and don’t see what you need just try to match cognates.

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