specific PDD retake recommendations (with posted results!)?

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    Theodore Diamond

    Jonathan, you have been really thorough in your perusal and use of this forum, so you've seen a lot of posts about materials that people say are a sure shot.  I think that a more useful question is what study techniques have you used and what could you augment these with?

    For me, the very best resources were flashcards and sample questions.  The best study material I had was a set of Archiflash 3.1 flashcards.  Paper flashcards are much more effective for me than digital ones.

    Regarding sample questions, I found NCARB's study guides for ARE 3.1 and 4.0.  These had about 40 questions per section and they let me find my weak areas and study harder.  It was much easier for me to say "I have trouble telling the difference between water to air systems and heat pumps" than it was to try to learn "Content Area 1".

    I also used DesignerHacks question banks, because they are cheap (and have regular coupons) and, if you get a 94%, they'll give you a refund if you don't pass.  I took them so many times that I had most of the answers memorized.  I don't even think I quite hit 94%, but I passed the exam.

    Finally, I perused a few of the primary sources.  Two chapters of FEMA's earthquake manual were really good.  I would just page through Building Construction Illustrated and Fundamentals of Building Construction when I needed a break from flashcards.

    Final note: I used a lot of older study materials.  The practice of architecture has not really changed in the last 20 years.  Old test materials might be organized differently, but the questions are pretty much the same.

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    Jonathan Chertok (Edited )

    thanks theodore.
    that’s a (typically) independent and insightful response.
    a couple questions off the top of my head please?
    1. if anyone has links to these older study materials it would be welcome. i think this is quite interesting. afaik a number of questions (?) or maybe just content (?) is carried over from 4.0 supposedly? i sort of find this hard to understand since the /typology/ of the questions seem to me to be extremely different in 5.0. 4.0 for me was an exclusively deductive (not sure if this is the right term) exercise in that it was a “conventional” multiple choice. meaning once i wrapped my head around the parsing and eliminating one or two wrong answers i seem to have done fine. 5.0 has more of what i would term “cognitive dissonance” in the sense i feel like i basically have to unlearn architectural conventions and architectural thinking. i mean, leaving aside the issue of problems i have with the graphics - didn’t you find that the more “straightforward” multiple choice required a different content/study approach? not bashing here i’m just trying to wrap my head around how studying content from 3 or 4 would apply to what i consider excruciatingly specific types of “logic” for many of the questions in 5.0. thoughts? input?
    2. i don’t do flash cards almost as a rule. i study the material and use recall. if the question is so specific that it requires a numeric answer i give it my best shot. this has /never/ been in problem in the past for me. any thoughts on this?
    3. i think you mention archiflash 3.2 and designer hacks for flash cards. presumably you would advise designer hacks for me due to the fact that it is presumably for 5.0?
    4. i read both the ching volumes and i can’t really get anything out of these. the presentation is so generic i find it uninformative basically. graphic standards or architects handbook or IBC Code Commentsry or AISC or whatever are more “meaty” and i usually get more out of them. but then you have the issue where you are basically looking through the equivalent of the old testament, new testament, koran and a bunch of supplemental texts in preparation for being tested on something with such specificity that it seems impossible to answer even if you /understand/ the content.
    5. for instance, if i go to ching and look up “types of movement joints” i get some generic presentation on the topic. if i then go to meeb or maybe AGS or whatever i am presented with a detailed accounting of non-movement joints, movement joints, isolation joints, control joints, expansion joints, building separation joints etcetera. and it seems to me that unless i have actually worked this type of construction as a decision-maker i am going to be at a bit of a loss as to how to answer a quite specific question. so i guess i would ask if you have any thoughts on resolving this dilemma which seems to me to be quite frequent on this exam.
    5. finally, i have no control over the “segregation” aspects of the exam except to note that i think you have to pass all of the sections. i have no idea how well i did in 4.0 or PPD except to note that in the one CDS i failed i had level 1’s in everything and failed the vignette. then on my retake i passed the vignette and had level 1 in everything but failed the 5 - 10% in Codes and Regulations (which i didn’t even study for because it was a separate chapter from CDS in ballast). point being - i think the passing rate on these must be extremely low so even a passing grade would indicate a high rate of failure on individual questions. meaning i’ve never had any idea of how well i did on any except PPD felt atrocious. all of which is to say is there /any/ way to make sure that covering the LOW PERCENTAGE categories is possible - given that wrong answers on two or three or four could result in not passing? i mean, is there any way to parse these results so that i make sure to cover some of the low question but high relevance categories?
    anyway, apologies for the length and depth here but obviously i’ve not found 5.0 to play to my strengths. also, it’s hard not to ask a lot of questions when you have intelligent feedback...
    THANKS

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    Theodore Diamond

    Jonathan, I'm going to take the questions one at a time and try to give the best answers I can, but as you've mentioned what works for me may not work for you.

    1. I'll look for links to the older NCARB handbooks.  I suspect they can be found on arecoach.  I think that some questions probably carried over from 4.0 to 5.0, but almost all of the content carried over.  Oddly enough, I feel like I had to study harder for my 4.0 exams because they were more conventional multiple-choice, but then again, I also had CDS and that's just a slog through contracts... However, the 5.0 questions are definitely harder and take longer to answer than the 4.0 ones did.

    2. I didn't use flashcards like flashcards.  I just read the front then read the back, like study snacks.  It was a quicker way to take in information.  There's no fluff, so it's more condensed than a textbook.  However, do what works for you.  I'm sure that digital flashcards would be useless for me.

    3. Archiflash was the flashcard set that I had.  I picked it up about 10 years ago when I first became eligible for ARE's.  I just didn't think it was worth updating.  If you use Designer Hacks, definitely go with 5.0.

    4. I think the Ching books are really good if you don't have much experience in an area.  However, the diagrams are good and are relate well to exam content.  I used Building Construction Illustrated for Looking, not reading.

    5. The question of systems that you're not familiar with is where I got the most benefit from Designer Hacks and Archiflash.  If I can read a sentence on why I should use one kind of joint or sealant, it will stick more than if I have to pick it out of a chapter of a book.  That's a personal preference, though.

    6. NCARB is really clear that you don't have to pass all sections.  They use a cut score.  I think that this is why they don't give score reports to passing candidates.  You could have one score report failing and another passing with the same numbers. https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/219849147-ARE-5-0-Scoring-System Michelle NCARB's response on September 26, lays out that you don't have to pass all sections.  

    These exams are a very strange way to test us, without a doubt.

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    Jonathan Chertok

    thanks man. you've been a great help. i guess you can't say that kind of thing enough.

    can i just ask you this? i sort of threw it in because i was concerned about it. i had previously read the post in #6 you linked. but by the time i got to wikipedia with a specific link about testing terminologies i moved on to other things in my life.

    you are saying - for instance with the results above - that it IS possible to pass with a level three (or two or more presumably) assuming you have enough correct in other categories to make up for it?

    i mean, i've actually punched the percent numbers against the actual number of questions because i had to do this for 4.0 on a retake. but 5.0 is a cumulative score? i don't really want to get into the weeds on this but do i consider the categories independently or do i just consider one question one point irrespective of categories and get a cumulative score?

    the practical consequence of this is - i guess - that i wouldn't segregate studying into categories (even if i could figure out how to do this) but also i may choose not to figure out a luminous flux question and instead make sure i can do static head of pressure...

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    Theodore Diamond

    It is possible to pass with a level three, particularly if it's a low percentage area and if you do really well in other areas.  I don't know NCARB's cut scores, because they're not shared, but NCARB is really clear that you have to get a number of questions right overall.  

    This was also the case with 4.0.  I believe that I read that on some (like the SPD grading vignette), you could even fail a vignette and pass the exam with high performance in other areas.

    Finally, I more or less didn't learn luminous flux and did learn static head pressure, so I do believe in that approach!

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    Jonathan Chertok (Edited )

    thanks. you’ve been a tremendous help from the get go.
    not sure i want to parse the results too specifically but i can’t understand how you can fail and get 1 in everything and not pass a 5 - 10% CDS category (level 3 if i recall) but whatever.
    happy to get other input but bottom line seems like there is not much to do with the results posted other than re-studying and retesting (incorporating suggestions of course).
    i mean, other than reconceptualizing the study technique/methodology as indicated there is not much by way of specific content to tackle...

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    Julie Brown

    Cut scores basically just establish what percentage of questions (each question is worth one point, no matter if it's multiple choice or a case study, and you can't get partial points) that you need to answer correctly depending on which version/form of the exam you are administered. There's a handful --maybe more, I can't remember where I read on NCARB's blog-- of versions for each exam division. You may get the "really hard" PPD exam and be hit with a high number of structural questions, or you may get a more moderate version where --based on how people who tested while cut scores were being established-- you might get more questions that those early testers more readily answered correctly. Anyway, if you get the "hardest" version, you'll only have to get something like, 57% of the questions correct to pass. On a 120 question exam, that would mean missing about 50 questions. So it's possible that you if you had 30 questions on Environmental Stuff* and bombed every one of them, but only scattered 20 other "misses" through the other categories, you'd still pass. There's no way of knowing which version of the test you get/got though. On the "easiest" version, I think the passing percentage is 68%. On 120-question exam, that means you could miss 38 questions. I always told myself that was my limit of how many questions I could feel iffy about, and as I tested, I'd jot down what kinds of topics I felt iffy on. I'd review those questions before exiting the exam, get a sense of if there were too many iffy areas, what my weak areas were, and then I'd immediately go home and create an outline of topics to study first the next go 'round while the exam was fresh in my head. I'd also make sure that in my study outline for the next take, I'd include anything where I saw recurring content. Like, "oh, so many structural* questions!... better hit the structural chapters harder next time!" even if I felt like I'd aced the structural questions. You never know what you'll go back and read up on and realize you'd misunderstood the first time.

    *Not thinking of PDD areas of content specifically

    https://www.ncarb.org/blog/are-50-what-score-do-you-need-pass

     

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    Jonathan Chertok (Edited )

    thanks julie.
    so one point per question full stop?(!)
    and anywhere between 1 out of 2 and 2 out of 3 correct answers passes?
    i wasn’t aware there was a “percentage passing report” available. if it is i’d be interested in a link as it would be interesting to see.
    REGARDS (and thanks)
    jonathan

    <edit: i see julie was kind enough to repost the link. i'd reviewed it and then promptly forgot about this page. so 57% - 68% is passing. each question is equal - i guess and no minimum bar by "category"...?>

    <edit 2: the 57% - 68% is ARE wide? in which case PDD could presumably be on the low end of this "percent correct range"...?(!)>

     

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    Julie Brown

    I think of it as: within each ARE division, there's a range of "easy" (lol, not) ----to---> "hard" versions of each exam. If you get the "easy" one, you need to do well, like, 68% well. I obviously don't know what all the versions are, or how many exist (the only exam I had to retake was PDD), but I think the point of cut scores is to establish those ranges of 57%-68% for each division.

    Just prepare as best you can, study the things in the categories you didn't do so well in, and chip a few more questions into the "correct" column. It's doable. :)

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    Julie Brown

    And yes, one point per question, full stop.

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    Jonathan Chertok

    ok. but i want to verify something. the 57 - 68% does /not/ appear to me to be within each test. it is indicating (afaik) “question passing percentages” of 57% for a specific ARE division and 68% for another division and the other three are inbetween these for these “question percentage ratings”.
    or am i misunderstanding the documentation...?

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    Julie Brown

    I didn’t help with making the exams, so this is me speculating, but I feel fairly certain that I’m on the right track. Don’t get confused between pass RATES —the percentage of people who take and pass a division of the ARE, maybe on the first try?— and what I’m talking about: the percentage of the 120 questions asked in each exam that you have to answer correctly in order to receive a passing score. Yes, each division will have a required percentage of correct answers between 57-68%. There is more than one form/version of each exam, and which specific set of questions you face will probably never be identical, even if you take the exam a dozen times. When Ncarb established the “cut scores”, they established the difficulty of each question based on how 600+ early exam takers performed/responded to those questions. It’s like when a golf course establishes par for each of its holes, depending the on the challenges at that hole. If the test version you get is full of the “hardest” questions (sandtraps and hilly terrain?), that’s kind of taken into account with what would constitute a passing score.
    I think. I only read ncarb’s article about cut scores and test question formation process to the extent that I gathered that it’s complicated, and I’d be ok if I focused my studying on the content areas laid out in the handbook and that I didn’t have to be perfect, I just had to aim for higher than 68% and remember that each question was worth one point, always, whether there’s trig or not. When I failed PDD, I was so surprised, but I went home and sought out study material on the parts I’d felt iffy about, figuring that if I turned even a dozen wrong answers into things I could answer with confidence the next time, I’d probably pass.

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    Jonathan Chertok

    hi julie
    thanks. the degree of difficulty here is frankly astounding.
    does anyone have any input on actionable intelligence in the above posted report or is it basically a visual word salad?! i mean, do the various categories even mean anything?
    also, thanks for the links.
    i have two pretty straightforward questions:
    1. why is it stated emphatically in this link that you must answer the case studies questions if all questions are 1 point? https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/219849147-ARE-5-0-Scoring-System?mobile_site=true
    2. is this 57 - 68% “cut score” providing values for each individual exam - or as you seem to indicate on the various “iterations” of the exams in each exam?https://www.ncarb.org/blog/are-50-what-score-do-you-need-pass
    both quite straightforward questions and i can’t see why there would/could/should be confusion about this.

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