I'm done. I made it through the exams this past Monday with a pass on PDD. Must admit I am still stunned and trying to absorb that absent a few pieces of paper from NYS I am now an Architect. This truly is like crossing the finish line at a marathon. You are so excited having finally crossed the line yet you really just want to collapse into the fetal position.
I have been lurking on these boards (and the 4.0 community before this) and first want to say thank you to all who shared their words of wisdom, tips and tricks. I was able to glean so much from you all and I'll be forever grateful.
I know there are many great summaries out there about study material and such (I'm looking at you David Kaplan, Kurt F. and such) so I won't drone on about that but I did have a few bits to share in the hopes that it helps ease the anxiety in some folks.
I graduated about 25 years ago now and have spent my working days in a variety of ways. I started as a steel detailer / APM before I moved to traditional architectural firms and ultimately to the CM world. I started in 4.0 and passed CDS and PPP before transition to 5.0 for PA, PPD and PDD. Even with all of that behind me these tests are no joke. They are hard and they are meant to be given what we do for a living but they are not impossible. Yes it is a lot of information to assimilate but that is what we do – we make sense out of the chaos. So here are a few basics that helped get me through.
Know your strengths and weakness. Never worked on a wood framed building? Have no knowledge of commercial MEP systems? You can’t go learn about it if you don’t know what you don’t know. Designer Hacks was great for this. It helped me focus on my weaknesses while reinforcing my strengths. Use this information to formulate a game plan for moving forward.
Find your best learning style. No matter how awesome a given study material recommendation is doesn’t mean that it is great for you. I am not a big reader – never was / never will be so sitting and reading Ballast, Sun Wind Light, AHPP was not going to get it done for me. I learn best in lecture formats so it was Schiff Harden (it should be required listening), Black Spectacles (I turned my subscription on and off as needed to save $) and You Tube for me. I would then dip into the books as I needed to but I never read them cover to cover. BCI and the Architect’s Studio Companion were my go to destinations.
Understand the codes and where to find things. This is a big one as it influences so much of what we do. Start doing code reviews at work. Consider taking a code enforcement official training class – they are dry but very helpful in understand where things are and the importance of the Exceptions.
Get out to as many construction sites as you can. Nothing drives these principles home like being part of the actual construction process. Talk to people who have done this and ask questions. Yes, you will be humbled often but you will learn so much. Watch an air handler get assembled or a steel frame get erected and you will start to get an idea of how these systems really work. If you can sit in on the MEP Coordination meetings. This would be a great primer for key portions of the PPD and PDD tests.
In other words – go out and experience the industry and don’t simply rush into the testing process! I promise you that it will make these tests a little easier when you have examples that you can draw upon and visualize how it all goes together. Give yourself some time to get your feet wet doing what we do, just don’t wait 20 years like I did.
You got this! Like the crowds at the marathon I’ll be cheering you all on.
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