PDD - nearly illegible graphics

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27 comments

  • Avatar
    Marion Bledsoe

    Have had the exact same frustration with the graphics! Pretty much guessed or 'interprolated' everything that I was looking at! Didn't work. I failed.  At least take heart that PDD did not seem to present much the same problems.

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    Michael Lawson (Edited )

    For the calculator, the number-pad in my testing facility does work for input and calculations so I didn't have to use the mouse. If you are more comfortable with that, I would definitely recommend it. 

    Congrats on the pass despite the other issues, and good luck with PPD. 

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    Kurt Fanderclai (Edited )

    Hilary -- Congratulations on the pass!

    As far as the issues you've mentioned, they've been an ongoing part of the exam.  Your experience isn't unique.

    I took all six in 5.0, and while I agree that the interface could/should be better -- it isn't.  So, for me, my outloook was that I knew that NCARB was already aware of the complaints, and any effort on my part beyond that was redundant -- that is, I could not make them "more aware" of the computer interface nuisances.  So, that part was set, and since I knew that I could not personally change anything during the duration of my ARE process, my strategy moving forward was to let that part go, and simply work around the intevitable.  

    You've passed PDD, so you can pass PPD. 

    Your PDD experience is still one for the "W" column.   

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    Hilary Buchanan

    Thanks very much for the congrats, Kurt.

    I take your point (which I read as a quiet suck-it-up-and-stop-whining), and had indeed read much about lagtime problems going in, along with a few mentions of bad graphics. But I was surprised at HOW bad the graphics were, and as I said, I'm much older than the average test-taker (got my Masters in 92), so my experience may have been worse. Prompted by the test center, I sent a message to NCARB. NCARB in reply encouraged me to post here, so I did, hoping to give fellow oldsters with similarly inelastic eyeballs a heads-up.

     

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    Osman Bilger

    You are not alone. passed all other exams with ease and plenty of time to spare. Hoping for a better group of questions next go around. I sent three separate emails addressing PDD exam content to NCARB. Congrats on the pass. 

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hilary -- heh, no definitely wasn't asking you or anyone to "stop whining"...  I'm actually quite good at it myself.

    Maybe a bit of "suck-it-up", however....  ;-)

    Actually, my point was to strooooongly encourage candidates to waste ZERO time on things that they can't themselves change, or on things that those in charge seem to have no interest in changing (Hi NCARB).   It will never matter.

    Good luck on PPD!

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Osman -- when do you test?

    No doubt that a big green PASS is on the way for your last exam.

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    Hilary Buchanan

    Thanks again, Kurt. You're right. Except there IS something I can change - might finally have to (suck it up and) get progressive lenses!

    And thanks, Osman!

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    Osman Bilger

    Dec 17 ! Spent the first month of my reschedule catching up on football and work. Ill review my post exam notes, study a little and try to wrap this thing up. Hope to see you on the other side soon. 

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    Michelle NCARB

    Hi Kurt and everyone else,

    Actually, NCARB is interested in making sure everyone has a good experience at the test center!  The vast majority of candidates are able to test without complications.  But we recognize that that's not the case for everyone, and we take comments on this site very seriously.  Among other things, we QC all the graphics before they make it into the test center, on the same monitors that Prometric uses.  If you have a concern about a specific test question or case study resource, you can report that to Customer Service (to avoid disclosing content here), and the Examination team will research the issue.

    And Michael is correct that you can use keyboard entry for the calculator.  You can practice that in the ARE 5.0 Demonstration Exam.

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    Michael Lawson

    I'll add to the calculator comment that the 'enter/return' key on the number pad does work in the testing facility. It does not work on the Black Spectacles practice test, which is frustrating, but in any case, it works great on the real test software.

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    RJ

    I had a difficult time reading the set of CD'S given on the PDD exam as well, I think NCARB should work on this or at least revise that 'ZOOM IN-OUT' tool so that it works with the wheel scroller on the mouse like our daily drafting programs. 

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    Paul Mosher

    I took PDD last Thursday and had a very difficult time reading the annotations on drawings without zooming all the way in. Hatches were similarly hard to read. 

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Michelle,

    Right up front, I had a good experience with NCARB through my 5.0 experience, and I've attempted to lead no uprisings against NCARB.

    In response to your comment -- the issues the OP brings to the table in this thread are not "concern[s] about a specific test question or case study resource".  I do think NCARB appears to be generally very attentive to problems with these items.

    Rather, however, the concerns of the OP as mentioned here are: loading and lagging issues, zoom difficulties, clarity of graphics, and the generally awkward interface evident when navigating multiple pages of graphics and drawings.  I read about these same issues in Nov. and Dec. of '16 -- well before I tested.

    My advice to candidates has always been pretty consistent regarding these issues, and typically matches what I've written above -- which, basically, is that the candidate must learn to deal with these exam difficulties -- and move on.  I've advised candidate to thooughly read the forums and be fully aware of all of these issues well ahead of exam time.  From there, it's a matter of understanding the format obstacles and effectively working around them.

    All of that said, the problems as mentioned here do in fact exist, as they have for two years.       

  • Avatar
    Michelle NCARB

    Kurt,

    Right back at ya - thank you for all your constructive comments and encouragement of so many test takers on this Community!

    My comment above about reporting testing concerns was in response to other comments on this thread about the quality of graphics.  If someone feels the graphics in an item or a case study resource are illegible, fuzzy, or otherwise hard to read, they can contact Customer Service and describe the item to the best of their recollection.  Even a few details like "it was a multiple choice question about sprinklers" or "the graphic was about stairs" or "my 2nd case study" can help us find the issue and make improvements where needed.  Meet us halfway!  But go through Customer Service to avoid any content disclosures, please.

    As for overall concerns about lag times, zooming, and other interface issues - Ryan, Nick, Joan, and I have responded many times to those comments on this Community.  Your advice is also sound.  I'll further advise everyone to practice on the ARE 5.0 Demonstration Exam to familiarize themselves with the interface, including the zoom tool, references button, and calculator.

     

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    Marion Bledsoe

    There is a difference between a 'format obstacle', which most of us, I believe, have learned to work around, and graphics which are literally not legible. We have, though somewhat impatiently, accommodated loading and lagging issues, zoom difficulties, , and the truly awkward interface  when navigating multiple sheets. When one is unable to read a dimension, at any of several zoom levels or with any of the three pair of glasses that Prometric has allowed into the test center, it is hard to understand what is meant by the "QC of all the graphics before they make it into the text center". Yes, I have "Old Eyes". I did, however, without much difficulty maneuver in five other exams well enough to pass them.  I have considered asking for "accommodation" based on my inability to see the pertinent information on the screen.  This does seems a bit beyond what should be necessary. I truly do not know how to adapt or "suck it up" when I am looking directly at an item to which I have, slowly enough, located, but cannot, for the life of me, bring into focus. 

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    Michelle NCARB

    Marion,

    "QC the graphics" means all graphics are reviewed by a committee of volunteer architects (the item writers), test development consultants (psychometricians), and the NCARB Examination team.  It is certainly not our intention to have illegible information on the graphics.  Again, we welcome specific feedback (channeled through Customer Service) so we can review problematic graphics and improve clarity as needed.

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    Osman Bilger

    I emailed customer service with specific exam errors and supporting evidence and the response I got was they cant discuss exam content. Im happy they will QC the errors for future test takers, but how does that help me? 

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    Michelle NCARB

    Osman,

    Correct, Customer Service cannot discuss test content with you or disclose your answers or the correct answers.  But they do provide a secure way for you to relay confidential information to the Exam Team.  If the Exam Team determines that there was in fact an issue on an item that affected your ability to answer it, there would then be a review of how it would have affected your overall score and exam results.

     

  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai

    Michelle,

    Thanks for your response and kind words.

    Again, I think that 5.0 is a vast improvement in exam approach, and I'm in no way trying to take anything away from that   progress and accomplishment. 

    There are specific issues that can be addressed which we can agree would fit into your suggested response approach above.  As I acknowledged, I think NCARB has largely been responsive to these types of problems, and I personally let candidates know that I believe that they will be heard.   (Marion, correct me if I am wrong, but I think your current issue may likely fall into this more specific realm -- I would contact NCARB... oh, and congratulations on five passes!  ...Osman, maybe same on yours as a specific item?)

    As for the more general, but very troublesome interface issues are the ongoing difficulties regarding lag times, zooming, and other navigation issues.  This does not affect only one specific question to be addressed by reporting and meeting NCARB halfway, but rather it affects all of the Case Studies and some of the MC.

    I simply searched "interface" on this forum, and found this (and there are many others):

    https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/115000239028-The-Interface 

    The post is two years old. 

    It may veer off a bit toward the end, but the larger point is that, nearly word-for-word, the same issues were already brought up two years ago.  Since the time that it was written, I definitely experienced these same issues during my ARE experience ending about one year ago.  And today the same issues are being experienced and discussed.

    Is all of this insurmountable for a candidate?  Well, from a pass / fail viewpoint -- no -- a bunch of us have passed the ARE.  But this doesn't negate the existence of the problem across the board.  On an exam where time counts, it should not be considered unreasonable to think that the general interface issues could have real consequences regarding exam success.

    Given the technology that a typical candidate constantly uses on a day-to-day basis in a professional work setting (and on a personal level), the exam interface will likely present an odd and frustrating experience for most candidates for all of the reasons described.  Indeed, it just doesn't work very well -- especially in the more demanding case studies.

    It's not a practice issue -- I do advise candidates to spend time with the demo exams, but this won't affect the problem at hand.  In a completely different category of advice, I do suggest that candidates read the "interface"- oriented posts to understand the interface difficulties ahead.

    I'm hoping it can be seen by NCARB that the interface issues fall outside of the due diligence in exam prep that can rationally be expected from a given candidate, as is it something completely beyond of their control -- and is not confined to a single question, but will rather affect all of the Case Studies and some of the MC.

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    Hilary Buchanan

    Michelle NCARB,

    I was keeping track of the questions I had trouble with graphics on, and the list was long; there were several among the multiple choice, and then a high percentage of the case study questions. Often the specific problems were with distinguishing a 3 from an 8, say, or 5 from 6, or with hatch patterns. Marion Bledsoe's message today is an extremely good description. I stopped keeping careful track of which questions were worst about halfway into the first case study, as it was time-consuming to have that responsibility as well.

    Anyway I couldn't keep the list, of course, since it was on the scratch paper. I talked to the monitor, and between us we decided to have her report it as being widespread, with the graphics on both case studies especially. I suppose it might have been better to go Q by Q, but I was out of time before I hit the last few questions. So I reported these issues both via Prometric and directly to customer service as specifically as I was able.

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    Colleen Shannon

    For all of us caught squinting at the PDD...

    I thought that I was the only one who could not see the graphics!  I am an older-than-average test-taker but I don't generally use readers yet.  I don't have a problem seeing anything on my own computer.  The graphics on the PDD exam were so bad that I could not see enough of the material to answer questions in the case studies.  It is not possible to zoom in enough to see what is going on. You  can't answer questions about what you can't see.  NCARB should be ashamed. It makes me wish they had the drawing option back in the exam format! 

    So I am going back to take the PDD again armed with readers and a magnifying glass.  I don't know if it will work but it's worth a shot.  I called Prometric to make sure that I could take them into the testing center. The representative asked if the magnifying glass was electronic. When I told her that it was a simple lens she said it was on the pre-approved list.

    I am so embarrassed and disheartened to take the PDD again. (It's the only one that I have not passed)  but I remind myself that the review of all the material is a good exercise and will make me a better professional.  If only it would improve my eyesight!  

    I will let everyone know how it goes with the magnification.  There is so much luck of the draw with the exams, the graphics could be better and the questions could be worse!

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    Christopher Kiefer

    Hi there,

    Here's a test-taking tip for you: The ProMetric screen interface operates kind of like a web browser. As such, users can utilize standard keyboard shortcuts found on most web browsers. The shortcut to magnify the screen is pressing Ctrl and + (at the same time) to zoom in. Likewise, Ctrl and - zooms out. 

    Ctrl + : zooms in

    Ctrl - : zooms out

    You can try this out the zooming shortcuts for yourself in the practice interface that NCARB provides.

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    Hilary Buchanan

    Thanks for the tip, Christopher.

    I did use those shortcuts (I use them all the time IRL), but I'll play around with the practice software to reinforce that's it's available in that context. Unfortunately, zooming and being able to read what I zoomed to didn't always go hand in hand in my PDD experience.

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    Colleen Shannon

    This information is for the other older eyes out there.  I took a magnifying glass in after I read that some test-takers took in several pairs of "readers" and still could not see the tiny graphics.  I had to call Prometric to make sure it was allowed. They told me it was already on the pre-approved list as long as it was not electronic. (-Just a lens).  It did the trick. I took in readers as well but the magnifying glass was super helpful!  I could decipher the details and I passed. I highly recommend a magnifying glass to get past the illegible graphics.  I hope this helps someone else who's eyes are having  little difficulty.

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    Hilary Buchanan

    Thanks Colleen! That's good to know. I'll bring a magnifying glass. Not sure if I said originally but I did have readers with me last time and they weren't much help at all.

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    Luke Petrocelli (Edited )

    Just an addition here, which I'm unsure if anyone else has mentioned in the occasional maze of the ARE 5.0 Forum.

    I see a lot of people complaining about the mouse-entry on the calculator.

    If you want to use the numbers on the keypad:

    You need to turn Number Lock ("Num Lock" key) on/off on your testing computer.

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