Thank you to everyone who contributes to this community. I failed the first time taking PDD because I didn't study the right material and didn't look at this blog for help! I passed PDD a couple of weeks ago and am finally done with the ARE! I wanted to share a few notes about my approach and what resources I found most helpful.
First of all, I saw a lot of posts on here coming from people with years of experience. I only have 3 years of experience and most of it is working on early design concepts versus documentation. PDD was the content that I was the least familiar with in my day to day work. That’s all to say don't be discouraged if you don't have 10 years of CD related experience this test is totally possible if you study the right materials!
Second of all, I am not the worlds quickest reader and seeing the HUGE lists of materials some people reference for studying it was overwhelming deciding what to focus on. I gave myself about 2 months to study doing at least one hour a night during the week (taking Friday's off) and 3-4 hours each Saturday and Sunday.
Here are the materials I focused on:
Building Construction Illustrated (READ THIS COVER TO COVER) I had already read this for PPD and re-read it this time for PDD. It is probably the most important resource on the list.
FEMA Chapters 4/5 – These are pretty quick reads and give a good overview of seismic design
ADA 2010 – Read through chapters on clearances / minimums
NCARB handbook and Exam
IBC 2015 – Go through chapters on use/occupancy, building height/area etc. A lot of people reference Building Codes Illustrated and that is good if you get confused. I think looking directly at the code helped me more since it’s important to understand the actual text.
Jenny’s Notes for BDCS – I would have read the other sections (BS and SS but they were very long and I didn’t have the time) I’m not sure if I would recommend spending time on these resources, they are helpful but I’m not sure they helped me much.
Hyperfine Architecture – The last two weeks of studying I was looking for free practice problems to get into the testing mindset. I stumbled across this website and it was by far the most helpful resource on my list beyond BCI. The practice questions (which are only $25) force you to think through things and look up information, which helps to better understand material. I thought the questions themselves were spot on in terms of clarifying subjects I personally needed help with. There is also a PPD / PDD study schedule on the website for free. I did the study questions in about a week even though they are intended to be spaced out. They reference specific chapters/pages of books to look at and I tried to look at as many of those as possible. This was a good way to “express” study for the final couple weeks. I cannot stress enough how helpful this resource was. I didn’t do any other practice questions before the exam.
Youtube Videos – These were very helpful in clarifying specific subjects, and for studying on the go. I looked at the ones referenced by Hyperfine in the study questions and looked at Lukas LaLiberte’s playlist. There are others out there too!
As a final note, you’ll notice I didn’t mention any study guides in my list of resources. I studied only Ballast 5.0 for my first try and failed. It was apparent during the exam that I had studied the wrong information. I think Ballast provides a good overview and perhaps my knowledge from the first time studying did help me on the second try but I would not waste too much time (or any time) reading a study guide. Ballast is good to use it as a general refresher of concepts for structures etc. but it gets way too bogged down in the specifics.
I hope this helps! Good luck studying!
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