Failed PDD (my last test) for the third time yesterday and can't retake until next July because of the 3 times in one calendar year rule. I really preferred the old tests and how they were arranged by topic, so you could study that topic and really focus.
PDD is every topic related to the field of architecture thrown at you from all angles, focused on mainly on building technologies and equations used in single family residential or public low to mid-rise construction. I've worked with all building types but lately I've just been working on residential skyscrapers and high rises, so much of what I'm being tested on I don't see or use much except codes. Given what I've seen on the forums and talking to my network of young architects, failing this beast at least once seems to be pretty common.
I've flipped back and forth between passing some sections and failing other ones. I'm getting a good sense of what is useful to study.
Materials I have now used and recommendations:
-Building Construction Illustrated: Start with this book and literally memorize it. Knowing every component of all building assemblies is crucial. This book also has some simpler and helpful explanations for structural equations, calculating slopes and inverts, and a ton of well illustrated and explained information on building materials. Know how every material possibly used in construction responds to climate, movement, moisture, what it shouldn't touch, where its placed in an assembly, fire ratings, what any markings on it mean etc.
-Ballast 5.0: Super broad but it contains useful equations, and how to solve them, for water pressure, electrical, lighting, acoustics, beams, columns, moment of inertia, section modulus, overturning forces on a structure, bearing walls, trusses, etc Don't do the more advanced equations in the book unless you want to but know the basic ones so well you can just do them by heart. They don't always give you the equation on the test, especially not for structural problems and sometimes not for lighting either.
-Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice: Study any chapters related to project management, the project manual, know what the ramifications are at any point in the project for contractors changing things, or owners changing things, or you when you create or revise various drawings and documents as an architect. Know about VE concepts and consultant discussions, and which consultants you coordinate with for VE items.
-Gang Chen 5.0 practice tests: (PPD and PDD) (good practice but these and Ballast practice tests are very broad and can't be used alone to pass the test)
-Architect's Studio Companion: This is really useful for a clear explanation of the various types of mechanical systems and their appropriate building type applications. Know in what building types any kind of mechanical system would potentially be used.
-Architectural Graphic Standards: Seemed way too dense to get into the first three times, but I'll try this time around since I have almost a year to study now. Every piece of a plumbing system and the names of the various pipes need to be known.
-Architect Exam Prep: I spent money I regret on this and its really not useful, way too vague for a test that focuses on specifics. I dropped this method completely after the first test.
-Asking my Project Manager What They are Doing All the Time: I can't be one until I pass this test, but stuff about being a project manager is on the test, so gotta break that wheel somehow.
If anyone sees huge gaps in my study material please let me know! Otherwise I hope you find this information useful and I'm just going to keep memorizing details until I'm a walking architecture dictionary.
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