PPD passed, done with ARE



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    Kathleen Hogan

    thanks for the study tips and materials! this really helps as i am studying to take this exam on Jan. 19th.

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    Darci Chamberlain

    Congrats and thanks for the tips! What is your opinion on taking PDD before PPD? Would you recommend it or take in reverse? 

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    Javad Abhar

    Congrats, Pavan!! 

    I was just wondering by your assessment, how better architect you feel that you have become, as a result of going through the ARE exams passing process? 

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    Pavan Iyer


    Thanks for the kind words! 

    To answer Darci: I think if I were to redo things (god forbid I ever have to take these tests again), my ideal order would have been something more like: PjM, PcM, CE, PDD, PPD, PA. I think you could go either way with PDD before or after PPD, but I think the extra exposure you get studying existing drawing sets for PDD will actually help with PPD in terms of getting a better understanding of locations of system components. I also like that order because PDD and PPD are in the middle rather than last, meaning you aren't set too far back if you fail. In general, the overlaps I found (that would inform how to group your tests) was PjM, PcM, and CE, PPD and PA (I recommend these be taken together, felt more overlap than PDD and PPD), and actually PDD and CE (both tests knowing details and documentation are very helpful).

    To answer Javad: The "liability" exams as I am calling them (PjM, PcM, and CE) definitely made me (at least feel) more knowledgeable. I have my own design consultancy, and the stuff I was studying and learning for those tests actually informed a lot of what I was doing in my own practice (understanding my role, better preparing myself for client/contractor issues, better understanding how to write a proposal, etc). PDD I thought was a great exam to test "competency," as understanding how to best organize and communicate your drawings is not only important, but results in a test that feels focused and standardized. PPD and PA were the most useless, in my opionion, in terms of growth as an architect. Because those 2 exams are so all over the place, you feel like you are just memorizing trivia at times. The questions on the exam are meant to just judge "competency" and not really what you know or don't know, but I don't really understand at all how PPD and PA have standardized that. Overall, to answer your question, I feel I have definitely grown, but I would relate a majority of this growth to the "liability" exams and concurrently trying to start my own business and doing my own projects (which forces you to adapt and learn more than a standardized test).

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    Gina Fantoni

    I could not agree more on condensing these tests. If you think about the necessary content, you could consider 3 topics: administration - how to manage a practice and a project, evaluation - how to identify and select materials and assemblies, and documentation - how to put a project together. 

    I've been at this process since July 2017, and I just took PPD and PDD in December. I failed both and will be retaking them this Spring, meaning this will be 2 years of solid studying and test taking. Now that I've taken all of these tests, I can say it's frustrating to get the same types of questions throughout 4 separate tests. If I've shown competency in three previous tests relating to contract administration (PjM, PcM, CE), is it entirely necessary to answer nearly identical questions in PDD? Why make us give up another day of work to go to the test center and sit through 5 hours of questions if they can be consolidated?

    NCARB could show some respect to those willing to advance this profession by condensing this process in a logical way. 5.0 has improved upon the shortcomings of 4.0, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. 

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    Javad Abhar (Edited )

    Thanks to Pavan for his comprehensive comments and recommendations on ARE exams competency level and passing strategies.  Also my thanks goes to Gina for her comments and approval of Pavan’s suggestion for a better reconciliation of ARE exams division with which I am in full agreement, on the next Ncarb version upgrade.

    I thought for me it was about the time to do some search on the other two professional registration processes and their evaluations process of the candidate’s competency level for registration.

    On this search however, I considered only two other professionals that we as an architects /soon to become architects, have to deal with during completion of all the design, construction administration and post construction/occupancy phases and services.

    please feel free to have your own research on the below mention links or other extra professionals, as you see fit, and when it is available to you and add to this discussion, with the hope that we getat least some feedback from Ncarb specialist in this important matter, and share your views in any shape or form.

    I totally understand our role as a conductor in AEC business (of course depends on the project delivery type), has made our field of study so broad and almost limitless, but IMHO, it does not have be so complicated, (unless the main reason is to try to make this registered club  membership as limited and therefore as exclusive as possible.)

    No one can possibly remember all these broad study materials and even some concepts (even when they are well understood) after a period of time, when they are not used consistently, and even if some are capable, would be useless to use their memories, as technology is getting updated on a daily if not minute basis.

    As we all experience this on our daily job, when the knowledge and facts, are needed on the real time, there are limitless solid sources available to us under our fingertips.  We need to remember depend on the size and complexity of the project and it’s context in addition to the size of the firm and its past portfolio, and the role of each individual, we all dealing with certain occupancies, construction types, micro and macro climate and jurisdiction.  As a result we will become our ownexpert by diving deeper and deeper within this broad range of projects.  Again that is when we really need to learn how to update our past knowledge with using our skills in ongoing project R’s & D’s.  

    In summary, I am trying to reiterate the fact that in this fourth industrial revolution of digital era, we no longer need to memorize or understand all the concept there are to be learned, as the repository of info that is already available on cloud is available to us for research and development, whenever and wherever it deems necessary.  What we really need is the technical and visionary professionals who are the efficient enough on using these repository knowledge in combination with their interpersonal skills and not to mention to the skills and competence to carry out their vision of sustainable design solutions for our beautiful and unique echo system.

    Enclose, albeit a progress is evidence in Ncarb 5.0 to evaluate the candidate based on the their grasp of concept, but nonetheless still the understanding of two many concepts with overlap are not reasonably expected, which IMO, and in so many questions, or divisions, are not warranted for a licensure process, specially on PA and PPD divisions to Pavan’s point of view.

     Anyhow, here are the the other two P.E., and Law professionals process of licensure for a general comparison.

     To use the PE seal, engineers must complete several steps to ensure their competency.


    • Earn a four-year degree in engineering from an accredited engineering program
    • Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
    • Complete four years of progressive engineering experience under a PE
    • Pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam

    1-Bar Admissions Basic Overview


    The most common testing configuration consists of a two-day bar examination, one day of which is devoted to the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a standardized 200-item test covering six areas (Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts). The second day of testing is typically comprised of locally crafted essays from a broader range of subject matters; however, in a growing number of states, two nationally developed tests, the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), may be used to round out the test.

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