PPD passed, done with ARE

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12 comments

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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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    Catherine Wang

    Thank you Pavan for taking the time to share these tips. I have been feeling defeated...this post gives me some hope to get back on that metaphorical horse after failing this exam last September.  Would you be able to direct me to reference source or chapter where I might be able to read more about how to locate transformer, power meter, etc?

    "Know how power gets from the street to the building, understand where the transformer goes, know the types of transformers, where to locate transformers in different situations, know where the power meter goes in different situations, and always do your best to understand how the location of these electrical elements impact design decisions in the event of a fire (architecture 101 in the real world)."

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    Pavan Iyer

    Hey Catherine, I know how you feel, failing a test, no matter when or where or what situation, is difficult. Do your best to gather or keep some sort of momentum going, that was the key for me!

    In terms of the electrical stuff, I would say Architects Studio Companion and I think Architectural Graphic Standards have good diagrams showing the entire process. I studied that and redrew the diagram a couple times, then continued to ask myself questions and google answers to things like, "Where would I tap into power in a commercial situation?" or "Where does the transformer typically go in X type of building?" I know this is rather nebulous advice, but whenever I studied, I would try to continually ask questions about what I was learning in order to learn some details. This not only helped for the test, ultimately, but has actually helped me become a better architect overall, I think.

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    Catherine Wang

    Thank you Pavan for the kind words of encouragement and advice. I will take your advice to heart and hope that I can report back to you good news following this coming retake of the exam. 

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    Gina Fantoni

    Catherine - I just retook PPD and passed this time. Youtube was my most valuable resource coming off of my fail in December. It helped me to gain a broader and more holistic understanding of power distribution systems which is ultimately the most effective way to tackle the various random questions that PPD throws at you. I could stare at the same diagrams over and over again and not get anywhere or I could watch some videos and get a more real-world feel for how things are put together and the reasoning behind it. Create a youtube channel, save videos to a playlist and watch them over and over. The Engineering Mindset is an amazingly useful channel that helped me so much. Good luck! You can do it! 

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    Nicholas Civitano

    Gina did you feel the exam questions were different and or easier this time around? Do you think they were as difficult as before and you were just more prepared? Curious if Ncarb has altered course with this exam at all since it seems to be out of line in terms of difficulty and content as the others?

    Congrats on your pass!

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    Gina Fantoni

    This second ppd exam had a totally different batch of questions this time around - maybe 10 - 15% were repeats from my first try, and it felt like I got a totally different mix. For example, the structural and electrical questions I had on this test were more complex but the mechanical questions were more simple and I didn't come across as many. It really is a mixed bag which shows in the test statistics - 46% pass rate and falling. But if I can pass it, so can you if you think about just learning enough to reason through the questions and scenarios, which videos helped me with after having reviewed the recommended resources

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    Javad Abhar

    Thanks to Pavan for sharing his comprehensive notes and recommendations on the ARE exam competency level and in passing strategies.

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

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

    Feel free to have your own research on the links mentioned below or other extra professionals, as you see fit, and add to this discussion, with the hope that we communicate our feedback to the Ncarb member who are expert in this important matter.
    To those who are taking a passive view on this discussion by saying, “I do not care and all I want Is to get this over with” I will say, do not forget that had this kind of view were to be prominent when it used to be 9 divisions, it would not have been reduced to 6 divisions comparably.

    I totally understand our role as a conductor in the AEC business (of course it would depend on the type of project delivery), has made our field broadly engaged, but IMHO, it does not have to 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 after a period of time when they are not used consistently, (even when they are well understood.) Even if some are capable, it would be useless to abuse their memories, as technology is getting updated on a daily if not hourly basis.

    As we all experience this on our daily job, when the knowledge and facts, are needed in real time, there are limitless solid sources available under our fingertips. We need to remember, depend on the size and complexity of the project and context in addition to the firm size, past portfolio, and the role of each individual, we all dealing with a certain number of occupancy uses, construction types, micro and macro climate and jurisdiction codes and regulations. As a result, we become an expert by diving deeper and deeper within this broad range of projects. And that is exactly when we really need to learn how to update our knowledge and skills with ongoing project R & D.

    In summary, I am trying to reiterate the fact that in this fourth period of the industrial revolution of digital zeitgeist 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 the cloud, whenever and wherever it deems necessary. What we really need is the technical and visionary professionals who are efficient enough at using these repository knowledge in combination with their interpersonal skills. Not to mention the skills and competency to carry out their vision of sustainable design solutions for our beautiful and unique echo system.

    Enclosure, albeit a progress is evident in Ncarb 5.0 to evaluate the candidate based on the their grasp of the 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, especially on PA and PPD divisions.

    Here are the other two P.E., and Law professional process of licensure for a general comparison:

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

    https://www.nspe.org/resources/licensure/what-pe

    A-1-Earn a four-year degree in engineering from an accredited engineering program
    A-2-Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
    Complete four years of progressive engineering experience under a PE
    A-3-Pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam

    B-Bar Admissions Basic Overview

    https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/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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