People who passed PPD, please let me know if read Handbook correctly?



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    jhonatan aguirre

    I’m in the same boat, all I need now is PPD and PDD, all I want to say is regarding ur comment about Focusing on the biggest portion of the exam so you have a bigger chance on passing the chance. It doesn’t work like that, you have to pass all sections to pass the exam. That is exactly what happen to me on PJM when I didn’t pay attention to the contracts thinking that my knowledge on the other sections would overweight the contract section. Well I failed the contract section thus failing the whole exam because of it.

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    David Kaplan


    With respect to Codes and Regulations, you may get some zoning-type calculations like you mentioned above: FAR, setbacks, etc. but you should expect code calculations beyond that.  The PA exam is more geared towards zoning and general massing-type calculations.  This PPD exam - now you're getting into Chapter 5 type calculations.  How big can the building be using the height and area tables of Chapter 5?  Know how to do that, including when you have both sprinkler and frontage increases involved.  Know as well about separated mixed uses and the use of Table 508.4 (I think that's still the number) which tells you what hour rating is required between two use groups. 

    I found that the structural calculations - and this is just my personal experience with this test so keep that in mind - were relatively simply.  What is the moment about point A?  If a building is under a certain loading condition, what is the load on this face of it perhaps?  Look at the Handbook - there's that one example I believe about a column.  Know how to do that.  But, don't stress over studying structural formulas.  I personally was not asked to size a beam or calculate something like a section modulus.  I told myself that if I got those questions - the answer is question.  It's up to you but for me, I had enough to study, I didn't need to relearn structural engineering.  Know the types of systems and when they are appropriate to use and under what conditions.  A client wants a fully open building or perhaps the site is on a steep slope - what system makes sense?  I found Architect's Studio Companion to be very helpful with that.  Know the concepts behind seismic and wind loads.  You don't need to calculate the base shear of a building, but have knowledge of how building react under lateral loads.  What can be done to design buildings that will reduce this impact?  The FEMA guide was awesome for this, and actually Architect's Studio Companion covered some of this as well.  I personally used an old Ballast book to study wind load concepts.

    For Project Costs and Budgeting - the best thing you can do is go through the ARE Handbook and take all of the cost estimate calculations - all sections, not just PPD - and do them until you can easily do them.  That's what I did.  There's simply no other study sources out there that I'm aware of.  With these types of questions, you should EXPECT that there will be a trick to it.  The question is likely going to be simple math - how much money if you go from brick to stone just as an example, and all you have to do is calculate the wall area of the material and multiply times the cost/SF of brick and stone.  However, expect that the question will include a trick in terms of finding the proper area.  Look at the graphic they give you and make sure you truly have a solid sense of where this material occurs.  Also focus on the units - don't be surprised when they give you cost per square yard of a material and all you have to start with is SF.  If you pick up on these, these questions are simple.

    Hope this helps! 

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    Elif Bayram

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your response, as usual it is very helpful. I guess I understand your comment regarding IBC related calculations (area, height increase etc.) I studied those for PA but definitely need to study again. As for static calculation questions, if it is similar to Handbook, I guess/hope I will be fine and for the rest I totally agree with you. Did not have the courage to say it out loud but after reading your comment here, I confess! I am not gonna spend 20 hours and go crazy about structural calcs, I am not and will not be a structural engineer in a month. 

    Thanks again for the feedback! God! It is so close yet feels sooooo far to finish ARE marathon...Wishing so hard for a relieved spring after a hectic year with my one year old and  this exams! 

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    Julie Brown

    Just want to chime in on Jonathan's comment: every exam question is worth one point, and there's a set percentage of correct answers (points) that you must get --the percentage ranges based on the version of the exam you're dealt, but it's not a "pass all sections to pass the exam" situation. See clarifying posts, links below:

    Previous forum discussion post: 

    NCARB blog post:

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    Michael Lawson

    Elif, it looks like we're on a similar track, and I know that anxious terror of being so close to the end with just PPD and PDD left, but that feels like the biggest hurdle in the world. It looks like you're doing a lot of great work to prepare though, so if your anxiety stays around like mine does, just take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you've come this far already!

    I took PPD and passed on Friday and just wanted to help rest your fears about the structures portion. If you can think about the concepts intuitively, you should be ok. Imagine you hold your arm out straight and someone puts pressure on the end of it, that is way harder to resist than someone putting pressure nearer your shoulder. Most of the questions I got were ones that I could reason through in a similar way. 

    Best of luck on PPD and PDD! 

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    David Kaplan

    ^^Agreed.  Go in there understanding the concepts of structural design and what happens if you take out a column, or what are ways to stiffen a building to resist lateral loads....things like that. 

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    Cassidy Sanderson

    jhonatan aguirre 


    If you don't pass (hopefully you do) I would recommend signing up for the Young Architect Bootcamp!


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