So I'm done, and I made a huge post about the general test process and stuff here, so I'll just leave all that there and focus on PDD here. I passed PPD 2 weeks ago and have a breakdown of my effort here.
In the last 2 weeks, I spent a little more than my usual 25 hours a week studying... probably 30. I didn't review the Architect's Studio Companion at all. I picked up Building Construction Illustrated and went through that quickly. I took notes on a 24" roll of paper that I just kept rolling out and adding more notes. I drew sections, details, concepts, anything I could with my pencil. This active way of learning was really fun, and I think really beneficial.
I also leafed through Building Codes Illustrated, but not as much. I focused on possible problem areas. I borrowed Architectural Graphic Standards, Architectural Shortcuts (definitely not sure on this one's name), and the Brightwood book. Aside from finding out that the Brightwood book was crap, I didn't look at the others, I just didn't have time.
I took 6 Black Spectacles practice exams and on the last three scored 75, 62, and 80 in that order. I had watched the BS videos before PPD so I didn't re-hash those. I did re-watch several Amber videos because I thought those were better and denser videos for the time I had allotted.
I also borrowed a drawing set from a great designer and architect at work. I read through it, and followed as many lines as I could to see where they would go and what they meant to that piece of the building. By that I mean I started on the floor plan and found a section, followed that to the wall section, then to the expanded details, and whatever other documentation was needed for that. She was also great to ask questions since she had done the work, and she could walk me through her decisions.
Finally, I was so nervous about the electrical portions (my weakest link), I brought out some old "Magic School Bus" books from my childhood, specifically the ones about plumbing and yes, the Power Plant! I had so much fun reading these again, and the Power Plant one really eased my fears for the exam. I learned a lot too! It wasn't helpful on my exam, but it was still a fun break!
Wow, this was a beast. I don't know for sure if taking it last is actually the best idea because I had passed the other 5, and the pressure was on to go 6 for 6. I was a nervous wreck the whole time! I do see a lot of overlap with PPD, but I would still put PPD directly between PA and PDD. I do think taking it in the order of PA-PPD-PDD makes the most sense though. You start out at bird's eye, and zoom in until you're an ant. The logical progression flows well.
Content-wise, there was so much, just so much, to cover. I really don't know if more studying would have helped because there were very specific questions I was not prepared for, but could attempt to logic my way through it. I do think reading a full set of drawings would be very beneficial for those who haven't been through a set of CD's like myself.
There was one questions I'll be e-mailing NCARB about - the one question across all my tests I thought was actually wrong somehow.
I got very few actual calculation questions involving anything more than simple addition. I was able to do these on the first run anyway, and check them again later, and I think there was only one I had to totally make up an answer. One required a formula that is not in the references and luckily I remembered it. Even more luckily, if I hadn't, a question later on gave the formula directly!
I really tried to rush myself through and managed to get to the case studies with 2 hours remaining. After that, I had 50 minutes to review my 36 marked questions. I finished with 13 minutes left. I saw the preliminary results and just cried right there. This process was exhausting physically, mentally, emotionally, and it all just ended so suddenly. I read "likely pass" several more times, just in case I had forgotten how to read, but I got the official Pass this morning, so I can rest easy.
And that's it! I'm done, but I have a few hundred AXP hours to get, but the hard part is over. Call me crazy, but I really liked taking the tests. Yeah they're grueling, but I love a good challenge, and I really love learning.
Please feel free to ask any questions, I'm sure I left out a bunch, my brain is a little on the fritz today.
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