Last exam - PDD, pushing for the finish line!!!

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12 comments

  • Avatar
    Scott Barber

    Hi Jason, congrats on your success so far!! It's definitely an accomplishment and I'm sure you'll be done soon.

    PPD and PDD do have a lot of similarities - a lot of people (myself included) studied for them together and took them close to one another. I studied for them both for 2 months, and passed them 2 weeks apart. The main difference is PDD has a finer level of detail. The common comparison is that PPD is like Design Development, and PDD is like Construction Documents. You'll have to be more familiar with details and connections rather than entire systems. 

    Since this is your last exam, I think what you've studied for PPD (and a little of what you studied for CE) will definitely be helpful. One of the differences between PPD and PDD is that you'll need to know more about specifications, but even that's a relatively small portion of the exam.

    The most important resources for PDD for me were Architectural Graphics Standards and Building Construction Illustrated. Not sure what you've studied already but those would be good to read/refresh leading up to the exam. Depending on your work experience, I think you could just continue reading and studying the same materials, but make sure you're familiar with details and connections between materials and systems as you study. 

    Hope that helps, good luck! There's definitely a lot of good advice throughout this forum, as I'm sure you know, so looking through posts on here will come in handy too, to know what else you may need to study.

  • Avatar
    Scott Barber

    Sounds like you have good experience that will definitely be useful!

    For AGS, I skimmed through whatever chapters seemed relevant. I was tight on time when I got to this resource (spent too much time on Ballast and AEP, this was my first exam) so I made a list, prioritizing chapters that seemed most relevant and least familiar to me. I would read the intro and mainly look at the details - if I understood them I'd move on, but if I didn't know all the components I'd read the relevant text that accompanied them. The book is very informative but at the same time very dense, so it can be hard to read the whole thing. I focused on the graphics and let that dictate whether or not I read certain sections.

    I also read FEMA (I think just chapter 5) for the two exams. Not super critical but it was an easy read and the concepts are beneficial to keep in mind I think. I bought MEEB but only opened it once - they get waaay too detailed for those systems. On that note - don't get too caught up in structural calculations either. Ballast (and probably other 3rd party resources, if you look at those) gets too deep into structural calculations, I studied some basic principles and formulas but I don't think that's worth the time to dive into, given the number of questions that will show up on the exam.

  • Avatar
    Shraddha Strennen

    Jason - try taking all the practice tests you can get your hands on.  That will help you identify the areas that you need to spend a little more time on.  You can then use AGS, BCI, MEEB, etc as your resources for those topics.  

    I have 12 yrs experience and took all 6 exams in 5 months with PDD as my last pass 1.5 weeks ago.  I read ACS when studying for PPD, and BCI for PDD then, I used the Ballast review manual and other listed books as resources.  I felt confident when I took the test.  

    The practice tests I took were 4 (technically only 3) that Black Spectacles offers, 1 from Ballast, 1 Gang Chen.  After researching the areas I was deficient, I took 2 of the exams again.  If I had more time I might have purchased Hyperfine Architecture's study problems.  I did look at the sample questions and answers they did make available and thought they were helpful.  I also watched Black Spectacles mock exam videos (found on youtube).

    Last thing I'll add is that I agree with Scott - don't get too into the weeds with structural equations.  Make sure you understand beam loading diagrams and calculations, and know how to apply some of the other equations you will come across in your practice exams.  You won't have to memorize complicated formulas and you won't be asked to complete calculations that have more than a step or two.  

    Good luck!

  • Avatar
    David Kaplan

    Jason,

    See my link here, this is what I did in the 10 days between PPD and PDD:

    https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/360000867908-PDD-Pass-Study-Approach 

    I agree with everything Scott said above as well, and can't echo enough what Shraddha says about structural formulas.  Don't overstudy those, your head will spin and the time investment isn't there for the few questions you will get.

    Last piece of advice: really, really, really, really, really know your way around a set of drawings.  If I say to you, "what is the ceiling height of Room B?" you need to be able to know exactly where in a set of drawings you COULD find that information.  And, you should fully expect that it won't be on a ceiling plan in a few instances, so, say to yourself "what other drawing could show this?"  As well, if I say to you, "Mr. Architect, we've decided to change A, B, and C on this job that you're currently drawing," you need to know what drawings would get affected with those changes and would require updating. 

  • Avatar
    Shraddha Strennen

    Regarding Ballast's practice exams - it's just more practice.  There are errors/typos but, you will know when you come across them ans to just skip those few.  Ballast seemed more intense than it needed to be but, still useful as a practice test.  

    As for studying time - it's hard to answer that.  Take the time you need to feel comfortable so that you are doing this only once.  IMHO, 4-5 weeks is not too long but, you shouldn't need more time than that.  

  • Avatar
    David Kaplan

    Jason,

    I don't think there's such a thing as "too much time" to study for these tests to be honest.  I did 10 days in between PPD and PDD just because I felt PDD played to my strengths in my job so I didn't feel I needed as much time (plus I really wanted to be done with ARE).  If you find yourself in these next 5 weeks reading things you think you really already know, then just space your studying out and take some time off, come back to it, etc. 

    Good luck!

  • Avatar
    Kelly Axtman

    Jason,

    I've been using Architect Exam Prep as a resource and it has been great! I would definitely recommend looking into it. They also provide a series of practice exams. They take what the NCARB Handbook provides and expands on it. Invaluable in my testing so far. It's been a one stop shop and occasionally I will use the Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice to diver further into some things. 

    Architectexamprep.com

    Good luck!

  • Avatar
    Julie Brown

    One thing that slowed me down on PDD was how much time it took to simply navigate the drawings in the case study resources, given the "pan" and "zoom" tools. I'd zoom in to a huge scale so I could actually read the plans, but then I'd spend a bunch of time panning around looking for mention of the information I was asked about in the question. Then I realized that the "search" tool could search ANY text, not just text in a word document type resource. Rather than spend time scouring the drawing for something you need to check, search a key word and go right to all the instances, even in drawings.

    Good luck!

  • Avatar
    Jason Vico

    Hi Scott! Thanks for the input. My core study material for PPD was ASC, B-Const Illus, and HCL. I paged through AGS, MEEB, and FEMA ch 4,5,6.  I more or so just studied the diagrams in MEEB. I have 15 years of experience, started in an office when I was 20. So I am very familiar with CD drawings, construction details, drawing coordination. For AGS, did you read the whole book cover to cover? Or just certain chapters? Also, I am a 4.0 transfer for so PPD and PDD are my only 2 5.0 exams, I never took CE. Thanks!!!

  • Avatar
    Jason Vico

    Scott and Shraddha,

    THANK YOU!!!

    I am currently using Gang Chen and Designer Hacks for practice tests.  How are the Ballast ARE 5.0 Practice Exams? I've heard horror stories about them? What else is out there for reliable practice tests?

    I wish there was another web based practice test format like Designer Hacks. 

  • Avatar
    Jason Vico

    David,

    Thank you for the link! I will definitely check it out.

    For the ceiling height, I would go right to the ceiling plan, finish schedule, and sections, lol. Has to be on one of those 3!

    I am giving myself 4-5 weeks of studying before PDD. I just passed PPD last Monday 3-11. I will be taking PDD at the end of April. Funny question, am I giving myself too much time to study in between? I given myself 4-5 weeks of study time for every exam so far, so I am just very use to it and the study schedule.

    I cannot wait to be done with these exams. With one more to go I can really see the light at the end of the tunnel and its so EXCITING!!!

  • Avatar
    Jason Vico

    David and Shraddha,

    Thank you for the feedback and advice!!!  Hopefully I can get this one done on the first try and be all finished!

    Thanks again!!!

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