Just retook PDD today and received my provisional pass! (which is real. right? As I learned from lurking this forum..)
A bit of background: I started my ARE journey back in 2015 with the 4.0 version. After taking a year to pass SPD, CDS, PPP, and SD, I became a mom - and consequently took a 2 year hiatus from studying. At the end of 2018, after being forced into the 5.0 exams, I finally got back into it. I took a week off between Christmas and New Year's to study for PPD & PDD and took them a week apart. I passed PPD, and then failed PDD a week later. This fail felt CRUSHING because I so badly wanted to be done, but I took a mental break for a few weeks and then got back into it. For the retake, I studied on avg 0-12 hours a week for a month and a half and then took one week of PTO prior to the exam where I put in 50+ hours of study time. Highly recommend doing this if you're able to...this is the only way I could fit in a significant chunk of study time. Thanks to all of the moms who have posted on here before - it was so encouraging to hear that it CAN be done!
What I found most helpful (in order):
1. Hyperfine - THIS THIS THIS. Highly recommend the PPD/PDD course and the case study. The questions get to how you should be thinking while studying and also covers the key topics that will be on the exam. This was a big reason I passed PPD after only studying for a week and also super helpful for PDD. ($39, +$11 for the case study. Worth. Every. Penny.)
2. NCARB ARE 4.0 Study Guides - Great sets of questions for BDCS, BS, and SS. Reviewing these lead to getting some "GIMME" points on the exam. (FREE)
3. NCARB Monographs - I would recommend browsing through these and taking the quizzes. Topics range from Seismic Mitigation, Wind Forces, Fire Safety, Mold & Moisture prevention, and Security Planning. Plus you can earn your CEH credits! (FREE for digital version)
4. FEMA as everyone mentions (FREE)
5. Designer Hacks - Decent Qbank for the exam. I like that it's broken into a 10Q, 25Q, and Full length exam for the quizzes. If I didn't feel like studying, I'd just do a 10Q and that would either encourage me to keep studying or at least make me feel like I did something. ($39)
6. Jenny's notes. - Review BDCS, SS, BS (mainly) and the CDS (less important - will be on the exam but I only had 2-3 questions on proj manual/specs etc.) (FREE)
7. ArchToolBox - Basically review everything under materials/systems. (FREE)
8. Black Spectacles - I found this helpful for PPD and general useful knowledge, but not PDD. Would not recommend for PDD.($$$$) The PDD mock exam and case study exam, however, are great (and FREE!)
I think with these materials, plus youtube videos, google, wikipedia, this forum, and some work experience - passing this exam is doable without spending a fortune on exam prep materials. Oh, also flip through the IBC (also, FREE!)
Lots of great posts on here already about exam strategy. I would add that, for the case studies, I always looked at the question first. Often times the questions could be answered WITHOUT any of the reference material. Sometimes it's just a distraction - especially on this exam where time management is key.
I felt that a huge portion of the exam was reading comprehension. Getting a good night's sleep and going in with a clear head is crucial. That's why I'd highly recommend taking the exam on a Monday so you at least have the weekend before to prepare.
Overall, I think the 5.0 is better than the 4.0 in terms of being applicable to what we do. A lot of questions I could answer from work experience, which was not the case on the previous versions.
Alright, I. Am. Out. Good luck everyone!! You got this!!
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