A little bit about myself - I am a 5th year B.Arch student, and will be graduating in May 2019. I have passed all six exams as an IPAL student over the past six months (read about IPAL here!). As I was preparing for the AREs, this discussion forum was extremely helpful in suggesting study strategies. However, preparing for these exams was quite challenging, as many authors of these posts already had well established careers. As a student with just a few internships under my belt, and no full-time work experience, I could not always relate. I am writing this post to provide my study strategy and perspective on PjM and the other exams as an IPAL student. While I hope to reach other IPAL students and recent graduates, I hope everyone can find a helpful takeaway from this post.
Project Development & Documentation was my sixth exam, scheduled just one week after my first attempt at PPD. Because the sources I used for PPD and PDD were nearly identical, I had already finished most of my PDD reading before taking PPD. Here's a recap of my sources:
Architect's Studio Companion
I obtained a copy of ASC through my university's online portal and read the entire book within one day. This is a must read. It provides great information on structural systems, mechanical systems, daylighting strategies, and egress, a lot of which ended up in my final PPD notes. ASC uses simple terminology and reductive diagrams, making the topics easy to understand and enjoyable to read. Highly recommend ASC - just be sure to skip the sections on the Canadian Building Code.
Building Construction Illustrated
I was also able to access this source through my university's online portal. I read the entire book, which took two days. This book provides great information on structural systems and thermal & moisture protection. This is another must read. For PDD specifically, I screenshotted and printed out about 20 different detail sections from BCI. I blacked out each of the called out components, rewrote them on the back of the paper, and tested myself on these assemblies. This helped tremendously, especially since I have little experience with construction details.
This document focuses on seismic design, and was another enjoyable read with explanatory language and simple diagrams. Focus on concepts of resonance, diaphragms, torsional forces, the three basic structural systems, seismically desirable characteristics, the four serious configurations (and their solutions), and the P-delta effect.
Building Codes Illustrated
This book was also available on my university's online portal. Codes are by no means a strength of mine, but I found this book easy to read as well. Focus on the following chapters:
- Chapter 3 - Use and Occupancy
- Chapter 5 - Building Heights and Areas
- Chapter 6 - Types of Construction
- Chapter 7 - Fire Resistive Construction
- Chapter 9 - Fire Protection Systems
- Chapter 10 - Means of Egress
Fundamentals of Building Construction
I used this book as a secondary source, and looked for information on VOCs, glazing, and finish materials. Building Construction Illustrated and FBC have a great deal of overlap, and would recommend using FBC just as a secondary source.
The exams have been updated to reflect IBC 2015. I scrolled through the document and learned how to read tables 1004.1.2, 503, 508.4, 601, 602. I highly suggest memorizing these table numbers for faster scrolling during the case studies.
* FBC, Building Codes Illustrated, and IBC 2015 took one day in total to read
I purchased a Ballast 4.0 textbook from Amazon. Why a 4.0 textbook? At the time, the ARE 5.0 prep materials were limited and had mixed reviews on Amazon. While this textbook was organized based on the ARE 4.0 divisions, I used this conversion chart to figure out which 4.0 chapters would be applicable to each 5.0 exam. Ballast and other third-party materials are good as secondary sources. I'd recommend going through the abovementioned sources first, then reading Chapters 10-44 for PPD and PDD. (This took me three days)
This was the only new source I read for PDD. This isn't tested heavily, but did show up here and there on the exam. Focus on what constitutes a compatible new exterior addition and a compatible window replacement.
As far as I know, there is no dedicated source for ARE cost estimating. Per David K's suggestion, I reviewed all calculation problems in the ARE 5.0 Handbook, and this was enough to prepare me for PDD cost estimating questions. In general, most calculation questions throughout all AREs are fairly simple, requiring just one or two steps. The challenge is parsing down the information to figure out exactly which numbers you need to execute what they're asking you to do.
PDD was the hardest exam for me, even harder that PPD which I failed the first time around. I have very little experience with CDs, document coordination, and construction details. Many of the blog posts I read claimed you needed to be proficient at these to pass, and others claimed that their work experience in CA, CDs, or project management came in handy. I could not relate. There were a lot of obscure items I'd never heard of before. The case studies were especially time consuming, and required a lot of coordination between documents. I ended the exam with nearly double the number of marked questions than my failed PPD test, and was certain I had failed PDD as well. Much to my surprise, I did end up passing PDD the first time around. I must've just made it past the cut score. Very thankful.
Good luck on your exams! Feel free to comment below - I'm more than happy to share additional information!
Check out my other posts!
Please sign in to leave a comment.