Ppd pass... third try AREs done.. a hui hou



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    Tasanee Durrett



    First off, CONGRATS TO YOU! This is such an amazing accomplishments that words cannot describe! 

    I am taking PPD for my 3rd and final time (speaking a Pass into existence!). I had to break out MEEB as well and I am going over ASC and Building Construction Illustrated one last time before my exam next week. Making diagrammatic note-cards have been extremely helpful for me during this process of studying for PPD and PDD. 


    Again, congrats and thank you for sharing your story!

    I would really appreciate if you could share your information with me. My email is:  tkdurrett@email.arizona.edu 


    Thank you!

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    Nicholas Civitano

    Thanks Tasanee! Definitely need to stay positive like that! Best advice I have is to Read the leading words in the question and to eliminate the wrong choices first. A lot of times you end up with one or two choices. Stay calm, do the questions you know first and come back to the tougher ones. Remember, you just need enough right to pass, so if you get caught up with not being able to do a few you might using your mental power on worrying rather than figuring out the tough ones. 

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    Nicholas Civitano (Edited )

    Ok, now that I got some good sleep I can follow up with some more details.. I’ll try to keep this one a bit more to the point:
    --Materials I used for my first PPD Attempt and my first PDD attempt / pass:
    -Fema 454
    - Architect studio companion 6th
    - Building Codes Illustrated
    - Ballast Review Manual / Practice Exams / Questions
    - IBC 2015
    - ADA 2010
    -Tons of Youtube videos on various subjects, Dilip Khatri and Dartmouth X for Structures, Amber videos I could find basically just typed ARE 5.0 ppd or Pdd into youtube and watched anything I could find.
    Construction Materials (Older Olin Construction materials book)
    Materials I added for my second attempt at PPD:
    -Designer Hacks Practice Exam (These are pretty good, fairly generic, definitely not a must have thing but the more practice questions the better and its fairly cheap)
    -Site Planning and Design Handbook (but didn’t really read it much)
    Jennys Notes- Great as a recap to read when you got a short amount of time to study.

    Materials I added for the third attempt when I actually studied 300+ more hours
    -Black Spectacles 1 month, watched most of the videos for PPD and some of the PDD, took each PPD practice exam (theres 3 exams per division) each 4 times. First attempt at each exam I got between 55 and 65%, by the third attempt at each I got 85-95% on each exam. The videos are very broad and never get into any kind of detail needed for this exam. However, the practice exams were a good help in helping to drive some points home. I would recommend that before anyone start the journey into PA PPD and PDD to get a month or two so you can take advantage of all the practice exams rather than just buying it for a month for one exam like I did. Overall, I don’t think this is a must have but if you can afford a month or two its nice to have a big bank of questions to tackle.
    -Took the Ballast practice exams and practice problems again, maybe 3 times through each section for PPD plus the PDD and PA sections. Ballast is actually a good resource but the problem is that the info for PPD PA and PDD especially is spread out between these 3 areas that do not align with the test. However, if you have the review manual and practice exam / problems books it’s a good supplement to look stuff up for clarification. I.e. adjacency diagrams, parking layouts, lighting etc etc
    -Read Site Planning and Design Handbook about 3 times through and focused on Chapters talking about plantings in site design (Sound, Wind, Light, etc) Brownfield remediation, soils, drainage, retention / detention / catch basins etc.
    -Bought Sun, Wind and Light, paperback and electronic supplement. Like I mentioned previously, this book is organized in a confusing and convoluted way (almost seems like a grad student put it together for a thesis project). However, the info is solid and NCARB absolutely pulls questions out of this. I suggest reading through it a few times and making notes when the author mentions specific climates or topics like daylighting, passive design strategies, wind etc. You can get this info elsewhere but its probably worth getting it if you have a hard time with the environmental design stuff.
    -Building Codes Illustrated—To be honest I prefer reading the sections in IBC 2015 and only using this as a supplement when the wording is confusing. Definitely don’t need this to pass but its not bad to have as a resource too.
    -Building Structures Illustrated – I really liked this book as a supplement to Fema 454 and never hear anyone talk about it. Also helped a lot with other structural stuff besides Seismic and wind. Its basically way more in depth than building construction illustrated on all the structural stuff. Great addition to this and BCI. I learned more about lateral and vertical resistance systems, seismic and wind from this than anything.
    -Building Structures by Ambrose—This is like the MEEB for structures. Its very dry and very in depth but its great to clarify structural issues, foundations, materials etc. Worth a look at.
    -Fundamentals of Building Construction- Great book one of my favorites, wished I had it for PDD. Mostly on materials but for things like soils, foundations, site retaining wall systems, excavation support, masonry, metals, ceiling systems etc its invaluable.
    -Arch Graphics Standards 12th ed Student Edition – Great summary of almost every PPD topic. Great book and I can imagine the real version is better. Has great 1 to 4 or 5 page summaries on everything, site, CPTED, lighting, acoustics plumbing, conveying, fire suppression etc etc etc.
    ARE 4 Exam Guides from NCARB- Took all these practice tests and usually got 85-95% on them.
    I also have a bunch of random resources I downloaded for random topics.
    -MEEB~! Definitely not a popular choice on these forums, but MEEB should be a primary resource for PPD. Nothing beats the info on Acoustics and lighting and it’s a great supplement to ASC and BCI for HVAC. Has tons of info and images and helps clarify so many topics. Basically I read through 90% of this and made detailed notes both handwritten and typed along the way. I probably read Chapters on lighting, acoustics thermal control and plumbing atleast 2 or 3 times.
    Overall if I was doing this again, beside some of the free resources you can get like the FEMA docs, ADA, IBC and random things like UL fire rating assemblies for fire ratings and STC ratings, youtube videos and other online google searchers: Your main resources are Architect Studio companion, I had the 6th ed. Building Construction Illustrated, MEEB and Site Planning and Design Handbook.

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    Tasanee Durrett

    Thank you Nicholas, I needed this encouragement and pep talk!

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    Pritesh Saxena (Edited )

    Congrats Nicholas. Started studying for PPD - first time taker. Your notes will definitely help me. Kindly share whenever you can-- thank you in advance.


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    Michelle Jellison

    If you'd be willing to share your notes, I would love to have them!! This test is next up for me and it's so daunting!!


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    Seth Wiley


    I'm down to studying structures at this point. Great point you make: study forces, not structures. Thank you.

    Really great feedback.

    The rest of your life is ahead of you!

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    Susan Mussett

    Congratulations of the pass! Thank you in advance for sharing your notes - sgmussett@gmail.com

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