PPD & PDD

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    David Kaplan

    Brett,

    Make sure you can do the height/area calculations using Chapter 5 well.  Know how to navigate the Code - don't go in there having the code memorized but if you're asked a code question and they give you code excerpts, have the knowledge of what chapter you need to get the answer from. 

    Know how to calculate U- and R-values for a wall system and understand their relationship. 

    Practice the cost estimating sample questions in the ARE Handbook.  You're going to be asked to do this, and you better believe as well that it will include some sort of unit conversion from say square feet to square yards to get the answer.

    For PDD - really, really, really, really, really know your way around a set of construction documents.  Let's just make up an example: test asks you to identify the required ceiling height for something.  You're given a set of drawings and you need to find the ceiling height in there.  Know what drawings that would be on - and go into the exams with the understanding that it's likely either NOT going to be on the ceiling plan, they might not even GIVE you a ceiling plan, or you might have to navigate two drawings to find your answer and not just one.  Where else can you find it?  Have that knowledge.  Know as well that if an owner says "we're going to change this part of the design last minute" what drawings would get affected?  You should be able to have this sense of how design changes that occur during the CD phase affect drawings. 

    Last piece of advice I would offer to you is that, for me personally, I found that on both exams they gave me extraneous materials during the case studies.  There were documents I never opened once.  Trust that - it's intentional and the very point is that NCARB hopes you figure that out.  Certainly look over everything just to make sure, but don't freak out if you finish your test and find that you never used an item they gave you. 

  • Avatar
    Brett Spencer

    David,

    Thanks for the write-up.  Very much appreciated.  It's also refreshing to hear, I think I may be more prepared than I am giving myself credit for.  First time taking these two so I'm really not too sure what to expect.  But, this makes me feel better for sure. 

  • Avatar
    David Kaplan

    Brett,

    Not sure how long you've been working in a firm, but I really felt these two tests allowed my work experience to really come through.  Hopefully you will find the same. 

    I also forbid you to overstudy structural formulas.  Little to no pay-off and you will cloud your head with information that might help you out with 2-3 questions.  Know the very basics.

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    Brett Spencer

    I'm currently sitting at about 3 years of professional experience, most of my time spent in CD's.  Very confident in my ability to navigate through a CD set and am very comfortable with most details.

    And that's also good to hear, most of my time regarding structures has been spent understanding moment/shear diagrams.  Other than that, the equations are fairly straightforward for me; more so just understanding which equation applies to which scenario.  I'll just be sure to look out for converting units where it is need because it can be very easy to overlook!

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    Matthew Dirksen

    I recommend spending time inside the demo exam not to answer any of the questions (since you probably already have), but simply to closely examine all of the formulas, moment diagrams, and references that are available to you. Having just finished PPD & PDD this past month, I'm glad I spent time in there looking at what was going to be available. So when I dove into the exam, I already knew what was there so when I got a question, I popped the resources open.

    In total, I may have had a total of 12-18 questions which required calculations, and only a few might have been structurally related. And for my workflow, I wrote down the problem number on my scratch paper, then immediately skipped the question to save them to the end. I found it very easy to go back at the end to do all my calc's in a row (especially when I grouped them by "type". Those are the only questions that don't already have the answer staring right in front of me, so if I were to run out of time, I'd rather make sure all the other questions were complete first.

    Also, I noticed some of the details in PDD were not "perfect" by a longshot. I believe they probably did that on purpose so be careful at what you are looking at.

    Just remember that PPD is going to be more "general" or "bigger picture", and it very much overlaps with PA. 

    PDD is more "specific", overlapping a little with PPD. So when you study, keep that in mind.

    In hindsight, I think the biggest risk to preparing for these exams is getting too far into the weeds on any topic. I don't think I ever compiled more than a page or two of notes on any topic on either of these exams. ARE makes it very clear that they are examining our "applied knowledge", and not trying to make us regurgitate stuff. Unfortunately, most of the study habits of folks might be used to memorization, and not application.

    (and fwiw, the most "underrated" book to explore is the 2015 IBC WITH COMMENTARY. I found this book to be invaluable to my PPD/PDD studies. The commentary sections were incredibly helpful.)

     best of Luck!

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    Mariam Rafigh

     Thank you for your recommendations Matthew.  Where can one get access to 2015 IBC with commentary.  Is this accessible on line? My office has the latest codes books but they hold it in a locked room and not too many people have access to it.  If there is a site that provides access with a membership, it’d be great to know.

  • Avatar
    Matthew Dirksen

    Sure:

    https://shop.iccsafe.org/codes/2015-international-code-commentaries.html?format%5B0%5D=premiumACCESS+Subscription&format%5B1%5D=PDF+Download

    Our firm bought the PDF outright. I presume the "Subscription" might not only give you access to the pdf's, but they apparently have lots of informative videos as well. 

    Good Luck!

     

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