PPD - 2nd fail. Suggestions? Is it worth it?

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    Katie Merten

    Hi Brandon.  I empathize with you, for sure.  PPD will be my first 5.0 exam (with the others being in 4.0), and I'm definitely nervous about the new format.  However, I feel like 4.0 properly prepared me for 5.0, in that the questions are worded...interestingly.  So I'm prepared for many questions and many "WTF" questions, as I feel like all my tests have been that way.  I hate to be a broken record, but I strongly suggest the Young Architect Bootcamp.  There have been many posts about the Bootcamp, so if you're curious, you could read through those.  The Bootcamp is THE place to go when you feel like you've done everything else you can do, yet still walk out with those dreaded Fails.  I highly suggest you look into it.  And if the money is an issue, let me tell you, it's worth it.  

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    Brandon Estes

    Hi Katie, I appreciate the tip and I will look into the Young Architect Bootcamp.  No to "toot my own horn," but I've an enviable salary and what I do (regulations) does not require a license...therefore, I am at the point of wondering if continuing to put my life on hold to study for and take these exams is worth it.  I hope you do well on PPD.  Keep in touch and let me know what your thoughts are.

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    Katie Merten

    Brandon, I'm in the same boat.  I, too, work for the government, so licensure is not needed for job growth or movement, so it's hard finding the motivation sometimes to keep going with this.  But at the same time, it's hard to be THIS close and not get there, so we just have to keep trying.  It sucks feeling like your life is on hold for something that is so hard to attain, but it's soooo going to be worth it in the end (I hear! haha).  Keep your head up.  We can ALL do this!  Check out the Bootcamp--the resources you get and the people you meet are amazing.  It's really those people that keep you going.  

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    Michael Doerneman

    Hey friend;

    I heard this comment on a black spectacles seminar/lecture posted online;

    "think more like a lawyer taking the bar, than an architect trying to be perfect" - a Lawyer doesn't have any issue failing the bar, they just retake the exam until they pass, because they think logically and statically.  For some reason, architects are overachievers and it's particularly painful to get cut down *(for seemingly no reason) - and many of us take this as a very personal failure. 

    The exam is designed to pass only 50% of the test takers; don't think about it any more than that; you'll eventually get it- it's an issue of probability... I have plenty of years of experience now, and yes I've had to retake this exam.  Yes... it's random, and no I don't love getting scored on really subjective content like locating houses on windy hills and which style of sun shade is most effective.  But statistically speaking.  You'll get it eventually - just keep paying the fees, and taking the tests;  It's just how it's designed, and it doesn't reflect anything on who you are and what you know;

    Faithfully! 

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    Brandon Estes (Edited )

    Hey Michael,

    Thanks for commenting and for the motivation!  Because I have come this far, and because people like you have reminded me of that, I have made the decision to press forward.  That said, if those three exams from the 4.0 to 5.0 transition expire from the rolling clock I will cease to chase the title "Architect."  One must draw the line somewhere and the process is just so arbitrary and capricious.  

    What, at one time, made the profession lucrative and exceptional was the vast practical ability and skill of the architect.  Having handed those skills and responsibilities to consultants while attempting to make architecture a largely academic and philosophic endeavor, architects are now nothing more than glorified project managers.  Salaries and demand for architects are declining but the requirements to get licensed are becoming more and more rigorous.  If the powers-that-be don't drive the profession to extinction first, I think there is opportunity for the exam to be modeled like engineering: a general exam (i.e., PE), and if you want to be a specialist then more training and testing is required.  

    There are many architects still practicing that have no degree.  At the same time, the powers-that-be are trying to eliminate the B. Arch. and require a minimum of an M. Arch. or the laughable D. Arch. as "entrance into the profession." Have people gotten dumber over generations and require more education to "practice architecture?"  I don't think so.  I would wager that the "uneducated folk" perform far better in practice than any ivory-tower educated architect.  

    The ARE exam process is disingenuous, the license process is broken (and the rules constantly changing), the profession is in trouble, and I think most candidates understand/sense this when it's too late.  But I digress.  I appreciate you commenting and for your support.  I will continue on, for 1.5 for years till the clock expires or I can call myself an "Architect."

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    Suchitra Van

    I like - you was made to transition from 4.0 to 5.0. and have been very ambivalent about this entire process. I will keep trying till my rolling clock expires or rather -  two times because then I run out of time and lose 3 passed exams.

    Do you think you can email me?

    suchitra.van@gmail.com

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    Daniel Horn

    Hey Brandon, 

    First off, congrats on getting this far! These tests are by no means easy, and you've had enough fortitude to get where you are today, so kudos to you! I, like you, transitioned to 5.0 from 4.0 needing to take only the 2 big exams left, PDD & PPD. I just took and passed PDD after multiple attempts and have taken PPD multiple times with no pass yet. I take it again in about 3 weeks. One thing I noticed is that you said you studies 5 months for PPD. This seems to be a little drawn out, and from my experience thus far, limiting yourself to about 1.5 months of study time I think is sufficient. I know that everyone is different, however over-studying is something I've learned to avoid doing. You want to read the material, take practice exams, watch videos, take more practice exams, and then take the exam. 

    In addition, check out my PDD pass approach post from a few months ago (5/19 or 5/20) - I list a bunch of interesting resources I've found online that I think were really helpful for PDD. These have lots of overlaps with PPD as well. 

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    Brandon Estes (Edited )

    Hey Daniel,

    I have scheduled my next PPD and PDD retakes for this September within two weeks of each other, 2nd retake of PDD and 3rd for PPD :-)  I am beginning to study this week, about six to seven weeks out.  When you were studying, did you work full time?  As you noted, I studied for 5 months (and probably studied stuff I did not need to, i.e. I read most of MEEB lol), but it wasn't 5 solid months.  I work 40 hours/week, maintain a house, gotta have some rest, run errands, meal prep, all that good stuff.  Realistically, I can study about 2 hours during the week @ 3x per week (gym/yardwork on Tues and Fri), then 4-6 hours on the weekends.  So about 10-12 hours/week total.  I am ready to have my life back though.  1.5 years and I take my life back, with or without a license!

    I will check out your posts from May.  I have been taking the Ballast 4.0 practice exams which is something I have not done before.  I have lots of study material, the major stuff including AGS 12, AHPP, Olins, Ching construction and codes, Ballast 4.0, ASC, and some other titles large and small.  As noted by other people on this forum, seems that much of the success of PPD/PDD is learning the forms.  I have 3 remaining retakes for PPD and 4 retakes for PDD.  Hopefully those retakes and throwing an additional $1,800 into NCRAB's coffers will "earn" me a passing score.  If not, you-know-who can take the license and put it you-know-where ;-)

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    Daniel Horn

    Brandon,

    I do work 40+ hours a week and am pretty heavily involved with local AIA EP committees, and am in a band full time. I have a hard time saying no to things... I've been averaging about +/- 1 hour/weekday, about 4 on weekends and put in more time closer to the exam. I'm ready to have my life back too...

    Having said that, I've been on this journey for almost 4 years since my first pass in 4.0. I have just over 1 year to finish PPD. My last pass of PDD was a HUGE victory and motivator for me, because if I didn't pass that test in this latest go-around I'd have to wait another 2 months to schedule and even more time to study. Luckily, I passed! Finshing PPD now within about a year seems completely acheiveable. I'd had 2nd thoughts about moving forward with test taking many many times. 

    If I can help any other way, let me know. Building community around these exams is a big part of people's success. Good luck.

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    Joseph Petrarca

    Having taken exams in 3.0, 4.0 and now 5.0, I have a bit of overall perspective.  3.0 was very "flash cards"....just the facts m'aam.  Elementary School.  4.0 was growing up...and had growing pains.  High School.  Content was sometimes "flash cards" and sometimes got pretty complex.  The Graphic Vignettes were enough to make you contemplate becoming a chef or a truck driver.  That crappy CAD software was so maddening that it became an exam about how you can endure such poor software while performing the most simple design exercises.  And if you failed the vignette, which was super easy to do, you failed the whole exam even if you did great on the MC part.

    In 5.0 I feel like the kid has grown up more and gone to college. We're expected to think like architects.  A reasonable request.  Sometimes the given information is less than objective and we need to make the best decisions we can at the moment.  My one division in 5.0, PA, felt reasonable, although there seemed to be material that I never saw on my study materials.  However, I did not use multiple sources as most of your do.  (I will in the future)

    Eric at Architect Exam Prep gave me these tips:

    1.  Trust that the questions can be answered in 60 seconds.  if it seems like this is not the case, you are overthinking it.

    2  Trust that they will give you all of the info you need to answer the question.  They don't "forget" to include information.

    3.  Trust that if they DO give you information, they mean for you to use it.  They don't use flowery words to seem smart or poetic.  if they say "a new wood wall" or a "concrete slab floor"...that is MEANT to be taken into consideration.  Look for the words that alert you to special conditions or approaches.

    I think we DO have a tendency to overthink problems.  On the Case Studies, I ran into several questions that seemed like they were going to take two hours to do!  I knew I was going into the quicksand and after three minutes I made a best guess and just moved on. Maybe they really were asking for complicated research and math...probably not.  but my brain was not cooperating and it's better to make an educated guess, and move onto questions where you CAN answer them quickly.

    Test strategy and time management are a big part of 5.0.

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    Brandon Estes

    Thanks Daniel and Joseph, I appreciate the comments and motivation!  I am still moving forward and your comments help.  I have 4/5 retakes of each exam (PPD/PDD respectively) from now till the point when my other 3 exams from the 4.0 to 5.0 transfer expire at once.  I still plan on drawing the line there if need be, but the difference is that now I am thinking about "now" instead of obsessing about the "what ifs" in the future.  I have a tendency to want everything to be perfect right now so I need to work on studying in the moment and taking it as it comes.

    I am SOOOOOO tired of this though!  I am applying for a construction/contract management position in a different department that pays as much as a licensed architect position.  If I get that, I may say effit early.  I will keep you updated.

    Best wishes and happy studying to all :-)

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