I have had a very long road, particularly with this exam, having retaken PDD more times than any other of the exams. I also have had somewhat of an unusual career path and pursued the exams off and on over a long period of time and finally got all of them done within the last 4.5 years. I currently work for an engineering firm in marketing. Before that I worked for Habitat for Humanity and before that I worked for architecture firms for five years. But I always wanted to complete these exams for the future and am glad I never gave up. It's certainly one of the hardest things I have ever done.
Anyways, I haven't posted much but I have certainly read a lot on this forum and have gotten a lot of good ideas on study strategies, study materials, and testing strategies. It was also helpful to hear others' stories of passing and failing. And now finally feel like I have some tangible advice.
My Final Advice on Studying/Testing
Each time I re-took PDD, I tried a different 3rd party study tool and study method. Some 3rd party material was pretty helpful and all in all it was a cumulative process. In the end, what I did and my advice:
- Buy the source books NCARB lists (a lot of them are expensive but are more than worth the investment for your career/future or for not paying for a retake instead)
- Look at a lot of graphics/charts/details/graphs
- Finally, force yourself to do a "brain dump" especially if you fail an exam. It's torture, but last time I did it and I wrote down sixty items I remembered from the test - topics, specific questions, etc. Then I took that list and looked up everything and made a study guide from that. It also helped me to keep in the mindset of the actual NCARB exam, and not some 3rdparty’s idea of what the content and questions are.
As far as during the exam, I reread the questions multiple times making sure I didn't miss the "clue" as to why out of the answers I narrowed it down to was the one they were looking for. I initially had this odd problem of having a lot of time left after completing the exam and then not wanting to change my answers – so sort of a waste. Going slower than I felt I should and rereading the questions turned out to be a good thing for me. I wound up with about 5 or 10 minutes left. I think I only changed one or two marked questions.
I credit NCARB in general for this forum and for revamping their website/portals, as well as the ARE 5.0 itself several years ago.
I'm definitely no expert, but hopefully this can help someone else that didn't breeze through the exams as others have (and kudos to them too!).
All the best,
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