I took my PPD exam yesterday and got passed on my first try. I think this community helped me a lot and writing my study materials and suggestions could also help me prepare for my next exam PDD : )
Basically due to some changes of my job, the total time I spent on PPD is about 3 months, still I think if you are a native speaker or really good at studying, maybe 2 months is enough. But I do this there is a lot overlap with the PA exam I took last time. I also heard that PPD and PDD overlaps a lot, so maybe study all three together and spend more time would be a good choice.
My study materials include:
- Ballast, including the manual and all the practice questions they have (there are some minor errors or confusingly worded questions, but in total I think those helped a lot. I read the manual and did all the practice questions twice)
- Amber (I do think Amber did a great job in general introduction and describing some specific concepts in all 6 divisions, and it helps me understand faster when I read other study materials, while this is a great resource, but I think Amber alone is not enough)
- Hyperfine (I think it is a great resource and maybe covers PDD a lot more, but the zoning and coding questions are more related to PPD)
- Architect Exam Prep (I think their audio resource is a plus, and since I read Ballast first, this also helped me reinforce my memory, and their OMCES is helpful. Although there a some minor errors in their study guide, but generally speaking, I found it helpful)
- DesignerHack (I think this helped me remember and understand some basic concepts more, but some of the questions are too detailed and too easy. Sometimes they have discount on their products, I think it would be a good investment on your study : )
- Brightwood (I haven't start reading Brightwood until the last two weeks and I skipped a lot descriptions or concepts which I was already familiar with, and some of the complicated calculations. Don't be daunted with those complicated seismic or wind calculations, focus on the ideas and understand how those influence the architectural design)
- I do think NCARB focuses on "why" and "how" more rather than "what". So when study, try to understand what would be the reasons behind a certain effect and how to deal with a certain design problems.
- Understand the shear and moment diagram or be able to analyze how a beam or rigid frame works, I think I did a bad job understanding those since it is been a while when I had my last structural class : (
- Understand basic ADA guidelines
- Understand different types of foundations and when to use them
- Know the basic components of walls and how each elements work
- Understand how seismic force influence the design
- Know how Life Cycle Cost Analysis works
- Know different materials and their basic properties and when to choose what under a certain circumstances
- Understand different types of roofs and when to use them
- Understand the concept of calculating gross and net floor areas
Again, I think the most important thing during the exam is to focus on the question you know how to answer and do not overthink, if you hesitate a lot, just make a guess and mark and go on. I had about 2 hours left for my case study, and only 20 minutes left when I finished all the questions!
I think case study is time consuming and most of the time you just don't guess them right : )
One important thing is to remember using the search tool in case study resources, this really saved my a lot time.
As I mentioned I am moving to PDD next and I wish you a good luck!
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