Advice please! (2nd PPD Fail)

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    Dan Jacques (Edited )

    I may not be the best person to point you in the right direction because I haven't attempted either exam yet, but I am in the middle of studying for PPD, which I have scheduled for March 31st. The only other exam I've taken (and passed) is PA, because it sets the stage for PPD. My strategy is to knock PPD and PDD out next because they're the hardest. I'll tell you about my study strategy for PPD, as I feel it's successful so far.

    I'm reading through the Ballast PPD content (450 pages of torture), and stopping after each chapter to do the corresponding practice questions. The key to practice questions isn't just to do them, but to take the time to understand the concepts behind the question and each of the answer choices regardless of whether you answered them correctly. Once I get through this process in the next couple of weeks, I plan to move on to the Hyperfine assignments, which involve more critical thinking and are closer to the true exam difficulty than the Designer Hacks questions. 

    https://hyperfinearchitecture.com/ppd/

    Then, about a week before the actual exam, I plan to do the Ballast practice exam and study each question and answer in the same way I scrutinized the practice questions content. The only thing I do differently is I try to be more mindful of time management and arriving at the answer quickly, as that is just as important as knowing the concepts come the actual exam.

    I hope this helps! Let me know if you think I'm off the mark, as I too still need advice going into this for the first time. I'm hoping that by focusing on Ballast I won't overwhelm myself with the long list of primary materials, which seem like a time sucking rabbit hole to me. I'm also following the advice of Young Architect (paraphrased here): once you finish your reading content, put it away and focus on practice questions!

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    Mary Ellen Doyle

    Hi Kati,

    It sounds like you are determined and on a great track - so keep it up! You will get this! As far as content goes I 100% agree with Daniels suggestion and plan to use Ben Norkin's Hyperfine assignments. I was blown away at how much more enjoyable this study method was, which made me enjoy the process and become curious and learn more. In my opinion the Hyperfine assignments are probably the best materials for PPD and PDD. I found they really got me to think big concept wise and set me up for success in that if I got a question on a topic - for instance thermal protection qualities or vaper barriers I understood those topics fully and was confident in the answer I choose. If  you want to reach out to me directly I'd be happy to elaborate more and see if I have any more resources that could help pass this two exams.

     

    Daniel,

    I've also read all or just about all of both the PPD and PDD sections of Ballast and holy cow I agree most of it is torture (by the way when Ballast was one of my main tools I failed both PPD and PDD - but I also knew a few close friends and co-workers who mainly read that and passed every exam first try, sadly that didn't work the same for me). So if you want to try something new I would suggest getting to a good stopping point in Ballast and give Hyperfine assignments a try. My bet is that you'll learn more content quicker and its more fun then reading Ballast. Maybe dedicate a chunk of time on a Saturday to try out Hyperfine and see if makes a difference for you. 

    A little background to give you an idea of my experience with the ARE. I just passed PDD this past Friday 2/21 and that was my last exam to get through! I took PPD and passed on 2/6 so as many people on this forum recommend is taking this two exams close together because there is a lot of overlap. I aimed for 2-3 weeks in between the 2 exams. If thats possible for either of you I recommend it! I would love to say that I took these and passed on the first try but that is far from the truth. I was coming back to these two exams after having to wait a year because I had 3 failed attempts at PPD. Once I was forced to wait a full year I decided to also wait to do a retake of PDD (I failed that exam once as well). It was so frustrating and really crushed my spirits but I waited out the year and focused on some other things in life (I got married/bought a house) About a month after the wedding I decided I would get right back to studying and committed myself to finish these two exams once and for all. I started studying in December 2019 and studied for both exams at once but had my main focus on making sure I covered all the PPD content. I share my full story (as ugly as it may seem) and the struggles I had in passing these final two exams to let you know I can relate to failing these exams and it sucks but stay committed and stick with it! You're smarter then you might be giving yourself credit for, try not to forget that when you start studying again. The fact alone that you're eligible to sit for these exams shows you have the problem solving skills and persistence to make it through this process. Please feel free to reach out if I can offer any more insight/advise.

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    Dan Jacques

    Thanks for the sharing your story Mel, and congrats on passing! Your story of persistence makes me feel like this is actually possible. Some days I feel pretty overwhelmed by the mountain of content these exams seem to cover.

    I'm glad to get verification on Hyperfine because I had only stumbled across it recently on this forum. Several people gave it a glowing recommendation in their "Passed PPD" posts. I am definitely feeling myself burning out on Ballast - I just started the vertical transportation chapter which puts me about halfway through the PPD section. I'd be happy to switch gears to Hyperfine, especially if you think it would be in my best interest. Do you recommend any other material in particular? I also have Building Codes Illustrated and Building Construction Illustrated already, but haven't made full use of them yet.

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    Emily Wetherbee

    I just took my PPD on Tuesday. I received a "likely pass" but have not received my final score.

    Read and take notes: Heating, Cooling and Lighting, FEMA Chapters 4 and 5 and Building Code Illustrated. 

    I made a binder with Tabs for each category ie: Accoustics, Thermal, Structures, Lighting, Elevators, Code, ADA, PM (contracts etc....), Cost. I maintained this binder for the past 6 months and continually added / edited it. I would make my own notes and also scan pages from different sources (welding symbols, Specification Division list, MEEB diagrams etc).  The week prior to the exam this is all I studied. I used it for both PPD and PDD.

    Also join the Young Architect Bootcamp if you have not done so already. I have been at this for 8 years and this is the best decision I made.

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    Elif Bayram

    Hi Kati,

    I am a firm believer of reading the books on Handbook Reference List and then do as many as questions as I can from anywhere and everywhere. I think you should really learn the concept, don't just read and try to memorize things, it is not enough. Try to take notes, you say you are visual so take visual notes, write flash cards and questions of your own. Try to  involve this active study tools  in your studies. Forming study groups is also very effective. I joined YA Bootcamp and there I had great friends to do some insane amount of reading with and most of us passed.

    I think you SHOULD read Heating Cooling Lighting and at least the first part of MEEB (I read it all) and know Building Code very well to pass PPD. No offense to anyone but Ballast, ASC and B.C. Illustrated type of books are all for people who already have in-depth knowledge about content and want to brush it off before the exam. You can't learn from those books, they are good summaries for people who already know it.

    I passed PPD on my second try and wrote a looooong post  here about my PPD/PDD experience and how I finally passed them, if you wanna read more.

     

    Good luck!

     

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    Kati Hoke

    Thank you all for your feedback and encouragement! And congrats to all of you who passed!

    Daniel, I wish you all the best on your upcoming test. Sounds like you have a great plan of attack!

    Mary Ellen, your story resonates with me so much! If you don't mind, would you please shoot me an email? khoke411@gmail.com I would like to ask you a few more questions on your experience with Hyperfine.

    Emily, I have a binder system too! I've heard a lot of good things about the bootcamp on this forum, but it seems like the priciest 3rd party option. I might try some other options for now. Your perseverance to finish these after 8 years is inspiring!

    Elif, thank you! I actually read your post a while ago and gleaned some information from it. Thanks so much for sharing!

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