Just passed PPD. One to go.

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    Brittany Varengo

    I felt the same way about PPD. I just took it this past week, passed on the first try and I left the testing center thinking "...really? That was it?" I studied Hyperfine (agreed - really great source that gets your brain trained in thinking through the math and information), Amber Book a year ago, ASC, Karen's Notes (awesome source that really solidifies material covered in Hyperfine), a little bit of Building Codes & Build Const Illustrated, a little bit of MEEB (since I didn't have Plumbing, Electric & Acoustics), Heating, Cooling & Lighting & FEMA.

    I also did some Ballast 5.0 practice tests & Ballast 4.0 practice problems and found that the level of detail on those questions were more detailed than the actual exam. I'm glad I didn't spend too much time stressing over my 55% score.

     

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    Artem Melikyan

    Congrats on PPD!

    I wonder if you could give me some advise:

    When I took it, a lot of questions did sound as very straightforward, but then the others were a bit vague to me.

    For instance those that dealt with programming and drainage. And I also spent more time on case studies than I should have.

    I thought programming would be just common sense questions, but somehow I could not figure out the constraints: should I consider adjacencies, configuration in plan, size? So what would you recommend reading/studying on it? I do not think PPD top references in the Handbook cover that. And also drainage?

    Case studies do make me nervous still since you cannot really get prepared for them and you need to be able to quickly navigate through the references on the test. What would you recommend to be better ready for those? I looked at Hyperfine case study, but its only one for PPD and PDD together.

    Thank you,

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    Joseph Petrarca (Edited )

    Artem
    I'll try and address your questions in order.
    Regarding Programming and Drainage. Two completely different issues, right?
    Programming is a pretty broad topic and drainage in the context of PPD is pretty limited scope.

    Programming.... Maybe you can describe more about the difficulty you face... Take a specific question and talk about what was challenging. That's the only way I could approach thinking about whether it's more about content or more about how you deal with the metrics of the exam questions.

    Read the book Problem Seeking for a good primer in programming. Really programming was covered in depth in the PA division so if you studied for that, go look again at your materials. You can check the ARE handbook for PPD but I don't think programming is too big a deal. That being said...take the question step by step. If it looks too tricky, just mark it for review and move on. Despite lots of studying you will STILL run into questions that just seem too confusing or complicated. DO NOT LET THEM MESS YOU UP.

    You can afford to miss questions. Do not spin your wheels on any question. You have two minutes and seven seconds per question. Get the ones that you know... And circle back later to review ones you are unsure about. I can't stress that enough. Get every one that you know right... And do not let the ones you are unsure about suck your time and confidence. Move on.

    Regarding Programming, I remember a problem with a simple adjacency matrix. That's basic stuff. Know how those work. Also be careful about the symbology. If the problem states that the reception must be nearby the director and far from the workroom and adjacent to the waiting area.... Understand what each of those three terms means and pick the correct symbol to insert on the matrix. Nearby is not the same as adjacent.

     

    There are also what are called Puzzle Questions. You have to read the programming and move room shapes to the correct place. This should be basic and intuitive by now... especially if you have been practicing in an office for two or three years and have a BArch! If you don't have a firm handle on programming and bubble diagrams now...well....you need to study and practice more.

    Drainage. I assume you mean site drainage. Drain to the lowest portion of the site. Know how to read contours. Again, you are sweating a topic that should be a very small portion of the content.

    As far as recommended approaches and materials...
    For the case studies, definitely get Hyperfine Homework Package and the Case Study. They are separate items so order them both. I found his homework and the case studies VERY realistic and very instructive. Do the case study. It's worth it. When you go through his homework, the point is to stumble up against stuff you don't know, and go and research using his links... And anything else you can... Then come back and read his answers and explanations. Highly useful practice. I would say most of what he does in the course is a bit higher complexity than the actual exam. Which is perfect.

    In general, I don't know how long it's been since you last fail on PPD but go to the ARE handbook and look at the content breakdown by percentage. Look at the items they cover. Figure out what was problematic for you and focus more on those areas.

    The biggest part of PPD is knowing about systems in a moderate level of detail. Yes there will be some very general questions about structures or mechanical systems, and there will be some detail-oriented questions, but in general you will be applying knowledge of what systems to select and why.

    Go through the Architects Studio Handbook and make notes and flashcards.

    Look at graphic standards and building construction Illustrated and make notes and flashcards. Read the basics in FEMA 454 seismic. Read Caroline Joseph's notes, read Jenny's notes.

    The third party study packages from Architect Exam Prep have some merit although they are kind of basic, they are comprehensive. The PPD is being upgraded to a new rev for 5.0... and they are doing actual case studies, but they are not available yet, so stay tuned to their website or ask them when their updated materials for PPD and PDD will be available.

     

    Look at Amber Book and Pluralsight videos if you can afford them.

     

    There's a young woman who has a website/blog called Iditit.  (I Did It) Google I Did It ARE. She has some good advice on psychology and strategy as does Ben on the Hyperfine website.

    Study hard and realize that you only have to get a D. Skip over anything that slows you down or gets you frustrated. You  mentioned some case study where you're not sure if you have to check lot coverages, zoning ..whatever....lot. overlaps...... Yup... That is often how the case study questions present themselves. You should get used to it. Sometimes you need to read between the lines. Sometimes you will not have to do everything that it seems you should do to get an answer.  Some are very simple however and are just like a regular question.

    Happy to discuss more if you have specific questions. Good luck!

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    Artem Melikyan

    Joseph,

    thank you very much for your very detailed input - I need to think it through.

    On another note, do you think that we are supposed to use the rotation tool for drag-and-place 

    items? I have never seen this described in any of the NCARB videos or in the Handbook,

    so I'm not sure if some correct responses depend on rotation...

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    Joseph Petrarca (Edited )

    You don't HAVE to use the rotation tool. But if you go to place a sunshade on the south windows of a plan, and it's perpendicular to the wall...of course you rotate it . Same if you are trying to place the conference room next to the offices and it is oriented the wrong way.

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    Artem Melikyan

    Makes sense, and I think I had a question on the test where I would have to rotate.

    Really do not understand why this tool was not described in any tutorials or the Handbook, unless I missed it.

    I wish I could refer to a tutorial to see all the testing tools once and for all, because maybe I missed something else.

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    Joseph Petrarca

    My sense is that you are focusing too much on small details.

    Try to stay in the "bigger picture".

    You need to have a very good handle on the IBC.

    focus on knowing what the main chapters are ...3, 5, 6, 10...

    Be familiar with the PROCESS

    1.Identify the USE GROUP.  This is really reall important.  Know the difference between Educational (E) and Business (B).  Understand the five different kinds of Assembly (A).  Undertant the (5?) different kinds of Residential.

    there's confusing crossover between various kinds of Institutional and R so check that out.

    I don't think the ARE will get into that level of analysis because it is indeed tricky.  But it's best to over prepare a bit.

    Plus it's all useful knowledge in our profession.

    Be familiar with the major tables in each chapter.

    Continuing...

    2.  Identify the SEPARATION between occupancies

    3.  Identify the Type of Construction Height and Area Limitations

    4.  Identify Means of Egress

    5.  Identify Systems (Structural, Mechanical, Electrical...)

    You will have all the IBC content you need on the exam under Resources but you need to know how to use it fast.

    Same thing for ADA.  The whole ADA sections that you need are available.  You don't have to memorize all of the little diagrams for doors and approaches, and tubs/showers and side reach and forward reach...but generally be familiar with them.  Kind of know what is going to be critical.  Like a side approach is always more critical than a forward approach to a door...and the approach from hinge side is more critical than approach from  the latch side and so forth.

    Know the ADA curb cut stuff  and ramp cold.  And ADA parking for car and for van.  Just do it.

    All the structural formulae are on the Resources, but again you should generally understand what a given beam and loading configuration will look like in the shear diagram and in the moment diagram.  I did not have to reach for a formula the whole exam but I did need to know generally what I was looking at several times.  Also be ready for twists...like now the beam in vertical, as part of a wall, and lateral loads are being applied. Same thing...just rotated.

    Know daylighting and passive solar design.

    Know SHGC, U values, (and the tradeoffs between the two) R values...conductivity, convection, radiation

    Know what  shapes/massing /orientation/siting of buildings are appropriate for each climate type and why.  that's super important!!!

    Just keep in the fore of your mind, you are going to get the WTF questions.  When you see that something looks super complicated...with calculations and multiple code and zoning things...whatever looks beyond your ability to do in two minutes, MARK it and MOVE on! Don't let it bring you down. It's only castles burning.  Find someone who's yearning......;-)

    Lastly, NCARB also puts a number or "trial questions" in each exam, to see how they score out....but they are NOT included in YOUR score.  So take some reassurance that a crazy one or one that you have never seen before is likely an NCARB trial balloon.

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    Joseph Petrarca

    There is a Trial Exam on the NCARB website.  It is an exact duplicate of the exam.  You can see how all the tools and icons work.  (Mark for Review, Strikeout, Highlight) Everyone should do that before you sit for a 5.0 division.

    The Strikeout is really good as you eliminate options.  it helps you to feel like "yup- cross that one off..." and helps to prevent you from actually selecting one of the bad choices as an answer.

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    Miranda Wright

    Hey Joseph - thanks for the post and helpful advice! Question - where can I find Jenny and Caroline Joseph's Notes? I know people mention these a lot and I never can find them just from googling.  Can you help me out? 

    Thanks!

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    Joseph Petrarca

    This is Jenny's Notes...... good stuff.. AREndurance
    Four second Google search.

    https://arendurance.wordpress.com/study-guides/

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    Joseph Petrarca

    Similarly, three second Google search gives me a link to Google doc for Caroline Joseph's notes. Try it . My sense is you need much more practice looking things up.

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    Artem Melikyan

    Joseph,

    Thank you for outlining these strategic aspects of preparation.

    These are my score reports:

    https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/360039284534-Feedback-from-NCARB

    Based on those, for PPD I will focus on Integration of program and systems as well as on Codes.

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    Joseph Petrarca

    Artem.
    The best advice is just do Hyperfine PPD/PDD course and case study. It's going to go into all the areas that will be on the exam. Stop thinking about it and just get it done.

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    Derek Mason

    Artem,

    I feel like I am in the same boat with you. I went onto the link you gave for for you score report discussion. Remember, it is about the total amount of correct answers. Based upon your recent report, I think you are okay in the Content Area #2, but need to spent more on Content Area #3 & #4. Look at the percentage of questions on the exam. Bring those numbers up. 

    Now, I need to review mine and give myself the same evaluation. 

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