I recently finished up my last exam, PDD. Finally crossed the finish line! This community has been instrumental in helping me narrow my focus. The amount of material covered in these exams can feel overwhelming, but this is doable!
Here's what worked for me:
First, I want to give a shout out to the women over at the Mothers in Architecture group on Facebook. It is *hard* to balance work, life, kids and a pandemic while also studying for the exams. Their support, advice and encouragement really helped me get through the most challenging moments of this process. (There is a parent group too, for moms and dads in the industry! Link is here.)
Search NCARB PDD forum and read other "Pass" posts. It is incredibly helpful to learn from the experiences of the others who have recently taken the exam.
Some of my favorite threads on PDD are the following:
PDD Pass! - Joshua Payne (and the three links he included for Kurt, Benjamin and David's posts)
PDD pass (1st try) - Esther Campbell
PDD Pass - Study Strategy - Kristin Charters
PDD Pass - Post Exam Notes - Jessica Lacy
While reading through those posts, I made a checklist for myself for which topics to pay special attention to.
The study material I used that was most helpful to me:
Primary resources (listed by NCARB):
Fundamentals of Building Construction - Read cover-to-cover
Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings - Skimmed, paying more attention to the diagrams. I also used this to fill in the gaps for things I didn't fully understand.
Architectural Graphic Standards - Sketched wall sections from this book, paying special attention to vapor barriers, flashings and water mitigation techniques.
ADA and IBC (skimmed mostly as I have some experience with this from work)
Building Construction Illustrated - Read cover-to-cover
Building Codes Illustrated - Read cover-to-cover, paying special attention to ADA and life safety
FEMA 454 manual - Skimmed
Architect's Studio Companion - Skimmed, mostly focused on the tables that compare different systems
Kevin Griendling's course on Pluralsight - This is a good outline or overview of the exam.
Amber Book videos by Michael Ermann - Very helpful, high quality and interesting course. You can tell he's a professor as he explains things clearly and shares good anecdotes that help you to remember important topics.
Hyperfine by Ben Norkin - Great set of practice problems that are in-depth and relevant to the exam. He includes links to resources and YouTube videos if you need help understanding certain topics.
One of the women in our group started a coaching service once she passed her last exam. She's dedicated to helping others achieve success and has helped me along the way. If you're looking for a coach, check out StepUp ARE Group Coaching by Rebekka Klos.
Good luck to everyone taking this exam! This was a retake for me and it is really hard to see that "likely to fail" after spending hours taking the exam after weeks or months studying, but it is a normal part of the process. It's okay to get a fail; a temporary setback. Stay tenacious in pursuit of your goals and you will get there.
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