So Many Fails, I Need Some More Resources, Suggestions...Anything

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    Katie Merten

    Chelsea, have you tried Elif's questions?  arequestions.com.  Many mentioned that they're what got them over the hump.  I think at this stage of the game, it's about doing more practice questions.  You've read everything, so try to put it into practice with quizzes, quizzes, and more quizzes!  I personally like the PPI learning hub questions.  Best of luck!

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    Gang Chen

    It is a good idea to do some mock exams, and the following tips may help:

    The process of memorization is like filling a cup with a hole at the bottom: You need to fill it faster than the water leaks out at the bottom, and you need to constantly fill it; otherwise, it will quickly be empty.

    Once you memorize something, your brain has already started the process of forgetting it. It is natural. That is how we have enough space left in our brain to remember the really important things.

    It is tough to fight against your brain's natural tendency to forget things. Acknowledging this truth and the fact that you cannot memorize everything you read, you need to focus your limited time, energy, and brainpower on the most important issues.

    The biggest danger for most people is that they memorize the information in the early stages of their exam preparation but forget it before or on the day of the exam and still THINK they remember.

    Most people fail the exam NOT because they cannot answer the few “advanced” questions on the exam, but because they have read the information and can NOT recall it on the day of the exam. They spend too much time preparing for the exam, drag the preparation process on for too long, seek too much information, go to too many websites, do too many practice questions and too many mock exams, and spread themselves too thin. They end up missing the most important information of the exam, and they fail.

    The ARE Mock Exam series along with the tips and methodology in each of the books will help you find and improve your weakness areas, MEMORIZE the most important aspects of the test to pass the exam ON THE FIRST TRY.

    So, if you have a lot of time to prepare for the ARE exams, you should plan your effort accordingly. You want your ARE knowledge to peak at the time of the exam, not before or after…

    Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)

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    Mark Baker

    Chelsea I highly recommend the Ballast ARE 5.0 REVIEW MANUAL

    I cant believe you read the whole of MEEB.

    I think you are overdoing it and should focus on reading ONE REFERENCE and then UNDERSTANDING all the topics in it. 

    i.e. Read a chapter, and then ask yourself What would I need to know from this section? 

    My coworker has super useful study methods if you email me I will send you what he taught me.

    Mark, Archizam, mbarkitek@gmail.com

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    Somaya Etemadmoghadam

    Hi Chelsea ,
    Besides all helpful above comments, I wanted to add there's nothing wrong with you & your overall knowledge...you read enough & you just need to believe on yourself that you can pass this one too.

    These exams are not at no way fair... it's good that we learned so many things through the studying process but questions & time & case studies in exams are unnecessarily confusing.

    You did great by passing all other ones & you will soon on this one too.

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    Gang Chen

    MEEB is a double-edge sword:

    It can be very helpful, and it can be the most dangerous study materials for you.

    The easiest way to fail an ARE exam is to get stuck with MEEB and get lost there.

    Do NOT even think about reading MEEB line by line or from cover to cover. That will consume too much of your time, and you may NOT gain anything. Skim through it a few times, jump back and forth if you need to, and focus on the portions that you do not know or are not familiar with. Try to take as much critical information as possible from the book WITHOUT reading it line by line or from cover to cover. Focus on the images, diagrams and charts.

    You goal is NOT to read MEEB line by line or from cover to cover, you goal is to prepare and pass the division with your LIMITED time and effort.

    Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)

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    Gabriela Orizondo Castro (Edited )

    Hi Chelsea, 

    Ditto to everything that was said above. Ballast  5.0 will be a great resource. I also ventured on YouTube to watch some videos when I needed a break from the books. There are some playlists that you can find that have short videos that simply explain systems. I started with the amber books videos and went from there. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it can help break up the study routine. 

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5IBkB2yqnrxT-wtuxLI0Zg 

    Another resource that I found really helpful was Black Spectacles Sunday workshop sessions. Yes they are on the weekend, but definitely helped me pass PPD and PDD, i would highly recommend it if you have an account. If you are not able, consider doing a virtual study group. Sometimes talking through the topics is the best way to understand them.

    I have also heard that Amber Books are super helpful!

    I can image how it could be easy to give up, but you are soooo close, don't give up!! you GOT this!

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    Kathryn O'Regan

    Chelsea,

    I feel for you, but don't give up!  Lots of good advice above.  Maybe take a step back for a bit (if your rolling clock allows... :|  )

    Do you work in an A/E?  I ask because I think a lot of the information in the above references make sense in a vacuum, but take on new meaning in practice.  For instance, I've been working in the arch field in condition assessments, planning and the odd municipal renovation, and I don't think I've ever referenced Graphic Standard or BCI and pulled an entire detail out of those books.  Something is always a bit different in reality. 

    Back to my question: if you work in the A/E industry, I'd suggest reviewing your firm's CDs.  Esp ones that weren't straight forward because it will drive home the concepts and how to apply them to pull together a cohesive envelope with systems inside.

    Good luck, stick with it, you can do it!

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    Rebekka O'Melia (Edited )

    I'd recommend re-taking this exam asap.  Read Ballast sections on PPD again.  I also recommend using an online full-length practice exam for at least 2 weeks before retaking it.  Any questions that you get wrong, you need to research again and review.  I also recommend studying every day for 2 months before the exam. Do 2 weeks of practice exams.  The studying becomes more cummulative if you study daily.  I think ASC is the absolute best book for PPD.  Re-read it after Ballast.  

    Don't get bogged down with a lot of math computations.  It's a waste of time, IMHO.

    Also, start the exam with one case study.  Or start with a random question in the middle of the exam (like # 34 or 65), do 20 questions, then do both case studies. Exam fatigue is real.  And look at the resources in the case studies before you start.

    Good luck! Keep studying, you are an inch away from the finish line!

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    Chelsea Hoffman

    Thank you all so so much for the advice and words of encouragement! I'm thinking (hoping) I'm getting inside my own head too much and psyching myself out - honestly, hard not to after taking it so many times. I took the last two weeks off to enjoy the holiday and gave myself a much needed break and now I'm ready to compile my resources and make my study plan :)

    I'll for sure check out Elif's questions and take as many practice exams as I can. I plan to read through Ballast as well. It's something I've been avoiding because it didn't have great reviews when 5.0 came out and most people attributed their success to the resources listed in the ARE Handbook. I'm hoping it'll be a good overview of everything I've read so far though and will help me pinpoint specific topics I struggle with.

    I agree with everyone on MEEB. Given the time I spent reading it I gleaned very little information. ASC is much better.

     

    Hi Kathryn - I do work in an architecture firm, but it's primarily retail architecture so the project phases are a bit different than what they would be for a ground up project - like I don't really deal with site selection or programming since it usually comes from the client. I haven't had to reference AGS or BCI very often either :/ Fortunately, I feel like I understand the concepts behind programming and site selection and I'm comfortable putting CD sets together. I struggle with things like how a column or building reacts under certain conditions or electrical service sizes for different building types, basically a lot of the systems stuff. Part of it is also how questions are worded. I'm hoping practice tests will help with that though :)

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    Suchitra Van

    Chelsea - ditto here, 4th fail, and the score keeps getting lower. I am hoping to give an exam in 2-3 months and PPD is my last exam as well. Testing for the NY State Licensure.

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    Rebekka O'Melia (Edited )

    Hi Chelsea.

    PPD is the most difficult exam, once you pass it you're out of the woods.  Keep pushing forward with studying.  Study for another 2 months continuously...   Reading Ballast is an essential 1st step.  If you don't understand some of the topics presented in Ballast, do additional research.  I used youtube videos from masonry and steel trade industry reps.  

    ASC is the best book to study, after you have studied Ballast.  It's easy to read.  I read it cover-to-cover in less than 2 weeks.  The appendix in the back contains case study-like scenarios.

    I used ppi2pass for the full-length practice exams and quizzes.  I found it helpful, better than some other more expensive products.  I also recommend cross-studying PA material if you haven't already passed PA.  I think PA and PPD overlap.

    And don't stop studying for the holidays!  Use flashcards at the very least.  Read ASC.  And schedule the retake for 2 months from your last fail!  Do practice exams for about 2 weeks.  Research questions you get wrong.

    I conduct group coaching for the exams.  If you feel like you cannot do this on your own, get help!  Some people do better with weekly structured content and lessons.

    Good luck! 

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    Samira Sheikholeslami

    Hi all!

    Thank you for sharing your experience! Does "ASC" stand for "architect's studio companion rules of thumb for preliminary design"? can anyone please confirm? 

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    Suchitra Van (Edited )

    yes ASC

    The Architect's Studio Companion,...... it is in the matrix of references.

     

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    Rebekka O'Melia

    NCARB will kick me out of the forum if I post a link. I think if you click on my name, it will give you a brief bio. Hope that helps! Sorry I cannot be direct.
    ASC can be found online for free too, no need to buy an expensive print copy.

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    Suchitra Van (Edited )

    Understand, thanks anyway.

    This time around I am studying from scratch in - a - way. Going back to the handbook, and gathering what to expect on the exam then find resources in the reference book, and prepare my own notes, that I have understood clearly and those that I don't will be posted here for clarification and hope other candidates can chime in then. 

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    Joseph Petrarca (Edited )

    Chelsea

    You are using almost all the availabel resources.

    There are several that I may recommend.

    Elif Bayram's AREquestions.com

    Black Spectacles videos.  I have only seen the free ones but they seem good,  There's a "free trial" they offer too.

    Ching's Building Codes Illustrated.

    The IBC is a big part of this.  Once again, it's a bit of a quagmire because you can get way wy to deep into this and start spinning your wheels.  For example, forget all the stuff about building area increases for frontage percentages and stuff like that.  The exam will not get into that level of detail.  Ching's book is a really good resource for actually understanding the code components.

    Ching's Building Construction Illustrated.  To my mind, better than Architectural Graphic Standards ...again, because AGS has WWWWY too much detail to be able to uses effectively.

    Honestly, if I were you, I would try to get together with someone who has passed these and feels confident...and have a conversation about the major points that you need to hit.

    Contact me offline if you wish.

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