Hello ARE Community!
I want to share the news that I passed PPD and PDD in August and earlier this September respectively and completed the ARE journey! I began the exams in 4.0 in late 2016 but transitioned to 5.0 after a rough start. I passed my first exam, which was CE, in October 2017 and the next three within about a year with some retakes in between. I got stuck with PPD and PDD and realized I had to take studying more seriously and change my strategy. In the end, I took PPD three times and PDD twice. I thought I would share my study experience.
For my last PPD take, I read new and additional resources after realizing I needed to go deeper into books to really learn the content. I began studying this final round in late March and followed Ben Norkin’s Hyperfine 8-week PPD/PDD study plan for PPD, which helped me stay on track and focus on one topic at a time. https://hyperfinearchitecture.com/pddstudyplan https://hyperfinearchitecture.com/ppd/
Several books and other resources I found helpful include:
- NCARB ARE 5.0 Handbook PPD: Reviewing the handbook and objectives helped to align my studies in the right direction
- Heating, Cooling, Lighting
- MEEB (chapters on lighting, acoustics, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire suppression systems)
- Architect’s Studio Companion
- Building Construction Illustrated
- FEMA 454: Chapters 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9
- National Park Service Preservation Briefs: 1, 3, 32, 39, and 41 https://www.nps.gov/tps/how-to-preserve/briefs.htm
- Young Architect Academy Historic Preservation course video https://academy.youngarchitect.com/courses/historic-preservation-video
- IBC: I found it helpful to become more comfortable and familiar navigating the IBC and taking more practice questions that involved looking up sections to find pertinent information to prepare for exam day
- NCARB Monographs
I took PDD six weeks after PPD which worked out well. I found the following books and resources helpful:
- NCARB ARE 5.0 Handbook PDD: Like PPD, reviewing the objectives frequently helped me stay on track for studying
- Fundamentals of Building Construction: I took notes and drew details and diagrams to help me better understand the content
- Building Construction: Principles, Materials, and Methods: Took chapter section end quizzes as well as notes and drawing diagrams
- Architectural Graphic Standards for Residential Architecture
- Dilip Khatri videos on structural design
- Reviewing notes from MEEB and Heating, Cooling, Lighting
- CSI MasterFormat
- Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice (Chapter 10)
Practice Exams and Quizzes:
Elif Bayram’s Mock Exams: I took both her PPD and PDD mock exams while preparing and found them helpful. They are challenging and provide thorough explanations of the solutions with text references. The mock exams really made me think through how to answer the questions and move at a steady pace, which I believe helps on exam day. I also attended her Structures webinar which was helpful for practicing structural problems and understanding their implications. https://arequestions.com/ https://arequestions.com/webinar/
Quizzes and Notes: More practice quizzes and exams I found helpful include PPI online learning hub, WEARE, Designer Hacks, Hyperfine PPD/PDD assignments, ArchiPrep, Amber Book 40 minutes of competence videos, and Karin’s notes. Studying with one of my coworkers during lunch over the past few months helped me to discuss, learn, and teach the content also.
Study Strategy: I would typically spend about 1-2 hours studying on the weeknights and 5 plus hours on each weekend day. I would read the topics in the books mentioned above and do at least 20 practice questions on the weekdays and more on the weekends. It helped to stay consistent and develop a routine, taking it one day at a time. About two weeks before each exam, I would do at least 120 questions in one sitting on the weekends for exam day training and to build endurance. I found it beneficial to exercise, so I kept consistent with my running over the course of studying. It is easier for me to learn the content when I incorporate active learning into studying. I took notes in my sketchbook(s) from the readings each day and reviewed notes at the end of the week. I think drawing architectural details and diagrams helps in learning the content deeper and in a new way.
Exam Week and Exam Day Tips: I took the last two exams on Saturdays at 8:30am and 10am. Feeling more rested on exam morning helped lift my confidence going into the testing enter for the last two. What helped me during my final attempts was moving at a steady pace, remaining calm, and taking more time on questions that involved calculations or looking up information instead of moving on right away. The week of the exam, I would review my notes I had taken over the course of studying.
Conclusion: A few things I have learned over the past three years since my first pass in October 2017 is that the exams can develop a more disciplined study approach on the path to becoming a more successful architect, while testing your dedication and perseverance along the way. After overcoming some hurdles throughout the exam journey, looking back, I am glad I stuck with it and it was worth it in the end. Thank you to all in this community who have helped me by taking the time to write study strategies and sharing your experiences with the exams as well!
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