• I'm wondering the same exact thing. I would love to hear from somebody who has taken the exam. I've heard that most of the time you get the equation given to you but just need to know where to plug it in? Wondering what others have seen?

• Yes, just focus on the concepts. The real ARE exams do not have calculations that are so complicated. This has been discussed many times. See another link:

https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/360052398133-Structures-Reveiw?page=1#community_comment_360013577514

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

• I have successfully taken both PPD and PDD and cannot stress to you enough - DO NOT OVERSTUDY STRUCTURAL FORMULAS.  YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME.

I went into these exams with a "return on investment" mindset, meaning, I wanted to focus my studying efforts on what would prepare me the best for the most amount of questions.  Yes, the ARE is going to throw at you some structural calculations questions, but in my personal experience, it was not "size this truss with 20 K of load in the diagonal members" or "design the W shape using these complex charts and loading conditions."  It was more concepts and simpler questions.  The examples that are given in the ARE Handbook are similar in complexity to what you should expect on the test.

And I'll end with this point - let's say for devil's advocacy that I'm wrong and yep, the first question you get is "what bolt pattern should be used for a metal plate with 50 K loading at the center with a section modulus of 4.2"?  First thing I tell you is - you'll get one of those questions, and maybe 2, but not more.  Second thing I'll tell you is when that happens, put in your best guess, don't give these questions another thought, and move on with your exam.

You can relearn structural engineering until you're blue in the face, but you'll walk out of those exams saying to yourself, "Man, I wish I hadn't spent hours relearning all that when I should've been brushing up on the building code and HVAC systems."

• I passed PDD about five (5) weeks ago. I skipped just about all the calculations in the Ballast material and would recommend you do the same (its goes too far in the weeds IMO). Know the concepts behind structural diagrams (force, shear, and moment). Know about column slenderness and soil bearing strength. Do plenty of practice exams, then do more. You got this!

• Agreed, I passed PDD a couple of weeks ago. Ballast is waaay to heavy on the structural calcs. I would do one pass and then move on to better books, like Fundamentals in Building Construction (Allan & Iano)

• this post inexplicably has one downvote. so i upvoted it and it now has zero votes. which i assume is better.
probably a side thread here but is there a downvote troll or two on this site?

• Ballast and all its formulas were SUPER HELPFUL TO ME for purposes of WALKING THROUGH the structures calculations.  I followed through with their calculations, took note of what they were meant to calculate, what all the variables were, and guessed as to what I might be presented with on the exam.

In my experience with the ARE - if you do NOT UNDERSTAND what the formula is getting at, you will not proceed with the question correctly.

Far be it from me to be THE ONE PERSON who thinks all the in-depth structural calculations ARE VALUABLE.

But I do agree that it's not worth spending hours and hours to learn what they are doing.  The ARE will test your understanding of structural systems, loads, shear, and moment - but is not likely to ask you to calculate reactionary force at a point in a beam system.

Mark, Archizam