Just wanted to share that I passed PPD (7/1) & PDD (7/8) first attempts! PA is my last one left (2nd attempt) coming soon.
This community has been super helpful for me and just wanted to reiterate helpful advice that I think was part of helping me pass. (Disclaimer, I have been studying full time for these 2 exams through Michael Riscica's Technical Bootcamp for the last 2.5 months. I also did not take the scheduled break for either test due to the newer setup of not getting to review past questions when taking the break.)
Top 2 pieces of advice:
1) Michael Riscica: each question is worth the same point value regardless of how easy or hard it is, so skip liberally as you go if the question looks intimidating and come back to it. I never normally have a large amount (if any) of extra time because I get stuck on the harder questions, but I took this to heart for PPD & PDD and think it really helped. Going through a number of easier questions and coming back to the hard questions, the harder questions don't look as hard when you've allowed yourself more time to tackle them after doing the others. DEEP breaths sitting in the waiting room prior helped with test anxiety.
2) Amber book: focus on the overall concepts behind the math! Michael Ermann's 40 mins of competence is great for areas you really need more focus on.
I was pretty overwhelmed with the source materials and thickness of the ballast book sections for PPD/PDD and chose to sign-up for Michael Riscica's Bootcamp to help with organizing my studying and for the community of ARE test-takers (I think studying with others helps in solidifying the concepts you know and being a major source of crowdsourcing websites/other supplementary info/tricks to memorizing some things you need more help on). I think the Bootcamp was a massive help for repetition and at tackling the larger scope of information for these 2 beasts (mainly due to Meetups, weekly hyperfine meetings, and the syllabus organization). I feel more competent in general besides taking the tests because of the Bootcamp.
I only did Amber book for the month leading up to my tests, as I was delayed with wanting to spend the $200+ per month. In using it as a bookend study source, I think it really helped reiterate key concepts prior to testing and highlight my areas of weakness/strength. I liked their flashcards and beta test (and of course videos)! I also reviewed the ballast practice questions and Elif Bayram's practice questions a week prior to each test (which I really think helped).
Amber book definitely lives up to its motto of being content first and probably one of the fastest ways to pass the exams.
I also have kept with the idea of moving to another test after the first attempt of one test, I feel like it's less intimidating to do another test that I haven't taken yet than to reattempt a test that I have failed. I know it's reiterated to retake the same test 60 days later, but I have done it differently and feel that it's helped to move to another. I also feel similarly to Michael Riscica in the luck of the draw mentality of the tests to some extent.
Open to general questions if anyone has any! Best of luck all, this community has been fantastic at supporting one another and I am so happy to be a part of a profession whose members are so supportive! I can also feel a heartfelt desire for others to pass by Michael Ermann and David Thaddeus through the screen- It is incredible!
Key Primary sources for me: Building Codes Illustrated, Building Construction Illustrated, MEHTA, Ballast
other sources used (not as effective for me): free MEEB online quizzes, Arch studio companion
Free resources to check out: 40 mins of competence with Michael Ermann, Archicorner NCARB's continuing education and Monographs for seismic and acoustics
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