Failed PPD



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    Elizabeth Hagberg

    Alan, I went through the exact same thing a month ago when I failed PDD for the second time.  I feel your pain.  It's hard to get motivated to pick yourself up and try again.  I am struggling with that right now.  Keep on swimming, as Dora says in "Finding Nemo".  Eventually you and I will get the PASS!

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    Elif Bayram (Edited )

    Hi Alan,

    I am so sorry about that. PPD is a crazy exam with very broad content. I am sure you are aware of the pass rates. After taking it the first time, I have had a soul-crushing experience with this exam. I remember having no idea about what went wrong after the exam and, more importantly, what I was supposed to do to pass this exam next time.

    I don't know what you studied this time, but I want to mention my experience, so maybe you (or others) can relate. I think my biggest mistake was looking for shortcuts (to save time, I guess...??) For some reason, that made sense to me at the time. I think the peer pressure (on social media) pushed me to look for ways that would make me pass the technical exams quickly. I had plenty of time on my Clock but still... I was also done with my first 4 exams in 6-7  months, so I wanted to be done with the whole thing so badly and gave in for shortcuts.

    Every now and then, we all hear someone finishing their exams in 4 months, 6 months, etc. I even heard someone claiming they were done in 2 weeks!! These kinds of posts, which I call them four-leaf clovers, sound sweet. We all want that, and we are all human beings. So nothing to be ashamed of for wanting to be done with these exams in a short period of time. But it is not the reality for the majority. An average person completes this process in 2.6 years. That statistic should be the basis of our understanding when starting this journey. If shortcuts and dreamy promises worked that well, we wouldn't be even posting here, right? So I shouldn't have listened to the people who equated success to time. It made me feel extra "defeated" when I failed. Cause I didn't only fail the exam, I also "lost time." When I realized that "time" was not my concern, I replaced it with actually learning the content and passing the exams. 

    Once I discovered this reality, I stopped scheduling my technical exams every two months. I took a few steps back, took a couple of deep breaths, and started reading NCARB recommended books. I kept this principle above everything else. But I also took really good notes and repeated them regularly to retain the information. I studied with my friends together to fill the gaps. I wrote my own questions again (which I was doing for the first 4 exams, but with the last two, initially, I thought I could hack the system by just watching videos, doing practice questions, reading summary books, etc. I skipped "reading and learning").

    Anyway, after I passed, I explained all of my study suggestions for PPD  on a post here on this forum, but it got deleted after some time. I guess NCARB doesn't keep old posts after a particular time. So I posted it on my website. You can read it here

    I can totally relate to your pain but I promise you that everyone finds their way to tackle PPD (and these exams in general) eventually. And you will find yours too. 


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    Alan Yang (Edited )

    Hi Elif and everyone,

    Thank you all very much for the comments. I am not too discouraged because I was very close. I just looked at the score, I passed 3 out of 5 categories. The 2 that didn't pass they were borderlining. That being said, the next exam could be harder, so I am still a bit worried. 

    I wish the exam questions are more about understanding than memorizing data. It is very unintellectual, and no wonder architects get paid poorly compared to lawyers or engineers. 


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    Alan Yang

    Hi ELif,

    I agree that the PPD and PDD are very memory-based which takes time to ingrain into our brains. I saw your website. It is a great way to teach others. I learned a lot from Amber book and Hyperfine. Hyperfine has some structural problems that are helpful. Amber book helps with understanding general knowledge. 

    The problem with PPD and PDD is that they were way too broad and can be very overwhelming. Some questions have very unclear answers. Since we don't get to review the answers. Mistakes can be repeated without knowing on separate exams. 

    I don't mind when the exam is testing building code and zoning knowledge, but I don't like when it is about very narrow technical and even old, hardly relevant "knowledge", that nobody in real architect's life will care or mention. Combine that with tricky multiple choices without context, under time pressure, long exam hours, it is just designed to fail people. 

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