Let me start off by saying that God is the greatest! Two days ago, I went into this exam very confident but, by the end of the exam, I was mentally preparing to do a retake. There were difficult questions that made me second guess the things that I were initially confident about and the case study questions were loaded; but you have to fight through it! After I pressed the provisional score button... PASS! One of the best feelings in the world. I will briefly share my journey to passing this exam that may be helpful for others in the process. But as a disclaimer... this is what worked for me and the specific exam I was given that day. Apply whatever connects with you and your learning style.
Before this exam, I passed all of the Pro Practice exams (PM, PjM, and CE). I failed PA twice and PPD once. I mentioned this because all of these steps in the process prepared me to pass PDD, especially the failed attempts at PA and PPD. Many people may become discouraged after failing exams (myself included at times) but look at it as an opportunity to identify weak areas and to create more efficient study methods.
Pro Practice Exams - I would recommend taking all of the Pro Practice exams before this one. Surprisingly, I had a ton of questions about project delivery methods, owner-architect-contractor agreements/contracts, project responsibilities, etc. I felt confident answering those questions after studying countless hours for those previous Pro Practice exams
Amber Books - this is a solid course! It breaks down the exam content in a digestible manner. You absolutely have to know the content for these exams! You will be tested in very specific ways and, in my opinion, there is no way to BS your way through it. I watched the videos several times and took notes. Also, I took some days to go through the flashcards and the PDD practice exam. This was a key step in the journey.
Fundamentals of Building Construction - I used this book to read in depth about specific materials and their properties. After taking practice exams, I would notice different materials that I didn't know enough information about during the time and use this book to read up on the material. Then, I'd take a different practice exam and repeat the process.
Architects Studio Companion - I used this resource to learn about all of the mechanical systems. I used the same practice exam method stated previously.
Heating Lighting Cooling + Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings - I used chapters in these two resources to learn about MEP systems. In MEEB, I solely looked over the diagrams in the electrical and plumbing chapters to visually understand the systems.
FEMA Designing for Earthquakes - this was essential for understanding structures, lateral loads, wind loads, etc. for the exam.
Architectural Graphic Standards + Fundamentals of Building Construction - these resources were helpful in understanding wood, concrete masonry, brick masonry wall details, and roofing details.
ARE 4.0 Practice Exams and Content - this was super helpful to review and helped reinforce my learning.
I can go on-and-on about resources that were essential but I think the main takeaway is to know the content! It was no way around it for me. I used the practice exams along the way to gauge my understanding of different topics and the content that I needed to allocate more effort to learning. Then, found several resources that went into depth about that specific topic. Of course, get comfortable with reading details and architectural drawings, knowing the different types of specifications, building systems, building materials, code, etc.
Know that this exam is tough but you can do it! You just have to put in the countless hours and learn the content. My method was not to read entire books, but to identify my weaker areas and strengthen those areas with multiple resources.
I hope this helps someone else. Now off to these PA and PPD retakes!
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