Passed PPD

Passed PPD

Postby Zanno » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:04 am

Found out this morning that I passed PPD. I did the 3-2 transition like many folks who are testing right now have done. I took PDD the last day I was eligible for a free retake, didn't have time to study at all, and amazingly passed it. This made me overly confident about knocking out PPD without putting in as much study time, which was a mistake. 5 weeks wasn't enough time for me to absorb ALL of the information that is covered on this exam--I took this test without feeling totally prepared and ended up with minor deficiencies in two categories. The next time around I took 7 weeks to study and went deeper into the source materials, taking the time to really absorb information that I'd previously skimmed. It might have been overkill but I knew I had to be really prepared to face a wide range of content.

The PPD exam is a strange gumbo of many different types of questions, ranging from the ridiculously simple (calculating slope) to vague, situational scenarios (pick the best answer) to ones requiring a high level of interpretation (what is this oddly depicted diagram showing me). In order to take this test with confidence, you need to be familiar with heating and cooling systems--both passive and active strategies, general structural concepts, code and zoning analysis, especially for mixed occupancies, and general site planning concepts. Other things you need to know: the principles of electricity, lighting fixture types and how to perform lighting calculations, when different cost estimating methods are used, how to interpret sun charts, general acoustics concepts and acoustical material properties, stormwater management, direct/indirect natural lighting, space planning/bubble diagramming, common reasons for structural failures in high seismic/wind areas (FEMA is great for this), and general building enclosures concepts/means of detailing exterior assemblies to prevent water intrusion. Maybe 7-8 structural questions for those who are concerned about that area, and NO calculations this time around. There were a couple WTF questions, for those you just have to chuckle and move on.

Your best strategy for studying for PPD is to reach far and wide, digging deeper into the areas where you feel weak. For me this was HVAC, and to some degree code analysis because I haven't had to do much of this in my job. I strongly recommend using direct sources (MEEB, Design with Climate, Building Codes Illustrated, Fundamentals of Building Construction, The Architect's Studio Companion) because they cut out the 'extraneous' info and they will ultimately be good references in the rest of your architectural career. YouTube videos for principles of refrigeration, electricity, structures. Check out your local library--mine had lots of good resources. You don't need to spend tons of money buying exam bundles to pass this test.

You do have to be nimble during this exam -- lag time is real (what a great t-shirt idea). I always take the case studies first to get them out of the way, then I take my break. Try to answer the questions as quickly as possible, don't spend a ton of time on any one question because time is very much an issue on the 5.0 exams. Do spend time with the practice exam (don't forget there is a rotate tool if you right click your mouse!) and do get familiar with zooming in and out of the PDF's with ease. It sounds silly but half the battle is understanding the ridiculous interface and being comfortable with it. The 5.0 tests are much more visual/ graphical in nature, which might be great for some candidates and less so for others.

Good luck to everyone, you can do this, and you will be stronger for having accomplished your goals!!! And a big thank you Coach for this excellent forum! It has been a great resource.
Zanno
 
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Re: Passed PPD

Postby kerzzo » Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:50 am

Big congrats ! PPD might be more difficult than PDD due to its lack of clarity/specific content and like you said, a lot of interpretation involved.
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Re: Passed PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:27 am

kerzzo wrote:Big congrats ! PPD might be more difficult than PDD due to its lack of clarity/specific content and like you said, a lot of interpretation involved.


have you even taken PDD yet? I think you will find that statement to be wrong although we are all different. I found the questions on PDD to be even more ambiguous and less clear. According to my experience, PPD had around 40-50% ambiguous WTF type questions where PDD had between 70-80%. Not trying to be argumentative, i just wanted to know what your opinion was based on and if you have taken PDD yet.
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Re: Passed PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:35 am

Zanno wrote: There were a couple WTF questions, for those you just have to chuckle and move on.


Did you find that you had more, less or the same amount of WTF questions the first times when you failed? I also failed PPD and PDD the first time and found that i had a very high rate of best guess and/or WTF questions. This may seem excessive, but i literally had around 50% WTF best guess questions for PPD and around 75% for PDD!. I wrote them down and have tried to study, but some of them are nearly impossible to study for since they are hypotheticals, that are left open to interpretation. I'm just hoping that you will tell me that your rate was higher or lower the first time. I've also talked with quite a few people who have had the same bad experience with the "pond questions" and questions that were either too small to read, etc. I'm trying to find a way to be more prepared for the next time, but it really seems like these tests are impossible to study for. What would you consider to be your best resource? I noticed that you listed most of the same resources (MEEB, Building Construction Illustrated) and a few others that i also use and am hoping that maybe if i focus a little more on one of those sources, I can overcompensate for all of the WTF questions and maybe i have less of them the next time. I just really feel that the questions were the problem and that there's no way to study for the ones on my first test. As positive as i was going into the test, i was rudely awakened when i realized that half of them were just bad questions. I'm hoping the second time they aren't so bad and i will remain optimistic, but it sounds like you had very few questions like?
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Re: Passed PPD

Postby kerzzo » Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:54 am

vrcat25 wrote:
kerzzo wrote:Big congrats ! PPD might be more difficult than PDD due to its lack of clarity/specific content and like you said, a lot of interpretation involved.


have you even taken PDD yet? I think you will find that statement to be wrong although we are all different. I found the questions on PDD to be even more ambiguous and less clear. According to my experience, PPD had around 40-50% ambiguous WTF type questions where PDD had between 70-80%. Not trying to be argumentative, i just wanted to know what your opinion was based on and if you have taken PDD yet.



no, I have not taken PDD. I will take that hopefully by the end of the month. I am basing my opinion from the comments other candidates have made. indeed PPD did have a high rate of WTF questions in my case. you may be right about PDD---
Honestly, I am in a situation that I no longer know what to study anymore---I am going to absorb more material strategically so that I can basically take these exams as close to each other as possible as I have an issue with spending too long on this now that I am in it. :)
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Re: Passed PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:15 am

kerzzo wrote:
no, I have not taken PDD. I will take that hopefully by the end of the month. I am basing my opinion from the comments other candidates have made. indeed PPD did have a high rate of WTF questions in my case. you may be right about PDD---
Honestly, I am in a situation that I no longer know what to study anymore---I am going to absorb more material strategically so that I can basically take these exams as close to each other as possible as I have an issue with spending too long on this now that I am in it. :)


I understand. I just wanted to see who said that PDD was easier. In my opinion, PDD was WAY more difficult. I haven't heard anybody say that PDD is "easier", but i don't doubt that you found somebody that said that. Sometimes i wonder if my tests are entirely different than some of the people who say they are easy or they used such and such study material to pass. The "best guess" type questions that i've encountered won't be located in any study source, in less there's some that i'm missing...

I think the majority of the people are in your position and are grasping at straws trying to figure out what they did wrong. After seeing the recent "fail rates" at around 50%, I'm convinced that it's nothing we're doing. NCARB has simply made these tests way more difficult than they need to be. It's all about NCARB making money and has nothing to do with preparing us for the architecture practice. Don't ever give up though. It sounds like you are very close.
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Re: Passed PPD

Postby Zanno » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:05 am

Don't get me wrong -- both PPD and PDD are hard exams. But personally I found PDD to have more straightforward/ black and white (either it's right or wrong) questions and fewer best guess/gray area questions. But I also have more technical experience than perhaps other candidates do, which made me more comfortable with the content in PDD overall.

Vrcat, I think that NCARB is trying to test our ability to use sound judgement to find the 'most correct' answer in many cases. It can make for a murky, ambiguous exam experience. But often times there is a key word or phrase -- a kernel if you will--embedded within the question, and that hints at what the right answer should be. My test strategy has always been to pay very close attention to each and every word of the question. This does not always work, but often it does. Most of the time my knowledge of a topic gives me something to hang onto, and helps eliminate answers that are obviously wrong.

As far as exam material, I don't think you should ever limit yourself to just one source, in fact I think the more sources and ways of learning about a subject, the better. I truly believe a diverse range of study material helps us learn because we are reintroduced to information in different ways, which our brains like. I would focus more on learning the concepts and less about trying to determine what percent of your questions are wtf questions. That's just a road to nowhere.
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Re: Passed PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:34 am

Thanks for the advise, but I've already done what you suggested (used multiple study sources, focused on 'most correct' answers, paid close attention to each and every word, focused on concepts, etc) Not only have i done what you described, but i've done it for each and every test. When i passed CDS, SPD and PPP even, i don't feel that i was any more prepared the second time...I just had a lower rate of ridiculous and ambiguous questions...It didn't take any time to know that a question was ridiculous...I simply would try to reason and deductive logic and realize that these tests are made by people like you and me and they are mostly hypothetical. The problem i have is that many of the questions are more difficult than they should be with sloppy programming or are just poorly worded and too ambiguous. For me, PDD was even more so for my first time. Mabye my second attempt will go like yours, but i'm convinced there's nothing i can really do other than to focus on the questions that are more reasonable and not as "half baked". There's a few, but a quick tally of my marked questions have shown that over half of the questions on my test are bad...Ironically, about half the poeple who take these tests pass...I don't think that's a coincidence. I'm hoping my luck is better the next time, but i'm not going to fool myself into thinking that i control my own destiny. NCARB lacks the quality control needed for these tests so that they are fair and objective. I REALLY think it's about the money. Do you really think that NCARB "cares" about making us better architects?? Maybe they do, but the proof is in the pudding and most people agree that these tests are complete and utter bull crap. Nevertheless, i still have to prepare so i will re-study the ARE review manual 5.0 this time along with the numerous 500 page text books that NCARB recommends. I wouldn't have a problem reading all that information for a second time if i thought the questions would be based on these references.
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