Postby erdbm » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:59 pm

I've been quietly reading these message boards for awhile, and I wanted to offer my thoughts as everyone else's have been super helpful on this 5-test approach. I passed CDS, PPP, SPD the first time, took PPD this past Tuesday and found out I passed yesterday. I probably have always over studied for all of these tests, I hate standardized testing so the more I can shove into my brain the better off I am. I decided to take PPD and PPD within 2 weeks of each other (I take PDD April 4), following some of the advice that I read here, which I think is the way to go. So basically I approached studying as if I were going to be taking the 4 remaining tests focusing on the BS, BDCS, SS content because it was all new to me (Long since forgotten from school). I spent probably 8 weeks studying taking a week off before this past one, and a week off next week for PDD. This test was really tough to pinpoint what I did and didnt know but here are my major take-aways:

-Study the code. It's there for reference but I wouldve saved SO much time not digging through the pdfs they give you.

-Lots of situational questions. Some seemed like they just blanketed old 4.0 questions with a background story/project situation, which became distracting. Being able to really figure out what they were asking took some time to get used to.

-I had a lot of structures questions, or theyre the ones that stick out the most because that's my weakest area.

-You can ROTATE, right click on the mouse, very helpful. They need to make that more clear in the 'tutorial'...

-A lot of multi-step questions, I had to make myself keep a good pace, and not get hung up on a question, knowing theyre all counted the same.

-The case study questions were the same as all the others IMO, the only difference was having access to reference material.

-As painful as it was, I have to say study everything, I had a question from every content area, ranging from broad concept to detailed info.

-Of all the study material, I do think I prefer the original content sources to the study guides, for me reading the abridged explanations in Ballast isnt enough for the areas I dont know as well. MEEB and Graphic Standards were super in that regard.

What I studied:
-Black Spectacles to get the overview, super helpful to see him draw everything as he was explaining the material. Especially for things from like high school physics...Relearning electricity, the refrigeration cycle, forces/vectors...I know Im not stupid, but some of that stuff just hurts my brain...He does a great job of walking through it all.
-Then Ballast 4.0 to get the more detailed info, some Kaplan if I needed some things explained a different way,
-Kaplan/Ballast quizzes
-NCARB quizzes, 5.0, 4.0, 3.1
-Building Code Illustrated (a MUST in my opinion, having the visual to go with the dry code material was a lifesaver)
-Building Construction Illustrated
-Graphic Standards, I have the student version, this was my second favorite. The visuals with balanced explanations, straight forward, good overview, but not as brief as BCI. (Sounding like Goldilocks...)
-some NALSA flash cards, never really got through them all, Im not really the flash card type?
-The Grant Adams lectures, good to watch at work, but the amount of times he says "OK" became a deal breaker...

I hope this helps, with the 4.0 exams I left knowing what content I would need to study if I failed, with this one, it was so much murkier. I think mostly because they are situational questions, having more work experience is probably a HUGE help.
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Postby far87 » Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:55 pm

Congrats!! I am testing Tuesday next week, I also feel structures is my weak point. Wondering how in depth are the structures questions? What material did you look over for structures? Thanks!
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Joined: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:25 pm


Postby erdbm » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:54 pm

I think it totally depends on what batch of questions you get. From reading everyone elses comments on this forum, I kept my focus to studying the concepts, the structures chapters in Ballast, including the ones on Lateral and Wind loads. I also practiced a few of the moment/shear problems, solving for reactions, etc etc... I felt okkkkk about the test questions but definitely hesitated answering each one. And what was frustrating was that almost all of the math questions were fill in the blank, so you couldnt just guess based one of the choices that seemed most realistic.

Another thing--I guess I got super spoiled by my old school TI-85 calculator, having the screen to be able to see what I typed in while I was studying. I think for PDD Im going to practice using the calculator on the demo exam, I got somewhat slowed down by having to click each number with the mouse, and then I double checked the math to make sure I clicked the numbers correctly...probably not the most efficient method, but I also sike myself out the second I walk into Prometrics...
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Postby wllmknapp » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:18 pm

Hi erdbm. Congrats on your pass! I'm taking the same approach (I've passed CDS, PPP, and SPD from 4.0). I just scheduled PPD for May 11th.

Thanks for being so thorough about your study approach and the test tips! I was just about the buy the new Ballast materials and figured I'd read around to see what other people have been doing. Am I correct in reading your post that you did not purchase/use the 5.0 study material?

I was going to start with either the black spectacle videos (practice exams not available yet) OR 5.0 Ballast material then dive into the 4.0 sections BS, BDCS, and SS. I'm nervous to take the test without the specific 5.0 ballast book... Thoughts?
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