FINALLY Passed PPD! Here is what I studied:

FINALLY Passed PPD! Here is what I studied:

Postby shortkm1 » Tue May 16, 2017 5:56 am

After failing PPD twice, I retook the exam for the third time yesterday morning and received my PASS first thing today! I am SO relieved as this was the last test I needed to complete! I thought I would share some thoughts for those of you who might be going through the same thing.

Background - I took the three 4.0 exams (CDS, PPP, SPD) quickly last fall. I gave myself a month to study for CDS & PPP; 2 weeks to study for SPD. Passed all the first time.

First time (right at the beginning of the roll-out): (here was my post about it: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=45780)
- I studied Ballast 5.0 chapters they claim pertain to PPD. This was my main resource since it was SO much material. This was also a mistake. It is not enough.
- After taking the test, I started studying for PDD and found a LOT of the answers to questions I had on PPD.
- I had to wait 4 months to get my score since I took it at the beginning of the roll out. Of course, found out I failed.

Second time: (my post after my 2nd failing: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=47537)
- I rescheduled my exam right away for about 1.5 weeks later. This was NOT enough time. I was so out of the groove of studying by then.
- I reviewed my notes from PPD and PDD as well as any notes I had take on CDS, PPP, and SPD. I take pretty extensive notes so this was still a lot to review. Most of this information came from Ballast (4.0 & 5.0)
- Felt horrible during/after the exam, and failed again.

Third time:
- I once again rescheduled my exam for a soon as I could take it which was 60 days out. This turned out to be good since it gave me more time to study new material.
- Obviously, Ballast wasn't cutting it for these exams so I asked around for suggestions. I got a lot of answers referring to the NCARB resource material which was NOT what I wanted to hear. That is a total of like 27 resources, most of which are TEXT BOOKS. That is insane if you are a normal human with a life outside of studying. I did not study all of that.
- One very kind soul reached out to me and referred me to the Grant Adams lectures (which I listened to while I was at work) ( and these chapters in MEEB ( ... 0chart.pdf). I think I found MEEB the most helpful of all - it seemed like a LOT of the questions I was having on the test were straight from that book.
- I also paged through Building Construction Illustrated by Ching (this has so many of the sketches/diagrams/pictures that you will see on the test) and Structural Design by Underwood.
- I of course reviewed my own notes, but also studied Jenny's Notes for 4.0 BDCS, SS, and BS as well as Rich's Notes for SS.
- The last week or so before my exam, I took any practice exam I could find, for both 4.0 and 5.0 sections ...I am talking a LOT of practice exams (including Ballast 5.0, Ballast 4.0 for BDCS, SS, BS, and Kaplan 4.0 practice).
- Took the test yesterday and found out this morning I PASSED!! (loving the less than 24hr turn around time - seems they post scores around 5:00am for those like me that check incessantly all night)

Study Materials - Ballast (4.0 transitioned & 5.0); MEEB; Grant Adams Lectures; Jenny's Notes 4.0; Rich's Notes Structures; Practice Exams

If you are taking PPD for the first time, make sure you study both PPD and PDD material. I do believe that if I had done that the first time (even with Ballast alone), I would have passed. I would have even given myself a little more study time and then, taken them only a few days apart.

If you have failed it, make sure you have adequate time in between to study but not so far out that you forget everything. Try to diversify your material and study straight from the resources if you can. I know that is the worst thing to hear, but you will find the answers to so many of the questions straight from those books.

If I were someone who is thinking of starting these 5.0 exams, I would WAIT! Maybe even wait for a year or so. There is just not much information out there for the 5.0 exams. What was nice about 4.0 is that so many people had taken them, there is SO MUCH additional study material out there for those that is just not created for the 5.0 exams yet. Even the Ballast book seemed to have so many errors (like referencing images that were wrong and practice questions that didn't have an answer) that all will be worked out over time.

Lastly - one TIP I found SUPER helpful was as soon as I left the testing center, I would sit in my car and write down every question/topic on the test that I could remember in case I had to retake it (which turns out I did). This saved me a couple times and is helpful to guide me on what type of information was actually on the exam.

Hope that is helpful! Good luck to you all!
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Re: FINALLY Passed PPD! Here is what I studied:

Postby vrcat25 » Tue May 16, 2017 11:21 am

Congrats! What better way to start off your summer. :)

You mentioned that MEEB and Building construction illustrated helped. I'm about half way thru and it seems like BCI is more of an overview of construction and i figured it would be better for PDD instead of PPD. Is this not the case? DId you study Building Codes illustrated as well or no?

Anyhow, thanks for sharing your study process! :)
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Re: FINALLY Passed PPD! Here is what I studied:

Postby shortkm1 » Tue May 16, 2017 11:55 am

Thank you!

To answer your question, I will start by saying that I feel like PPD is more of an overview than PDD is. PDD is a little more specific questions including more structural calculations.

I felt like BCI was more helpful to me on PPD, but to be honest, I only paged through it and looked at the pictures (and read text associated with them if I found something I need to review). There are a LOT of sketches/diagrams/pictures on the exams that look like the came straight out of a Ching book. Since I had taken the PPD exam so many times, I was able to flip through the book and pick out any of them that I know I had seen on the test. I should also say that I did not look at either BCI or MEEB before I took PDD and passed. So, I guess I found them more useful for PPD, but I also knew what I was looking for specifically when using them.
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Re: FINALLY Passed PPD! Here is what I studied:

Postby hllARE » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:50 pm

Can you also share how did you prepare CDS PPP and SPD in a month and 2 weeks?
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