PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

Postby sche5238 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:05 pm

This is my post-test brain dump from 1st attempt at PPD after transitioning from 4.0. I received a provisional pass this morning and anticipate an "official" pass shortly based on everyone else's posts that I've read. :D :D :D Sorry for the long post but these are the things I thought that other people might find useful.


Study Materials:
ARE Coach forum posts (mostly other people's brain dumps and positive posts, stay away from those negative Nellies!)
Ballast 5.0 Review manual, Practice Exam and Quizzes
Kaplan 4.0 SS & BS
Jenny's notes on SS & BS
Building Construction Illustrated
ARE Exam Prep "The Whole Enchilada"
Designer Hacks premium tests & quizzes
YouTube
Lechner Heathing, Cooling & Lighting (substitute for MEEB)
Sun, Wind & Light
Structural info (see below)
IBC Building Code (used this A LOT at work so doubled as study material for case studies!)



Study & Test Strategies:

Signed up for test 8 weeks ahead and planned my study schedule.

Study about 1-2 hours on weekdays in small bites that I can fit in here and there. I.e. Listen to Whole Enchilada audio tracks on commute, take practice tests/quizzes on lunches, study flashcards, read articles on forums, watch Youtube clips online, review one or two concepts in Building Construction Illustrated/ Sun, Wind & Light, etc.

Study about 4-8 hours on the weekends (2-4 hours a day). Read chapters, take extensive notes (see next item below).

I know it is difficult to fit studying in but for reference, I work full time (40+ hours per week), I have a small photo & video business on the side and an 18 month old daughter. You CAN do it!

I did not read everything cover-to-cover in Ballast. Didn't do this for any 4.0 exams either. Instead, my strategy was to start by seeing how much I knew by taking all the practice quizzes at the end of the chapters. Anything I scored 80% or higher on I figured I knew enough about to pass. Those I failed, I read intently and wrote extensive notes. I was a tutor in high school and college and my best strategy for studying and teaching others has always been to write everything down (in detail, draw diagrams, make lists, etc) and follow the 10-24-7 rule. After finishing notes on a chapter, I would review the notes 10 minutes after I finished, review them again 24 hours later and do a final once-over 7 days later. This is a great strategy for committing something to memory for good, not just forgetting it after you leave your exam!

Start practice exams 1-2 weeks before final exam. Try to pass Whole Enchilada with 80%+, Designer Hacks 80%+, Ballast, I have never really passed one of their full practice exams, for any division, EVER. I think they are honestly WAY harder than the real ARE's have been. Strive for 75% on these, but regularly got between 60-70% so don't freak out (too much) if you aren't passing their tests.

In conjunction with practice exams, figure out which areas I am weakest in, review all my notes again and review against Jenny's notes (super awesome resource!).

I would like to state that I have never opened a MEEB book. I looked at some of the material online via Google Books, did image search for some of the tables/charts that people mentioned (like how to read a psychometric chart) and decided instead to use a book I still had from college (10 years ago now!) called Heating, Cooling & Lighting and another one called "How Buildings Work". These, with Ballast MEP chapters were good enough for me! May do a MEEB search for PDD though, haven't decided yet.

Also, regarding structures, I took a Thaddeus Structures Seminar a 1 1/2 years ago in preparation for 4.0 structures exam. I loved the class, but due to health complications, I ended up postponing that exam (indefinitely). Still had all my notes so I brushed up on those. In my opinion, you DO NOT NEED to take the seminar for this exam. However, reading FEMA 454 chapters 4, 5 & 8 was helpful (https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1556-20490-5679/fema454_complete.pdf), as were Buildings at Risk: Wind Design Basics for Practicing Architects[i] and Buildings at Risk:Seismic Design Basics for Practicing Architects [/i] which are available from AIA and you can download from Thaddeus' website.

Side note, I highly recommend building a support system. Take the exam with someone or get into an ARE forum group and chat. I found a Facebook group (closed group, need to ask to be let in) called Mother's in Architecture, Design and Construction. It's geared towards positive support for new or expecting mom's and since this was my first test since the birth of my daughter, I found this very helpful.

Last, this may sound "new-agey" but consider self-hypnosis tracks for exam performance. They won't help you learn the material necessarily, but I found that it helped me greatly in being calm, cool and collected during my test this morning and recall seemed to flow easily. Side note on WHY i recommend this "weird" stuff, I used self-hypnosis to guide me through a natural, drug-free birth for my baby girl. I was in labor for 22 hours but to me it seemed like 2-3 hours and there was no pain. So, I figured if I could do hypnosis for THAT, it couldn't hurt to try it for exam prep! :lol:


Exam feedback:

I like the new format, especially the case studies and graphic based questions! Make sure you are familiar with general information and tables in Chapters 3, 5 & 6 of IBC.

I had THREE of the dreaded "pond" questions that you may have heard about in other posts. I didn't think they were too bad, probably because they have been modified since the test first came out. READ what they are giving you (climatic zone information, orientation etc.) in the question and use your best judgment about what design strategy works best for that instance. (Hope this is vague enough)

I am going to brush up more on loading, shear & moment diagrams for various structural cases for PDD. I did my best on this exam, used deductive reasoning, but I recommend spending more time on that.

I encountered NO major structural calcs on this test but it would be helpful to know general, basic, math for word problems, maybe performing a calculation of loads for instance (again, hope this is vague enough!).

I hate electrical stuff. It was my least favorite area to study. However, I found the test to be less about the principles of electricity and more about the practical application of electricity in buildings (i.e. how do you do a lighting layout, where do GFCI outlet belong, etc.) I am going to study more along that vein for PDD.

I am going to make my own spreadsheet for structural systems with typical materials, spans, etc. and another one for typical HVAC systems and maybe a 3rd for lighting types for PDD. Jenny's notes have good information but I think making my own summary spreadsheets will help commit these things more to memory. I recommend you do the same for PPD.
sche5238
 
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Re: PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

Postby thd7t » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:12 pm

Thank you for a great and thorough rundown! I especially appreciate the way you broke it down into resources, strategies, and feedback. There should be a version of this post for every exam!

Also, congratulations!
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Re: PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

Postby sche5238 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:07 pm

Other thoughts -

I decided to do case studies first. This worked for me so I felt that I had plenty of time. Overall, I finished with 30+ minutes remaining. Started to review my answers, changed one, then decided to just exit and close the test because I remembered that every time I changed a practice exam answer I ended up being wrong!

Lag/Loading time wasn't really a factor for me. PDF's seemed to load fine for the case studies (I had 2). My advice is to look briefly at what they give you first, then approach each question and zero in on the PDF/code resource that you need to answer the question.

As I read each case study I jotted down some quick reminders for myself on the scratch paper, similar to how I did my 4.0 vingettes. That way I had the program info instead of flipping back to it for each question.

Use the Exam Summary to help you navigate quickly.

Use the highlight and strikethrough tools. These were very helpful for me to visually identify what each question was asking and eliminate options as I read through them. Particularly helpful for the pick 2, 3 or 4 questions (hate those! I think you should get some partial credit but of course you don't!).

Didn't find about the rotate function until yesterday, you can right click in the graphic problems to rotate an element and put in the degrees you want to rotate it. Useful for programming questions and optimal building orientation questions.
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Re: PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

Postby kjkenan » Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:12 pm

Black Spectacles, Architect Exam Prep or AMBER book ?
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Re: PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

Postby sche5238 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:29 pm

I watched some Black Spectacle Videos (free) on YouTube. Never used AMBER. Did use Architect Exam Prep books but I think Ballast is more thorough (sometimes too much!)
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Re: PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

Postby max8176 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:11 pm

sche5238 wrote:I watched some Black Spectacle Videos (free) on YouTube. Never used AMBER. Did use Architect Exam Prep books but I think Ballast is more thorough (sometimes too much!)


Would you recommend Architect Exam Prep Book? Is Ballast better than Kaplan (brightwood)?
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Re: PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

Postby sche5238 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:19 am

Yes, I liked the Architect Exam Prep book but I wouldn't solely rely on it, it isn't quite detailed enough in my opinion. I preferred the 5.0 Ballast over trying to study from the 4.0 Building Systems & Structures books I had from Kaplan. I did not purchase the new Kaplan(Brightwood) 5.0 book.
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Re: PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

Postby T-Square » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:25 pm

I also got a "likely to pass" provisional feedback upon leaving the test center. Is this typical? How likely is it that I will pass?
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Re: PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

Postby sche5238 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:04 pm

I passed mine after "provisional pass". So has everyone else I've heard or read posts from. I'd say you are likely to pass! :)
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Re: PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

Postby mdrnarch » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:53 pm

sche5238 wrote:I passed mine after "provisional pass". So has everyone else I've heard or read posts from. I'd say you are likely to pass! :)


Did you get a sense that the exam was geared mostly in the general structural concepts? Such as general structural selections for certain projects conditions? Or do you think the exam concentrated more on project based selections on building equipment? Like hvac selections etc?
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Re: PPD 1st try - Provisional Pass!

Postby sche5238 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:03 am

I would focus on very general structural concepts, such as recognizing moment diagrams for certain common loading conditions (i.e. point load, uniform load, cantilever). I had more MEP selection questions than structural.
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