5.0 Ballast - Inaccuracies?

5.0 Ballast - Inaccuracies?

Postby adamgidaszewski » Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:35 pm

Hi All,

I'm struggling with how to word this because it's vague question to put it lightly...

That being said, I'm about 1.5 weeks into studying for PPD (given myself 6 weeks total to prep...after transitioning from passing PPP/CDS/SPD) and I'm a little wary of the 5.0 Ballast/PPi book.

A lot of people have warned that there are errors/omissions/discrepancies - call them what you want - about the subject matter in the book. Because of that, I've been referencing the Ballast 4.0 book as a double check for a lot of what I'm studying. In addition, I've got MEEB, Building Codes Illustrated, Building Construction Illustrated, and Sun Wind & Light - all with different areas pulled out to study.

My question is: are there any specific instances that people have come across where the 5.0 Ballast book is blatantly wrong or areas where it is lacking a significant amount of information?

My method of studying has been to use the Ballast review as the basis for my studying - go through it all thoroughly - and then supplement it with additional material once I've reviewed it and taken a practice exam. The strategy works for me - because I hand write all my outlines/notes to help me retain...but I want to make sure that this book isn't going to steer me in the wrong direction.

I haven't seen any glaring discrepancies between the 4.0 and 5.0 books, yet, but I'd hate to have that come back and bite me in the ass.

Anyone have an opinion on the book? Am I over-reacting or being overly-cautious?
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Re: 5.0 Ballast - Inaccuracies?

Postby mdrnarch » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:24 pm

I honestly think you can do without the ballast book. Those other references you've mentioned are perfect to use. Take a look at the matrix given by ncarb. Also a good source for quizzes is Design Hackers. Good Luck!
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Re: 5.0 Ballast - Inaccuracies?

Postby adamgidaszewski » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:54 pm

Interesting...do you have that opinion about both the 4.0 and 5.0 versions of Ballast? Or is it the tests that they cover - CDS/PPP/SPD in 4.0 and PPD/PDD in 5.0?

For the 4.0 tests I found it to be very helpful...wordy at times, but it definitely helped me understand concepts.

Do you feel this way because the 5.0 tests (PPD/PDD specifically) are way more technical and the way the book is written doesn't address that as well?
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Re: 5.0 Ballast - Inaccuracies?

Postby ina123 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:07 pm

I used Ballast 5.0 for PjM, PcM, and CE after studying for CDS in 4.0 and failing just the vignette portion. The combination of studying for CDS (which admittedly, I used Ballast 4.0 as my basis as I had not transitioned yet, with of course the AIA docs), and what ballast offered for PjM, PcM, and CE was good for me because I passed all the exams in 1 try.

I think like any other 3rd party material, there is going to be some discrepancies. For example, I just took PA today and one of the chapters in Ballast 5.0 regarding picking a structural system, was not on the exam at all (at least none of the questions I encountered, maybe it was just the luck of the batch I was given).

I like to start by reading the ARE Handbook for that section and looking at the end of the section under "References". These are the "top references" for that test and there are additional ones in the "Reference Matrix" but I honestly have never used those additional ones. I read through Ballast once because I think it is a good overview, and then look at the references to try and get more info on the chapters I felt were emphasized the most in both the ARE Handbook and Ballast.

In conclusion, I would say let Ballast be a guide, but not your end-all-be-all. I think looking at the reference material is paramount.

Ballast also has somewhere in the first pages of the books (maybe with all the publishing info? I don't have the book with me, or I would find it) a website where they publish any kinds of mistakes and omissions they discover after printing, so if you see something that doesn't make sense, you can see if it is a mistake that has been caught. I would imagine that this happens a lot with publishing of study material for a new test...

Anyways, I am onto PPD now and I will let you know if I catch anything!

Hope this helped!
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Re: 5.0 Ballast - Inaccuracies?

Postby adamgidaszewski » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:20 pm

Good heads up, I didn't know about the registration process with PPi. For what it's worth, I just registered my 4.0 and 5.0 book - we'll see if anything comes up!

I think I agree with you, I don't think I could deviate too far from using Ballast as at least the basis for organizing my studying...so unless I end up failing PPD on Feb 22, I think I'll stay the course.

Appreciate the response...best of luck to you as well and congrats on passing PjM/PcM/and CE!

Thank you both for your responses
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Re: 5.0 Ballast - Inaccuracies?

Postby blancovero » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:40 am

I personally think that Ballast and Kaplan (now Brigthwood) are not exactly perfect. It is up to us to scramble the material and learn from all the sources. Brightwood Qbank are so far apart from the real test that are a completely waste of money.
The Ballast practice exam is not perfect but it is a bit closer to the real thing.
I am preparing this one for the third take with a very open mind and trying to understand the main concepts.
For the record, I passed SPD, CD, PPP and BS in 4.0 before doing the transition
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Re: 5.0 Ballast - Inaccuracies?

Postby Sarcasmo » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:38 am

adamgidszewski -- my opinion is that third-party materials need to be secondary to your study efforts. For PPD, do as "ina123" has suggested -- use the "top references" in the ARE5.0 handbook. And while it isn't listed anywhere, read the Architect's Studio Companion -- it has some really great outline charts to help you understand when a given system should be used -- perfect for PPD prep.
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