Another attempt, another Fail

Another attempt, another Fail

Postby drummer03 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:33 am

I took PPD last week and unfortunately it was a FAIL. This is the second time taking this Exam. I actually was a bit surprised at the Result. Unlike the first attempt (finished with 5 mins left) I finished the exam with about 45 minutes left and was able to go back and review "Marked" questions that I flagged. I felt very confident in most of my answers but unfortunately by looking at my score report I did not fair better than the first time. I found that disheartening. I studied for about 8 weeks. This is the Material I used:
-Building Construction Illustrated
-Architectural Studio Companion
-Building Codes Illustrated
-Architect Exam Prep (for overall view of content)

all I can do now is pick myself and keep moving. I will take a break from this Exam and Move to take PDD at the end of April. I will add Architectural Graphic Standards and some of the BDCS and BS from 4.0 to the list above. I will also try to increase my study hours per week. In my case the longer I take studying the more stuff I will forget. I will try to compile as much info in a shorter amount of time and take the test.

Hopefully have more luck on the PDD exam. trying to knock down these two final monster exams and be done with this!
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Re: Another attempt, another Fail

Postby PCorn6 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:41 pm

Sorry about that failure. It’s always so devastating! So much studying for nothing. I’ve now failed PPD three times and am now ‘locked out’ until October, which sucks because it will be like going at it again from scratch; and there is A LOT of information to cover on this one. I felt very confident at the end of this one—until I saw the ‘failed’ prelim assessment. I think for my fourth attempt I’ll take a hard right away from the third party study materials (which I trended away from for my most recent exam attempt) and dive harder into the NCARB reference matrix. Particularly concerning HVAC/electrical systems questions; and of course the dreaded house-lake-best view questions (four in all). This is my last exam and for me it’s the most difficult.- I found PDD to be easier (relatively speaking) than PPD. Good luck to you on your next try!
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Re: Another attempt, another Fail

Postby BnyBen » Tue Mar 20, 2018 11:26 am

Sorry to hear that drummer03. I’m retaking PPD in mid-April followed by PDD three weeks later and I'm honestly terrified of these exams. PPD was brutal but I’m hoping PDD will be a little better because I have more experience on CD’s and CA. My only advice might be to invest in the Amber videos. I have found them to be very helpful and a good break from all the reading.

Pcorn6, you just described my worst nightmare. I'm really sorry to hear that. I cannot think of one good reason why NCARB locks us out after three attempts. Except for their incompetency to come up with enough questions to create more tests. If they refuse to allow us to take the exam, our rolling clocks should pause at the very least. Enjoy the break and good luck getting back into it.
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Re: Another attempt, another Fail

Postby drummer03 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:51 pm

Thanks for the encouragement! In order to avoid a potential 'Lock Out' I will move to take PDD as my next Exam. Hopefully I can Fair better on this one and Knock off PPD the very next time I take it. Lets keep grinding!
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Re: Another attempt, another Fail

Postby Coach » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:23 pm

BnyBen wrote:I cannot think of one good reason why NCARB locks us out after three attempts. Except for their incompetency to come up with enough questions to create more tests. If they refuse to allow us to take the exam, our rolling clocks should pause at the very least. Enjoy the break and good luck getting back into it.

What would be good enough for you? The retake policy was changed a few years ago and the current policy is retake every 60 days with 3 max attempts in any 12-month period. The old policy was to wait 6 months for a retake.

Assuming your very first attempt is a fail, the current policy allowed for a max of 10 attempts before losing a pass in a 5-year period while the new policy provides 15 attempts max. Of course, that's assuming you pass another division relatively quickly after your first fail -- The longer you wait to test after your first pass, the fewer attempts available before losing a pass.

At the risk of sounding like a complete dick, if someone can't pass a division in 15 attempts, then maybe they need to rethink their career choice.
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Re: Another attempt, another Fail

Postby BnyBen » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:13 am

Coach wrote:
BnyBen wrote:I cannot think of one good reason why NCARB locks us out after three attempts. Except for their incompetency to come up with enough questions to create more tests. If they refuse to allow us to take the exam, our rolling clocks should pause at the very least. Enjoy the break and good luck getting back into it.

What would be good enough for you? The retake policy was changed a few years ago and the current policy is retake every 60 days with 3 max attempts in any 12-month period. The old policy was to wait 6 months for a retake.

Assuming your very first attempt is a fail, the current policy allowed for a max of 10 attempts before losing a pass in a 5-year period while the new policy provides 15 attempts max. Of course, that's assuming you pass another division relatively quickly after your first fail -- The longer you wait to test after your first pass, the fewer attempts available before losing a pass.

At the risk of sounding like a complete dick, if someone can't pass a division in 15 attempts, then maybe they need to rethink their career choice.


Good point. I just think it's hard to retain information for much longer than 60 days so maybe 4 times in a given year would be better.

I also think the tests should be un-timed but maybe it's just me.
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Re: Another attempt, another Fail

Postby PCorn6 » Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:05 pm

BnyBen-I agree with your line of thinking. I don’t enjoy the fact that I’ll have to start all over again in a 6-month period to study for this exam. The one upside to failing three times is that I remember over 75 questions that I’ve been asked in the thee versions of the test I took. I’m pretty sure that’s also why they have the forced break: so they can rotate questions and minimize the possibility of people memorizing the test. For my part, I plan on using this info to focus on their subject areas (vs expecting the same identical questions in my fourth attempt). Also, and this is to drummer03 as well, invest in a copy of the Archit Studio Companion if you don’t already have one and go over all the HVAC and daylighting chapters. 1-way and 2-way systems as well. Diversify your environmental conditions study materials (Section 1—with the dreaded lake questions) to include several books mentioned in the NCARB matrix. Don’t rely on Ballast/Kaplan-Brightwood to get you through this section. If anybody is weak on code, Ching’s Code book is a must.
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Re: Another attempt, another Fail

Postby Anob » Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:12 am

drummer03

Did you do any practice questions? If you did what were they?
Last edited by Anob on Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Another attempt, another Fail

Postby drummer03 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:23 am

Thanks for the feedback Pcorn6. and yes I did use Architectural Studio Companion, Building Construction Illustrated and Building Code Illustrated (see my list at the original post). I found these sources to be very good. I will re-use them and go more intensely when I re-take this exam.
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Re: Another attempt, another Fail

Postby PCorn6 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:18 pm

I did practice questions in Ballast 5.0 Practice Exam and Practice Problems books.
Black Specs practice exam questions and YouTube videos. Particularly the lighting calcs.
Gang Chen practice exam questions.
Note, the 3rd party sources do have mistakes. Ballast is notorious for this.
Also, the more 3rd party sources you use, the more discrepancies you'll find across platforms. for e.g., GC states that rainwater is greywater (wrong!). Another source states salvage costs are not included in Life Cycle Costs. When you find discrepancies like this in the 3rd party info, verify with books in the NCARB matrix and go with what they say.
I read a suggestion on one of the ARE blogs that said to practice all the calculations given in the ARE handbook for ALL the divisions (not just PPD). This is a great strategy. Focus on these type questions as you go through your sources and be familiar and comfortable with doing them.
For structural calcs, I watched all of Dilip Khatri's modules on YouTube. He's great!
And one bit of non-calc advice, FEMA 454 Designing for Earthquakes chapters 4 and 5. You can pull this down free off the internet.
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Re: Another attempt, another Fail

Postby drummer03 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:25 am

Anob wrote:drummer03

Did you do any practice questions? If you did what were they?

I used Designer Hacks for the Exams questions. I found their questions to be very good.
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Re: Another attempt, another Fail

Postby drummer03 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:25 am

PCorn6 wrote:I did practice questions in Ballast 5.0 Practice Exam and Practice Problems books.
Black Specs practice exam questions and YouTube videos. Particularly the lighting calcs.
Gang Chen practice exam questions.
Note, the 3rd party sources do have mistakes. Ballast is notorious for this.
Also, the more 3rd party sources you use, the more discrepancies you'll find across platforms. for e.g., GC states that rainwater is greywater (wrong!). Another source states salvage costs are not included in Life Cycle Costs. When you find discrepancies like this in the 3rd party info, verify with books in the NCARB matrix and go with what they say.
I read a suggestion on one of the ARE blogs that said to practice all the calculations given in the ARE handbook for ALL the divisions (not just PPD). This is a great strategy. Focus on these type questions as you go through your sources and be familiar and comfortable with doing them.
For structural calcs, I watched all of Dilip Khatri's modules on YouTube. He's great!
And one bit of non-calc advice, FEMA 454 Designing for Earthquakes chapters 4 and 5. You can pull this down free off the internet.


Thanks for the suggestions!
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