How to pass PPD & PDD on the First Try!

How to pass PPD & PDD on the First Try!

Postby mikeypals23 » Mon Dec 23, 2019 7:20 pm

Yes it’s possible, I just took PPD and PDD 7 days apart and passed both on the first attempt. I started studying for these about 2.5 months ago, probably averaging 15 hours a week. Even if you’re re-taking, the following advice could be helpful.

Test Day Strategy:
I saw a lot of people on the forum having problems with time, so during my practice tests I came up with a time concept that seemed to work. Divide the 4hr and 15min test time into 4 sections, pay attention to your timing as your testing and understand if you need to quicken through the questions to stay on track. Don’t worry about rushing, this methods builds in plenty of review time, if followed.

2 hours - Multiple Choice:
About 1 minute and 15 seconds per question. There’s a good chunk of questions that will take under 30 seconds to answer and another chunk that take over 2 minutes. Very important to keep moving through these. If you can’t get something Flag it, if you’re 50% sure of an answer, Flag it. If math isn’t working, try plugging in the answers to see if you can get one of the given values in the question, then Flag it. If you have no idea, don’t even think about guessing yet, Flag it. Spend time on questions you have a better percentage of getting right. If your confident in an answer, don’t Flag it. Write down all your math clearly, makes it easier to double check later.

1 hour - Case Studies:
Gives you about 2 minutes and 30 seconds per question. A handful can be answered with very little reference lookup. Most will need reference or multiple references and can take 3-4 minutes. However, I noticed that some of the work you do in earlier questions make answering other questions simpler. Don’t worry about having all of these answers 100% during the initial pass. I took my break after working through all the “MC” and the first Case Study. I think its a good time to reset, you reach your thinking limit with the first case study and you can go into the second one fresher and more focused. Also a good time to check the time remaining and if your still on this track. Write down what reference you got the answer from, makes it easier to double-check later.

15 minute - Flex:
Odds are you’ll need extra time on your first pass with either the “Multiple Choice” or the Case Studies, if not, then this adds onto your remaining review time. For me this went to my case studies on PPD; PDD I stayed on track and this went into review time.

1 hour - Review:
Anything over 45 minutes though is plenty. Heres how I reviewed:

Review flagged “MC” questions only, if you are good on time, you can think a little more about questions you didn’t get a gut feeling about. If you still don’t know it, move on, don’t dwell.
Then go through case studies. Since you worked through them already, you know where to find the information. Verify every question, all the answers are in the reference materials, so these are easy points to get.
With the remaining time, go through as many of the non-flagged “MC” questions as you can, look for any stupid errors like missing a word in the question; double check all math. If you’re adding a string of numbers, add them twice to make sure you get the same answer. With any math, don’t just accept the number you calculate, think about if it makes sense for the question. This final pass isn’t to second guess choices but just to find something that jumps out at you. If less than 20 minutes remaining, start reviewing these at a part of test you remember being more difficult..

What I Studied:
Old 4.0 notes for CDS, PPP, SPD. Just a refresh, no memorizing information. It’s been two years since I took CDS and honestly all the concepts came back reading through, it’s just good to get in that mindset of how to NCARB think again. I used PPI for the first month making new notes. It has good detail, but too much , used more for skimming and diving into areas I wanted to know more about. Bulk of my study was AMBER BOOK. I was hesitant because of the price, but its well worth it. Join a group for the discount, spend the money, take notes and make flash cards, listen to his advice about what and how to study. Spend the money!

Work background - I am very familiar with construction details. Important to understand how and why a building goes together. It’s not as complex as it may seem and they are called standard details for a reason. A lot of general principals apply for these exams. Need to know the IBC, my local code in NYC is differs slightly in some areas from the IBC, so I found the Hyperfine series to be a great confirmation of what I thought I knew and introduction into the IBC code areas that I never looked at before. I flipped through Graphic Standards, Building Construction Illustrated, MEEB (lightly), & Building Code Illustrated: mostly at the direction of the Hyperfine lessons. Used Designer Hacks quizzes and practice tests, PPI quizzes and practice tests (good case study prep), NCARB demo exam, and watched some Black Spectacles videos.
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