Just Tested - Thoughts

Just Tested - Thoughts

Postby randar82 » Mon Feb 20, 2017 7:23 pm

(Will update in a couple of weeks(?) once I know if I passed)

Here are my thoughts (without getting too specific) based on what NCARB provides in the 5.0 study guide:

OBJECTIVE 1: Integration of Building Materials & Systems
I assumed this will involve doing actual calculations, especially given the equations provided in the reference material. This was not the case. Really was more of a focus on systems in general, and construction materials specifically. If I had to do it again, I would spend a day just reviewing Building Construction Illustrated rather than Structures. Drag & Drops and Hot-Spots are a nice addition - I felt those were very straight-forward although I also found I drew more from project experience and common-sense than from anything in the study guide. Multiple choice ranged from suspiciously easy to extremely specific.

OBJECTIVE 2: Construction Documentation
Fairly accurate. If you've taken CD's recently, you should be good here. Again, really a focus on details and integration of systems.

OBJECTIVE 3: Project Manual and Specifications
This really blurs with Objective 2, didn't feel there were many questions specifically targeting specs.

OBJECTIVE 4: Codes & Regulations
Know your ADA. Know historic preservation.

OBJECTIVE 5: Cost Estimating
Felt like there was more than 8% of the questions covering estimates. Simple math but questions were often multistep to get to the answer, so they took longer.

There are/were 2 (I assume it's always 2 for PDD). Personally I found the case studies to be extremely simplistic. Again, was thinking there would be calculations required here, which proved to not be the case. I also found that 50% of the questions had nothing to do with the reference material (like I didn't even need 50% of the reference material) and at least 2 questions there was not enough information provided to answer. Spend some time with the practice exam mostly to get used to the interface, which as many have noted, is not great. The zoom feature on the documents is especially problematic, so get used to the idea that 'zooming in' actually means you want to 'zoom out' because the default is to go from PAGE WIDTH to 300% regardless of what you select. Still, an improvement over the vignettes.

My strategy was to do the first case study, switch over and do 50% of the multiple choice questions, take my break, and then do the remainder of the multiple choice and then the final case study - it took me about 3 hours to get through the entire exam, and I spent the last hour going back through and double checking all my answers. As all questions are worth 1 point and the case study is not scored independent of the rest of the exam, I don't know if it really matters which you start with.

All in all, I left feeling like it could either way. There's at least 3-5 I know off the bat I got wrong, but I've left 4.0 exams convinced I failed only to find out I passed, so here's hoping. Retake of PPD on 3/20 (was part of the 1/30 outage), which I would LOVE if it was my last exam!
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Re: Just Tested - Thoughts

Postby jonimperial » Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:19 pm

Thanks for this man! What materials did you use to prepare for the exam?
I have 4 days left to prepare.. where should I focus on?
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Re: Just Tested - Thoughts

Postby rgharvey » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:32 am

Speaking to Objective 1, it's been super helpful for me to go through the Ballast sections on specific materials ie: masonry, concrete, metals, carpentry etc. These could be useful with specific material-on-material questions, and generally understanding layering of assemblies.

Agreed on the ADA - should be immediate recall knowledge.
I'm testing PDD on the 27th
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Re: Just Tested - Thoughts

Postby ptzumd » Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:26 am

I just completed the PDD exam and agree with much of what randar82 said. When he says focus on details and integration of building systems, really focus on details and integration of systems. Not simply building materials but how systems integrate with each other. There were a number of questions which I thought were overly detailed and required a level of expertise that I did not expect on these exams. Use Building Construction Illustrated and Fundamentals of Building Construction to review this kind of material.

There was much less structural, and HVAC content than I was expecting, very few calculation questions. Know your fundamentals of both, but I would not spend the majority of my time studying this stuff. Like randar82 said, study BDCS stuff for this exam.

Like the other exams, there were definitely questions that required you to try to discern exactly what they were asking for. That's tough when you start the exam at 7:30 am after waking up an hour and a half earlier than normal.
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Re: Just Tested - Thoughts

Postby 20sider » Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:53 pm

Thanks for sharing. This is exactly the type of feedback that I have been looking for in regards to PD+D. I am taking the exam in the morning and been studying Black Spectacles 3+2 plan, which has very little actual calculations as compared to the SS 4.0 study material. I have previously taken SS under 4.0 and did not pass twice, so my major concern has been how much pure structures will be in the 5.0 version. This gives me some measure of reassurance that I am on the right path. Best of luck the rest of the way!
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Re: Just Tested - Thoughts

Postby dklorensen » Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:39 am

I took this exam yesterday (2/23) - Randar82 hit the nail on the head. Some questions were really straight forward, others not so great, in typical ARE form. Integration of systems is a big thing to know.

I got frustrated with the case studies - again, what Randar said - some questions you didn't need to look at the reference material to answer, other questions did not have the appropriate material provided. The zooming in and out and the user interface is frustrating. Some questions I knew what I should be looking for but couldn't find it due to the interface so I just finally gave up. I do feel like the case studies are closer to what an architect does on a daily basis, but there is still some room for improvement here in making it easier to navigate through the material.

There were a lot more 'fill in the blank' and 'pick multiple' type questions than I remember ever having on a 4.0 test. A few calculation questions, mostly simple math, only a few structures questions. I'd say that the objectives are pretty close to what one should know for this test.

I feel like it could go either way. I feel the least confident about this test as any other I've taken before - I took SPD, SD, CDS and PPP in 4.0 and passed them all on the first try. I only studied for this test about 3 weeks to get the early tester incentives, however, If I fail this one, I'm not sure what else I'd study. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what happens in 4 weeks when they release results....

I sit for PPD (again, first time was during the server crash 1/30) on Monday 2/27. I'll give an update on that forum page after my exam. Good luck to everyone studying!
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Re: Just Tested - Thoughts

Postby rgharvey » Mon Feb 27, 2017 8:32 pm

Just tested today, and have to say that I had a completely different experience than Randar82 did. Agreed that the 'fill in the blank' and 'pick multiple' were more prevalent, but I also had multiple equation questions, with subject matter from each Objective section.

I studied BCI heavily- really helpful in understanding overall system integration and being able to eek out an answer when you're stuck. BDCS and BS overview were good. Also the lectures on contracts from Schiff Hardin were useful to get a review of the CDS material.

Practice using the case study interface- it's helpful to have the muscle memory of immediately clicking the zoom out button after zooming to 300%.
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Re: Just Tested - Thoughts

Postby randar82 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:13 pm

@rgharvey: I had hoped that in ARE 5.0, NCARB would have made the exams slightly more consistent in terms of content - from person to person, that way you don't spend an entire weekend studying lateral forces and structural calculations, only to find 0.0 questions on the exam dealing with those issues.
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Re: Just Tested - Thoughts

Postby architect23 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 4:52 am

After reading through the 5.0 posts, I have several questions that I can't find addressed, if anyone might be able to provide some feedback. These are regarding both ppd & pdd:

1) What would you guys recommend studying for the construction documentation and project manual and specifications areas of the exams? I found the csi manual of practice helpful for CDS and wonder if this is the way to go.

2) how helpful is ASCE standard for minimum design loads for buildings and other structures: should I get my hands in this and become familiar with it for either ppd/pdd?

3) is the case study focused on ibc 2012 only or should I become familiar with other resources?

4) steel concrete manual- useful to review prior to 5.0? This is listed as a reference and I am wondering if it is merely for the structures questions or for case study.

Many thanks for your help in advance, as we navigate our way through these new exams!

Re: Just Tested - Thoughts

Postby randar82 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:32 am

1: When I did CDS for ARE 4.0, I read Ballast, Kaplan and also the AIA documents covered by the exam. It's really useful reading the documents (with commentary if you have them available) to really understand what is covered.
2: This seems unnecessary to know.
3: All you really need to do for the Case Study is spend maybe an hour doing the practice case study on the NCARB site. Get used to navigating the material that is provided and the interface - for better or for worse. The case study questions are largely going to be a matter of finding information in the provided documents and applying it to a question. It's more useful to know HOW to find the information then to memorize IBC sections that might not even be needed. I found the case study questions to be the easiest part of the entire exam.
4: This also seems unnecessary, unless you are planning on spending MONTHS studying for the exam.

Yes, you might get thrown a question or two that asks you something super detailed and material specific, but it's really more about concepts and general application. I would focus more on understanding integration of systems - study Building Construction Illustrated.
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