PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:37 am

Anybody who says "take them at the same time", doesn't know what the hell they are talking about and must have never taken both of these test. PDD is much more technical with numerous calculations and wall sections and details. My biggest issue with this test is that NUMEROUS questions were way too small. Can you believe that??? the scale factor was way too small for an "architecture registration exam"?? I've lost all faith in the ARE after taking PDD. There was a question on the case study that asked for a particular drawing and to match the details and the referenced drawing was not in the set. It takes time to click from drawing to drawing, but since i went thru 2 times i'm SURE it wasn't there. Needless to say, i had to guess and wasted a bunch of time for that question. There's many other questions like that where you have to cross reference and typically at the office, you don't have to rush in order to make a decision about life safety. There were quite a few questions like this and 2 minutes per questions (120 question in 4 hours 15 minutes) is nowhere near enough time to do this accurately. I just hope real architects aren't rushing thru life safety issues like this and make a major mistake. I've found that it's best to slow down when you have a life safety question in the real world. Haste is waste, but for the test, you will simply run out of time. I think they should either increase the amount of time by an hour or reduce the number of questions by about 15-20. I'm a pretty fast reader, but 2 minutes isn't long enough for 120 questions. For PPD it was difficult to budget time for all the questions. For PDD it's pretty much impossible. I won't be surprised if i hear about people failing this test 10 times in a row. Somehow, NCARB managed to go from a subjective testing sytem in 4.0 with bad vignette's to something FAR worse. This test is also impossible to study. I counter the word "best" nearly 40 times thru out the test. VERY subjective and poorly written test.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby gbalaka » Sun Jun 11, 2017 4:23 pm

These unknowns is the reason I did not switch to 5.0 and stuck with 4.0 till the very end. Why do people hate the vignettes? I love the vignettes! They were sort of a free pass for me for each exam....but that's me.

But in general, these exams are in no way, shape or form means to be easy. But I totally see your point. They can be quite subjective sometimes and you just need to answer per NCARB's liking.....whatever that is....
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 4:41 pm

gbalaka wrote:These unknowns is the reason I did not switch to 5.0 and stuck with 4.0 till the very end. Why do people hate the vignettes? I love the vignettes! They were sort of a free pass for me for each exam....but that's me.

But in general, these exams are in no way, shape or form means to be easy. But I totally see your point. They can be quite subjective sometimes and you just need to answer per NCARB's liking.....whatever that is....


I didn't really mind the vignette's. My problem was the subjectivity of the MC. I thought, "how could 5.0 be any worse" and boy was I wrong. Trust me, i'm sure as hell trying to figure out what NCARB want's, but the questions just seem way too random and impossible to prepare for. Also, it just seems like there's not enough time to do the 120 questions. For PPD i felt rushed. For PDD it was even worse. Oh well, i guess i have to look at the positives. I know SS and BS are not "walks in the park". They probably have quite a few WTF questions too. I also heard that ncarb used the mc and just changed things around some. I guess i just had higher hopes with 5.0. For me 5.0 is a bigger let down than 4.0 even. My issue is with tests like PPP. I understand cds is contract specific and spd is site specific, but i'm not sure what the heck PPP, PPD and PDD are. I think they are just made way too difficult intentionally so the rate of failure is pretty high. PPD was basically the worse questions in SPD and PPP. I'm not sure what the heck PDD is...Maybe the worse from BS, SS and BDCS. Can't say because i have never took them, but there's no way they could be anymore ambiguous with the wording.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby blancovero » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:03 am

vcart25, I took my test on June 7th and I left the testing center feeling so good... Unfortunately, my good feeling lasted until Friday when I received a the FAIL, not only a fail a HORRIBLE fail, which destroy me. I have over 15 years of experience, working every day with officials with code, zoning regulations, etc. in in my test I failed with level 4!!!! code and regulations,,, you have to be kidding me!!!!! I called NCARB and off course I did not go anywhere,,, I am upset, confused and I do not know any longer how to take this tests... I already passed SD, SPD, CD, PPP and BS in taht order and then after failing twice SS I decided to jump to 5.0... Sorry for my rant, but I cannot understand how I failed and I failed so horrible...
I already scheduled PPD for July 11th,,, let's see... Keep calm and carry on or just get drunk and cursed to the wind
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:08 am

blancovero wrote:vcart25, I took my test on June 7th and I left the testing center feeling so good... Unfortunately, my good feeling lasted until Friday when I received a the FAIL, not only a fail a HORRIBLE fail, which destroy me. I have over 15 years of experience, working every day with officials with code, zoning regulations, etc. in in my test I failed with level 4!!!! code and regulations,,, you have to be kidding me!!!!! I called NCARB and off course I did not go anywhere,,, I am upset, confused and I do not know any longer how to take this tests... I already passed SD, SPD, CD, PPP and BS in taht order and then after failing twice SS I decided to jump to 5.0... Sorry for my rant, but I cannot understand how I failed and I failed so horrible...
I already scheduled PPD for July 11th,,, let's see... Keep calm and carry on or just get drunk and cursed to the wind


At least you felt good about it. For me the questions were mostly "pick the best 3-4" and very subjective. I felt bad about both tests, but even worse for PDD...Anyways, better luck to both of us next time...When do you take PPD? I'm also curious to know why you transitioned with only 1 tests left? Maybe your thoughts were like mine and you couldn't imagine 5.0 being any worse than SS?
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby Zanno » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:18 am

vrcat25, it's so interesting to me that you felt PDD was harder than PPD and also more subjective. Truly, no two exams are the same, in fact in 5.0 we will probably see an even wider range of exam experiences. I found *my version at least* to be much more specific and technical than PPD, which wasn't surprising considering it is intended to target CD level questions. To me, there was typically a clear right or wrong answer (ie, where is the vapor barrier in this assembly, where is this detail on the elevation). I treated PDD like a video game-- it's all about knocking out as many gremlins as you can in a very compressed amount of time. I agree with the issues with PDF lag time, the graphic/visuals being too small, etc. For an older test taker, or really anyone who isn't used to zooming in and out of Revit, or CAD, or even Bluebeam for that matter (basically every senior architect I've ever worked for), this test will feel horrible because it's a test of your computer/fine motor skills. Still, the content was straightforward to me, either you knew it our you didn't.

Conversely, I thought PPD had many more broad/vague questions that might be open to interpretation...don't get me started on the 'where should this building be in relationship to a body of water' ones.... I suppose we can talk about what constitutes subjectivity until we are blue in the face, but the fact remains that these exams, whether it's 4.0 or 5.0 format, will never resemble anything close to the 'real world' conditions in which we work -- and we shouldn't delude ourselves into hoping for this.

Strangely I passed PDD without studying, aside from a few hours I spent the night before doing the NCARB practice exam, which give me a glimpse into the horrible interface that awaited me at the testing center. I studied for a solid 5 weeks for PPD, (after having passed and studied hard for PPP, SPD, and CDS) I got my results back and was found to be minorly deficient (ie I FAILED) in two of the five categories. SO, in my estimation, PPD was a harder exam. Go figure.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby blancovero » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:37 am

I transitioned after two consecutive failing in SS, I also had left BDCS and I thought it was a good idea to transition to 5.0. I studied a lot for SS at least 320 hrs and I failed twice, so I thought:' what a heck!, let's try 5.0" and I swear I left the testing center so positive. I found the SS test so ambiguous and confusing and without no reason for an architect to be a good architect after the SS test... I still thinking the crossing to 5.0 was a good move,,, I already schedule PPD for July 11th... let's see what the f... the result is...
Back to the books (one more time) and feeling demoralized... but keep going
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:10 am

blancovero wrote:I transitioned after two consecutive failing in SS, I also had left BDCS and I thought it was a good idea to transition to 5.0. I studied a lot for SS at least 320 hrs and I failed twice, so I thought:' what a heck!, let's try 5.0" and I swear I left the testing center so positive. I found the SS test so ambiguous and confusing and without no reason for an architect to be a good architect after the SS test... I still thinking the crossing to 5.0 was a good move,,, I already schedule PPD for July 11th... let's see what the f... the result is...
Back to the books (one more time) and feeling demoralized... but keep going


That was kind of my philosophy with moving to 5.0 and thinking that there's no way that it could be anymore ambiguous than PPP. I would have thought that SS would have been more straightforward, but you have made me feel a little differently. I don't know since i haven't taken it yet nor BS. For me, PPD and PDD have been extremely subjective and ambiguous. I think you will find PPD to be a little easier than PDD, but than again, there's a bunch of "Pick the best 3 or 4" that are very ambiguous. As far as difficulty, i think PDD is far more difficult and i would strongly suggest taking PPD first, even though it didn't help me much at least i was able to budget my time better between the MC and case studies and develop some kind of strategy for skipping past the WTF questions. Unfortunately, there were too many of them for my test. yeah, i know what you mean. All we can do is keep going.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby kerzzo » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:19 am

go figure! I took PA and thought it was a re-do of PPP with a lot SPD in it...after not passing this one I ma facing PPD and PDD in July...not so wasy, and I transition thinking nothing can be worse than 4.0 BDCS , SS and BS. I guess I have to decipher how to pass this....aso, just over 2 minutes per question is not enough time for a test like this one. I would be great to get 3 hours for the MC etc. plus at least 2 hours for the case studies.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby architect23 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:32 pm

I have to agree with the author Vrcat here, in that I found PDD more difficult than PPD.

Having real world experience will definitely help you on PDD. But I did find a large number of subjective graphic questions, particularly the drag and place questions, which seemed to have multiple answers. I found some of the graphics to be illegible, and I had to squint to read some of the words. The time lag situation is real. There was slight delay on PPD, but nothing I'd complain about. For PDD, the time lag is obvious. There were other questions where there didn't seem to be enough information/instructions given, an issue on PPD.

If anyone has taken PPD OR PDD and wants to study together, shoot me a message.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby cianchetta0 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:36 pm

architect23 wrote:I have to agree with the author Vrcat here, in that I found PDD more difficult than PPD.

Having real world experience will definitely help you on PDD. But I did find a large number of subjective graphic questions, particularly the drag and place questions, which seemed to have multiple answers. I found some of the graphics to be illegible, and I had to squint to read some of the words. The time lag situation is real. There was slight delay on PPD, but nothing I'd complain about. For PDD, the time lag is obvious. There were other questions where there didn't seem to be enough information/instructions given, an issue on PPD.

If anyone has taken PPD OR PDD and wants to study together, shoot me a message.


crap, I am taking it on Sunday! any tips? was your main problem time?
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:33 am

I know EXACTLY what you mean architect23. My only hope is that somebody looks at this post and studies a little more for PDD and also pays more attention to the WTF type pond questions or practices more on case studies. Since many of the questions are ridiculously hard and ambiguous, the only thing you can really do is study the practice case study problem and search for questions on google + or in arecoach for these "best guess" questions regarding the "pond questions", "zonal cavity", etc. Even though we're not allowed to disclose specifics, you can still at least study the sections related to these.

Since i failed PPD and PDD the first time, I've become somewhat discouraged and frustrated with the lack of quality control and the poorly worded questions. Not to sound like a broken record, but over half of my questions were simply bad. I realize that there's nothing that can be done to help ncarb improve the wording and/or the diagrams that are too small ( i tried) so I will make the best out of this situation. Has anybody heard when the test score averages will be released for 5.0? I wouldn't be surprised if they are worse than CDS and PPP and they are under 54%. It's amazing that our tests are handled so incompetently...Will NCARB ever see the pattern and address the low pass rates???
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:43 am

cianchetta0 wrote:
crap, I am taking it on Sunday! any tips? was your main problem time?


Cianchetta, I realize this was directed to architect23, but i can tell you that my problem is that PDD is just a hot mess all the way around....Not enough time, poorly worded questions, questions with missing information, "best guess questions", "pick the best 3 answers, diagrams that are too small, diagrams that look like a 5 year old child drew them, etc. I wish i could tell you that there was a positive. Have you taken PPD yet? In my opinion, PDD is harder than PDD all around and it's mainly just very ambiguous and just about all of the questions are not direct. Sure, there were a few good questions, but most looked like they were created in a cold hotel lobby and they were not fair. I went in with a positive and optimistic attitude and came out feeling discouraged and honestly felt like passing this test is mainly based on luck and figuring out silly riddles that have nothing to do with real world architecture. I was also optimistic because some people have said "experience in the field" helps, but i think the opposite is true. Since this test is based on "best guess" trick questions, it's more about trying to understand the anguished mind(s) of the people that created the test questions. It really seems like the test was designed to make us quit and/or fail. I'm not going to quit and i hope nobody else does either. Just understand that these tests are not fair and not an accurate measure of any of us in the architect profession. Nevertheless, we all have to pass these stupid tests so, make sure you review the practice case studies and ask plenty of questions to ncarb reps. Sometimes, they will give you straightforward answers.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby kerzzo » Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:50 am

@vrcat25, I feel the same way, I cannot imagine how FranK Lloyd Wright would feel while taking these exams. in addition to architectural degress, I have a minor in English and Business Law studies and plenty of continuous education knowledge, thus language and systems and procedures etc. is not a problem for me as I take a big part of contract and risk management where I work and I also take part on all the field items and the technical work--we are all obviously very "graphic-oriented" people and hence we would think the graphics in these exams would make sense, yet they have gotten worse....i hated the vignettes, thus, i switched over to 5.o, but it seems it was not a good way to go about it---- to some extent, I think I want to go to NCARB and have me interviewed by a panel of experts like they do in other countries to make you suitable for a license, and really try to prove a point---but of course, that;s not going to fly.

While frustrated, I think I will not give up so easily, even if it is costing me so much money and time---yes, I gave up my 1/2 time job to study----so I have to make it worthwhile :)
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:59 am

kerzzo wrote:
While frustrated, I think I will not give up so easily, even if it is costing me so much money and time---yes, I gave up my 1/2 time job to study----so I have to make it worthwhile :)


I really admire you for staying positive kerzzo...You're right FLW is probably rolling in his grave! :) These tests are a real embarrassment and i also agree that 5.0's graphics are somehow WORSE than 4.0. It's as if they got rid of the vignette's and replaced them with obscure and ambiguous questions. Don't ever give up and keep fighting the good fight Kerzzo! :D
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby kerzzo » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:00 pm

Vrcat25, i have seen (no offense to them as it is not their fault) the worst of the worst licensed architects out there and it beats me, how this difficulties happen to us.
Maybe there is a bit of luck involved... who knows!

Thanks for supporting my positive attitude, it's all i can salvage from this mess... :) i confess it is quite difficult, but otherwise we will not get through it and NCARB wins :)
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby 198kevin » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:30 am

Are you guys using 5.0 materials or 4.0 still?
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby kerzzo » Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:21 pm

I am using both 4.0+5.0 study materials,but then again your study time will prolong obviously.

Like many others here, i also go to the actual book matrix referenced in the 5.0 Handbook. Of course these large books,which is insane to think we would chew them all.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:49 am

kerzzo wrote:I am using both 4.0+5.0 study materials,but then again your study time will prolong obviously.

Like many others here, i also go to the actual book matrix referenced in the 5.0 Handbook. Of course these large books,which is insane to think we would chew them all.


The same here...I'm studying the mountain high list of books referenced in the handbook "meeb", "Ching's books", "fundamentals of building construction"ballast" "ARE practice Problems and COUNTLESS others...Is there another 5.0 source that i should add?? It's frustrating when you read every source known to man, but then NCARB throws in a load of ambiguous "best guess" scenarios. At least it was possible to study and prepare for 4.0. I don't feel there's any way to really study and prepare for 5.0.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby 198kevin » Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:41 am

I used ballast 5.0, listened to Grant Adams lectures and a Gang Chang practice exam and passed PPD. Left feeling a little unsure but was pretty sure I passed and got the pass. I think you might be overstudying if using all those references. Everything was covered in Ballast.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby 198kevin » Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:43 am

Also yes the test is still ambiguous but at least I find myself studying how to apply the code vs studying how to draw circles around a lake to draw a proper offset.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby vrcat25 » Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:17 pm

198kevin wrote:I used ballast 5.0, listened to Grant Adams lectures and a Gang Chang practice exam and passed PPD. Left feeling a little unsure but was pretty sure I passed and got the pass. I think you might be overstudying if using all those references. Everything was covered in Ballast.


Do you think my problem is that i'm using the ARE 4.0 Review manual? I've heard people say that the material is the same, but just organized differently. If you think i'd be better off studying ARE review manual 5.0, i'll go ahead and buy it. I think my issue is more with the "pick the best" type questions....I can't believe how i often that was said on my tests...
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby 198kevin » Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:51 pm

Could be, just saying I think if you delve into the reference material you are going too deep and overloading. Sticking with a few current guides should be sufficient. I'm always amazed at how little content I study is actually touched upon. Like you said most of these questions are "choose the best" of pretty vague broad scenarios so I don't think getting even more technical will help. The young architect seemed to have a pretty good method, study the guides and take practice exams and if there were questions he just wasn't getting, then he'd go look up that section in the reference material to get a deeper understanding. This also helps to make you PRACTICE an exam vs LEARNING material for an exam. I did the same with the case studies, I didn't really learn the code, I practiced to use the code for case studies.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby kerzzo » Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:27 pm

198Kevin, what you are advising is what other people advised me. Thanks for refreshing the entire situation for us. Perhaps we may be over-thinking it.
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Re: PDD is a BEAST! Much harder than PPD

Postby Zanno » Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:02 pm

1. Going to the direct sources, not rely solely on study guides, is definitely the way to go for the exams. Don't go crazy deep into all the material, but get your information direct and you'll probably see lots of similar diagrams, images, concepts straight from those materials in your exam. Hopefully the sources you use will continue to be a reference for you in your practice.

2. You're investing in your own education as an architect, so it shouldn't be about memorization, and it shouldn't be about cramming either. Take some time to understand concepts that aren't making sense, use your study time as an opportunity to become a more informed practitioner and to expand your knowledge base.

3. DO practice using the clunky 5.0 practice exam. It's painful but it is a good reality check before going into the exam, and it prepares you for the lag, the zoom tool, etc.

4. Just to play devil's advocate here (devil's architect?), the guy behind Young Architect also posts about the myth of over studying. In his view, and I'm paraphrasing here, there is no such thing as being over prepared. Pretend the exam is an interview for a new project -- your firm may have spent days preparing an elaborate presentation, only to get a bunch of random questions for the interview committee. This is just life-- knowing you're going to get curve balls shouldn't mean you aren't thoroughly prepared.

5. Use your best judgement as an architect! Yes the 'pick the best' questions seem objective, but there are usually two answers that vie for the 'best.' The test is trying to gauge your ability to make informed decisions with the given information, and it's gonna be flawed and there will be missing information, but try to roll with it and use common sense.
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