PDD - 1st try PASS AND DONE!!!

PDD - 1st try PASS AND DONE!!!

Postby sche5238 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:06 am

Hi everyone! If you haven't read my brain-dump post for PPD, check it out here viewtopic.php?f=28&t=51756

This is my post-test brain dump from 1st attempt at PDD, I received a provisional pass Monday morning "official" pass yesterday at 4:10pm. I am now OFFICIALLY DONE with ARE's! Long post below will reiterate a lot of the same ideas I had for PPD but these are the things I thought that other people might find useful.


Study Materials:
ARE Coach forum posts (mostly other people's brain dumps)
Ballast 5.0 Review manual, Practice Exam and Quizzes
Kaplan 4.0 SS, BS & BDCS
Jenny's notes
Building Construction Illustrated
ARE Exam Prep "The Whole Enchilada"
Designer Hacks premium tests & quizzes
YouTube
Lechner Heathing, Cooling & Lighting (substitute for MEEB)
Sun, Wind & Light
Structural note from Thaddeus 4.0 seminar (helpful but not absolutely necessary)
Simplified Engineering for Architects and Builders
IBC Building Code (used this A LOT at work so doubled as study material for case studies!)


Study & Test Strategies:

Signed up for test 8 weeks ahead and planned my study schedule. I was originally going to take it the day after PPD in January but ended up postponing a month which I think was definitely to my advantage. The tests are similar, I would do them in succession about 2-3 weeks apart, but no more than 4 weeks. Build your momentum studying PPD material and then layer PDD on top of it.

Between Jan & Feb test dates I was working 60-70 hour weeks so I was not able to study as much for PDD as I did for PPD due to three major work deadlines. I relied heavily on Architect Exam Prep audio tracks while commuting, that got me at least 40 min every work day. I also studied on a few lunch breaks for about 30 min, doing small tasks like flashcards or mini-quizzes on Designer Hacks. I was working weekends so I didn't get as much time there to study but when I did I read Ballast chapters I didn't feel as confident with and took extensive notes. I was really stressed working so much and trying to fit in studying. I basically asked my husband to take care of our daughter for a month and didn't have much family time. I did make a point to read her stories and put her to bed every night though. Don't forget, you have to make time for "you" somewhere in all of this, even if it's only a little moment like reading a story, or taking a warm bath, or something else you love.

Again, I did not read everything cover-to-cover in Ballast. I took the practice quizzes at the end of the chapters and studied those I felt least prepared for. Anything I scored 80% or higher on I figured I knew enough about to pass. Those I failed, I read intently and wrote extensive notes. I decided for structural systems to make my own spreadsheet. I highly recommend you consider doing this too. I've attached mine for reference in case it can help anyone. I wanted to do the same for HVAC systems but I ran out of time so I found this great website instead http://www.electrical-knowhow.com/2012/ ... tions.html check out the lessons for air conditioning (1, 2 & 3). They also have a great section on interpreting electrical shop drawings which may be useful if you have not experienced this at work. Learn how to read an electrical single line diagram as well.

Due to my (extremely) compressed schedule for this exam, I did my practice exams 2 days before final exam. Try to pass Whole Enchilada with 80%+, Designer Hacks 80%+, Ballast, I only got 66% (and I hate typing that!!!!) Again, I think they are honestly WAY harder than the real ARE's have been so don't freak out (too much)

I really like Jenny's notes (super awesome resource!). Make sure you brush up on construction materials (i.e., what are the different types of brick patterns, mortar types, brick types, etc.)

Everyone is always concerned about structures. Yes, there are structural calcs on the exam. No, they are not extremely difficult. If you know the process to size a beam you will be fine.

Here is a summary of the process:

1) Add dead load & live load to get total uniform load per sf of floor
2) Calculate w = total load x tributary width (this is NOT the length of the beam). This is the uniform load on the beam itself. If you have gridlines spaced at 20'-0" apart, the tributary width on the beam is 10'-0" because it takes half the load from each bay
3) Calculate W = w x length of the beam. This is the total load on the beam
4) Calculate the moment. M = WL/8 for a uniformly loaded beam. UNITS ARE IMPORTANT! Make sure you convert lb-ft to in-lbs by multiplying by 12.
5) Calculate the section modulous. S = M/f. f refers to the typical yield stress of the member. 50,000 psi steel is common for beams and columns. Section modulous will always be in inches cubed.
6) Look at the tables they provide to find the shallowest or lightest beam with that section modulous (member will depend on what the question is asking you so read carefully).

There were a couple WTF structural questions but I just did my best to eliminate answers that didn't seem right and then made a educated guess.

If you did not read up on wind and seismic for PPD, you NEED to do it for PDD (at least for the exam that I took). FEMA 454 chapters 4, 5 & 8 (https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data ... mplete.pdf), as were Buildings at Risk: Wind Design Basics for Practicing Architects and Buildings at Risk:Seismic Design Basics for Practicing Architects which are available from AIA and you can download from David Thaddeus' website. Make sure you know about overturning moment for wind, torsion, re-entrant corners, base shear, story shear and how soils work during a seismic event.

I encountered a LOT of construction detailing on PDD. If you don't have a lot of experience with detailing, make sure you are really pay attention to your Ching book.
I'm going to reiterate the importance of a support system. Shout out to my Mother's in Architecture group here. I can't understate how important it is to have encouragement for these tests. Also, I still really believe in the power of positive thinking. I used my Exam Success hypnosis track. Morning of the exam I found this great positive affirmation track on YouTube and listened to it in the car on the way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqHavcUFPJU. Again, I am not affiliated with any of these resources in any way other than I bought/used them and had good experiences so I am happy to recommend them to others.


Exam feedback:

Love the new format, especially the case studies and graphic based questions! Make sure you are familiar with general information and tables in Chapters 3, 5 & 6 of IBC.

Hardest part about the case studies were reading through someone else's drawings to find stuff. Remember that not everyone does things the same way, it is really individual to different offices. These drawings were VERY different than how we do things so it took me longer than expected to track things down that they were asking. Plan time for this.

I started with case studies, took about 1 hour 30 min, took my break and then pounded the multiple choice. If it looked like an involved calculation question, etc. I flagged and moved on so I got the bulk of things answered first then went back to answer those. Remember you are graded on every question, make sure you answer all of the questions.

I hope you all find this information helpful! Good luck on your personal journey. YOU CAN DO IT!
Last edited by sche5238 on Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PDD - 1st try PASS AND DONE!!!

Postby sche5238 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 8:08 am

My PDF was too large, resized to upload here.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
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Re: PDD - 1st try PASS AND DONE!!!

Postby Sarcasmo » Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:01 pm

sche5238 --

Nicely done, congratulations!

And, wow!, what a long list of study resources...! Your list makes me feel lazy, I used three books.
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Re: PDD - 1st try PASS AND DONE!!!

Postby sche5238 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:54 pm

LoL, I didn't read them all cover to cover.
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Re: PDD - 1st try PASS AND DONE!!!

Postby sche5238 » Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:38 am

Thinking further about my summary of how to size a beam, without being too revealing, you may not have to do all the steps I listed here. They might just ask you part of a question that relates to this process. I found it useful to know the whole process but don't think that the entire test centers on this, it certainly does not.
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Re: PDD - 1st try PASS AND DONE!!!

Postby max8176 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:25 pm

Congrats on your pass and thanks for the tips. In regard to the earth quake and wind questions, what are we suppose to know? Like the concept or calculations? I am reviewing Kaplan and the chapters on earthquake are like "wtf". Do we really need all these information? Anyone?
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Re: PDD - 1st try PASS AND DONE!!!

Postby bwatts259 » Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:12 am

Max,
In regards to structures/wind and quakes my experience was
Much more about concepts. Read the FEMA 454 document. It is a great document to read cover to cover but I have heard focus on those 3 chapters he mentions above. I would also buy the pdd designer hacks course $40 for unlimited access, awesome resource.

I didn’t go nearly as in depth as the guy that created this post, that’s seriously so much to fit in your brain and to be honest so many of the questions are impossible to study for. You will know it or not but you can usually narrow it down to 2 answers. Definitely focus on the IBC construction types, height/area table, and fire ratings. Don’t memorize them just know where they are in the book so you can flip to them quickly. Hope this helps
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Re: PDD - 1st try PASS AND DONE!!!

Postby max8176 » Wed Feb 28, 2018 10:51 pm

bwatts259 wrote:Max,
In regards to structures/wind and quakes my experience was
Much more about concepts. Read the FEMA 454 document. It is a great document to read cover to cover but I have heard focus on those 3 chapters he mentions above. I would also buy the pdd designer hacks course $40 for unlimited access, awesome resource.

I didn’t go nearly as in depth as the guy that created this post, that’s seriously so much to fit in your brain and to be honest so many of the questions are impossible to study for. You will know it or not but you can usually narrow it down to 2 answers. Definitely focus on the IBC construction types, height/area table, and fire ratings. Don’t memorize them just know where they are in the book so you can flip to them quickly. Hope this helps


I am planning on looking at the FEMA chapters. Funny you also mention about Designer Hacks. One of the persons in my PDD seminar also mentioned it the other night. How are the questions in compare to the exam? Are they more inline compare to Kaplan and Ballast questions? Yeah, so many information in this exam how am I going to able to remember everything! :( How is the case study portion? This is my first 5.0 exam so I don't really know what to expect. I assume you passed PDD?
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Re: PDD - 1st try PASS AND DONE!!!

Postby bwatts259 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:04 pm

Hey Max,

I did pass, finally done with ARE’s thank god! I thought the designer hacks questions were pretty dang similar to the actually exams. Like I said before though, I don’t give a shit how much you study and how many resources you read cover to cover, there will be questions on the test that you never saw. I had some interiors questions where I just had to laugh, guess and move on. Same with a few structural and lighting calc ones. No damn clue, hardly even worth a guess when a lighting calc is fill in the blank. I would honestly say I got about a 65-70% on this test. I had good luck on PPD and this exam leaving my case studies until the end. They can eat up a lot of time (mine were about 30 min each) and when you think about it there are only 20 questions. I tried to put more brainpower on the 100 mc questions than 20 case study questions if you catch my logic. Any questions let me know man, good luck!

Message me if you do, I get an email that way and I haven’t been checking these posts too often anymore.
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Re: PDD - 1st try PASS AND DONE!!!

Postby max8176 » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:21 am

bwatts259 wrote:Hey Max,

I did pass, finally done with ARE’s thank god! I thought the designer hacks questions were pretty dang similar to the actually exams. Like I said before though, I don’t give a shit how much you study and how many resources you read cover to cover, there will be questions on the test that you never saw. I had some interiors questions where I just had to laugh, guess and move on. Same with a few structural and lighting calc ones. No damn clue, hardly even worth a guess when a lighting calc is fill in the blank. I would honestly say I got about a 65-70% on this test. I had good luck on PPD and this exam leaving my case studies until the end. They can eat up a lot of time (mine were about 30 min each) and when you think about it there are only 20 questions. I tried to put more brainpower on the 100 mc questions than 20 case study questions if you catch my logic. Any questions let me know man, good luck!

Message me if you do, I get an email that way and I haven’t been checking these posts too often anymore.


Yeah, too broad to study everything and too much to memorize. Sent you a PM.
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