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PASS! Study tips (for those who stink at taking tests)

PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 11:24 am
by johannah33
PDD has given me hope to finally finish these tests! I did the (3) 4.0 tests then switched to take the 2 in 5.0, so I am one test away (PPD) from finishing this. This forum has been an excellent resource. I think my take-away from all these tests has been learning how I best learn, which seems to be visually, through photos or videos of actual construction (or going on job sites...) instead of the more diagrammatic approach that a lot of the Kaplan/Ballast style books go towards. Also, there is NO RUSH to studying and taking these in two months at a time. I took as many months as I wanted, knowing I had a life outside of this that I wanted to enjoy at the same time, and that also gave me the excuse that I was giving myself more time to have direct, relevant experiences from my job. Learn what works for you. Also, it's okay to fail. Multiple times. Life happens. These tests are not the end of the world, though they can be crazy frustrating sometimes. Plus, if you fail, you have that many more practice questions to reference :S

I have come to realize things stick when I learn something in multiple ways. I read/skimmed through the following:
-Ching's Building Construction Illustrated
-The Architect's Studio Companion
-Kaplan 4.0 SS (not as helpful)
-Kaplan 4.0 BS (more helpful)
-Kaplan 4.0 BDCS (more helpful)
-FEMA 454 chapters 4, 5, and 8 (online PDF you can download) (was a great structural review and there were definitely questions related to this)
-old notes on specs from CDS (it greatly helped already having studied for this test)
-understanding ADA code in regards to elevators
-I flipped through the IBC 2015 code book chapters 3, 5, 6, 7, and 10 and read the exceptions to the tables everyone always references (allowable height/area, fire separation, plumbing fixtures etc) to get familiar with quirks that hadn't come up in projects at work before

During reading, I also tried to take as many practice tests/quizzes as I could get my hands on:
-Kaplan 4.0 SS (skipped the ones with calculations)
-Kaplan 4.0 BS
-Kaplan 4.0 BDCS
-designer hacks 4.0 SS/BS/BDCS (free online)
-designer hacks 5.0 PPD/PDD (free online)
-NCARB handbook 4.0 SS/BS/BDCS
-NCARB handbook 5.0 PPD/PDD
-NCARB youtube videos had some extra questions that the handbooks didn't have for each of the ones I listed above

I think what really cemented stuff for me was looking up questions on subjects I didn't have familiarity with and watching youtube videos about them. Some of my favorites included:
-Grant Adam's Construction 144 lectures (on vimeo's website), which included a lot of information on BDCS related content, with some structural information. He was able to explain stuff in a way that clicked better than reading the books and just trying to memorize from there.
-the engineering mindset's videos on electrical were so helpful in explaining how single phase/3 phase and mechanical systems work
-Black Spectacles (any free videos on his BDCS/BS/PPD/PDD related content)
-Amber Videos (any free videos I could find)
-Hyperfine Architecture has some great case study style questions

Test taking tips:
-CHECK YOUR UNITS for calculations! There are some simple calculations that are able to be figured out if you make sure your units match up.
-Average 2 minutes/question. If you take more than 5, pick an answer, flag it, and come back to it.
-Give yourself 2 hours to read through the case studies.That gave me plenty of time to read through the scenarios and find the information I needed. Use the search bar! It's your best friend.
Good luck!!