Struggling with PPP

Site Zoning Vignette and Multiple Choice

Struggling with PPP

Postby greek22 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:24 am

I have taken PPP numerous times (too embarrassed to admit how many times) and most recently failed it in the beginning of June. Since I failed it 3 times in a year, I have to wait until November to retake. I have passed CDS and SPD. I feel super stuck right now since there's not much I can do in 4 months other than gradually start studying for PPP again. I was planning on transitioning because I do not feel confident that I could pass 4 exams by June 2018. My score report has been all over the place every time I have taken PPP. It's never consistent however I've always passed the vignette. This last time I got a level 1 in programming and a level 2 in project management. I may take the LEED GA exam to pass time but I feel super defeated and not sure what else I could do to get a pass in PPP. Is anybody in the same shoes? Any advice on what to do over the next 4 months or how to pass PPP? See below for my study sources:

CDS/SPD/PPP Kaplan (readings & exams)
Ballast (SPD/CDS/PPP chapters & exams)
Problem Seeking by Wiliam Pena - First Half
Schiff Hardin lectures & AIA contracts with commentary
Jenny Notes
Caroline Notes
PPP/CDS/SPD Archiflash Cards
PPP/CDS/SPD ARE Exam Prep
Designer Hacks
NCARB PPP/CDS/SPD Exam Guide
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby kerzzo » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:26 am

you're probably not alone. this is one of the most difficult exams and the one with the lowest passing rates.
I passed on the third try.
what I studied (for about 5 weeks at least 2 hours every day--weekends more hours):
- Nalsa arch flash + Kaplan flashcards
-Kaplan PPP book
-AIA contracts with commentary(very very important if you dont deal with this at your current office)
-Jenny's and Caroline's notes
-miscellaneous online videos

since you seem to be good with the vignette no point in my telling what to do, but I practiced Nalsa's problem (pencil and paper) and practiced on the NCARB software.

Hope this helps and good luck!
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby kerzzo » Tue Jun 27, 2017 10:31 am

actually one more i had left out on my previous post...
-SAmple problems and practice exam-PPI- Lepp/Ballast
this was probably one of the most helpful ones.
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby sofiasalvat » Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:33 am

In my experience, PPP was a mix of almost all of the exams so you have to really broaden your study material to cover basic concepts of all the other exams. Here are my tips:

-Make sure to study Ballast chapters 2,3,5,30,35,55,56
-Skimmed Jenny's Notes for SS and BDCS
-Skimmed first couple of chapters of FEMA
-PPP - Whole Enchilada (Some people swore by this, in the end there wasn't any information here that I couldn't find in Ballast, Jenny or Caroline's notes but the audio was useful to use while going for a run, etc.)
-Rudger's Vignette Tutorial (Coach would probably disagree with me, but this was the only vignette I practiced pre-exam)
-Problem Solving by William Pena

It's a lot of reading but remember to not get into so much detail, like I said, just understand the overall concepts.
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby greek22 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 12:20 pm

Thank you everyone for your suggestions and feedback. The problem is I looked at all these sources and I've looked at all these sources multiple times because I have taken this exam so many times. I feel like I know the material very well. The exam has an abundance of randomness that kills me every time. I've written down dozens and dozens of questions I have had on previous exams and I still haven't been able to pass this one. I felt super confident on my last attempt that it was a pass and I was very surprised to see the "FAIL". I'm not really sure what to do with my time until then.. :oops:
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby vrcat25 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:17 am

I'd study for PPD and PDD since they are basically the same as ppp with A little BS and an even smaller amount of SS. I really think studying for those would not only help prepare you for PPD and PDD but also would help with ppp. Some people never pass these tests so don't get discouraged. At least you got 2 down and it sounds like you have my bad luck. I wouldn't bother studying the whole enchilada or amber. I've heard many people.fail after studying those. Black spectacles seems helpful though, but I've only watched the free videos.
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby Anob » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:38 am

greek22

We are both on the same boat. Failed too many times this year and have to wait until September to be eligible to take the exam again. In the mean time I've started gathering and skimming through all the materials I need for all the exams. Taking the PPP exam I've noticed that the questions are everywhere and experience is the best teacher. I've left the traditional architecture office to do construction management so I have to supplement work experience with books and a lot of case studies. And I've humbled myself down a bit and now giving myself 3 months to prepare.

Things I've been to reading:
Young Architects "How to pass the ARE exams" (free advertisement but made me feel a lot better)
Getting back in shape (which is recommended in the book)
"The Power of the Subconscious Mind" (I strongly recommend reading this book)
Hackmystudy.com
Daniel-wong.com "How to Study Smart"
MEEB skimming all chapters
Kaplan skimming all books
Ballast skimming the whole book
Case studies on Rehabilitation projects
"Dark Towers" Books 1 and 2 to get me prepared for the movie this August (free advertisement)

Now its time to memorize all the PPP recommended material mentioned in this blog and do all the practice questions.
And that includes:
Kaplan CD,PPP,SD
Ballast PPP,SD
Gang Chen PPP,SD
Designer Hacks CD PPP,SD
Archiflash
Index cards I've created while skimming all my reading material.

I think that is it so far. Hope this helps
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby tufish » Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:10 am

Hi greek22,
I do feel your pain. My ARE tour can be traced back to 2006 when i took my first exam in ARE 3.1.
I passed 4 subjects in a row but had to stop due to an unforutnate family emergency.
I had several attempts after moving back my home country but failed them all.
When i moved to london 4 years ago i once again resume the exams, the crasy working hours and a young kid at home make it 10 times harder to study.
I failed PPP first last spring, passed CDS last summer, fail again at PPP last fall, passed SPD March and fail PPP the third time at MAY.
I've booked PPP again next week and wondering if i should just give up at once if fail again.
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby JORDANARE » Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:58 pm

I tend to agree with Greek22. My approach is similar (though with less time). I also had questions with two answers that easily could have been right. I think i've found a couple ways (that I hope) will help to crack this exam.

1.) Acknowledge the big three for what they are. I don't know if NCARB decided to make these more difficult, but I do believe that most people struggle with one of these. NCARB is not just going to make it a two-month wait period and less testing so it's easier. They still need competent architects, so for whatever reason PPP is really tough and insanely comprehensive, so you just have to accept that unless you have a lot of experience in the area of PM and planning or are a very intuitive test taker that you have to be able to tie almost all the subject matter together.


2.) Create a framework for studying. I hear people say they skimmed certain materials. It's a ton but you should probably try to read most of the material somewhat thoroughly. I've noticed a hand full of questions that were 100% pulled from the recommended material that I didn't know last time.

By framework, here is my approach this time after coming close two other times.

Imagine PPP at the top of triangle or center of a bubble chart or whatever. All the questions I had on the last exam involve second and third layer knowledge in how PPP relates to other areas. Start with broad strokes really connecting BS, BCDS and SS. Then move forward to SPD and CD and finally PPP basics as the exam nears.

There are three major perks here.

One, you will become knowledgeable faster. At the end of the day-- the goal is to become a better designer. No one can guarantee that you won't choke or freeze up on part of the exam, but you will certainly know more about the profession. Make it a goal to know more than you should for your experience level about various aspects of the profession.

Two, You will be much more prepared for the PDD and PPD.

Three, This system creates a framework for reinforcing information. It makes you a more critical reader because you don't find yourself always going over the same thing, and critical reading is critical, and the best part of this is it reinforces all the information and concepts because you can't study for one exam without studying for another, They all overlap in some way, so each time you study for one you are creating a system of overlap, thus reinforcing concepts, so when that crazy coding question comes up that asks about a fire partion, barrier, or wall regulated, you have the tools to think through it rather than just answer it from memory. This test is one where memory alone can hurt you more than the others in my experience.

Hope this helps, and i'll keep people updated.
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby yellowmyth » Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:56 pm

I passed PPP on my 9th try. What I felt helped me get over the hump was the PPP portion of the Architecture Exam Prep whole enchilada series.

I just purchased the PPP section and it comes loaded with PDFs, online practice exams and flashcards in PDF format.

I was in the same boat, where taking the practice exam, I started questioning if I was passing due to knowing the subject or memorizing the question. There has been so-so reviews on the course on this website, but I was desperate for new study material.

I also purchased Professional Practice: A Guide to Turning Designs Into Buildings by Paul Segal, which was an easy read and very informative. I purchased it on Amazon.

Ballast and Kaplan is essential to studying for the PPP portion of the ARE, but with all the information, it is easy to glance over the "little" things. The Architect Exam Prep study materials in a condensed study material of PPP and it is very useful to study with Ballast and Kaplan.

I wish you the best and a friend of mine told me, you only fail when you give up.
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby kerzzo » Mon Jul 03, 2017 5:56 am

yellowmyth wrote:I wish you the best and a friend of mine told me, you only fail when you give up.


very mature advice.
that's the attitude...!
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby greek22 » Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:51 pm

Anob wrote: We are both on the same boat. Failed too many times this year and have to wait until September to be eligible to take the exam again. In the mean time I've started gathering and skimming through all the materials I need for all the exams. Taking the PPP exam I've noticed that the questions are everywhere and experience is the best teacher. I've left the traditional architecture office to do construction management so I have to supplement work experience with books and a lot of case studies. And I've humbled myself down a bit and now giving myself 3 months to prepare.


Thanks Anob for your advice. Have you taken any of the other exams yet and passed? It took me 4 tries to pass PPP and only one try with SPD.

vrcat25 wrote:I'd study for PPD and PDD since they are basically the same as ppp with A little BS and an even smaller amount of SS. I really think studying for those would not only help prepare you for PPD and PDD but also would help with ppp. Some people never pass these tests so don't get discouraged. At least you got 2 down and it sounds like you have my bad luck. I wouldn't bother studying the whole enchilada or amber. I've heard many people.fail after studying those. Black spectacles seems helpful though, but I've only watched the free videos.
'

Thanks vrcat. I'm not so convinced that one study material is better than the other. They are all close in content, some more vague than others. I have used and touched upon almost every study resource out there so far. I'll be looking at PPD and PDD as I approach my next PPP exam.

tufish wrote:I failed PPP first last spring, passed CDS last summer, fail again at PPP last fall, passed SPD March and fail PPP the third time at MAY.
I've booked PPP again next week and wondering if i should just give up at once if fail again.


Best of luck on your next PPP attempt! Keep us posted! Definitely do not give up! I know how disappointed and frustrated you must feel because I too am on the same boat but we passed 2/3 of the "most difficult" exams and that's something to be proud of and keep pushing.
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby greek22 » Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:05 pm

JORDANARE wrote:I tend to agree with Greek22. My approach is similar (though with less time). I also had questions with two answers that easily could have been right. I think i've found a couple ways (that I hope) will help to crack this exam.


I agree with you that creating a framework is the best way to approach these exams however I haven't gotten lucky with PPP. I never walked into an exam by just skimming certain materials. I've tried to be as thorough as possible and I've used sources from multiple other exams as well. I know from the amount of times I've taken PPP that theres a huge amount of overlap. It's probably the least "straightforward" exam of the 7 because of its randomness. Thank you for advice! Much appreciated! Keep us updated!



yellowmyth wrote:I passed PPP on my 9th try. What I felt helped me get over the hump was the PPP portion of the Architecture Exam Prep whole enchilada series.


Kudos for you yellowmyth for never giving up and sticking with it! I have used the ARE Whole Enchilada Series from the very beginning of my ARE journey but have been finding it more vague than other sources. I have used the audio, the pdfs and renewed the multiple choice every time I've taken an exam.

I will purchase the professional practice book though! It's probably the only source in this thread that I haven't looked at. Thank you for your advice! I'm sorry you had to take this exam so many times but it's good to know that I'm not the only one who has multiple attempts at PPP. Where are you now in your journey? Have you passed any other exams? Did you only take PPP consecutively? Thank you again!
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby tufish » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:59 am

Hi greek22,

i found out i pass PPP this morning. i have to check ncarb so many times to make sure i wasn't dreaming....

suprisingly i didn't spent as much time study as i did last time, i have spent 1 and half hour studying everyday on weekday, nearly full day for the last 2 weekends.

i bought " a guid to turning design into building" by paul segal after my third fail on ppp, read it during the morning commute time, rought 10-20 mins per day. i find this book is useful, i 've got a lot programming questions this time.
After finishing the book i use archiflash in the moring commute and i can get 90% of the answer right.
my strategy was reviewing all the related chapters from ballast and exams
the week before exam I focused on jenny and caroline's notes and also my own notes. then the kaplan questions after each chapter. i always space out quickly when reading kaplan so i didn't even bother to read this time.
i've purchased blackspectacles last time for my third ppp retake, but i didn't have time for them this time. i found them often put me in sleeping mood....:)
i bought design hackers this time. They are not close to the ture exam at all but works like flash card so i can quickly know which area i've missed.

4 times taking the exam, i don't think the queations repeat, i tried to write down the questions from the past 2 times but never have same one in my retake.
Vignette is never be an issue to me, i have passed all the vignette in my past exams.

i never walk out the test center and thinking i will pass confidently...including this time.
but it feels so nice when i can finally move on.

thanks for everyone here in PPP to share their experince so i won't feel along, especially greek22.
I am very close to give up but your post and the response posts are the main support for me.
I just count the exams i've had 19 exams since 2007, and i still not done yet. :oops:
NEVER GIVE UP!
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby greek22 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:13 pm

tufish wrote:thanks for everyone here in PPP to share their experince so i won't feel along, especially greek22.
I am very close to give up but your post and the response posts are the main support for me.
I just count the exams i've had 19 exams since 2007, and i still not done yet. :oops:
NEVER GIVE UP!


That is amazing news!! Congratulations!! I can't imagine how happy you must feel! Thank you for sharing your experience and your process! It's definitely inspiring! I'm taking the rest of the summer off to refresh and travel but come September again ill be studying for PPP again. I plan on testing early November. Congrats again!!!
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby dbayrami » Wed Jul 19, 2017 3:41 pm

I have to pass four more exams by June also, it is definitely nerve wracking. I failed PPP once already, and am studying for the retest in a month. It took me three tries to pass SPD, and I failed CDS twice already too. none of these tests are easy, but the hard work should pay off soon. Keep trying!
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby greek22 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:06 am

Placing this thread at the top again. I took a little break this summer from the ARE's to recharge and refresh. I studied and passed the LEED exam last week so I didn't totally abandon studying habits.

And so, I started studying this week for PPP and will be taking it in early November for hopefully the last time. I hope to transition to 5.0 after this since I passed CDS and SPD. How does everybody start studying for an exam? I'm curious to see how people approach an exam and how they begin. I typically start with the audio from ARE Prep to get in the mindset and then take off from there. I'm open to new ideas and suggestions though.
Last edited by Coach on Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: fixed that for you
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby VTBassdrum13 » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:27 am

greek22 wrote:How does everybody start studying for an exam? I'm curious to see how people approach an exam and how they begin. I typically start with the audio from ARE Prep to get in the mindset and then take off from there. I'm open to new ideas and suggestions though.


Congrats on LEED! That's a tedious one.

I started my most reason PPP studying with Black Spectacles videos. The facebook page normally has coupon codes to reduce the price slightly. Personally, this helped me set a foundation of knowledge before trying to read & comprehend dense textbooks. I find if I dive right into textbooks I end up retaining much less than if I start with visual aids. Sometimes I'll even start with the vignette practice to get the ball rolling if I'm really struggling to focus. There is a pretty good PPP Youtube playlist of various topics as well which helps with comprehension outside of a textbook.

This exam took me multiple attempts as well and I found it the most difficult out of all of 4.0 due to the wide range of topics. Definitely reserve time to study nearly all of your CDS material as well. Caroline's notes are great recap of everything the week of the exam.

Good luck!
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby greek22 » Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:09 am

VTBassdrum13 wrote: I started my most reason PPP studying with Black Spectacles videos. The facebook page normally has coupon codes to reduce the price slightly. Personally, this helped me set a foundation of knowledge before trying to read & comprehend dense textbooks. I find if I dive right into textbooks I end up retaining much less than if I start with visual aids. Sometimes I'll even start with the vignette practice to get the ball rolling if I'm really struggling to focus. There is a pretty good PPP Youtube playlist of various topics as well which helps with comprehension outside of a textbook.


Thank you! Congratulations to you as well!!! A lot of people swear by Black Spectacles. I have not used it yet. I may give it a try this time around. I am the same way also - I can't jump right into the heavy readings so that's why I typically start with the ARE prep audio.

I noticed on your post the other day that you read the Professional Practice book by Paul Segal. Did you find this source helpful? Did you read the entire book? I was planning on reading this after I finish listening to the audio. I have failed the "Programming" part of this exam almost every time I took it. Any suggestions for that section of the exam?
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby AREator » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:15 am

yellowmyth wrote:I passed PPP on my 9th try.


I'm glad I now know that it can take that many tries ...but that is so depressing/discouraging.
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby AREator » Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:43 pm

sofiasalvat wrote:-Skimmed first couple of chapters of FEMA


Thanks Sofiaslavat
(and others)
What is this FEMA doc, and where can I find it?
Where can I get the 30 pages of notes on practice management from AHPP (somebody else mentioned)?
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby rbbarnh1 » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:27 pm

This is such a great read. Thanks for keeping the thread alive. I too have had a horrible experience with the ARE. Failed BDSC 3 times, SPD 3 times and I recently failed PPP for the third time and would have had to wait until April of 2018 to retake. :( So, I transitioned to 5.0 because I lose CDS /CE in November of 2018. Reading this makes me know i'm not alone in Failing.. I am only a failure if I give up..

As Tom Petty said,
"It's time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby, grass is growing
It's time to move on, it's time to get going"
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby DANIIFACE » Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:17 pm

If I understand correctly you do not actually lose CDS! I have only passed CDS and before I had another exam registered it said that I could transition over to 5.0 and only have 5 exams left.. instead of all 6 if I were to lose CDS. Correct me if I am wrong but passing CDS before the 4.0 goes away is still a win?
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Re: Struggling with PPP

Postby greek22 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:02 am

DANIIFACE wrote:If I understand correctly you do not actually lose CDS! I have only passed CDS and before I had another exam registered it said that I could transition over to 5.0 and only have 5 exams left.. instead of all 6 if I were to lose CDS. Correct me if I am wrong but passing CDS before the 4.0 goes away is still a win?


That is correct. Passing CDS, will eliminate one 5.0 exam. Passing CDS & PPP will eliminate three 5.0 exams and passing CDS, SPD, and PPP will eliminate four 5.0 exams. Of course, you have to pass all of the exams within a five year time span and before your rolling clock is over.

See ARE calculator provided by NCARB: https://arecalc.ncarb.org/
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