Another Fail... Please Help!

Another Fail... Please Help!

Postby Charlie22 » Sat Dec 22, 2018 4:44 pm

I just took this exam today for the 5th time and failed again! I'm literally at my wits end. I have passed all other exams and this one is my last with the rolling clock running out. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. Looking back I've passed the exam but just not all content areas in one. So frustrating!!! I really wish there was something NCARB could do to give us more feedback on what it is we are doing wrong so we could correct the problems. Coming from a family of educators, it also seems that a 50% pass rate says there is something seriously wrong with the tests or the program not the people taking them. I'm not even sure what to study anymore! I've tried everything from, Black Spectacles, Amber, Kaplan, Ballast, Sun, Wind and Light, Kevin Lynch's Image of the City, Plumbing, Electrical & Acoustics, Heating, Cooling & Lighting, MEEB, Architect's Studio Companion, IBC, Building Codes Illustrated, Designer Hacks, Brightwood, and I'm sure there may one or two others I've missed. I feel like this could be a simple brain block I might be having on this exam and that could potentially keep me from my goal of getting licensed, especially since I'm running against the clock. I'm at a point in my middle-aged life where I'm ready to just move on and pass these exams already!

Anyone reading this have any advice or insight? Please help!!
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Re: Another Fail... Please Help!

Postby pecos » Wed Dec 26, 2018 8:01 am

I have very similar feelings and I posted for the first time a couple weeks ago, after having failed PPD for the third time. I don't have any offerings of success on this one, just to commiserate and say, I feel the same regarding this exam. I have passed all others, and haven't had any significant difficulty until I came to this exam. It just seems the exam casts such a generic wide net of material - and there is no way to pin-point any specific approach to studying, just improve on areas of weakness. I have also covered the material you mention, and had no issue with PDD - so I find it amazing that PPD can be so troublesome. Given the low pass rate, I just wonder if it is a matter of getting a version of the exam that plays more into your own personal strengths to push you into passing territory. I honestly just consider this exam a crapshoot at this point.
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Re: Another Fail... Please Help!

Postby kerzzo » Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:48 pm

I fail PA, PPD, and PDD 3 times each. I have reconsidered my career path as a licensed guy if I can make a better living without this stressful non-sense.LOL

i have a bit less than two years in the rolling clock, and will consider a shot at these exams in July 2019.

I have studied anything possible and never got it're not's frustrating to throw money and time at these. I feel prepared and I know a lot about the practice...over 14 years of real life experience, but I guess that does not count for the NCARB
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Re: Another Fail... Please Help!

Postby PCorn6 » Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:05 pm

Charlie22, I feel your pain, being a 3+ PPD test taker myself. This test was the most difficult one for me to pass, but eventually I did. The best advice I ever read - and I've been on both this blog as well as the AREcommunity blog; I much prefer this one - was from philipgu: PPD - PASS_my advice; dated Monday Jul 30 @ 4:23pm. philipgu advised 'spend the majority of your time relentlessly taking practice questions.' After my multiple failures, it occurred to me that if I went into my next resit studying the way I did for the previous sittings, I would fail the same as I always had. Of course, the first failure may be chalked up to not knowing exactly what and how the exam will be delivered, but once you get to the 3rd and subsequent failures, it's time to change your strategy. Instead of reading, reading, reading and memorizing; and buying yet another book, then doing practice exams on the weekends, I did practice exams every day of week, then read up on the questions I missed on the weekends. I bought Brightwood's online question bank (cost me $25 on Cyber Monday) and hit those questions hard, as well as Designer Hacks (already one of my staple study references...I used DH for all my exams). [Disclaimer: I don't put much stock in Brightwood's study resources overall, but the act of going through the online question bank increased my knowledge of the subject areas, and that was worth something.] I also used the Black Specs practice exam a lot! My goal was to hit a consistent 85% or higher score. It's also very useful in helping to get your timing down on the actual exam. Another valuable resource for me was my notes on the previous exams I took. I always did a brain dump, i.e., wrote down every question I remembered from every iteration of every exam I took and failed, once I got back to my car. By the time I went in for my successful sitting, I had over 126 questions in my personal notes as a separate personal study guide. I went through every single one of them and found the answers (NCARB matrix, YouTube, Google, Ballast, etc.). I wrote the answers down and what book, where to find it, etc. in the margin beside each question. This option is unique to us multiple test takers. Leverage it as much as you can. I also took a gamble and signed up for Black Specs' tutoring sessions. These were/are expensive!! But so is sitting this exam 3/4/5/? times. It turns out that the tutoring was not as helpful as I expected it to be; however, I did glean *some* info from the sessions; even if only to disagree with the rationale I was given for a question, then thinking my way through why I thought the tutor was incorrect. [i/m/o Black Specs - and others - make a critical mistake assuming a registered architect practicing for 20+ years makes an ideal tutor. WRONG! There's the practice of architecture and then there's the PPD exam. Two very different things.] Lastly, after taking the exam several times, I had enough info to literally map my performance in each subject area for each failed sitting. This helped give me a clear idea of where my weak areas were. Like many multiple test takers, I passed every section at some point; just not in the same sitting. I was able to identify areas where I was on the fence 50/50 re pass/fail, strong areas and areas and weaker areas (where I only passed a section once in all my sittings). That exercise helped me to better focus. HVAC was a weakness of mine, so I watched The Engineering Mindset videos on YouTube. A lot. I also did the NCARB test several times, and read through my notes on CDS/PPP/SPD (4.0) as a refresher, since PPD is all encompassing. This test covers a lot and is a tough one to hurdle. But it can be hurdled. Even for 3+ test takers like us. It's hard to keep one's chin up after multiple failures, but I encourage you to do so. I'm rooting for you and all the other 3+ test takers out there. Change your strategy. Think differently. You can do it!
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Re: Another Fail... Please Help!

Postby boston2017 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 11:04 pm

I took PPD for the 4th time and didn’t pass. Any advice to study for the Costs & Budget Section?

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Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 1:03 pm

Re: Another Fail... Please Help!

Postby cbunal » Thu Nov 21, 2019 1:37 pm

I know this is an old post but RSMeans has a Square Foot Cost manual with examples and worksheets. Also, at the back of RSMeans Building Construction Cost Data there's a sqft Project Size Modifier that's helpful. Good Luck!
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