Passed my last ARE! - Test & Case Study Strategy

Passed my last ARE! - Test & Case Study Strategy

Postby noahinblue » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:21 pm

Just passed the PPD exam today, and I passed the PDD about 3 weeks ago - Done with all of them now!!!! :D
Here's some lessons learned with taking these two tests that really helped me:

For me.... the clock was my biggest enemy on all the ARE's I've taken. All in all - I preferred version 5.0 to ARE 4.0, but version 5.0 is definitely harder to study for.

The Case Studies are difficult and take a lot of time - Take them first, you can jump to them in the "Exam Summary" page ... I started the test and answered about 5 normal questions to get my brain fully into **test mode**, just enough to feel warmed up, then went to the Case Studies. The Case Studies have several chapters of the IBC as a reference document, so you need to know how & where to quickly look something up in it. You'll take too much time if you're reading or skimming it for an answer, you need to jump in and out of it quickly. Remember what IBC chapters are given to you as references, these could be helpful while you're taking the general test portion.

Both the PDD & the PPD had 2 Case Study problems, each with around 10 questions each. The questions didn't build off each other, meaning you don't need to answer the first one before you have enough info to answer the 2nd one, they were all independent. With the Case Study, I typically read the full "Scenario" page then went to the questions, I didn't bother looking at any of the plans, code, or other references until I knew what the questions were looking for.

I tried something new with this last test that really helped me. Be careful not to drink too much coffee before the test - I only had one cup on my drive to the testing center. The test is too long to rely on Caffeine to sharpen your wits, so you'll crash after the first hour. It's also not the type of energy you want for this type of test - too much caffeine give you a nervous/ anxious energy, not the calm focused energy you need for this long of a test. While I'm thinking of that - The worst thing you can do during a Prometrics Test Center test is need to use the restroom, it takes way too much time to go in and out of security for a potty run.

According to my Prometrics Test Center - people taking the ARE's are allowed to eat/drink during their break... I brought in a banana and a bottle of water - banana's have a lot of potassium... I felt good going into the 2nd half. You get to decide when you take your 15 minute break - it stops the clock & doesn't impact your time at all (and you can finally use the bathroom) Make sure you take your break.

I also tried eating a lot of salad the night before to keep me better hydrated during the test: thinking if I was generally hydrated when I went in, I wouldn't feel thirsty as often, wouldn't need to race off to the toilet mid test... maybe I wouldn't run out of time on this one (no luck- the clock still killed me). I think the big salad last night helped, I felt better hydrated this morning which kept me better focused and alert.

How I studied for this test:

No one wants to say this - but Brightwood SUCKS for version 5.0, and Ballast probably still does too - they can't be used as your primary source of studying, they're both giving too much of a summary level of knowledge and not the depth or subtlety needed to learn what's on the test. But I do really like their sample questions - those were really helpful. I would recommend still using them as an overview, but definitely not a one-stop-shop. They're good to go back and refresh on topics- I was glad I read the Site chapters in Brightwood and the chapters dealing with lighting, structures, and electrical -that's where I was weakest.

Have a strong understanding of how to use the IBC and the ADA codes - I spent too much time searching the IBC for answers instead of knowing right where to turn to on the case studies.

I also really like the practice exam NCARB has on their website. They give you Structural, Electrical, Plumbing, Mech & Acoustical references. Go through each of the sections they give you and figure out what the formulas are and how to use them.

Final hint for test taking - you need to be able to estimate distances on a lot of the floor plan related questions... they give you a scale, but no way measure what your looking at.... Use your scrap paper to quickly mark out the scale and hold it up to the monitor as a makeshift ruler. You don't need to be exact on anything, but there were a few times I was glad I did this.

Happy I'm done with all these, it took me way too long to finish all the tests! Good luck on yours!
noahinblue
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:44 pm

Re: Passed my last ARE! - Test & Case Study Strategy

Postby Melon Panda » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:17 pm

Congratulations! I have two questions for you.

1. You mentioned about the scale. Did they give you a graphic type of scale? If so where? Was it located within a drawing title?
2. When did you take a break? After finishing the two case studies?

Thank you so much!

-MP
Melon Panda
 
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:24 am

Re: Passed my last ARE! - Test & Case Study Strategy

Postby noahinblue » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:57 pm

Thanks!

Anytime I remember needing the scale, there was a graphic bar scale and a north arrow with the drawing title (below the drawing) I remember also needing the North arrow a number of times. There was one time I needed to know what half of some dimension was, so I folded the paper in half to speed up trying to estimate. (but I might have totally been misunderstanding the question)

This test I took the break after both case studies, thinking that was a good time to recharge. I spent too long on the first case study, so this was about 2 hours into the test. Last time I waited until I was about 3/4s of the way through, I think I waited too long last time but was too panicked to remember to take a break. It sounds like dumb advice, but eating some fruit during the break really helped. :mrgreen:
noahinblue
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:44 pm

Re: Passed my last ARE! - Test & Case Study Strategy

Postby Melon Panda » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:27 am

I didn’t realize there were a graphic scale and a north arrow in the drawing title. I will check that next time.

I used 3 hours straight for both MC and two case studies last time. Then I had a break and used the remaining 1 hour to review the marked questions. However, this method..... made me really mentally exhausted.

Next time, I’m thinking about doing two case studies first and take a break. Then, come back for MC and review the marked questions at the end.

Does this make sense?

-MP
Melon Panda
 
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:24 am

Re: Passed my last ARE! - Test & Case Study Strategy

Postby noahinblue » Mon Apr 16, 2018 2:36 pm

That makes sense - you finished everything A LOT faster than I did, but I tend to read all the questions really slowly. I never had a chance to go back and review any of my questions, and time ran out as I was working on one of the last questions (I think I was close to finished)

What do you think of the version 5.0 format? I thought it was all in all harder, but I was happy to not have any more vignettes or a single question that could result in failing the exam.
noahinblue
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:44 pm

Re: Passed my last ARE! - Test & Case Study Strategy

Postby Melon Panda » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:55 am

4.0 was easy for me. The questions are based on the memorizations and straightforward to answer. The vignettes were super easy. Just need to practice, practice, practice.

On the other hand, 5.0 requires one or two additional steps to answer each question - they call it “Cognitive Complexity”. For me, they just try to make a single question more thinking and complex.

Anyway, you’ve done with the ARE. I hope I will be like you soon.......

-MP
Melon Panda
 
Posts: 43
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:24 am


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