Below are the highlights of Bob’s Structural Systems Exam Review session. I will be attaching the full notes as a pdf shortly.

STRUCTURAL SYSTEMS Review with Robert Dermody from Roger Williams University

AIA Space: August 7, 2013: 6pm


  • The architect’s studio companion, Edward Allen & Joseph Lane

  • Statics and Strength of Materials for Architecture and Building Construction, Barry Onouve & Kevin Kane

  • Elementary Structures for Architects and Builders, R.E. Shaeffer

  • ASD Steel construction manual 9th Edition

  • Structural Systems Reference Index

STUDY TIP:  FYI NCARB owns this exam, not Kaplan or PPI. Therefore take the review guides with a grain of salt. they are not written by the same group.

EXAM TIP: Answer ALL the questions, leave enough time to go back. Practice to be fast enough so that you can get through everything and leave enough time on the Q’s you don’t know

REVIEW: NCARB online  Structural Systems Exam guide HERE

4. LATERAL FORCES (ALL wind or seismic loads ARE lateral…FYI)

EXAM TIP: Figure out what the question is asking about – looking at the wording, to key you into what kind of loading – wind or seismic, they are asking about


  • Do the upper floor first, work top down

  • Practice these, and practice your methodology of how to tackle the vignette.

  • Keep it SIMPLE!!! Do not do anything fancy, just make sure it works.

  • Always start with columns in the corners – make sure it doesn’t go through anything on the floor below

  • Make the design efficient – aka, make things all the same widths – think real world ordering all the same size joists. Always maximize the spacing of your joists to be as efficient as possible. Deck is a one way system (directional because of fluting)

  • Repetition is REALLY good in structures. The more of the same, the easier it is to build.

  • Typically with joists – you want to span the shorter direction, because the joists can be less deep, therefore weigh less, therefore cost less. Structure is priced by weight.

  • Make sure the columns are on both plans, ie. they aren’t left mid-air, they continue to ground

  • If your joists have to be different lengths – keep things symmetrical, and make sure two of the three bays are the same

  • Sketch out on your scrap paper to remember the minutia

  • Drag the area for joists from the CENTERline of the column

  • Look for beam length, joist length, joist spacing information out of the written part


  • Be careful for the “except” questions. Make sure you are reading the question carefully

  • For number questions – if you get the number right off, great, if not, can guess by setting the answer numbers to the equation to see if they make any sense.

  • Mark the ones you want to check later

  • Study with friends to hash things out

  • You’re not going to get every question right, don’t worry about the ones you really don’t know.

  • Some truth to going with your gut; some of the questions are just logical.

2013-08-07 PhotoStay tuned for pdf notes!