Comments

26 comments

  • Avatar
    Frances Pharis

    I would like to know too if anyone has used this and if they recommend it... I have about a month until my (hopefully) last exam and would like to know if $99 would be worth it for the videos for PPD.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    SM

    I used it for 4.0 and I liked it. A lot of times I would just play the videos at work in the background so I could listen to them. I found the information covered to be just as relevant as all the other study material I was using (ballast & archiflash), but with the added convenience of being able to study/listen while at work. I have no idea how different the 5.0 is but I would imagine it's a lot of the same material.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Cedric Reuter (Edited )

    I have sort of been itching to rail on Black Spectacles (or B.S. as I like to call it) ever since I tried it. I won't rail on it because that's not really productive. Instead here's a quick rundown of my feelings about it.

    - Tried it for the first time as a supplemental resource for my first two exams: 5.0 PcM and PrM (I have never used them before for any other info)

    - I have found that they are very broad and shallow -- almost like an introduction course -- coverage of all of the learning objectives outlined by NCARB.

    - The videos aren't edited super well nor are they engaging (almost better to listen to it as a radio program like Sean^ mentions.

    - May give you a good place to start if you need to be introduced to the exams for the first time.

     

    So, that said, the reasons I'm borderline-angry are these: At first glance the amount of hours of material sounds enticing (usually 10+ per exam) but I've found that they are almost a waste of time, and wasting that much time starts making you angry. You could listen to them in the background, but they're in short episodes so you have keep clicking 'next' and I feel if you really want to be getting anything out of something that you paid money for you will give your full attention (at least I do). I watched them in conjunction with studying ballast and primarily the source material and I can think of roughly three times throughout the entire 8hrs of PcM videos that I found something uniquely useful to the BS videos.

    Add on the fact that their subscription based system means most people will realistically need to spend close to $600 in total to watch all of their video material it starts looking like a scam (and of course, as a subscription service they can't offer a refund once you've paid!) I haven't approached them with my grievances to ask for a refund because I decided to just get as much out of my $99 as I could, but I definitely won't be continuing my subscription past this month.

    That's my take. Then again, every source could help! I may suggest you first look for the Schiff Hardin lectures and JennyPDX's notes (both free and I found to be incredibly helpful!)

    4
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Ellen McCormick

    I've also been using Black spectacles (so far for PDD) and agree with Cedric - too broad, too long, not enough specifics.  Feels more like an overview of the architecture practice.

    3
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    SHAWN RYAN

    I'll third these comments. Also felt like I could've invested my time and money in a better way. Now that the brightwood (formerly Kaplan) materials are finally coming out, I'm going with them instead of BS for future tests.

    My personal beef with BS is that you couldn't download the courses. So I was always grappling with bad wifi connections at coffee shops. I get them wanting to protect their content, but needing wifi was a hassle, and clicking next over and over was also annoying.

    In my opinion, if you'd like an overview of info, better bang for you buck would be pluralsight. They don't have all the sections done yet, but they are done well. The PS app is wonderful, let's you download the videos and playback wherever, the playback is seamless, and the supporting content they include is really good. Unfortunately I'm moving faster than Kevin is releasing these, or I would stick with these. And they're only $30/ month.

    I will say though, black spectacles does do a really good job giving you real world examples and continually references the same pair of case studies that they carry through every section. BS definitely made me more confident jumping in to more technical material, but it wasn't worth $99, and 10 hours of studying time. I straight up watched them during study time though. Maybe I'd feel different if I had just listened while doing other stuff like some other people suggested.

    3
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Rebecca Weeks Erdman Edmunds

    Terrific comments and links. Thanks so much!

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Frances Pharis

    I ended up purchasing a month subscription to study for PPD (hopefully my last exam!) I am just now getting to the meat of the videos and I agree with everything said so far.  They are very broad, I keep waiting for specifics.  They are good for an overall big picture of what the exams may ask, but they will be supplemental, at best, to other study materials. 

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Yen Vo

    I liked Black Spectacles for 4.0 for the vignette review videos. I tried watching it for 5.0 and agree that it felt like an inefficient use of time. I can cover a ton more material reading for 45 mins - 1 hour than listening to part 1 of a 7 part primer on a single topic. If they posted case study review videos, that would be the only thing I might recommend.

     

     

    1
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    SHAWN RYAN

    An update on my previous comment. I did BS again for PA, and I watched the videos at least at 1.5x, sometimes 2x the speed, and I didn't take it as seriously (sitting there and taking lots and lots of notes). Instead I'd be cooking dinner, or doing some other thing around the house while listening and glancing over when he was sketching something. I treated it more as an introduction, and did the course the week before my actual studying started. I felt like doing it this way didn't make me feel like I was wasting dedicated study time. The content really is a nice broad way to get acquainted with the materials. I'm gonna go with Ballast and Brightwood for future exams, but if you're hopping in to a test where you have literally no experience and want to get a primer before studying the specifics, BS might be a good option. 

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Rebecca Weeks Erdman Edmunds

    Just completed the Practice Management exam; my first in 5.0. I agree that Black Spectacles material was very general and quite a time commitment. I also have a set of flashcards from NALSA for 4.0, which were not very useful for PcM (used cards with related 4.0 content). Also read Professional Practice: A Guide to Turning Designs into Buildings, but it was essentially the narrative form of Black Spectacles.

    I took a training series here in VA, but most of the presenters are not up to speed on 5.0, so that was perhaps the biggest waste of time and money... My take, after experiencing the exam, is that current instructors are generally guessing as there is still very little practice exam material. 

    I found the material covered in The Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice the most valuable of all materials I used, as well as gaining a thorough understanding of the language of AIA contracts. I plan to continue with Black Spectacles for one more exam..., but only as a lulling supplement to AHPP. 

    My study window was about 5 weeks, 1-2 hours/day on average, which is more than sufficient for this exam. In retrospect, I should have put all my energy into AHPP and the contracts. Otherwise, good to have experience with firm operations and business practices.

    Can't say that I'm certain one way or the other on passing this one.

     

     

     

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai (Edited )

    RWEE, I appreciate that you've posted your take on the exam.  

    As for your thoughts on study materials -- I think I'm beginning to hear and read the consensus that the materials listed in the ARE 5.0 handbook are actually a candidate's best bet.  Go figure, right?  While 4.0 seemed to be all about the third party study manuals -- the opposite seems true for 5.0.   I have read several comments that align with your conclusion -- for PcM (and PjM), the main focus should be the AHPP.

    What exam is next for you? 

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Rebecca Weeks Erdman Edmunds

    Yes, I believe NCARB has done a great job of outlining study materials. Their sample exam questions are a bit simplistic though.

    I'm on to PjM. I've been studying for both PcM & PjM simultaneously, as there is a lot of continuity between the two, so tackling PjM in one week! 

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai

    Knocking them out quickly, nice!

    April 7 for PjM for me...  I am definitely concentrating on the AHPP.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Michael Booth

    Great idea SHAWN RYAN to listen to them at a higher speed! I will be going that route from here on out, I wish I had had that idea myself ages ago as he repeats himself quite a bit and drones on about pretty obvious concepts. 

    I am doing the five exam plan and looked into additional resources after failing an exam (PPP). I was able to get my firm to pay for black spectacles and would echo the comments above. I would be disappointed had I paid for them out of pocket. I did pass PPP on the second try but I would credit it more to Caroline's Notes found through designerhacks.com over black spectacles. Sadly no notes like that exists for 5.0 that I can find. Anyone know of anything?

     

     

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Meredith Guy (Edited )

    Just an FYI- I used Architect Exam Prep to study for PPD 5.0.  It was also $99, but that includes audio files which I found really helpful and (4) online practice exams.   I found it useful and worth the money- and I passed.  

    Studying for PDD 5.0 now.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Rebecca Weeks Erdman Edmunds

    Awesome intel. Thank you!

     

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai

    Meredith, very good to know regarding PPD.  Have you taken PjM, PcM? -- If so, any similar input?

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Meredith Guy

    no... I did the 4.0 and transitioned to 5.0.  However, I did use Architect Exam Prep on the three 4.0 tests I took and passed them as well.  

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Rebecca Weeks Erdman Edmunds

    Having started this chain, thought I'd let everyone know that I passed Practice Management! 

    No word on Project Management, but on to Programming & Analysis Monday.

    Cheers!

     

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai

    Rebecca -- congratulations!

    I'm taking PcM in three weeks -- I appreciate your thoughts on study materials. 

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Rebecca Weeks Erdman Edmunds

    Hi, Kurt. Have you found this markup on relevant AHPP chapters? It's fairly valid: https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/224073527/comments/240376147
    Best of luck!

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Jennifer Penner

    Congratulations on passing your exam Rebecca!  I came across this string and wanted to comment as a proponent for Black Spectacles for anyone else who stumbles upon it too. I want to help by offering some relevant information to judge this study resource fairly. I used Black Spectacles for 4.0, not 5.0, but still want to help if I can. I am the Architect Licensing Advisor for New Mexico.

    I have found that a crucial piece of the puzzle with all of this is whether or not the examinee knows what sort of learning style they possess and if they chose the appropriate resource for their studies. 

    Check out the VARK questionnaire to identify whether you are a visual, aural, reader/writer, or kinesthetic learner. Here is one that I recently used with a group of exam candidates: http://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire/

    If you are a reader/writer you'll do splendidly with text-based resources. If you're visual or aural my opinion and experience is that Black Spectacles is not only adequate but effective. 

    I love what Charlie Klecha, 2014-2015 AIAS National President, said in his interview with Marc Teer about Black Spectacles - I am paraphrasing;

    "This [Black Spectacles] is not a shortcut, there is no silver bullet. You put in the work, focus, and you will get results."

    This is so true. You can listen to Klecha's entire interview here: https://blackspectacles.com/podcast/episode/how-the-aias-president-passed-all-7-are-exams-in-7-days

    Another great resource is the Architect Exam Prep podcast #18 titled, Understanding Your Personality Type and How It Affects Your ARE Experience. This was my first step toward discovering that there is more to this studying stuff than just hunkering down with textbooks or starting a study group. Identifying what sort of personality I have and how it affects the way I study, for me, it changed everything. You can listen to it here:

    http://architectexamprep.com/2015/11/understanding-your-personality-type-and-how-it-affects-your-are-experience/

    After you've identified what your personality type is and what sort of learner you are, if you determine Black Spectacles is the route for you, be confident that you chose a great resource that fits you. Worth repeating; it fit you. Don't bypass the stellar option Black Spectacles provides just because it didn't fit someone else.    

    My background:

    I took the Black Spectacles #AIA7in7 Challenge last summer (2016).  I used this video based product to study for all seven ARE 4.0 exams for seven weeks and then took all seven back to back. I subscribed for two months only. Black Spectacles was an invaluable resource for me. I am now licensed and I give Black Spectacles all the credit.

    The total time I began studying to the day I accepted my license was a little over four and a half months.

    I passed four in my first try; had to wait 60 days to retake the last three; did not study during those 60 days; rescheduled them over two consecutive weekends; brushed up on structures and MEEB then retook and passed them. Done. End of story. Four and a half months.

    When I made the decision to accept the 7in7 challenge I, like many of you, didn't have the time to study for the exams. I was/am a wife, a new mom, a full time employee of a firm where I had four project deadlines coming due just before I left to go take all seven exams. During the time away and in between several of the exams I received a call that my grandma was diagnosed with heart failure. I tell you all of that to make sure you all know I'm just like all of you, life is happening and it doesn't stop just because you want to get your license. 

    Stay strong, stay positive, find the resource/s that work best for you, and plow through these exams! Believe me, they are going to look so good in your rear-view mirror!

    2
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Joan Albert

    I used Black Spectacles almost exclusively for 5.0 Programming and Analysis and thought it was great. Yes broad descriptions but if you listen to all of them i got specifics especially in the “examples” mock question. Between the videos and piecing in a few sections my 4.0 study book (my firm hadn’t bought the 5.0 yet) I was able to pass the P&A section after 4 weeks study time. I’m a believer and am using it again for the Practice Management and it’s giving good explanations of AIA Code of Conduct.

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Carolina Quintero Duque

    Hello all,

    My company is about to purchase the BS membership. Just wondering if should I go with the Pro-Access or premium Membership.

    Thanks for your input

    0
    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Carolina Quintero Duque

    Any discount code for membership?

     

    0
    Comment actions Permalink

Please sign in to leave a comment.

Powered by Zendesk