I've been using the Ballast ARE 5 Review Manual, Practice Problems, and Practice Exams books to prepare for divisions of the new ARE. In general, I've found them to be misleading, underdeveloped, and generally frustrating. There are significant errors in the text that make studying this material difficult if not impossible (whole words missing from sentences, including one page where the first word of 3 different sentences were completely missing, a 'select four answers' practice question in which two of the answers were exactly the same, and acronyms for organizations that are out of order or incorrect - it even mixes up AXP and IDP one paragraph apart). On top of that, the practice problems and practice exam questions don't seem to be in line with those that are asked on the actual exams. The Ballast problems are often entirely subjective, rely on information not given, require assumptions be made about critical aspects of a problem that would otherwise change the answer, and feature inconsistent language from problem to problem. Also an issue is that the books often include explainations in their solutions to problems that are contrary to the actual answers they say are correct.
I'm writing this post to see if anyone else has had an issue with the material in the Ballast books. I find it incredibly frustrating that the content is so badly written given how much I spent to get them. It was the only study guide available when the exams came out, so I didn't have much of a choice. The other reference material listed in the ARE 5.0 Handbook are much more helpful and I'm starting to wonder if I should even bother using the Ballast books anymore.
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