I figured I'd start a new thread for this since the other relevant threads were getting somewhat tangential.
I took, and passed, PPD yesterday and wanted to share a bit of my experience since it was so helpful reading about other people's on here.
In general, I agree with the sentiment that going with NCARB reference matrix material is not only a good way to go, but it's also far less frustrating of a thing to spend your money on, as for the most part they are quite useful in practice, and so much of the industry around the AREs can otherwise feel like such a cash grab. I pretty much read the latest edition of Building Construction Illustrated cover to cover, read through about half of Building Codes Illustrated, and skimmed the latest editions of Graphic Standards and Fundamentals of Building Construction, which I will go through much more thoroughly in preparation for PDD.
I borrowed a number of 4.0 third party materials that I used very little of, but took the Ballast 5.0 practice exam and another BDCS practice exam from some other rando third party publication. I also had some nicely written third party materials from ghosts of ARE past in relevant divisions. Jenny's notes for BDCS were good.
I did all of Black Spectacles for both this and PA (which I also passed first try, after failing a vignette in SPD), and while they are somewhat tedious and not super detailed, they provide a great foundation for the concepts in a very low stakes format. I am endlessly impressed with Mike's on-camera stamina, but would mostly just listen to him while doing some menial tasks. This is the only "study prep" material I've managed to justify spending money on, partly because it's somewhat affordable and straightforward. And at least tax deductible as a business expense.
Finally, while there was no way I could come up with the cash for those Amber Book videos, I did watch their youtube channel, incomplete videos and all, and especially found the ones on acoustics useful. I also came across a handful of great youtube playlists that folks have put together for this division (just search youtube for ARE PPD), one of which included these rather clear and straightforward structural lectures: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVBufDj9xVy5gvA6B15OsHw
I think that's about it. I really appreciate reading all the feedback from everyone else on here. On to PDD!
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