ARE 5 In a Flash - any comments?

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hi Melissa,

    Where are you in the exam process?  

    I've recently completed all exams -- I think the Ballast material, as I've said in many posts, can be a good secondary source.  For any given exam, find the posts on this forum that create a consensus for the critical ARE5.0 Handbook materials -- exhaust those first, then use Ballast as a review / overview.

    Did the flashcards come with your manual?  I had some of those as well -- never touched them.  The 5.0 exam is so much less about recalling terms / memorization and so much more about deeper understanding / application of concepts.

    Good Luck!

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    Michael Sullivan

    I purchased the ARE 5 In a Flash cards. I was done with these in about 5 mins for the PA exam. I didn't think they were worth it, and I have not been overly budget conscious with my study materials. My strategy has been to focus on the top resources noted in the NCARB Handbook, noted at the end of each section for a given exam. I got some ideas from other's posts here and elsewhere about what chapters to study. Then i just started, and it all just comes together. As i was reading, i was making note cards, each containing a fact or a concept. They were not flash cards, just note cards. I would then be able to quickly run through my notes to review materials I had read. For me, this has been the most useful, along with taking practice exams. The practice exams are a great way to learn how to read and answer the question, and really do a better job gauging your overall understanding of a concept and how it applies in a given situation. The flash cards are a reasonable way to quiz yourself, but this is not the format of the exam questions, so I would put them at a distant second in value behind practice exams. I also bought the Ballast Review. For sure this is not enough, but for example, i read the PA section first, then i studied the source material. Then, i re-read or skimmed the Ballast section again as one of the last things i studied. I found this a quick and useful way to pull all the knowledge i had retained back together again. The second read maybe took an hour, and it was light weight. I would say it was a way to re-organize and prioritize all the information that was swirling around in my head. I additionally purchased a 6 month subscription to Black Spectacles. I found myself watching the videos at 2x speed as there really was not a ton of information, but rather a conversational lecture giving context. There are a lot of hours of video, and I had to get through it faster. Now, I wish I could just get everyone to speak to me at 2x speed. :)

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    Justin Pelland

    My experience was close to Michael's. I used the Ballast guides, although they're really really poorly edited and loaded with errors. You have to be dilligent using them or you'll potentially learn incorrect information. But as Michael said, they are a good collection of topic areas in one book. You just have to supplement.

    On the flash cards, I did get those and was really disappointed in them. They're not really 'bad' in terms of content or organization, but they're not really flash cards. They're designed to be read front ways or back ways to change up how you study, but the individual cards aren't really designed well enough to do that. It's not like a traditional flash card with a word or phrase on one side and a definition on the other. 

    As an example, one of the cards reads "What are five common applications of one-way long-span structural systems?" while the other side reads "Five common applications for this kind of system are - beams, trusses, joist girders, prestressed concrete tee beams, arches."

    I think they're just too vague to be of much help. I find my own flash cards are much more helpful.

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