Amber Book - Worth the Investment!

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    Olivia Zepp

    I'm wondering what your out of school experience is? Are you a fresh graduate or have you been working at an architecture firm for a few years? 

    I have PA, PPD, and PDD to finish up with and am wondering how well Amber Book will be for those exams and not really looking into other material. My schooling focused a majority on design thinking and not technical information and I've only been working full time for a year. Just trying to gauge your real life architecture experience against people who are fresh graduates just getting into the field full-time. Thanks!

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    Emily Brewer

    Hi Olivia, 

    We have sort of opposite backgrounds - I don't have an architecture degree just a MS in Historic Preservation but have been working in architecture for 7 years. While experience did help in PA in understanding the process of construction and where certain contracts or AIA documents come into play, ever firm is different and honestly don't always follow the process "correctly" as NCARB or the ARE would consider it. So that said, I still had to learn the material for the test regardless of my background. I found the AmberBook course, his 40-minutes of Competency videos, and actually looking through the AIA documents to be helpful and was enough to prepare me. PPD and PDD SO similar, and really PA as well. I would highly recommend approaching these exams together and taking them back to back to back while the material is all in your head. Hope that was helpful. Good luck!!

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    Iwan Brody

    Hi Emily,

    Did you takes notes while going through the course? If so, how extensive did you take notes? Thanks!

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    Emily Brewer

    Hi Iwan,
    I took pretty extensive notes which I reviewed weekly per Amber Book recommendations. I also used the notes to create flash cards which I also reviewed periodically and quite a bit during exam weeks. Even with note taking, and pausing videos to do so, I completed the videos somewhere around week 5 leaving a couple of weeks to review, go through the study tips and recaps on AmberBook, and take practice exams.

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    Ty Englund

    Congratulations Emily!

    I was just curious as to whether or not you utilized any other resources (Ballast, Sun Wind Light, the long list of suggested reading materials) or did you solely use Amber Book? Currently looking into Amber Book for a more comprehensive study rather than studying individually like you said! 

    Thank you in advance! 

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    Emily Brewer

    Hi Ty, 

    I solely used Amber for the VAST majority of the studying. I used Ballast practice exams (awful, wouldn't recommend) and BlackSpectacles practice exams and flash cards. I found the BS practice exams to be quite good, the flash cards were more of a convenience but they did have some concepts that weren't present in the Amber material. I had access to BS through work so it was an easy add to my study materials. I also watched most of the supplementary videos linked within the AmberBook course, and read through some of the AIA documents that seemed most relevant. 

    All in all, AmberBook should be comprehensive enough along with free materials available online. However, if you can get your hands on some extra practice exams from another prep course it can't hurt. I did 3 practice exams per real exam - AmberBook (quite short), Ballast (again, you could skip this it was terrible), and BlackSpectacles. My recommendation would be to start with Amber - once you get through the materials and start to recap and take practice tests, see if you need to purchase anything extra at that time. 

    Good luck!

    Emily

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