Designer Hacks Practice Exams

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    Theodore Diamond

    I used their 4.0 materials to pass PA.  It worked out.  For me, the best use of practice questions is to find my weak areas so that I can study more comprehensively.  Because of this, it doesn't really matter what version of the exam the questions come from.  I'm not looking for a proxy for the exam experience.

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    Scott Barber

    Hi Emily,

    I purchased all the Designer Hacks content for 5.0 back around Christmas - they were running a sale and buying them all together saved some money, too. So far I've only taken PDD and PPD and passed them both, and am scheduled to take PA in 10 days. For me, I found this to be a good value for the money, especially considering all the (seemingly) over-priced material out there from 3rd party sources.

    I mainly used it for the 10- and 25-question quizzes they have, to take when I had a few minutes to spare (lunch break, laying in bed, etc) to serve as a general refresher on what I had been studying. It was helpful to go through them and find general areas where I needed to improve. I didn't put too much weight on the score I received (I don't think anyone should for any practice test/quiz out there) but just used it as a tool to identify areas of weakness. They do a pretty good job providing an explanation for correct answers, which I also really appreciated. 

    Overall, I've been happy with the purchase. It was useful for the exams so far and seemed to be more aligned with the 5.0 exams than the Architect Exam Prep practice exams which I took (I did not think AEP was worth the $$, personally). There was even one question that I came across on Designer Hacks that was almost identical to a question on the 5.0 exam, which I probably would have gotten wrong if I hadn't come across that question before. I'm sure the likelihood of that happening again is small (and it's only 1 question out of 120) but still - it helped me learn something I hadn't studied elsewhere. 

    Hope that's helpful - good luck!

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hi Scott:

    "There was even one question that I came across on Designer Hacks that was almost identical to a question on the 5.0 exam..."

    I've read a few similar comments on other forums.  For me, it's at least a curiosity as to how "almost identical" questions end up on third-party materials.  

    On one end of the spectrum of possibilities is sheer coincidence.  

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    Scott Barber

    Hi Kurt! Surprised to see you here on the forum - I read a number of your posts from a few months ago and saw you finished your exams, congrats! Thanks for all your help in past posts and comments and for checking in now and helping out those of us still going through it. 

    It was surprising for me, too. At this point I don't remember exactly what the question was, but I think Designer Hacks did a good job crafting questions similar to the new 5.0 method of asking questions (minus the new 'types' of question - drag and drop, hot spot, etc). I feel like the question was similar to one of the sample questions in the ARE Handbook, it just covered a different concept that I hadn't come across yet or was a new application of something I had read elsewhere. It wasn't so far out of left field that I'm going to start a conspiracy theory of NCARB secretly revealing it's bank of questions (which is not secretly hidden in Tibet) to 3rd party companies... either way, glad I used it as a resource!

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Hi Scott -- 

    No, to very clear --  my curiosity stated above is in no way directed toward NCARB.

    As I said, my curiosity is about third-party providers, not NCARB. 

    "but I think Designer Hacks did a good job crafting questions similar to the new 5.0 method"

    Same curiosity -- how are third-party providers doing this, exactly?  The new exam format was certainly no secret, so on a generic level I get it.  But how are their materials becoming more focused and similar over time?       

    Scott, congrats on PPD / PDD!  Them's the big dogs.  Where are you in the process? 

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    Scott Barber

    Ah, I understand. It does seem like quite an endeavor trying to produce content for these exams to begin with, and with 5.0's relatively new state it is impressive how similar they can be. Though I haven't used many 3rd party practice exams (just Designer Hacks and AEP, the latter I found not very similar to the 5.0 exams), so I don't have a very broad sample to look at. Over time, I would assume they get some type of feedback from people sitting for these exams and maybe they peruse these types of forums for ways to improve, but who knows. 


    Thanks! I actually started with those two, so I'm only 1/3 of the way there with the exams. PA is scheduled for 3/29 and then I'll tackle PcM and PjM together and CE soon after that. It definitely wasn't intentional to start with the two biggest ones, but it was a big encouragement to pass them both. I did enough research before scheduling them to know I was most familiar with the content on those two, but not enough research to fully grasp how much they covered and how much I would need to study. Now the challenge is not getting complacent or lazy in my studying because the "hard ones" are done. One step at a time though!

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Scott,

    Well then you're doing great on the ARE... awesome.   It's an enviable spot that you're in.

    PA can be a bit of an odd exam for many candidates -- I'd study for that one by itself, as it looks like you've done.  (I had a fairly bizarre experience on PA, which I wrote a post about -- all due to my own "abundant issues"!) 

    Keep your foot on the gas for PA -- put in a solid final week of study and you will check another off the list.

    Good luck!   

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    Scott Barber

    Thanks Kurt, hope you're able to enjoy life outside these exams!

    I remember reading your PA post - before I start studying for a new exam I like to spend a day or two reading through all the posts on this forum about the exam I'm getting ready for, to help focus my efforts and hopefully give myself a boost of encouragement - it definitely sounded like quite a day!
    I'm definitely thankful for the regular encouragement and general advice from everyone on this forum, and am feeling fairly confident for PA. I've identified the content I want to study/refresh on at this point and am planning on getting back into disciplined studying today. 

     

    Emily - sorry for the hijacking of your post. I hope the (relevant) feedback so far has been helpful, and that others chime in too!

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Emily -- I'm the hijacker, actually.  I would not overly rely on third-party materials.  Sounds like Scott used them for a secondary review -- that can be good.  Focus on the NCARB-recommended materials as your primary sources for every exam. 

    Good luck! 

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    Emily Girdauskas

    Not a problem, guys. Thank you all for the feedback. I have been focused on the NCARB resources- just looking for more ways to practice instead of constantly reading text. The practice question bundles are relatively inexpensive, so maybe I'll try them out and see if they help me. Thanks again! 

     

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