PcM Pass! Here is what I did:
I studied 2-2.5 hours/day during the week and around 4-6 hours/day on the weekend. (total of 20-25 hours/week)
Week – during lunch –1 hour - black spectacles videos
Week after work – 1-2 hours - ballast review material, ballast practice problems, AHPP
To/From work – Schiff Hardin Lectures
Weekend – ballast practice exam one day, Black spectacles exam next day, flashcards both days
I divided up my study time per how many sections are in the exam, plus an extra week for review. For example, 4 sections = 4 weeks of studying + 1 week of review. (total 5 weeks of studying). This allowed me to not get overwhelmed by the material and still feel like I had enough time to prepare.
After each exam, I made note of my week points and made sure to study that more intently moving forward.
Black Spectacles - I know a lot of people don’t like Black Spectacles but this really worked for me!
- Black Spectacle videos – super broad, but gave me a great foundation to work off of. Sometimes explained things to me in simpler terms so I could understand it better when I was going through the other material
- Black Spectacle flashcards – more in depth than the videos, and you can create your own flashcards too! Great for understanding general concepts/ideas
- Black Spectacle Exams – some of the questions repeat between exams, but I noticed that the format and sorts of questions were like the actual exam. I was scoring around 70-75% on before I sat for PcM.
Ballast ARE 5.0
- Ballast Review Material – was more in depth than Black Spectacles, but I noticed some discrepancies between material, so I asked around the office whenever I noticed discrepancies and got some clearer answers from people in the office
- Ballast Practice Problems – I paired these with the study material of each section I was on. It gave me a general idea of how NCARB might ask some questions related to the topics. I only did these twice – once when I first learned the material and the second time when I was reviewing.
- Ballast Practice Exam – I did this twice. Since it’s the same questions, I remembered some of the problems, but reading the questions and really trying to understand what they are asking was super helpful for me. I noticed I got a few questions wrong both times I took the exam, so I made those questions flashcards for me to review the concepts
- I studied chapters 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 13, 16 like my life depended on it. Skimmed chapter 4 (didn’t get any questions on the exam from here, but it was a possibility). However, the reading is super dense and boring. The definitions were helpful and the case studies helped explain things. I only wrote down notes of this whenever definitions were being explained or if they explained formulas.
Schiff Hardin Lectures
- I cannot stress enough how important these lectures are. LISTEN TO THESE LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT. Print off his lecture slides and write down notes after you listen to it. I listened to these in the car and would write down my thoughts after I arrived at my destination on the slides they referred to. This made me listen to the material, read the material, and write about the material. I now don’t feel overwhelmed by contracts. Listen to them This will help you retain the information better.
Biggest lesson learned: learn how NCARB asks questions. You can understand these concepts all day, but until you learn to understand what NCARB is actually asking, it will be hard to pass the exams. A lot of times NCARB gives you way more information than you need. Bring the questions down to the basics.
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