amber book, boot camp and black spectacles. Help!

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    Elaine Wong

    I would take Black Spec out of the equation. Its really broad and if you are on your own, like myself (I am in London), BS is not enough i think. I am tempted to use Boot Camp but similar situation is that I will run into the problem with time difference. 

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    Michael Riscica

    Michael Lawson, 

    The cost of the boot camp is clearly defined after you click the button for the program your interested in. The price is not the same for each program.. 

    I disagree with you on advice about starting with the reference documents. AIA Contracts and most NCARB recommended references were not created to be studied. They were created as references for practicing architects. ARE Study materials were created to be studied. I highly recommend starting there and then later moving towards the reference documents. I will agree that there are many great resources in their list, however each of us learns differently. 

    I am a visual learner (which is how i arrived at architecture) reading giant books that were created to be references isnt always the best way to study for each person. We all have different skills, learning styles, experiences, educations and beliefs. Please be open to acknowledging that everyone has a very different experience on these exams. 

    Thanks for your advice and keep working hard. 

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    Meeta Morrison

    Hi Lorna, I used Boot camp and it gave me the kick I needed. It was really inspiring to be in the Boot Camp community and get feedback, advice and motivation. Michael Risica Has compiled a set of resources that was great for studying.. I learned so much about the test and the profession as well.

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    Lorna Alvarado Oyola

    Thank you so much! There are so many resources that is hard to choose.

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    Michael Lawson

    I used Amber and Black Spectacles because they were both upfront about what it would cost and what I would get. I haven't seen what the boot camp would cost anywhere. I will say though, you don't 100% need any of them. The bulk of my learning came from the primary sources listed in the ARE handbook. These third party materials or group study sessions are for practice or for diligence. They will not provide the required learning for the tests nearly as well as a primary source. I'd recommend starting there. 

    If you're in Japan, it must be hard to find study buddies, but this community could get you part of the way there. Definitely keep sharing your progress, lots of people here will hold you accountable. 

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    Lorna Alvarado Oyola

    You guys rock. Thank you all for the responses. I am using the reference materials. Also have been using the PPI book and the practice exams and they seem pretty good. :)

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    Katie Merten

    Lorna, 

    Since you're in Japan, the Bootcamp might be the way to go.  He should be able to accommodate your time zone in the weekly meetings, but it still might be tough.  However, you will not be the first person he's had in the Bootcamp from another country! 

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    Michael Lawson

    Thanks Michael R. I didn't see the price before, probably didn't dig deep enough. I would definitely echo the sentiment "Please be open to acknowledging that everyone has a very different experience on these exams." Since everyone has different learning styles, our recommendations only go so far. Each individual will choose their own path. I sincerely hope you know I am not directing any comments at or against you or your Bootcamp. I simply did not use it, and had a very different experience on these exams. There can be lots of overlap though. I don't think I've heard of one person who used a single resource to successfully pass all the exams. 

    I am also a visual learner, and luckily many of the referenced books have great illustrations that I liked to copy by hand to help me learn. The Building Codes/Construction Illustrated are great examples. I definitely recommend drawing as much as you can when studying if you like learning that way, it really helps everything sink in (and it is a lot more fun). 

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    Lorna Alvarado Oyola

    Thank you so much Erik! 

    Your input is very helpful, specially when there is so many sources of information that I have to use wisely. 

    I hope this post helps others, because these exams are challenging, time consuming and wallet draining. 

    I appreciate everyone's advice.

    ~Lorna

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    Jordan Rhodes

    IMO👎🏾= Black Spectacles
    Ppi/Brightwood/Ballast are cost effective and accurate to the actual exams.

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    Erik Fendik

    Hi Lorna, I hope that all is well. You might have noticed that my earlier advice at https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/360028777253--amber-book-boot-camp-and-black-spectacles-Help-?page=1#community_comment_360004601514 in these comments disappeared. Unfortunately, it got caught up in NCARB's spam filter when I tried to update it later in May 2019. Although I reached out to them, there is nothing they can do now because too much time has passed. When your comment or post is tagged as being "reviewed", if enough time passes, what that really means is that it was "deleted". Anyways, here is an earlier draft from March 2019 of the same message I found among my documents. It might still be helpful to you or others. All the best, Erik

    ---------------------

    Hi Lorna,

    I too am abroad and without a local AIA community to prepare for the exams in person, or an office to have direct ARE resources. Therefore, I recommend that you spend some time first to explore and understand what resources are out there, available by others for free, and what will work for your specific learning style.

    How do you learn the best? First figure out your learning preferences and then design your own efficient curriculum around them. Invest in your education and gladly prioritise $s where you know you want them spent (just like experienced architects do in smooth-sailing projects). Many successful ARE test-takers have shared their notes, exam approaches, and clarification questions in advance of exams.

    Below is my curriculum, still in progress and evolving (just like the ever-lasting architectural education). Personally, I have a certain degree of photographic memory and learn the best from visual and spatial information (physical books with thickness to them, PDFs with clear page distinctions, videos, diagrams, tables, sketching on my own). This helps me to distill down complex concepts into practical understanding that is transferable across specific instances. I recognize that for the actual exams I need to practice questions that challenge prioritization of information under time constraints. I know that during the exams, I will have to analyse, prioritise, and digest a lot of instance-based information, either relevant or irrelevant. I know that I will have to synthesize in order to find the most appropriate solutions for given parameters.

    This distillation, understanding, analysis, synthesis is what licensed architects do nonstop. Therefore, as much as I despise standardized tests, I am looking forward to taking AREs. Since you are in Japan, you might appreciate structured yet creatively flexible haiku the way I do and the way I see architecture too (structured yet creatively flexible). Here are a couple of haiku to keep you motivated:

     

    creativity

    distill efficient learning

    flexibility

     

    listen carefully

    analyze and synthesize

    collaboration

     

    Personally, I am now transitioning between the phases 2 and 3, trying to target about a month for each phase (while working fulltime and often overtime, and attending parent-to-be evening classes):

    • Phase 1 (general knowledge) - compiling primary resources, determining personal learning style (What will work the best for me?).
    • Phase 2 (general knowledge) - skimming through and editing the primary resources, establishing personal content gaps (by answering ARE Handbook sample ARE 4 and ARE 5 questions, ARE Handbook mock exam online, Designer Hacks free sample ARE 4 and ARE 5 questions).
    • Phase 3 (gap knowledge focus) - reviewing and learning from secondary resources such as Amber Book videos, Ballast ARE 5 revised review manual, Schiff Hardin lectures, The Architect's Studio Companion Rules of Thumb (which are the most suitable for my personal learning style).
    • Phase 4 (exam focus) - reviewing primary resources again (legal, standards, ARE Handbook), skimming through notes from others (PDFs, Quizlet flashcards printed to PDFs, NCARB ARE 5.0 Exam Questions Android app which is more of a term review than actual questions), preparing for the actual exam format and question types (Black Spectacles timed mock exams with case studies), reevaluating the personal content gaps established earlier (continuously).
    • Phase 5 (exam focus) - taking ARE 5 exams, focusing on known areas and guesstimating the personal content gaps that remain (while helping to care for our due firstborn that will join my wife and I towards the end of Phase 4).

    I have considered Black Spectacles videos (for my phase 3), Designer Hacks (extra content, paid), Quizlet (flashcards online), Hyperfine courses (very clear and affordable and I might get them for the end of my phase 4 if I will have any time left after the Black Spectacles timed mock exams with case studies), Plural Sight (very clear and affordable too, it ranks just after Hyperfine for me, but I will quite likely not have the time), Young Architect Boot Camp, Architect Exam Prep, PPI Practice Exams, Kaplan, ARE Sketches, Arch Exam Academy, etc. as well but they did not really suit my personal learning style and/or content focus and/or timing and/or budget. They all are definitely useful and should be given consideration.

    Welcome to the ARE 5 community and good luck!

    Cheers, Erik

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