I can't recommend Amber Book highly enough. I obviously can't promise it will work for everyone, but if I were to buy study materials again, this is the only purchase I would make.
A little background about myself: I graduated in 2009 and did not enter the professional field until 2017, so there was a huge gap between my education and testing. In June of 2018 I attempted PcM after studying Brightwood and listening to the Schiff Hardin lectures. I failed. I still had a bunch of experience hours to get through and work was nuts, so I waited until this summer to get back into testing. (FYI - The Schiff Hardin lectures are great, regardless of my fail. I personally would not recommend the Brightwood materials. Brightwood is relatively thorough, but covers WAY too much material irrelevant to passing the exams and there are many editing errors which are highly distracting to me. It was also super expensive.)
I signed up for Amber book in June of this year. I had a slow week at work where I was able to tear through all except the professional practice videos. I passed PPD on 6/8, PDD on 6/20, PA on 6/29 and CE on 7/13 all on first attempts. I watched the Pro Practice videos before I took PA and CE. I probably could have gotten through them quicker, but I have a job and kids to deal with, so I spaced them out a bit. PjM will be on 7/22 and my 2nd attempt at PcM is on 8/3.
In total, I will have paid for 2 months of Amber Book. Since I signed up with a large group, I got it for $190/month. Total=$380. My firm only reimburses if I pass, so to me this price is well worth it. If your schedule allows, you can easily get through the videos in a month, cancel, and then take your tests. I agree with the team at Amber Book: IT MAKES NO SENSE TO STUDY FOR ONE EXAM AT A TIME. There is far too much overlapping material. To pass PPD and PDD I did not use any other study materials than Amber Book. For PA and CE I also went back through the Brightwood books and took the quizzes, just as a review. For PcM and PjM I'm also listening to Schiff Hardin again during my commute, just in case.
I don't know how the Amber Book team did it, but they teach the material in a way you actually retain the information. I thought I would go back and re-watch the videos to review but while watching them the 2nd time, I'm sitting there thinking to myself, "I know this, why am I watching this again?" and not just "know" for the exam, but I have learned it and I understand concepts and applications, which is crucial for successful testing. I'm sure that there are some books that may be effective study material, but I clearly wasn't able to retain information that way. With a 3 and 6 year old at home and a husband who works erratic hours, it was not worth it to me to spend all my time studying books when I should and wanted to be spending time with my family. I am pretty sure I'm confusing NCARB a bit because when they ask me how much I studied for the CE exam, I clicked the lowest options. In reality, I studied for CE for about 45 minutes- just enough to get through the Brightwood quizzes. Even for PPD- I essentially studied for a week. ONE WEEK. That's it. I mean, it was a fairly intense week. But I can sacrifice a week; I will not sacrifice months.
Amber Book has been absolutely vital in my success thus far of getting through these tests and has made me much better at my job. Do not waste your time and money on other study materials until you have given Amber Book a chance. I don't think you will regret it.
I'm sorry this got really long, but hopefully someone finds it helpful.
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