I am a long time interloper to the forums but rarely post. This weekend I passed PDD to finish up the ARE and can't begin to describe the feeling. However, this post is not about me. I am writing this in an effort to provide encouragement to all of you who are still working towards that same achievement. Keep up the good work and never give up on your goals!
To provide some perspective, let me give you some details. I completed grad school in 2003 - yes, 2003. Since then, I worked in a couple of offices, got married, had two kids, served 6 years in the military before getting back into what I love. Several times, I had almost given up on becoming registered but friends and co-workers continued to push me. Ultimately, I really felt that having spent 6 years in college pursuing this dream, I needed to finish it for my own personal sanity. So, as I said, you CAN do it!
Now, on to the question that is always asked - what did you use to pass? I was one of those who transitioned from 4.0 to 5.0. I only took P&A, PPD, PDD under 5.0 so I will keep my feedback to those 3 tests. Honestly, I have seen so much varied feedback on what people used to prepare and found it confusing. I am NOT endorsing any product, but I did use the Black Spectacles videos/practice exams for all three. My approach was to "power watch" the videos, do a the practice exams to get some sort of an idea of my knowledge base. I have seen where many do not like the products. It is a high level review, but that is what I really liked as a starting point. After that, I filled in more details with the usual sources, ASC and BCI. I read both of those books but did not memorize them. It gets to a point where the amount of information is overwhelming. The only other source I used was the Designer Hacks practice exams. A lot questions can start to repeat, but I really liked the way it identified topics I knew and many I did not. Or, topics I was not prepared enough to answer in a MC question.
Easier said than done, but I really think you just need to find what works for you. These tests are more "big picture" and not necessarily down in the weeds. I have seen questions in these forums where people are obsessing over the most intricate detail and it is just not needed. Think concepts, but also understand them. Understanding is key more than memorization. You have to remember that they can only test so much in ~100 questions. Think about what they are trying to ask and why you might/might not do something in professional practice. Pay attention to the question - lots of time there are hints in the way the question is asked that could give you a clue on how to answer. Be comfortable with the fact that there will be some questions that you just don't know the answer to - I had several. Spending hours reading/memorizing every potential study source will not help with this and will cloud your focus. I am not a great test taker and am certainly not the most experienced person in the room, but I didn't fail an exam.
Again, please take this post for what it is. I know that this may not help everyone and you might say that you have heard this all before. Regardless of your opinion, I do wish each and everyone of you the best of luck moving forward - YOU CAN DO IT!
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