Passed all 6 exams using the Amber Book

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    Hoda Jafarian

    Wow. congrats. 

    I can't believe what you did. That's amazing. I am going to have my first exam CE in 3 weeks. 

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

     

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    Ivan Huber

    Thanks Hoda!  I'm exhausted!  But feels great to have the exams behind me.

    Good luck on CE.  As you probably know, there are a number of building systems and code questions on that one.  You've got this!

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    SEUNGAH LEE

    Congrats on passing all six exams!! 

    I just tried PA as my first exam and failed. It was my third try so very hopeless but as I heard good things about Amber book, I am trying to re-strategize my study plan with Amber book for all the upcoming exams. Did you also look at the physical copy of the Amber book? How did you plan the 8 weeks to complete the courses? Did you take notes while taking courses or just listened?  I am hoping to pass the exams with Amber book courses, BS tests, and Ballast... (These three are the resources I have) Your advice would be very appreciated!

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    Ivan Huber

    Thanks Sally. The Amber Book includes a study schedule that I followed.  I took screen shots and notes as I went along so I could review the content later.  I re-watched the videos when I had trouble with a concept.  I used the physical Amber Book as a practice exam after I had completed the course.  However, all of the questions in the book are also in the videos so I would not consider it an additional source.  Keep chipping away at it and good luck!

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    Luisa Bustamante

    Ivan Huber first of all what an inspiration! ALL the exams in 10 weeks?! back to back?! BIG Congrats. Do you think it helped to focus on just taking them back to back as opposed to spending a month on each? Maybe the momentum is better than creating a build up for each...? Did you work or just focus on the exams? Also did you use Ballast at all then? 

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    Ivan Huber

    Thanks Luisa.  Yes, take them back-to-back if you can stomach the risk!  There is so much overlap in material across the six exams that I firmly believe this is the best approach.  At the very least, I would take PDD and PPD back-to-back and I would do the same for PcM and PjM.  I worked full-time (though my office has scaled back to 32 hours/week during the Covid recession) while studying 20 hours per week for the first 6 weeks and about 30 hours per week for weeks 7 and 8.  I only used the Amber Book, AIA contracts, and a few Black Spectacles practice exams (I did not use Ballast).  Good luck to you!

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    Luisa Bustamante

    Ivan Huber wow good for you! ok yes I was thinking to do PA first then PDD and PPD back to back. How many weeks/days did you dedicate to each particular exam then? or did you just study everything at once? thanks for the info Ivan

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    Ivan Huber

    I followed the AB study schedule.  They break the course into four segments - systems, construction, site, and pro practice - and you study for all divisions at the same time.

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    Agustin Salinas

    Wow thats impressive Ivan

     

    I've just passed the CE yesterday and I've just found out about the Amber Book today.

     

    For clarification, did you pay the course tuition or just bought the book?

    Thank you.

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    Ivan Huber (Edited )

    Hi Augustin.  Congrats on CE.  I paid tuition for the course.  I would estimate 3 months of enrollment.  The physical book is really a practice exam.

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    Agustin Salinas

    Thank you Ivan.

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    Jose Thomas

    Hey Ivan, thanks for posting your story.

    Is the Amber Book designed such that this 8 week study, 2 week test taking plan is typical or encouraged?

    I haven't taken any tests, and I really like the idea of taking time off work to solely study and knock all (6) tests out by Spring-Summer 2021.

    Thank you in advance, Jose.

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    Ivan Huber

    Hi Jose.  The Amber Book schedule dictates 7 weeks for study with testing in weeks 8 and 9.  However, they are not specific about a test schedule and suggest you should "take them all at once".

    I admit I was initially confused about this and scheduled one test per week thinking that was aggressive.  But after further digging on the web about other AB experiences, I realized the intention was to take them literally back-to-back in as short of time frame as possible.

    The AB approach is fast, saturated learning and the longer you wait between tests the more you will forget and have to brush up.  In retrospect, I am glad I chose a 2 week testing plan.  It was exhausting, but not overkill, and I had time to refresh on pro practice between weeks 9 and 10.  I think dragging it out further would have decreased my chances of passing (and increased my misery).

    Good luck!

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    Elizabeth Farrell

    Hi Ivan - Amazing post!!!

    Question on the CE videos - do you think that watching all the videos before CE would be beneficial ? Or to really focus on the ProPractice videos - in addition to the codes/etc. 

    Thanks! 

     

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    Ivan Huber (Edited )

    Hi Elizabeth.  CE is probably the most comprehensive exam - some building systems questions similar to PPD and PDD, along with pro practice and building code.  So yes, I would recommend studying all content before taking that exam (probably taking it last).

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    Elizabeth Farrell

    Thank you Ivan for the fast response! Good to know. Will do that. 

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    Deepa Limaye

    Ivan, so how did you go about Amber book ? how long every day? or per section etc? and I am trying to understand the gap between 35hours of video time and  they say 70-110 hours to study along?

    just want to do it right with AB

    TIA

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    Ivan Huber

    Hi Deepa.  I pretty much followed the Amber Book protocol (if subscribed, you can view the study schedule).  I spent about 20 hours per week going through the videos, studying my notes, screenshots etc. during weeks 1-6.  I spent about 30 hours per week during weeks 7 and 8.   So that's about 180 hours total.

    There was also some review between my tests on week 9 and 10.  Hope that helps and good luck!

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    Deepa Limaye

    Great Thank you Ivan.

    Journey is tough one but not impossible and experience like yours are inspiring.

     

    Thanks,Deepa

     

     

     

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    Heather Medina

    First of all, congratulations Ivan!  That is amazing.  I have already passed CE PjM and PcM, I am studying for PA and my plan was to do an Amber Book subscription for PPD and PDD.  Is Amber book content broken down per exam where I can just hop in, or is it really all over?  Meaning could I hop into it half way through?  If I fail PA I might just bite the bullet on Amber Book though.  I feel like I am studying things that are all over the map.  About how many hours total do you think all the videos are?  Thank you.

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    Ivan Huber

    Hi Heather.  The AB does show you which sections to review for each exam.  Unfortunately, it is not very specific and PPD and PDD both cover 4 out of the 5 Amber Book sections.  Translation: you will have to go through 75% of the content for those two exams (everything but pro practice).

    ARE 5.0 really takes a comprehensive approach with specific content - building systems, pro practice, etc - is scattered throughout the six exams.  I think this is why the AB approach works well.

    If you are really concerned about passing PPD and PDD, AB is a great choice as building systems is their strength.  But realize it will take a lot of time to cover everything.  That said, the rewards go beyond the exams and I don't think you would regret adding knowledge to your practice.  Good luck!

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    Rula Zuhour

    Hi Ivan. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and congratulations on an amazing accomplishment. I got inspired by your method and currently taking the Amber course. I am really curious about your Black Spectacles comment, because I was planning to take their practice exams prior to each exam. Was your comment about sticking to the NCARB practice exam solely based on cost or did it actually negatively affect your studying? Aren't their questions close to the actual exams in terms on content? 

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    Ivan Huber (Edited )

    Hi Rula. My BS comment was based on cost/value. The BS exam format is very close to the real thing and there are multiple tests for each section. It is probably the best option if you want to simulate sitting for the exam. But, I would argue that time is better spent on studying and the AB has better content, IMO. I am sure BS content is very good, but some of it was presented differently and confused some of my previous AB learning. It was like taking the same class from two different teachers. If you like the Amber course, I think the best approach is to follow the AB protocol - a deep dive into the content with lots of review, the AB practice exam, along with 1 or 2 good runs through the NCARB practice test to understand the format and tools. Just one opinion however. Good luck to you!

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    Austin Samson

    Hey Ivan, 

    I am about to make a commitment to amber-book and was wondering if you could share some of your study methods? Note-taking, flashcards, etc... anything you used to get the content from the videos to your head - 

    Thanks! 

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    Ivan Huber

    Hey Austin. Best method I found was taking a boatload of screen shots along the way.  Organize them into the sections covered (thermal, HVAC, plumbing, and so on).  Distill them as you go so you have the critical information or concepts you struggle with; for example, I had a folder of screenshots to review before each exam.  Then use them as flashcards to refresh your memory.  It's a lot of work - pausing the videos, command-shift-4 (if using a Mac), and then organizing the screenshots - but I think this really helped me retain the information and I wasn't trying to scribble notes while watching or missing content in the videos.  Good luck to you.

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    Sarah Al-Tekreeti

    Hi Ivy,

    I’m studying the Amber Book practice exam questions and answers. Is that enough to pass ARE exams or do I need to take the Amber course with videos, Amber Book - Building Systems study guide and other materials? Should I study the entire AB practice exam book to take PcM, CE and PjM or only Professional Practice section is what’s needed?

    Thank you!

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    Ivan Huber

    Hi Sarah. The physical Amber Book is really just a practice exam. I would certainly recommend taking the online course before attempting the exams. Good luck!

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