Black Spectacle, Whole Enchalada or Amber Book

Black Spectacle, Whole Enchalada or Amber Book

Postby kjkenan » Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:15 pm

Ok finally made the switch after not completing SS and BS in 4.0 oh well. Gonna do PPD and PDD - in that order as suggested- what to you guys thing about the big 3- Black Spectacle, Whole Enchilada or Amber Book? for 5.0 which is best, don't think spending the money for all is wise so just want some feed back. thanks
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Re: Black Spectacle, Whole Enchalada or Amber Book

Postby mrmelend » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:05 am

I'm not at all impressed with the 'Whole Enchlada' study guides for PPD & PDD. I contacted Doucette about my money back guarantee but the 30-days had passed. I took this exam x2 using his material alone. I had absolutely no issues passing ARE 4.0 with just his content, but 5.0...FORGET ABOUT IT! Mr Doucette acknowledged that they would be 're-recording' the study guide which to me is acknowledgement that this material alone was rushed to market and is insufficient. I've taken this exam twice and unfortunately AREPrep missed the target badly with PPD & PDD. To make matters worse, I didn't get the money back as guaranteed. In his defense, I was over the 30-days. Use the books in the NCARB 5.0 handbook. Its money better spent until good materials are released.
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Re: Black Spectacle, Whole Enchalada or Amber Book

Postby blancovero » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:20 am

I used AMBER book to pass (after 3 attempts) BS in 4.0.
I personally do not like the whole enchillada and Black spectacles are good. I failed twice PPD and PDD after transition from 4.0.
I cannot blame the books, I think I rush thru the questions and I cannot get a good grip of what they want you to know. Now, I am trying Ballast 5.0 ARE 5 review material, it is good but you want to also review MEEB and architectural graphic standards.
Good luck
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Re: Black Spectacle, Whole Enchalada or Amber Book

Postby WPTARE » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:05 pm

which amber videos to purchase for PPD and PDD?
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Re: Black Spectacle, Whole Enchalada or Amber Book

Postby thd7t » Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:14 am

Amber videos aren't purchased individually, however, their website has been updated to show which videos to watch for those exams. I think it's all of them!
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Re: Black Spectacle, Whole Enchalada or Amber Book

Postby erinrcollins » Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:22 pm

I used Whole Enchalada ("AEP") for CDS/PPP/SPD in 4.0, liked the audio files, because I have a long commute to work. Basically, AEP is a mega study outline that brushes over the main topics in each exam, BUT it is not a stand-alone study source by any means. I probably would not recommend it for PPD/Pdd, even though I used it for both, and passed both, with the addition of other sources of information. If you commute to work, consider it. AEP's biggest strength is that it is an audio review guide, organized to make sure that you hit all of the topics in the NCARB outline---- when I did not have the time to study the programming and estimating sections according the the NCARB outline for PPD, listening to AEP brought me through. That said, it is a re-hash of their 4.0 materials. I also complained to AEP--I felt that the $99/per study guide was a bit steep, considering that it was the same materials from their 4.0 PPD/SPD/SS/BDCS/SD guides, AND a lot of the material overlapped between PPD and PDD. Their response was something to the effect of "oh, well, NCARB told us we could use 4.0 materials".

I did not use the Amber book videos, but did have a copy of the $20 Amber Book, which I highly recommend.

I took a look at Black Spectacles when I started studying for CDS, but was not impressed. The content was not very thorough, similar to AEP, but you had to watch videos, and audio files were better for me.

Overall, none of the 5.0 materials are going to be good, yet, as they are all a re-organization of their previously released 4.0 materials. Stick to a handful of study sources directly from the NCARB references, and maybe get one of the above as a supplemental resource.
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Re: Black Spectacle, Whole Enchalada or Amber Book

Postby Digitx » Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:51 pm

To further elaborate on the Whole Enchilada (AEP), as mentioned previously, they have basically re-hashed/re-organized their 4.0 materials. I used them for the 4.0 exams exclusively and passed. Their vignette review guide was especially helpful. As mentioned, the audio guides are a plus also, as well as the online exam simulator for multiple choice, which is the best study tool of them all. Practicing the extraction of information from your memory is key to the multiple choice section of the exam. Overall, I found their study guides a great value at $99/Exam. Especially relative to the price of the other study guides. I found their materials more 'on point'...I didn't feel I under studied or over studied.

I was around for the transition from 3.0 to 4.0 and there was a similar adjustment period for the study materials, although I will say the 4.0 exams are the same as 3.0, just with the multiple choice combined with the vignette. Otherwise, same questions and same vignettes as 3.0

Whole Enchilada started well after the transition to 4.0, so the materials were more established. 5.0,being the paradigm shift as it is, will take further adjustment and I think their materials now reflect that. They seem incomplete for 5.0 right now

None of the current review materials that I am aware of practice the one skill that seems to be crucial to 5.0: the cross referencing of several resources to answer a given question, primarily in the Case Study section, but it does sound like several multiple choice questions are set up that way too. Whatever you use (list of references from NCARB, Whole Enchilada, Ballast etc) to review currently will give you data, but none of them guide as to how to cross reference the data to answer a question. NCARBs practice exam does have a Case Study, definitely use that...but further practice is unavailable...that I know of, anyway. If any one else knows, please tell us.

To me, this would be like practicing for the vignette. I am about to subscribe to the Amber videos, maybe they review this?
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Re: Black Spectacle, Whole Enchalada or Amber Book

Postby kjkenan » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:44 pm

Good replies all. Whole Enchilada, I have found out is really no good. Black Spectacles seems to gloss over the material. SO I am going to try Amber Book for PPD and PDD. if anyone want to sign up my email is, we can get $100 off I believe, if more than one person signs up.
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Re: Black Spectacle, Whole Enchalada or Amber Book

Postby twokeelya » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:44 am

Yeah, me too, I didn't think the ARE PREP was worth it. The OMCES were useless for case studies, and access time was too short, completely different format, the Audio and PDF is just a survey of basic information and gave me very little help. It is just too general, not specific. I feel it's not worth the price, cut it in half and I'd buy more. I used it for PPD and PDD, felt it was of little to no help, other than general and will not buy the remaining divisions. However, if you spend lots of time in your car commuting, it's probably ok for background studying, certainly not worth using when real studying is needed. I won't miss that guitar riff on the intro's, I play guitar and that riff is awful, just cut those out and save some time.
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