I’m not finding this content on the video lectures helpful at all. I paid for the expert ARE exam guides but seriously they are a freaking snooze. I’m not learning anything. The real issue is the trick questions. The exam I just took is full of nonsense trick questions- it’s NOT an evaluation on understanding the content or about making proficient choices.

Spent months studying and went through all the videos and I still failed the exam. I’m at a total loss of what to do to pass.

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Hello @jessica_lu -

I am so sorry that you are frustrated with not passing the ARE exam. Most people tend to take the same exam multiple times, I know I did. For me the trick to passing the exam was a combination of things.

  1. Know the information in the ARE 5.0 Handbook. The language in this material is the same way the test is written, get used to it and make sure you know the content backwards and forwards.

  2. Spend the time taking notes on even the most tedious of content. This is a proven technique to help you recall information later.

  3. The exam tends to have buzz words or information that directs you to the answers they are looking for. Really spend time reading the question and only answering what they are asking for.

  4. Process of Elimination, make sure you go through the multiple choice questions and remove the obviously incorrect answers. This way if you have to guess between two or even three possibilities you have a higher chance of guessing correctly.

I know that at the end of the day the test are full of a ton of content and it can be a serious challenge to absorb everything. Just know that your in good company and try to utilize all the resources at your disposal.



Stay Strong… I failed once and I am sorry you didn’t pass. It’s just like getting nicked off the horse… you got to get back on. I’m taking my test again in 3 days and I am hoping BS has equipped me this time. Fingers crossed! And never give up!!!


I am also concerned about my purchase of Black Spectacles. Today I went through all of the PcM Section 1 videos, took diligent notes, and then went to take the quiz. I was unfamiliar with MUCH of the vocabulary and concepts. I failed the quiz. I then went back through the videos and compared the information given in the lectures to the questions asked in the quiz. There are multiple instances where the information in the quiz is not even touched in the videos. For instance, there is a question on whether the project architect or the project manager should attend a particular meeting. I went back to the staffing assessment portion of the video and there is no mention of the roles of project architect vs. project manager. I am concerned about the time I am spending watching the videos vs the information I’m given in them.

I am particularly concerned because I am following the exact steps suggested by the Black Spectacles study guide and am already seeing major gaps in what is discussed in the flashcards, videos, and quizzes.

Can someone on the Black Spectacles team answer to this? I just signed up two days ago and I hope I didn’t make the wrong product choice.

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Hi @madison.sembler !

Thanks so much for your comment and I apologize that you’re concerned about the content covered within Black Spectacles. I will say there is a lot of content to cover for these exams, Black Spectacles does a lot of work try to best cover the material in the exams. I’m going to tag @coachchrishopstock so he can work with you regarding the Black Spectacles content concern. Best of luck with your studying and welcome to Black Spectacles!


Hi @madison.sembler - we appreciate your attention to this and understand your frustration. As you may know, we’re in the midst of revamping all of our video content (you’ll notice that our CE division videos are new, and we’re working on the other 5 divisions) and we made the decision to release section quizzes for our members as an additional source of study content. We missed the mark on releasing communication as to how these new section quizzes can be used in conjunction with our existing study material - specifically, there can be some misalignment between our new quizzes and the order of our existing videos.

For PCM section 1 specifically, we’ve chosen to cover insurance in section 1, and our section quiz reflects that. In our current videos, insurance is covered in section 2. According to the ARE Handbook, you might see insurance questions in both sections, so we’ve decided to cover it earlier.

One of the purposes of revamping our content is to provide more information in our videos than currently exists. Specifically for PCM, we know our current content is lacking in detail on firm financials and business structures - in later section quizzes, you’ll see questions about these topics. I can assure you that our new PCM content will cover both of these topics extensively and over the course of multiple videos.


Hi @madison.sembler - just to add to Chris’ response, you may also find it useful to attend some PCM virtual workshops, which dive into topics he mentioned in greater detail:

  1. Business Structures and Insurance - covered in PCM “Risk Management, Legal Structures, and Contracts” workshops. The next workshop on this topic is this Sunday, July 3, at 2:00 pm Central.
  2. Firm Financials - covered in PCM “Evaluating a Firm’s Financial Metrics” workshops. The next workshop on this topic is on Sunday, July 10 at 2:00 pm Central.

You can RSVP for workshops right on your PCM dashboard. Our workshop content expands upon the information in videos so you can deep dive into particular study areas that tend to trip up candidates. Good luck with your studies and thanks again for reaching out!


I’m one of the Black Spectacles instructors for the Practice Management Virtual Workshops. If the videos aren’t quite getting you there, supplementing with the Virtual Workshops along with your reading of the AHPP might help you out.

The sessions are interactive with other ARE candidates and a coach, provide quality content, and include a live Q&A at the end of each session, where we can discuss specific struggle areas and study strategies! You can also submit questions to be fielded during this session ahead of time. I’d love to see you there. We have a great time getting through the content together!

@coachemilyepple will be facilitating this upcoming session on July 3, and I’ll be running the workshop July 10. I highly recommend giving it a shot-- could be great for you!


When will the fresh material for PCM be accessible? I’m attempting to pass the exam in September, and I’m hoping to have the mentioned improved resource before I take the test. The updated content would undoubtedly be useful to a future subscriber, but as an existing subscriber, I think this is cause for concern.

I also took the first quiz and discovered that neither videos nor flashcards had adequately prepared me for it, so right now I’m reviewing the sources for the quiz’s questions and answers as a way to learn extra material. Perhaps material that should have been covered? I don’t know.

Hi @gwong - we don’t currently have a date in mind for releasing our updated PcM content but we’re working hard at it!
Regarding PcM section 1, there are a couple of topics covered in our section 1 quiz that are covered elsewhere in our content right now - insurance and working with consultants. Check out our PcM objective 2.2 videos on insurance, and our PJM video ’ Project Teams - Consultants and Contractors’.

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