I absolutely sympathize with you. I've been through the gamut with it. If you don't have someone close to you that is familiar with the content, the only solution is to take a course. I wouldn't have passed it without one simply because I didn't even really know what to look for. Seismic Design Category C makes you lazy I guess, but I've never seen anything above that and I generally do delegated design work anyway. To this day, I think it is stupid that I had to have an SE to do what I do, but I digress. <-This is exactly why I'm shooting for a board appointment.
I KNOW how bad it sucks, but if you run through the course and do as the instructors ask, it'll all be over. AEI will teach you everything you need to know and you can put this to bed. Just look at yourself in the mirror, give yourself a swift kick in the arse, and hop right back on the horse. Don't get down on yourself about intellect, it's not about that. I'm well in MENSA category IQ, have near perfect academic credentials, and award winning mega-projects for huge companies and universities (Virgin, John Deere, and the University of Alabama to name a few). All that said, IT TOOK ME 5 tries for lateral. It is NOT about you. Taking this thing is like donning a blindfold, being spun around, and trying to pin the tail on the donkey. If you've never been exposed to the material, it's near impossible. It's just how it is.