Agreed. Inst is straight fwd. No grey areas. I had taken a year off from flying and went right onto Inst flying so my skills were far from sharp.
Holds are still part of the PTS. Although depending on the dpe he/she may let you use the 430 to see what hold you will do. Mine turned it off and I had to tell him before entering it, my time and inbound / outbound legs.
I had a dpe for my cfi-a, I kept digging myself a hole where he kept asking where can I reference that info. So it was a loooooooonngg day.
MEI was easy for me as I did 80% of my training in a twin (back when regionals wanted 50 min with 100 being the ideal) hence why I chose that option.