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# A.R.E. Strategies

Dec 17, '12 12:58 AM EST

You'll never hear me claim I know everything. A lot of my intentions for starting this blog include getting the advice and opinions of others out there (see the last paragraph here).  With that in mind I wanted to reach out to the archinect community for some wisdom.

I'm looking at getting started with the A.R.E. but I'm a little overwhelmed by it all. Where do you even start? Is it a good idea to start with the harder sections or the easier ones? Are pass rates a good metric for which sections are harder? When studying for the sections what are the best resources to utilize?

There are many more questions that can be asked but rather than continue I'll just ask you for some discussion. Post links, recount personal stories, give advice, ask questions etc. I'll most likely be posting more specifics as I develop a strategy myself but for now I just want to get the discussion started.

• s=r*(theta)

everydayintern, I was some what in the same boat abt 3mths ago. but now that i have made it my mission to have my lic. by this time next year, i dnt feel as overwhelmed as much as i feel challenged now. i was to a degree fortunate to know a old college pal who gave me all his kaplan and ballast material, so i am preparing to take the site design test first, then maybe construction documents next. since i have a fulltime job as most of you do, i get up at 5am and make flash cards from the materials until abt 7am. then off to my current job (project estimating) until i have my lic. plus the market is showing signs of turning around, & when it does i want to have my lic.

FRaC

what's a lic.?

s=r*(theta)

For the obtuse mind,  Lic. = Licensed Architect.

hope this helps, if not follow the instructions below

1). Find a wall (any wall will just about do)

2). Stand up straight, facing wall about 5.125 inches away

3). Began banging head into wall

4). Repeat 3). until you fall down unconscious

5). While in unconscious state see urself lic. (if already lic. in one state, see urself lic. in   all 50)

Good luck!!

what's a urself?

I'll add a few questions of my own;

Are there specific sections that people find easier to study for at the same time, or is it better to focus on one section at a time?

Also, I'm sure this differs from person to person, but is it a good idea to take the test closer to graduation or wait a few years to get some practical experience? Or both?

here's the thing, practical experience doesn't really account for much - at least not from my experience - the reason being is that you can't rely on what you did, or know, from that experience and expect that it will hold true. AIA contracts, when used, are seldom left alone, and are added to depending on individual firm experiences. code related issues are effected by state amendments. sections, detailing, lighting layouts, etc...are more software specific and program specific, as they relate to the exam. i could go on and on, but i think you get the picture.

i've read and heard, that taking structures right out of school is the big thing now, in those states you are allowed to do that, and that makes sense. but if you are trying to roll into the exams, understand how it works, time constraints, etc, then you might start with Construction Documents, then move into Materials and Methods - or whatever NCARB is calling it these days.

have fun.

curtkram

i would say focus on one test at a time.  pick a subject you think might be easy for you for the first test.  it's a bit stressful the first time, so i think it's better to make the first time as easy as possible.  the second test should be your hardest, then easier from there because you might burn out on studying and it's better to be burnt out facing an easy test rather than a hard one.

the easiest test for you should be the one you know the most about or have the most experience with.  after that though, i would think pass rates are probably a fair metric as to which is harder.  schematic design has a higher pass rate than building design and construction because they teach schematic design in studio and many schools tend to cover how stuff works a little less, but if your school did that different or if you have experience in that subject, your experience will be different.

commit to getting them all done.  don't take a test or two then take a break.  study however much you think you need to, but keep studying every day until your done (except maybe take one day between tests to decompress).

I started working at my current firm (full time) right out of school. After 3 years, I completed IDP.  I put off taking my first exam by nearly 9 months out of the fear of failure and the overwhelming prospect of testing for the first time since college.  I chose BD&CS as my first exam. I figured (and read) that it was the longest and most comprehensive and would set a good foundation for the knowledge base required for the rest of the exams (which is true).  Then I took CD&S as there was some content overlap and it was an area I felt comfortable in.  Then PPP, SS, BS, SPD, and finally SD.  I left SD to the end as an easy finish - no real studying required. Many of them had content overlap which helps studying.

For each, I would study beginning 2-3 weeks before the exam day and give myself a couple weeks off (or more) after the exams.  I used Kaplan and Ballast to study, along with supplements recommended on ARE Forum.  First exam to last took 13 months - I passed all sections on the first try.

I disagree with one of the comments above - my experience definitely contributed to my passing.  We dont use AIA contracts at all either, its just one of the things you have to be knowledgeable about.  Practice the vignettes several times beforehand, post them to ARE Forum and get feedback.  Be aware of the common hang-ups and errors.

Good luck!

s=r*(theta)

@Brandon Sargent Thanks that souds like a great approach

s=r*(theta)

@Brandon Sargent, also how many hours would you say you studied per day?

I can't recall one thing from my considerable time, in a few different offices that had any relevance on the exam. Not one. But hey that was me. Don't forget, an applicant taking the exam in Texas will likely be the same as the one being taken in NJ, so there is a lot that may be different to each region. Keep it to generalities.

I managed to get the exams done in a year, would have been sooner, but that site vignette, shit. Had me waiting a few extra months.

When you do pass the exams, contact NCARB, and see if you can volunteer to help them test the tests. I did and it was quite valuable; it answered all sorts of lingering questions.

Remember, the ARE's are about qualifying the minimally competent architect, not the best architect.

probably 3-4 hours each night.  it translated to 3 or so chapters each night and practice exams on saturdays.

s=r*(theta)

@Brandon Sargent was there an significant pay increase after licensing?

s=r*(theta)

@Brandon Sargent also what are all the applications you are using for the rendering on your "people page"

i did get a raise, i wouldn't call it significant - but my firm does pay for the exams.

for the scheie project? the scene was set up in revit and uploaded to autodesk's cloud rendering service (it only took 5 minutes or so - seriously!) then edited with photoshop.

s=r*(theta)

@Brandon Sargent Thank you for responding

Anyone looking at changing their strategy now that there is going to be the +/- 8-week blackout in July?

http://www.ncarb.org/are/enews/2012/December/index.html

everydayintern

New blog post on Life of an Architect -- Taking the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE). I haven't had a chance to do more than just glance at it but it looked in step with the theme of this post. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

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