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    ARE 5.0 and Forums

    Everyday Intern
    Oct 27, '16 1:07 PM EST

    ARE 5.0 is going live next week and in anticipation of transitioning to take my last two divisions of the ARE, I've been looking at some of the options out there for information. One of my first stops was ARE Coach's forum, where I went primarily for information regarding ARE 4.0 vignettes. However, at the time, Coach didn't have any specific boards dedicated to 5.0 content and sifting through the 'General Discussion' board was tiring. Plus, there wasn't much information anyway (mostly just people pontificating about why they wanted to, or did not want to, transition to 5.0).

    In September, NCARB rolled out their ARE 5.0 Community where candidates can ask questions and get answers from one another as well as NCARB staff who act as moderators. Thankfully, they ditched the Google+ community they have for ARE 4.0 and went with something more organized for the new 5.0 community. I rarely went over to the 4.0 community on Google+ because it was so cumbersome. 

    The new 5.0 community requires you to login through your NCARB account which removes any semblance of anonymity because you are forced to use your actual name associated with your NCARB record. There is an option to change your name by editing your profile, but whenever you log in it defaults to your actual name so you'd have to change that every time you log in if you want to maintain that a different name be associated with your posts (even just logging in will change the name associated with previous posts as well). For someone that tries to carefully curate the online presence associated with their real name, this is a deal breaker for me. I may end up posting on the community, but I would only do so carefully and reluctantly. In the end I'm less likely to participate. 

    Fortunately, ARE Coach's forum will still be around and will still offer a place to ask ARE questions under an anonymous screen name. Coach recently created new discussion forums devoted to each division of ARE 5.0. However, they have barely been touched in comparison to the NCARB 5.0 community. Coach's forum currently has only two discussion topics among the divisions with not even 10 posts total. To be fair, the division specific discussion boards on the NCARB community are barely touched as well.

    I'm not sure why there is such a difference between the two. Perhaps, it was because the NCARB community was rolled out before Coach had a place for 5.0 specific topics, and consequently most candidates looking at 5.0 gravitated toward the NCARB community, which filled the void first ("Candidatus horror vacui, ARE candidates abhor a vacuum." -- Not Aristotle).

    It could also be explained simply because without anyone having taken the tests yet, and because study materials are extremely green, no one really knows what to discuss. Even the discussions that are posted on the NCARB community are more focused on testing procedures, transitioning, and ARE 5.0 general information rather than actual content at this point. Plus the NCARB moderators have been quick to answer; in Coach's forum sometimes a timeliness in responses is lacking.

    However, I'm curious to see how ARE Coach's forum shapes up under 5.0. It seems that the majority of the questions in the forum revolved around the vignettes and it should be well known at this point that there are no more vignettes in 5.0. In fact, the divisions under 4.0 that had less vignette to worry about and more content seem to have fewer discussions than those divisions that have more vignettes to worry about. For example, at the time of writing this, Coach's forums had over 40,000 posts in over 12,000 topics under the SD - Schematic Design division. Compare that to CDS - Construction Documents & Services and there are only just over 9,000 posts in 2,500 topics. That's quite the difference, yet historically SD has had one of the highest pass rates, and CDS one of the lowest (77% and 58% for 2015, respectively).

    So, with the majority of the discussion on Coach's forum revolving around vignettes rather than the other content of the ARE, will users find value in the forum under 5.0? Will they simply gravitate to NCARB's community where they get quick, direct answers from actual staff rather than from an anonymous user with no accountability? While Coach's forums were (under 4.0) THE place to get feedback on the vignettes, I'm not so sure it will continue to be a useful resource for ARE 5.0 candidates. Personally, I always found the responses to ARE 4.0 multiple choice content suspect on Coach's forum anyway. 


    • Wilma Buttfit

      Fact: you could not pass the vignettes without getting coached. Now that there are no vignettes, you just need to study. What is there to discuss? 

      Oct 27, 16 1:25 pm  · 

      tintt, good question. That's probably why there have only been a handful of questions among the two platforms I mention that have actually dealt with content ... and even then it is just to clarify what may or may not be on the test. 

      Even under 4.0, the questions that are posed on Coach's forum are more about being confused about a sample problem in some study guide ... something that actually studying the guide more would usually ferret out.

      Oct 27, 16 3:39 pm  · 
      wurdan freo

      By no vignettes... do you mean no cad drawing? Only multiple choice?

      Oct 27, 16 6:49 pm  · 
      Wilma Buttfit

      Yes, 5.0 is only multiple choice, no vignettes. It will be different question types though, so check out the demo exam on NCARB's website

      Oct 27, 16 7:01 pm  · 

      NCARB announced that there are two new question types in 5.0 due to retiring the vignettes. These are Hot Spots, and Drag-and-Place questions. The are also adding Case Studies

      As tintt mentions, you can practice these question types in the practice exam NCARB has created and made available through your NCARB record. Note that the questions are the same as the ones in the ARE 5.0 Handbook, so it really isn't additional study material. It's main purpose is to introduce candidates to the software and testing interface that will be used in the Prometric testing centers for 5.0.

      Oct 28, 16 11:34 am  · 

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An ellipsis [...] is used to signal an omission, an unfinished thought, aposiopesis, or brief awkward silence. Architectural ellipses are those aspects of the profession we (perhaps intentionally) omit, gloss over, or let dwindle in silence. Generally applied this blog should encompass many aspects of the profession. Yet, as an intern architect (now architect) I'll focus primarily on the architectural ellipses that occur in the internship process (and beyond).

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