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ARE Discussion Central:

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rcz1001

To start this discussion thread:

While there are minor updates to the delivery of the ARE exam planned by NCARB which NCARB's Guidelines and Handbook would be updated, the exam content would remain the same and timing would be adjusted so I would have to follow NCARB's guidance on that and they should have new practice exams to test. 

Aside from above noted things to be mindful of:

What ARE exam study material for ARE 5.0 do people recommend ?


*This thread is for posting recommended study material and discussions related to the ARE exam. You can say this can be thought of as a ARE Discussion Central. 

** It is not the intent for this discussion thread to whine about NCARB or the ARE but it is a venue to ask questions and answers. It is not about me although I started this thread. Lets keep it clean not for my sake. (Just trying to get ahead of some of that kind of discussion that may rear its ugly head)

 
Sep 16, 20 5:29 pm
SneakyPete

The usual suspects. Ballast and working were my go-tos.

Sep 16, 20 5:34 pm  · 
3  · 
ivanmillya

Did you take 5.0? Ballast used to be really good for older versions of the exam, but IME, their translation to the 5.0 content areas has been really hit or mi ss, especially for the sucky exams like PPD (where many of the questions Ballast focused on were just far too broad and unhelpful for the actual content of the exam).

Sep 17, 20 8:25 am  · 
 · 

Ballast was the only study material that was 5.0 "specific" at the time I took PPD and PDD when 5.0 was first released. I use "quotes" around specific because it was just regurgitated 4.0 content that was terribly edited. I did ok with it, I mean I passed, but it wasn't ideal and it was quite frustrating to study with (I've commented on it before). Might be less frustrating now if they've reissued material with a lot of the errors corrected. But the general consensus is that it hasn't been all that great as a study guide.

Sep 17, 20 12:18 pm  · 
 · 
SneakyPete

I was one of the lucky few who lost a test in the transition. I felt that Kaplan had no relationship to the information I was tested on and was mostly a generic primer to Architecture-ish information. While Ballast was light on substance, what it had was at least the same information found on the exams.

Sep 17, 20 12:21 pm  · 
1  · 
t a z

Ballast ARE 5.0, 2nd Ed just came out. Very yellow cover w/ full price tag.

Sep 17, 20 2:39 pm  · 
 · 
ivanmillya

On this note, I'm struggling a lot trying to get through my last two exams (PPD & PDD). Mostly I feel like I'm getting stuck in the weeds on studying; I have a pretty good grasp on the process of selecting structural & building systems, but then I'll go take a practice exam question that asks something like "When bolts are used to connect a column baseplate to a slab foundation, would you also specify a: backplate, or fillet weld, or etc.etc.". Like, how in depth should I be studying and memorizing every possible building system for these exams?

Sep 21, 20 10:10 am  · 
 · 
caramelhighrise

Ballast and on the job experience worked for me too. I didn't start testing straight out of college, so I just read Ballast for maybe 30 hours total combined for my first 3 tests. Well rounded experience gets you far.

Nov 14, 20 11:16 am  · 
 · 
tduds

I made it through at the tail end of 4.0 so I can't speak to the new exams specifically, but overall I found Ballast and Black Spectacles to be the best study resources.

Ballast practice questions seemed more in line with the actual exam material than Kaplan, and I remember their answer keys explaining the answer instead of just giving the correct choice (I think Kaplan and/or others gave zero explanation, which is imo useless even if you get the answer right). 

I enjoyed Black Spectacles Q&A sessions, mostly because I'm better at learning through examples and audio than through theory and books.

Good luck on the exams.

Sep 16, 20 5:41 pm  · 
3  · 
tduds

Also! Just remembered the Schiff Hardin lectures, covering AIA Contracts. Fantastic breakdown of the legalese from a layer rather than an architect. I don't think I'd have passed the CDS section without those lectures.

Sep 16, 20 9:06 pm  · 
2  · 
rcz1001

A link(s) to them might be great. Maybe, we need to archive them somehow but if the Schiff Hardin folks wish to do so for a more official authorized approach but yeah, I'm digging up the lectures. Some of them I seen are part of a Professional Practice course.

As I am reviewing them, they seem to be part of the same collection. I remembered these resources some years ago. Thanks for reminding me of them.

Sep 16, 20 9:42 pm  · 
 · 
thatsthat

I also recommend Black Spectacles for the video lectures. I appreciated having an intro to the major concepts before diving into the readings.

Sep 16, 20 9:51 pm  · 
 · 
thatsthat

For others following this thread that may also be looking for video resources, the AIA has a youtube channel that has videos about their contracts, including contract structure, the contents of A201, etc. I'd still recommended reading the documents (at least doing the side by side document of A201-2007; 2017 isn't out yet) but I found the videos to be a fairly comprehensive start. (I just finished the CDT so I've viewed these pretty recently.) NCARB also used to have a youtube channel, but I'm not sure if they've kept it up-to-date since switching to 5.0.

Sep 17, 20 10:02 am  · 
1  · 
SneakyPete

Schiff Hardin is fantastic, just be careful, I often found it easier to remember his criticisms of the contracts than the contract language itself. Very engaging lecturer for such a dry topic.

Sep 17, 20 12:23 pm  · 
3  · 

I sort of discovered the same as SneakyPete as I was seeing others comment about Hanahan's criticisms of the contracts more than what they should have been learning to pass the ARE. It helps to understand that he was giving the lectures for a professional practice course, not as ARE prep ... so you need to understand that the intent behind the lecture can be different than what most people are using them for now. 

I found the lectures interesting, and I know others get enormous benefit from them (I still recommend them to people) but I stopped listening after two or three. It wasn't an efficient use of my time as I was already pretty familiar with the contracts from studying for the CDT, and practice.

Sep 17, 20 12:38 pm  · 
3  · 
joseffischer

I was surprised on how many questions on all tests went back to the contracts. For someone who had enough years under his belt to know how the contracts bore out, and who understood their meaning, but also as someone who can just memorize contracts... those were so many freebie questions. For those who struggle with memorization, do whatever you need to know your contracts in and out.

Sep 17, 20 2:22 pm  · 
1  · 
rcz1001

Just for those beginning the ARE and don't got the alphabet soup memorized: CDS (Construction Documents & Services) is an exam division of the ARE 5.0 by NCARB. CDT (Construction Documents Technology) is a certification/certification exam by CSI. 

Although they are covering overlapping subject matter, they are different exams. Despite that they sound similar and just by one letter difference, they are not the same 'exam' even though they are dealing with the subject matter. Taking CDT does not get you out of taking CDS in the ARE 5.0 by NCARB and passing CDS doesn't mean you get CDT certified by CSI. 

Not a criticism of anyone just clarity for someone reading this might get confused by the alphabet soup if they aren't yet up on it.

Sep 17, 20 6:28 pm  · 
 · 

Correction: CDS (Construction Documents & Services) was an ARE exam division under 4.0 (and 3.1) ... not 5.0. 

Addition: CSI stands for the Construction Specifications Institute. More info on the CDT exam here.

Aside from that, good clarification on the alphabet soup.

Sep 17, 20 7:00 pm  · 
2  · 
rcz1001

Thank You. I stand corrected. 


Sep 18, 20 12:14 am  · 
 · 
Aluminate

This is reportedly what's been working for the people I know taking it now/recently:

Ballast for non-structural topics;

ArchiFlash cards - it doesn't really matter how old the set is - it can be from the 90s.

MEEB

Ching's Visual Dictionary of Architecture

"Why Buildings Stand Up", and "Why Buildings Fall Down"

AIA contracts - the most typically used few, plus knowing what all the series letters are for, and the most commonly used forms

MasterFormat - understanding the basics of what is in each Division 00 thru 49

"Buildings at Risk: Seismic Design Basics" by Christopher Arnold.

Kaplan or its predecessor, for structural.  This also doesn't matter how old it is - it can be from the 80s or 90s.

A couple were enthusiastic about Black Spectacles, but both of them failed the last sections they took, so I'm not sure how enthusiastic they still might be.


Sep 16, 20 5:57 pm  · 
1  · 
thatsthat

I also used an older set of ArchiFlash I bought off a then-coworker for $20 and they were so great.

Sep 16, 20 10:20 pm  · 
 · 
thatsthat

I used the AREcoach forum and it was a big help. I remember a lot of the free resources being linked on there. Also it is heavily moderated to keep people from sharing answers. Quite a few share their experiences and what specifically helped for each individual exam. 


Something that was a major help to me was actually looking at the back of the NCARB guide and, at a minimum, leafing through the resources listed. I mostly looked at the diagrams. Yes there are a lot of books listed, but most are books from school or my office’s library had. 

Sep 16, 20 10:19 pm  · 
 · 
rcz1001

Link: http://arecoach.com/coachforum/ (as of 9/16/2020)

Posted for other ARE exam takers.

Sep 16, 20 10:44 pm  · 
1  · 
rcz1001

Michael Hanahan's (Schiff Hardin) Lecture Series archived by Internet Archive:

https://archive.org/details/ha...


Sep 16, 20 10:46 pm  · 
3  · 

The outdated Project Resource Manual: CSI Manual of Practice (PRM) is noted as a resource in the NCARB ARE 5.0 Handbook. You can find copies of it out there, but you'd be better off IMO referring to the Project Delivery Practice Guide (PDPG) which is the up-to-date replacement for the PRM. I did the CDT prior to the ARE and I found that it was a great prep for the ARE content on project delivery, project life cycle, roles and responsibilities of the various parties involved in a project, reinforced the information you'll need to know about the AIA contract docs, and good documentation and coordination of drawings and specs. It gets overlooked by a lot of ARE candidates and it's a shame. I was using the first edition of PDPG. I've heard that not that much has changed content-wise in the second and now third editions, just how the content is organized. I'd assume any edition of PDPG would be sufficient.

So while I didn't use it that much in studying for the ARE, the knowledge I gained from using it to study for the CDT was extremely helpful in passing the ARE. 

Additionally, the Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice (AHPP) is good, but not something I recommend people go out and purchase for themselves. Chances are your office has a copy that you can reference. If not that, you might have purchased and used the student version for your pro practice course in school, it works too. There was a list I found from the old ARE forum that had identified certain chapters to read for the various tests (4.0 version). Not sure if it is still floating around out there, or if someone has updated it for 5.0 divisions. Worth looking for in my opinion, or at least identifying key chapters of AHPP to study for certain topics of the ARE content areas.

Finally,* for better or worse, Archinect hasn't really been the place to get help for the ARE in the past. ARE Coach's Forum, the NCARB ARE 5.0 Community, and Michael Riscica's ARE Facebook Group are much more focused on this type of thing and have momentum and history going for them. There's nothing wrong with trying to get some support here, I'm just pointing out that a lot of the support is already happening in these other locations. Seeing what others are struggling with, helping each other out, finding errors in study materials, etc. were all helpful for me in my studying. There's only so much you can take in and remember by reading source material alone, discussing the topics and debating with others is useful in solidifying that information in your mind. Those other forums are already doing this with a critical mass. Again, nothing wrong with trying to build some support here, but it's already been done elsewhere. 


*I'm posting this mainly for others, as I think Balkins has been banned from most of the forums I noted above.

Sep 17, 20 12:14 pm  · 
1  · 
Jay1122

That last comment is a critical strike.

Sep 17, 20 12:18 pm  · 
 · 

It doesn't look like many people use Coach's forum anymore. Looking at the index, there are only a handful of topic areas where the latest post is from this year, and only 3 where it was within the last month (as of Sept 17, 2020): 

  • General Discussion (last post Sept 2, 2020), 
  • PcM - Practice Management (last post Jun 27, 2020), 
  • PPD - Project Planning & Design (last post Sept 14, 2020), 
  • PDD - Project Development & Documentation (last post Sept 14, 2020), 
  • California Supplemental Exam (last post Jul 13, 2020). 

Perhaps there is a lot of discussion happening in those few areas, but I think once the vignettes were killed, Coach's forum was doomed.

Sep 17, 20 12:28 pm  · 
 · 

I've also heard good things about The Amber Book, but don't have any personal experience with it for 5.0.

Sep 17, 20 12:31 pm  · 
 · 

Protip for anyone studying the AIA contracts directly (which should be all candidates): Use the commentary for the 2007 versions. 

For whatever reason they haven't done commentary for the 2017 versions, but you can still find the commentary for the 2007 versions. You're probably ok to use the 2007 versions to study for the ARE, though the 2017 versions are the officially listed resources in the ARE 5.0 Handbook ... so you might also want to understand the changes from 2007 to 2017 (see links below for comparisons). Reading the commentary is a big help in understanding the intent of some of the language. Here are some links to the versions as hosted on the AIA website, not sure how long they will be available.

Sep 17, 20 12:59 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Are we talking about the changes starting Nov 16, 2020?

https://t.e2ma.net/click/h7vzf...

In addition to new online proctoring, there is a ripple effect on everything else:

Items per division will be reduced. Each ARE 5.0 division will feature 15-20 fewer items compared to the current exam. This change continues NCARB’s efforts to make the licensure process more efficient while ensuring the rigor of the exam is maintained.

Test duration per division adjusted slightly. Changes in the number of items per division will not have a significant impact on exam timing as candidates are being given more time per item on each division and more break time per division.

Optional break time expanded. Candidates’ optional break time will be expanded to 30 or 45 minutes, depending on the division. In addition, candidates will be able to use this time as they see fit, taking multiple short breaks or one long break during their appointment.

Previously viewed items locked when a break is taken. Candidates will be able to review any previously viewed items before they take a break. Candidates should complete all previously viewed items prior to going on a break. Upon returning from a break, candidates will be unable to review items seen prior to a break. Those items will be locked for the duration of the test appointment.

NCARB will set new cut scores. Because the number of scored items is changing, NCARB will have to set a new cut score for each ARE division. This is expected to take approximately four weeks, and candidate score reports will not be released until after the cut score is set. This process allows NCARB to ensure that the new cut score is appropriately equal in nature to the current passing standard.

Digital whiteboard will replace physical scratch paper. Candidates will still be able to take notes, outline potential solutions, and more using an online whiteboard option.

Oct 7, 20 5:53 pm  · 
 · 
rcz1001

Sure, the NCARB updates are pertinent info.

Oct 8, 20 10:14 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Of course the real question is will implentation be a shitshow and should I make an effort to front load another exam before the new (new) 5.0 goes into effect next month? 

Oct 7, 20 5:58 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Roll-out was pushed back to Dec 14, 2020. Got an e-mail today saying a new full length demo exam with the new digital whiteboard will be available "within the next few weeks."

Oct 29, 20 8:00 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Oh, and if you need you buy the required external webcam to take the online proctored exam you can get a $50 gift card.

Oct 29, 20 8:14 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Full length demo exam with the new "digital whiteboard" is live as of today, Nov 12, 2020. It has 75 questions with 2 case studies (compared with ~95 questions previously).

The whiteboard has a text box, but it seems janky (worse than Acrobat).

Nov 12, 20 1:41 pm  · 
 · 
archi_dude

I only studied Ballast 5.0,purchased practice exams by Cheng and then if there was info on those practice exams that I couldn't find in Ballast I tried to hunt it down in the supplemental. This seemed to get me enough info with out totally overdoing it. Also, the mind dump immediately after taking the test, very important.

Oct 8, 20 9:42 pm  · 
2  · 
SneakyPete

This.

Nov 12, 20 1:47 pm  · 
 · 
thatsthat

I'll second the mind dump. Helps with stress too.

Nov 12, 20 2:52 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

The online proctored exam option will be offered as of Monday, Dec 14, 2020.

Out of morbid curiosity, if anyone undertakes this option in the next couple weeks, post a review (of the experience, not the exam).

Dec 9, 20 4:01 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

BTW, no one is going to get any score reports for at least a month as NCARB collects enough data to validate the new cut scores.

Oh, and they're dumping Prometric.

https://www.ncarb.org/pass-the...

August 2020: Guide to setting up testing environment. Late-September: 2020 Details about updated exam format and policies. October 2020: Updated Guidelines, Handbook, and Demo Exam; New test prep videos available; Details on the cut score process and testing accommodations. Mid-November 2020: Updated exam and online proctoring option launches.  December 2020: Update on cut score progress. Early-2021: Details about switch from Prometric to PSI. Summer 2021: Online and in-person ARE available at PSI.

Dec 10, 20 8:37 am  · 
 · 
Bench

So from your understanding, is it from approximately mid-December to mid-January that they are finalizing cut scores (and will not be providing pass/fail until then) ?


Asking because my final exam is scheduled for the last week of January and I would genuinely love to not have to wait in excruciating pain.

Dec 10, 20 2:21 pm  · 
1  · 
t a z

Short answer, yes. 

Long answer, the cut score is established on an exam-by-exam basis:

https://www.ncarb.org/blog/und...

Dec 10, 20 3:13 pm  · 
 · 
so it goes

I finally passed my last exam last weekend just in time before the online proctoring option begins and I can't express how relieved I am to dodge that bullet. The transition to new 5.0 will be a real shit show for the next several months. People are LIVID about the elimination of scratch paper at the testing centers. In the NCARB community forums there are numerous posts complaining about it. There is even an older woman who is pursuing legal action against the changes in the state of Wisconsin. The whiteboard is going to be a real issue for left handed folks and people with limited dexterity in their hands.

Dec 10, 20 2:13 pm  · 
1  · 
square.

they eliminated scratch paper? that's completely asinine, but doesn't surprise me

Dec 10, 20 2:17 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

I'm also peeved that they took out the scratch paper, but unfortunately i rushed my exams as fast as possible and it still looks like i will have to take the last one with this stupid whiteboard thingy.

Dec 10, 20 2:23 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Any question that involves the calculator will also involve the whiteboard if you want to keep track of numbers. I need to figure out if the whiteboard clears when moving between questions....

Dec 10, 20 3:34 pm  · 
 · 
so it goes

You should also check to see if you can have both the whiteboard and the calculator up at the same time...

Dec 10, 20 3:50 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

For anybody waiting for results...

It's been almost 4 calendar weeks since the "new" 5.0 test format went live.  The magic number is 400 administrations per exam division before they have enough data to compute cut scores.

From the horse's mouth today (01/07/21).  Sounds like end of January at the earliest is the new estimate for results to start trickling out:

"NCARB is still collecting exam results data across all six divisions so scores will not be ready to be released as originally expected. Deliveries slowed during the month of December as appointments were rescheduled to later dates and COVID-19 impacted deliveries in some regions.

NCARB is meeting with our psychometricians on a reoccurring basis to assess the volume of exam results and continues to prepare to process the cut scores as soon as enough data is in hand to provide valid results that fairly assess candidates' performance.

At this time, early score results are expected to be completed in late January with lower volume divisions being released in early February. NCARB will be releasing greater information about the specifics around each division's progress in a candidate communication next week.

Although the length of time to release the score results is longer than NCARB had desired, we are committed to ensuring that all cut scores are fully vetted before impacting any candidate. Expect to hear more next week."

Jan 7, 21 5:30 pm  · 
 · 
rcz1001

I'm waiting a little bit on the cut scores to get completed as well as at least a little bit of NCARB ironing out the online proctoring and the software.

Jan 8, 21 12:30 am  · 
 · 
Bench

This is extremely frustrating.

Jan 8, 21 7:30 am  · 
 · 
t a z

Totally agree! I got used to receiving results within 2 days but now I'm in a holding pattern for my final exam taken.

Assuming a pass, it's holding up transmitting my record to the state.  NCARB says that process may take up to an additional 45 business days.

Jan 8, 21 11:03 am  · 
 · 
Bench

Oh I wish you hadn't told me that. I'm also going to be waiting on my final exam result to send for transmittal. Damn.

Jan 8, 21 11:22 am  · 
 · 
gibbost

Totally going to sound like the old guy here . . . but it wasn't too long ago that you waited weeks or months for results. In 2008 when I took the test, it was typically 3+ months for results by mail.  The silver lining to that was that you simply put that test out of your mind and moved on to studying for the next.

Jan 12, 21 4:17 pm  · 
1  · 

I should totally not sound like the old guy here, but it wasn't too long ago when NCARB set the last round of cut scores and it took longer than expected

I get it though. NCARB probably doesn't want to be more cautious in their timeline because it might make some candidates decide to delay taking the exam, which then pushes out the cut score process. Of course if they are too optimistic in the timeline, candidates get restless and cranky. 

My advice, set low expectations and ask them for money. When 5.0 was rolled out, they offered $100 gift cards to anyone that tested in the first 600 administrations for each division.

Jan 12, 21 4:30 pm  · 
1  · 
t a z

History does tend to repeat itself.  

I guess an 8 week vs a 17 week delay is a walk in the park. I would not be surprised if the timeline slips further, so not holding breath.

This last test I took was a "freebie" exam credit they gave me a while back.  I'm not even sure the reason...  COVID reschedules maybe?  I have no grievances with NCARB, but a guinea pig bribe would have been a nice bonus.

The whole cut-score thing is basically out of their hands anyway.

Jan 12, 21 5:06 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

I think my bigger issue with the whole rollout is that they initially kept describing it as a kind of streamlining to accommodate the Covid situation - which made a lot of sense. However, now that they've actually done the rollout, this feels like a much more significant change. It can't be understated that removing the scratch paper, while seemingly a minor thing, is a pretty big shift when considering that their alternative (the "Whiteboard") is frankly a piece of shit. A grandfathering option of some sort would have gone a long way. Now I'm more concerned with following their test formatting changes than the actual content of the exam, which is frustrating.

Jan 12, 21 5:26 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Ironically Prometric still gives you a pen because you need to sign in and out for the exam. So you get to sit at your testing station with a pen you can't use!  (Edit: personal pens may be a location specific COVID protocol).

I would have gladly answered 20 more questions (previous test length) in exchange for a piece of paper...  I'm sure someone will do something stoopid like start writing on their hand.

When I tested the proctor told me someone had locked themselves out of a lot of questions because they didn't know the new break policy.  Maybe that's why NCARB can't get enough (valid) tests.

Jan 12, 21 5:42 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

I would also gladly trade an extra 20 questions for the scratch paper. Fortunately I’ve taken the black spectacles practice exams, which we’re updated weeks ago to reflect the ‘seen question’ change.

Any idea if you can opt to keep the clock running when you go to the washroom - ie forfeit the time but keep all of the questions live?

Jan 12, 21 9:06 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

I would assume that's a hard no. I think the whole point of locking questions is because when you take a break to go to the washroom (with the online exam) that's an unsecure / uninspected area. You could have any manner of cheats waiting for you in the washroom.

And, of course, the in-person exam (even in a controlled testing environment) still has to be the same format as the online version to make it uniform.

Jan 13, 21 9:24 am  · 
 · 
t a z

Just to add: Ethically everyone pledges they will not cheat on the exam, which is theoretically possible in any testing environment, but the barrier to cheating with the online exam is lot lower with little risk of getting caught.

Jan 13, 21 9:41 am  · 
 · 
Bench

I think that's what I assumed, but it just seems so stupid. I'll play by the arbitrary rules and try to move in packs of 10 questions per 20-25 minutes, making sure all are answer before moving on.

Jan 13, 21 11:08 am  · 
 · 
t a z

Welp, there's the official delay announcement:

Based on the current pace of testing volumes, NCARB now expects to release updated cut scores for the six divisions of the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) 5.0 by early-February. We know that any delay in receiving your score report can add to the stress of testing, and we apologize for any inconvenience.

Why are cut scores taking longer to release?

Due to high volumes of rescheduled divisions and the ongoing impact of new COVID-19 restrictions, lower volumes of ARE 5.0 divisions have been delivered since the December 14 launch of the adjusted exam.

In order to ensure that the cut scores are a valid, fair assessment of your performance, NCARB must collect data from at least 400 exam administrations per division. As soon as that threshold is reached for a given division, NCARB staff, volunteers, and psychometrician consultants will work to set the cut score as quickly as possible. Learn more about how NCARB sets cut scores.

What should I expect next?

Based on the current volume of divisions scheduled, NCARB anticipates setting cut scores for all six divisions by early-February. This means that score reports will continue to be delayed until the cut scores are set.

Some higher volume divisions may reach the 400-administration threshold sooner. If possible, NCARB will set cut scores and release score reports for those divisions in late-January.

Candidates who took Practice Management should expect their score results first, as this division has the highest delivery volume at this time. Project Planning & Design and Project Management have the next highest volumes of current deliveries. Programming & Analysis, Project Development & Documentation, and Construction & Evaluation are expected to be the last divisions released.


Jan 12, 21 3:13 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Great. My last exam is in the slow group.

Jan 12, 21 4:12 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Bench - What was the point of the 2nd NCARB cut score update e-mail yesterday that provided no new info or clarification?  It's not even worth re-posting here.

Is there an online uproar somewhere (that I don't want to know about)?

Jan 14, 21 1:31 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

I'm trying to stay out of the online shitshow fray. I've heard from others its happening elsewhere, probably the NCARB forums. I only have the one exam left so I'm just focusing on getting it over with. As for yesterday's email it appeared to just be a regurgitation of the previous info - I assume they are getting a lot of flack for the changes and the only thing they can do is repeat themselves since it's not changing.

Jan 14, 21 1:41 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Yeah, the study of psychrometrics sounds interesting and all, but I really don't want to know all the particulars in this case. Oh well, back to waiting and good luck!

Jan 14, 21 2:34 pm  · 
 · 

Only going off of the emails, I think there was some confusion as to whether NCARB would *publicly* release the cut scores for each division. The answer is no, they won't be releasing the cut scores publicly. In other words you'll never know going into a test whether you need to score a minimum of 70% (for example) to pass.

Jan 14, 21 5:07 pm  · 
2  · 
t a z

They never have released scores so they reiterated that they wouldn't start now. It also sounds like each exam formulation may have a unique score based on the difficulty level of the compiled questions, even within the same division. That was my take anyway.

Jan 14, 21 5:28 pm  · 
 · 

That is correct, that the exam form may have a different cut score than another in the same division based on difficulty of questions. The harder the questions, the lower the cut score, and the less number of questions you have to get correct to pass. The opposite is also true, the easier the questions, the higher the cut score, and the more number of questions you have to get correct to pass. 

Also, I don't know who needs to hear this, but setting the cut scores is *not* establishing a "curve" for the exams. This was pervasive misinformation during the last cut score process as people would say that doing poorly on it was really helping set the cut score lower and making it easier to pass in the future. That is not how cut scores work.

Jan 14, 21 5:37 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Yes - it's more like data science, not at all like grading on a curve. In this case I assume "difficulty" = "time to complete question" (or some other manner of analytical voodoo) so if you blanked out and stared at an easy question for a long time I guess during the evaluation period you could make yourself a statistical outlier... For a single question.

Jan 14, 21 5:49 pm  · 
 · 

Based on what I was able to gather about it, it's more about measuring competency and voodoo from subject matter experts judging how likely a competent test taker is likely to answer a question correctly. I wrote a blog post about it back during the cut score process for the initial 5.0 rollout. https://archinect.com/arch-ellipsis/are-5-0-cut-scores

Jan 14, 21 6:09 pm  · 
3  · 
Bench

This isn't a callout to either of you two, but I tend to glaze over as other testers get into deep-dives about cut scores, etc. Fundamentally, just study the material. The better you know it, the more likely you are to pass; not to mention it will probably make you a better employee/architect. I'm as frustrated as anyone else about the testing changes, but the zen side of my demeanor just reverts back to studying more and more, to ensure i don't need to re-test it all later ...

Jan 15, 21 7:30 am  · 
1  · 

Agree completely. Study and internalize the material in order to make yourself a better architect. Passing the test should be the byproduct of becoming a better architect.

Jan 22, 21 4:12 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

t a z - any news / speculation? Just walked out of what is hopefully my last exam, now I get to sweat for 3 weeks waiting for a result :(

Jan 22, 21 3:47 pm  · 
1  · 
t a z

I've resigned myself to waiting but still check the ARE Discussion boards a couple of times a week.

Jan 22, 21 5:04 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

NCARB just (22 Jan 2021) posted a comment saying they are sending out an email next week.

Jan 22, 21 5:06 pm  · 
1  · 
Bench

Great news!

Jan 22, 21 7:52 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

I was thinking another email would be bad news (further delay), but maybe it's a more accurate timeline?

Jan 22, 21 8:06 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

NCARB is posting real-time updates in the discussion forum so I suspect this is the timeline the email update this week will confirm. Order of results becoming available before the end of the next (3) following work weeks:

PcM - this week (by 29 Jan 2021)

PjM, PPD, PA - next week (by 05 Feb)

PDD, CE - the week after next (by 12 Feb, possibly earlier)


Jan 26, 21 11:44 am  · 
1  · 
Bench

Awesome, I think I saw that post as well. Thanks for the headsup.

Jan 26, 21 12:32 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

OK, my timeline summary is much better than the blurb thrown in at end of a very long email about practicing online testing. Back to waiting.

Jan 26, 21 4:08 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

OK (again), the real update email about scores came today confirming PcM officially released (27 Jan), early Feb for the others as per the groups I posted above. Lovely.

Jan 27, 21 1:15 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Nice to see any movement I guess ?

Jan 27, 21 1:57 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Yeah, it seems pretty certain now. I'm not going to lurk on the forums anymore - too much of a cesspool / dumpster fire for my mental state to handle.

Jan 27, 21 2:20 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

The forum is a slow moving train wreck I cannot look away from...

NCARB posted a comment this morning (04 Feb) saying ALL remaining score reports will be uploaded / released on their end tomorrow morning (Friday).

Be on the lookout!

Feb 4, 21 10:53 am  · 
 · 
Bench

Saw that, thanks for the headsup. They've repeatedly mentioned that some jurisdictions will take an additional day to review, but offered no indication which ones. Any idea what regions/states they are referring to?

Feb 4, 21 11:46 am  · 
 · 
t a z

It didn't really clarify if states would need to do anything different than their regular approval process. I can only speak for NY, but I've taken a Friday afternoon exam and had results posted Sunday morning. The NY approval process must be entirely automated, but it seems like a +1 delay is built-in? I don't think we can expect results any quicker than usual (unless this batch dump is a special circumstance which makes it take longer for whatever reason).

Feb 4, 21 11:59 am  · 
 · 
t a z

People from every state are both asking about and reporting the divisions they received results for. To quell the storm NCARB posted this, but I'm sure it's too late to stem the tide of comments:

"We have confirmed that scores are still processing and will throughout the day as over 3,000 scores were established and are being run through the various checks before an official score is released. As a reminder, the system will send you an email when your score does post.

Candidates that tested with eligibilities granted from the following jurisdictions may also experience a further delay based on jurisdictional settings. For these candidates, your score may not post until Saturday or Sunday based on various settings for the jurisdiction: Alabama, Guam, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin."


Feb 5, 21 10:44 am  · 
 · 
Bench

Damn. Gonna be sweating it out longer than I wanted.

Feb 5, 21 10:47 am  · 
 · 
t a z

People are harassing the NY State board with phone calls so the Board Secretary has posted a comment! I can't even make this stuff up...

For all New York candidates awaiting ARE results:

NCARB's post is correct in that New York has a one day delay in the release of its test results. This delay was in place originally to allow the State Board for Architecture to process them first, and to give us a head start in processing licensure applications for candidates prior to candidates' calls and emails asking for the next steps in the process. New York has revisited this policy and has made the determination that it is not serving our candidates, nor our staff, very well and needs to be changed.

As a result, we are working with NCARB to remove this one day delay permanently for our candidates. While I am unsure if this will allow those New York candidates awaiting test results to see your scores today, it will remove this delay for future candidates.

Thank you to those candidates who have brought this to our attention. We hear you.

Robert Lopez, RA

Executive Secretary

New York State Board for Architecture


Feb 5, 21 1:40 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Nice to see action taken I guess - never underestimate the power of a bombardment of complaint calls...? It would be really nice not to have to wait another day.

Feb 5, 21 1:56 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Scores posted. Damn :(

Feb 6, 21 7:12 am  · 
 · 
t a z

Oh nooooo, truly sorry to hear. I just checked mine and finally I'm good to go, except now I'm sure there will processing backlogs at both NCARB and NY. By the time you retake I bet everything will be back to normal, which should be less overall waiting (sorry, I know, small silver lining...
).

Feb 6, 21 8:19 am  · 
 · 
t a z

Bench - retake on the horizon?

Mar 22, 21 7:48 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

2 weeks! Matched it up with some upcoming office statutory holidays. Thanks for checking. Previous score report came back indicating I was probably within 2-3 questions of a pass last time. I honestly cannot tell if I'm happy or crushed by that.

Mar 23, 21 8:39 am  · 
 · 
t a z

Good luck! Glad the retake lockout is only 60 days. I'm still in board purgatory so you may beat me to the license number yet.

Mar 23, 21 2:20 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Damn, more fun for me to look forward to. Rest assured that as an immigrant with foreign background credentials I'm sure i'll spend my own solid amount of time waiting on reviews in licensing purgatory.

Sure would be nice if the office released the licensing bonus when applying to the state rather than when getting the confirmation back ...

Mar 23, 21 8:45 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Throwing out an update for ya t a z - second try was succesful, that's a wrap!

Apr 6, 21 9:01 am  · 
 · 
t a z

Yay! I saw an e-mail notification and I was hoping that's what the news would be. Congrats!

I also got an e-mail on Friday from the board saying my application was now complete and is being sent on to the Division of Professional Licensing Services. I'm not sure what that process entails, but it may take up to 8 weeks.

In the meanwhile I can check online to see if my number pops out before I get anything in the mail.

Apr 6, 21 12:46 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Good stuff. So if I'm understanding correctly, I'm going to have to wait for that notification to go through from the NY state board that my NCARB appication is complete? Damn that's a pretty long wait in the 6-week range.

Apr 6, 21 3:17 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Haha - I figured I'd spell out a better timeline for you if you asked! Here's the how the process has tracked for me. 

0) NCARB congrats e-mails when AXP and AREs done 

1) NCARB reviews record for completeness, sends confirmation e-mail when transmitted to NYS 

2) NYS administrative staff reviews your application for completeness - if any requirements aren't met they will e-mail 

3) When application is complete board executive secretary (Robert Lopez) will send confirmation e-mail 

4) Parchment + registration certificate arrives in the mail or license number appears in the online directory

There's no way to track anything without calling, so I was prepared to give each review period at least a month before calling to check-up.  The most I had to wait without hearing anything was about 3 weeks with NYS.

Apr 6, 21 3:39 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Did the initial congratulation email when finished AXP/ARE come pretty quickly?

Apr 6, 21 3:41 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

It wasn't instantaneous with the score report - came 2 days later but obviously auto-generated.  The NCARB review anytime afterwards is manual.  Also as a head's up, NYS correspondence comes from "ARCHBD (at) nysed.gov" which got snagged in my gmail spam filter.

Apr 6, 21 3:53 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

B, did you check-off step zero yet?

Apr 12, 21 1:58 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Got the initial emails from NCARB, file has been transmitted to NY State. Much quicker than I was expecting, but i'll try to explicitly not check in on this too often. As far as I'm concerned, my role/effort is over on it ...

Apr 12, 21 2:14 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Actually taz - at what point did you actually need to start filling out documentation / pay money to NYS? NCARB has now transmitted my record, am I waiting on confirmation from the state to send in paperwork, or should I just be sending it in now

Apr 12, 21 4:54 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Um, I think you can send in your paperwork concurrently. NYS doesn't know who you are until you send in Form 1 and (of course) the check for $377. I think they process applicants by SSN and a completed NCARB record is box that NYS will verify when they have Form 1.  You can maybe even submit Form 1 online now (due to COVID?)

I filled out a paper Form 1 (with notarization) at the beginning of 2020 to be admitted for taking exams prior to completing AXP, but I also had to prepay the initial licensure fee.

Apr 12, 21 5:59 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

TL;DR - Definitely submit Form 1 and $$ immediately because otherwise NYS will not take any action.

Apr 12, 21 6:16 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

B, I finally pulled a number! Now I guess I will celebrate by, I dunno, updating my e-mail signature or something.

Apr 16, 21 5:24 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Congrats! Long wait over must be a wonderful feeling. Looks like that was roughly 8 weeks or so? I got all of my info through to NYS earlier this week, but having a lot of foreign documentation means I won’t hold my breath.

Apr 17, 21 7:09 am  · 
 · 
t a z

Yeah, NYS was about 2 mos in total. That included a hiccup where I had to get a reference to submit Form 4 attesting to at least 3 yrs of work experience which added about a month to the process.

Apr 17, 21 11:45 am  · 
 · 
Bench

taz - just received the ARCHBD email, curious how long you had from that to getting notification of number/parchment

Apr 22, 21 1:32 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Yowzer, welcome to Step 4! That was mercifully quick. Technically I'm also still on Step 4 since I haven't gotten any mailings yet, but it was exactly (2) weeks from getting the Bob e-mail to appearing in the online database.

I got a little OCD so I started checking the database daily.  You will be a higher number than 043640...

http://www.op.nysed.gov/opsear...

Apr 22, 21 1:42 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Yeah I get the impression their back-log was the result of the 2-month waiting period previously on re-curving the exams. Things seem to be moving pretty quickly now. That's interesting - so you got your number listed in the online database, but there's a secondary lag for getting the physical mailing copy ?

Apr 22, 21 1:43 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

When the license number is processed/assigned its appears online immediately. Everything else needs to be printed and mailed and it's coming from Albany. Who knows how frequently they do print batches, and the Education Department does processing for all the professions.

Apr 22, 21 1:50 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Interesting - any notification when it goes live on the website?

Apr 22, 21 2:21 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Nope - manual check by name or number required.

Apr 22, 21 2:31 pm  · 
 · 
RJ87

I remember checking every day at work when I showed up, before I went to lunch & when I was wrapping up for the day for weeks. I ended up seeing my license online for the first time one day when I randomly checked the website while bored on a conference call.

Apr 22, 21 2:57 pm  · 
1  · 
Bench

Welp, had plenty of practice doing this back in January refreshing for my exam results, just more of the same ... !

Apr 22, 21 7:11 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

B, received wall art signed by Bob today, exactly 1 week after number posted online and 3 weeks after ARCHBD confirmation e-mail. Thus concludes the saga.

Apr 23, 21 1:14 pm  · 
1  · 
Bench

Congrats! Make sure to never show it to anyone, ever, as that is apparently tacky in our profession... *sad-face-laugh*

I have unfortunately started checking for my number daily now ...

Apr 23, 21 2:55 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

At least you're in the home stretch at T-2 weeks. To complete the trifecta I think I will get a rubber stamp to go along with the certificate and parchment.

Apr 23, 21 3:37 pm  · 
 · 
t a z

Bench, this is your week. I can feel it!

May 4, 21 2:37 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

Thanks! Still checking out a daily disappointment unfortunately :(

May 4, 21 4:07 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

taz - whats the phone number you called to verify... ive been patient enough so far

May 10, 21 8:28 am  · 
 · 
t a z

haha - I think you're in the nebulous "up to eight weeks" processing window so you might have to give it more time.

You can try the number in the signature of the Bob e-mail. I think the x110 is the only important bit to get you to someone in the arch division, but at this point they may not be much help.

Looks like as of the end of last week they are up to #043652 which means since you got the Bob letter only 12 licenses have popped out.

May 10, 21 10:14 am  · 
 · 
t a z

043666 just came out. 

Hope you're not Aleksandar of Rye, NY, Beelzebub's newest Architect.

May 25, 21 4:10 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

I am not :( had another look this morning. I think 5-6 weeks is worth a call now... especially after yours was only 2 weeks...

May 25, 21 5:20 pm  · 
 · 
Bench

taz - received yesterday, finally !

May 28, 21 7:54 am  · 
1  · 
RJ87

Congrats! Big life moment!

May 28, 21 10:20 am  · 
1  · 
t a z

Ahhhh! Welcome to the club! Now for Step 5: Profit...

May 28, 21 10:36 am  · 
3  · 
RJ87

Best advice I feel I could give regarding the exams is to be careful going down the rabbit hole with forums (I'm aware of the irony as I type this). There is so much gloom & doom regarding the exams and how long people studied or someone that's taken exam after exam after exam with no success. 

Study for two weeks or so with an honest effort & go give the exams a shot with an open mind. If you fail one it will still sting but you have unlimited attempts, its not the end of the world. If you pass you saved yourself a few months reading forums & studying.

I took the exams fresh out of school so my real world experience was far from expansive, particularly when PDD rolled around. But I exclusively used Ballast (& a few contracts obviously) for PcM, PjM, CE, PA & PPD.

For PDD it didn't work out the first go around so I read Ching's Construction Illustrated & Ching's Codes Illustrated books cover to cover. They look thick but in reality its mostly pictures & helps to give a good visual. I also reviewed Karin's visual notes, which I found online.

Edit: Additionally, just schedule an exam. There's never a good time to take one. Personally I needed that "Oh shit my exam is in 2 weeks" moment each time to actually make an effort. Otherwise it's easy to putter about "studying" without making real headway.

Feb 5, 21 2:24 pm  · 
4  · 
joseffischer

same, except I took WAY too long to start

Mar 23, 21 8:47 am  · 
 · 
rcz1001

*bump*

Mar 16, 21 7:19 am  · 
 · 
SneakyPete

why?

Apr 22, 21 2:24 pm  · 
 · 
rcz1001

That bump was over a month ago. More recent comments are above other than my reply now.

Apr 22, 21 9:18 pm  · 
 · 

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