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EMERGING PROFESSIONALS / Ten Tips for Taking the ARE Exams

Fiona Mckay


The most recent AIA UK Chapter Emerging Professional event was held on 1 October at the offices of AHMM.  A study group of licensure candidates taking their Architecture Registration Examinations met to share their experiences.  The list below is a summary of their advice for other exam takers.

  1. Seize the day! There is never a perfect time to begin, so don’t delay starting.  Sign up for an exam one a month or two in advance and work backwards from that date to plan your study schedule.  As designers, we should get used to deadlines, so treat yourself to one.   

  2. Consider the order you take your exams carefully.  PPD and PPP are interrelated so it’s a good idea to take them back to back.   It may make sense to take the others in order - PcM > PjM > PA > CE.

  3. Discuss the licensing procedures with your supervisors.  Remember – outside the US, people will not be familiar with the ARE process and your supervisors will need to understand your plans and what steps will need to be followed. 

  4. Use more than one study guide.  The guides all cover slightly different material and their practice questions differ in their level of difficulty. They can be expensive to buy on your own so ask around to see if you can borrow one, or split the cost with other test takers.  Remember - the AIA UK has a library of study material which can be checked out by members!

  5. Use the community boards on the NCARB website. They are full of useful information and moderators.  Also - other candidates are helpful and usually quick to respond if you post questions.

  6. Get free lessons on YouTube. There are loads of helpful videos to watch, ranging from NCARB’s own exam overviews to more technical materials, such as explanations of refrigeration or electrical current.  . 

  7. Develop an exam strategy that works for you and PRACTICE.  Don’t just test your basic knowledge, also try out test-taking strategies.   For example - some people skip all the math questions at the first pass, then come back to them at the end so they don’t fritter away time number crunching.  Other people discipline themselves to a first hour or hour and a half to do the case studies.

  8. Don’t beat yourself up if you fail an exam.  The exams cover so much information there is no way to be 100% prepared, so just do your best.  If you do fail one, think of it as a learning experience, a reconnaissance mission. The next time you take it, you will have a better understanding of what you need to know and how to regulate your time. 

  9. Find study buddies.  Working with others makes studying more fun and your peers can help keep you on track.  You can share materials, quiz each other and help each other establish study schedules. 

  10. Let the AIA UK know!  If you are taking your exams, we can be of help.   We run ARE workshops where you can meet other licensure candidates – just check out the details on our website.

Written by: Katharine Storr, AIA

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