When I decided which test I was going to take first it was all about one thing: what was most practical and important test for my working practice in architecture? I’ll probably say this a million times, but to me, these tests are all about becoming a great architect. I have no interest in just passing the tests with the least possible effort, only to become a so-so architect. After all, why put in all this work, only to achieve minimal results?
So, when I did my personal evaluation of my immediate interests and needs, this is the test schedule I came up with:
- Programming and Analysis (PA)
- Project Planning and Design (PPD)
- Project Development and Documentation (PDD)
- Construction and Evaluation (CE)
- Project Management (PjM)
- Practice Management (PcM)
Notice how I am front loading what many test takers have called the hardest three exams. I did this for two reasons. First, I wanted to consume the most practical knowledge as soon as possible. Second, I figured why be scared of an exam division and push it to the back? Why not get it out of the way and make the second half of my studying a breeze in comparison. I knew this would greatly improve my chances of completing my exams faster, and with less stress and more joy.
“How Long Should I Study for Each Exam?”
Taking and passing each exam division in one year is not only possible, but with these Study Guides it will be easy!
There is a lot of information overlap between exam divisions, so in a perfect world, you will follow the exam sequence I outlined above, either by completing the exams 1-6 in that order, or you could do 4-6 and then 1-3. It’s not required, but it’ll make things a little easier on you.
If you are using my Study Guides if you study for 2-3 hours per day, you can plan to study for:
Programming and Analysis (PA): 1.5 months
Project Planning and Design (PDD): 2 months
Project Development and Documentation (PDD): 1 month
Construction and Evaluation(CE): 1 month
Project Management (PjM): 1 month
Practice Management (PcM): 1 month
If you notice, this plan will actually have you completing all six divisions within 8 months. This plan gives you 4 extra months to allow for 2-3 week breaks between exams, or to take a little longer to study.
Recommended Study Method
If you are interested in drinking the Kool-aid and giving the ARE Study Guide series a try, that’ll be pretty much the only resource you will need to prepare for the exams. I say pretty much, because depending on the exam I may recommend reviewing some other resources to help you sharpen your sword, such as the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. I haven’t finished producing all of the study guides yet, but my hope will be to only recommend one or two additional resources per exam (which will hopefully be available free, or at a low-cost).
Ideally, for each exam, you would read the Study Guide three times. I cover a lot of material, and the first time you read a guide it will probably take you a couple weeks to get through.
The Architectural Registration Exams are not tests designed to memorize a bunch of vocabulary words and then have you define them. The ARE’s are designed to test your practical knowledge. Thus, you don’t need to memorize vocabulary words on flashcards. You just need to know the concepts well enough that if a certain word is used on the test, you know what they are talking about.
To help the information stick, a great study strategy is to review the information you just read within 24 hours of reading it. A good way to do this is to either highlight a few key facts as you read, or scan the headlines and try and remember what you learned about each subject.
During the first two times you read it, don’t take notes. After all, you’re basically reading my notes, so the information in the Study Guides is already pretty distilled, if you took notes and further diluted the information, there’s no guarantee that you wouldn’t be removing information you need to pass. When you read, just take notes for the little bit of information that needs to be memorized verbatim, such as formulas and building codes.
When you read, make sure you are reading at a pace that you are actually processing the information you are ready.
When you read the study guide for the third and final time, that’s when you should highlight or take notes for any of the information that isn’t quite sticking.
Anticipated Release Dates
Programming and Analysis (PA): Available Now!
Project Planning and Design (PDD): Available Now!
Project Development and Documentation (PDD): May 2021
Construction and Evaluation(CE): June 2021
Project Management (PjM): July 2021
Practice Management (PcM): August 2021