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Ahh. Do you feel that? It’s absence of the crushing weight of looming exams and all stress and anxiety associated with them. It’ the feeling of finally being able to call yourself the name you been working towards for 10 years. It’s the knowledge that you are now among the elite that can call themselves licensed architects. Yes, I’ve been away for a while, but now I’m back. I have officially passed all seven parts of the ARE and after all my paperwork is finished being processed, I will be able to call myself a licensed architect in the state of Illinois.
[Image Source: Illinois Construction Law Blog]
I apologize for neglecting the blog, in the last few months. I felt like I needed to put all my efforts into taking and passing the exams, and it paid off! My last exam was actually on January 16th, but I’d also had a large project finishing up at work so I pretty much mentally checked out every night for the last month. There’s also this whole winter thing, which just seems to turn my brain to mush right about this time of year, but with the first glimpses of spring and the energy from having all test taking in my past, I’m ready to start up the blog again.
What Have We Learned?
Since I just finished taking the ARE, I thought I’d do a quick recap. I’m not going to go into great detail since I’ve already talked more in-depth about the subject here, but here’s some other stuff I’ve learned.
Taking the ARE seems like a huge, impossible task and I’ll admit that the first couple exams and the “hard ones” were pretty stressful. The most important thing is to just dive right in. Schedule the exams a month or two apart depending on how much time you think you’ll need to dedicate to studying and keep on task. It’s better to fail and have to retake, than to just keep putting them off.
I had a copy of all the Kaplan study materials and the free stuff from NCARB’s website. There was only a couple of exams that I used any other supplementary materials. To be honest, the only exam that I felt like the additional materials helped was reading information about earthquakes for the Structural exam (Buildings at Risk by AIA/ACSA Council on Architectural Research). I don’t know if it’s true across the board, but my structural exam was probably two-thirds questions about structures pertaining to earthquakes. Other than that, I felt like the Kaplan materials were perfectly adequate for passing the exams. I only failed one exam (the first one I took), and I’m 99% certain I only failed it because of using the Vignette software incorrectly.
Another big help was connecting with other people taking the ARE whether in person or online (esp. Twitter). There are a lot of other people out there going through this same thing and it can be very helpful to have that support group and source of information. Another great resource is jennypdx’s weblog. She worked through the ARE and blogged about the process of taking each exam. She created study guides for each exam that are well put together and great resources for additional studying and review.
I understand the frustration that’s involved in going through the whole process and agree that there are things that should change to make it better, but you can’t change anything from the outside looking in and the simple fact of the matter is, you’re not an architect unless you pass the ARE. As always, I’m happy to help out anyone who asks. Just drop me a line on the emails or Twitters. Until next time…good night, and good luck!