Architect Registration Exam: Become A Licensed Architect
ARE Exam Mindset
It is interesting that thru all of the knowledge and skills we acquire to become eligible to take the Architect Registration Examination or ARE’s the thought of taking the exams to tend to scare so many of us into either delaying them or not taking them at all, yet they are the last step in the requirements of licensure.
So many people that I went to school with have not taken a single exam and some wonder if it is too late to take them. I too was one who was intimidated by these exams and many things can affect the decisions on when to take the exams.
Several of the factors that affect people taking the exams are not knowing what to study for, saving money to take the exams and setting aside time to study for them.
Resources for the ARE Exam Guides
Many resources are out there to help you study for the exams. Information is available online, in colleagues, at professional organizations and might be available in the architectural firm you are working at.
I was personally torn about how to pay for exam guides and how to pay for the exams. I was able to become a student member of The American Institute of Architects (AIA) which gave me access to their library of reference materials including all of their ARE study materials.
Fortunately several of the firms I worked for purchased the exam guides which allowed me to study several sources of materials before taking the exams.
The other factor that intimidated a lot of people and may have prevented them from taking the exams was the vignette software developed by NCARB. It was NCARB’s own version of an AutoCAD type software that was last used for the ARE 4.0 exams. The new version of the NCARB ARE 5.0 eliminated the vignette software.
My First ARE Exam
Before I took advantage of reviewing these study materials I actually took my first exam. I was able to test early since Florida was an early testing state which allowed me to take my the exams while still studying in the architecture program.
I had qualified for early testing by reaching the required number of intern development program (IDP) credits, which is now known as the architectural experience program (AXP), and completed the required number hours in a master level schooling.
Unfortunately, I did not pass my first exam and it intimidated me. I took a step back and wanted to review more before taking my next exam. Upon graduation, I also faced the recession which affected the financial aspect of taking the exams further delayed me from taking them.
When I finally got back to working in an architecture firm I was motivated by others who were studying for the exams to once again start studying.
I would review study materials from several sources including the NCARB study materials, NCARB exam practice software, the PPI-Ballast ARE review guides, The ARE Kaplan AEC Education guides, and the Solutions graphic vignettes guide.
It was a lot of materials to review and once I passed the Site Planning & Design and the Schematic Design exams I reduced the number of study materials that I was reviewing to only the PPI, Solutions guide and the NCARB materials. I told myself that if I did not pass any of the other exams by only studying those materials I would go back and study them all.
Scheduling the Exams
The architecture exam schedule is also one thing that actually keeps people from taking the exams, believe it or not, and I also suffered from this as well. The exams are available every day of the year except holidays. So that means you don’t have to plan for taking the exam once a year or quarterly, like other architects before us, you can take it anytime you are ready.
I told myself I would study and when I felt ready I would schedule an exam, that was a bad idea for me because I would get busy and not study.
My advice to anyone who is studying for the Architect Registration Exam is to schedule the exams ahead of time, lock in a date which will make you prepare for each exam.
In The End I Took 10 Exams
In the end, I took 10 exams, passing the 7 required exams but failing 3 over the course of my testing. I retook each of the failing exams passing them on the second try.
As you can see in the image above I was not consistent in the amount of time between each of my exams.
Once I passed SD I took 5 months before taking SPD, 4 months after that PPP and 2 months later CDS. Then I took the brakes off and decided to take one a month which took me thru BD, BS, a BD retake, SS and an SS retake.
Finally, at the end of March 2016, I had completed all of the required examinations needed to pass the ARE . Passing all of the architect registration exams qualified me to gain architectural registration in the State of Florida once the Florida licensing board reviewed the NCARB results and certified them.
My Final Thoughts
Stop stalling and go take your Architect Registration Exams to complete the process you set out to do. Yes, it can be a long road and may take many months to complete. Once completed though, you will be afforded opportunities to grow both financially and thru new experiences within the industry along with the prestigious title of Architect!
Personally if I was to do it all over again I would stop studying and go take the exams. Completing the exams is closer then you think.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope this has inspired you to complete the process and fulfill your dreams.
Matthew Von Rohre, RA, RID, NCARB
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