I Passed 6 Exams in 6 Months

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    Benjamin Norkin

    Daniel,

    Congrats and thank you for the great write up! I've got PDD and PPD coming up. Appreciate your take on studying, seems to be the consensus. Only question I have is...are there seriously welding symbols on this exam?!

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    Daniel Flesher (Edited )

    I remember seeing something that looked like welding symbols on one of the exams and thinking, "what is that?"

    When I was studying for PDD I saw the symbols and thought, "Oh, that's what those were." I never saw a question where knowing welding symbols would have made the difference between getting it right or wrong, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist on some other version of the exam.

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    Katie Merten

    Daniel, your write up was very informative and helpful--and encouraging!  Did you mean there weren't Kaplan/Brightwood 5.0 materials at the time you took your test, or at all?  Because there are now.  I just wanted to throw that out there.  Congrats on passing all these tests without one of the major sources we all use to study!  

    https://www.brightwoodarchitecture.com/are5-exam/

     

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    Daniel Flesher

    At the time I started studying (in January/February), the Brightwood books either weren't available, or I didn't realize that they were the update to the Kaplan books. 

    In either case, once a friend said they were passing their exams using a single $200 book I figured I could do the same. 

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Great job, Daniel...

    PPD in October for me.

    Interesting that you used only the Ballast on PPD / PDD.  I will say, I was given a 4.0 Ballast book plus the practice exams -- really a great resource.  So far I've really only used the ARE 5.0 Handbook materials -- but I've marked out some of the old Ballast book for a review.

    You've knocked it all out very quickly -- congratulations!

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    Jennifer Rorabaugh

    Thank you I was debating getting Ballast but seen so many reviews about the typos I might would get annoyed. I'm going to try to get a hold of Kaplan/Brightwood books first as Kaplan helped me in the past with the Standardized Tests. My problem I don't think in "STANDARD" mode and tend to drive people batty.

    But if it is helping others pass maybe I can over come this.

    Congratulations, and thanks for weighing in with the information.

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    Daniel Flesher

    Honestly, if you got pretty good grades in school then I don't think you need to go nuts with the study materials. I'd say to get the Ballast book first and see how you do. $200 for one book is so much cheaper than $480 for six. 

    The typos were obvious but raised more of a, "huh" reaction than, "boo, this sucks." It's still shoddy work by Ballast but it's readable overall and was good enough for me to pass all of my exams.

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    Kathleen Hogan

    Congrats on passing all exams within six months Daniel! This is also my goal as I am preparing to take my first exam on November 25th. Thank you for breaking down how to approach each section. I've started reading from the AHPP and looking at the recommended outline of what chapters to read and I wasn't sure which sections would hold more weight in regards to importance.

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    Nicole Fedora

    did you also have a full time job? if so you are amazing - im having a hell of a time getting through the material with a full time job 

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    Daniel Flesher

    Yep. I have a full time job, a wife, two kids, a house that I purchased and have been continually renovating for a year and a half. 

    I would say if any of the material feels familiar, and therefore boring, it's okay to just skim over it. It's just review at that point. I'd only really dig into the stuff that felt new, but then it was usually interesting. I would read about an hour a night, except when I had normal family stuff going on. On weekends I'd try to do a little more.

    I'd usually only really buckle down and read every night for 1-2 weeks before the exam. The Ballast book's chapters are short enough that you can break them into 10-14 sections that can each be read in an hour or two in an evening. That means that most people should be able to study in 2-3 weeks or less per exam if they really wanted to.

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    Christina Fu (Edited )

    Hi Daniel

    Thanks for sharing your experience.  This is very helpful and encouraging.  I will take you strategy on studying for the exams.

    I too am working full time (running my own business actually) and also have two kids.   I am deciding whether I should switch to 5.0. I was studying 4.0, and was very frustrated with how convoluted each section is.  Would you say Kaplan/Brightwood books, as well as all the AIA contract documents, would be adequate to study for the exams? Based on how you described the Ballast 5.0, I don't know if I want to invest my time and energy in reading that book.  

    Thank you again for sharing our experience!

     

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    Daniel Flesher

    Hi Christina,

    I've known a few people who have transitioned from ARE 4.0 to 5.0. I think the exam portion is going to be relatively similar, which leaves the major difference being the vignettes vs. the case studies.

    If you find the vignette interface to be annoying, then you might want to switch to 5.0 for that reason alone. Otherwise, I think the questions on the exams will be very similar. 5.0 is meant to be just as difficult as 4.0, so you shouldn't be able to have an easier time by switching. 

    As for study materials, I think the reading the AIA documents and using the Kaplan books should be enough, but everyone is different and needs different study methods, materials, and time to succeed. I know I passed everything on the first try with only the Ballast book. Even with its flaws it definitely was enough to get me prepared.

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    Min Young Kang

    Hi Daniel,

     

    Congratulations on passing your exams!  Can you please send a link to the Ballast book you are referring to?

     

    Thank you,

    Min

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    Christina Fu

    Hi Daniel,

    Just curious, is there a reason why you chose 5.0 instead of 4.0/5.0 combo? 

    Thank you!

    Christina

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    Daniel Flesher

    You can buy the book on Amazon for ~$155.

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    Daniel Flesher

    Hi Christina,

    Umm . . . no reason I guess. A friend said they used the ARE 5.0 Ballast book and nothing else so I figured it it worked for them it could work for me. I honestly didn't know there was a 4.0/5.0 combo version, haha.

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    Christina Fu (Edited )

    Hi Daniel, 

    I think a lot of people are trying to take the combination of 3 exams of 4.0 and 2 exams of 5.0 so they can get it done in just 5 exams.   I was planning to do that, but time is running short and i do not have the confident of passing the three  4.0 exams by june.

    I am going to order the Ballast 5.0 exam manual and Ballast practice exam books from Amazon. 

    Thanks

    -christina

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    La'Veesha Rollins

    Hello Daniel,

     

    With the PPD and PDD the two monster exams, you noted to not worry about the calculations. Would you say a good reference for this would be the Kaplan 4.0 books and the MEEB book? 

     

    La'Veesha

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    Daniel Flesher

    I've read MEEB before but didn't look at it at all for the exams. 

    When using any of the Kaplan 4.0 books, just make sure that the 4.0 book overlaps with the study material in 5.0. I used this chart: https://www.ncarb.org/sites/default/files/ARE5_CreditModel.pdf

    There definitely were calculation questions in the exams, but there's so much you'd have to review and learn to become proficient at everything (that requires using formulas) and those questions take 5-10x as long as the questions covering general concepts, so it's just a better use of your time (in my opinion) to ignore all calculations to be sure you have a strong knowledge of the concepts. 

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    La'Veesha Rollins

    Great advice! Thanks so much for the advice. I am currently preparing for Programming and Analysis. I have passed Project Management and Practice Management. From this site, everyone seems to take them in order. However, from your post you stated that you took Construction Evaluation next. Would you recommend taking Programming and Analysis next or Construction Evaluation?

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    HAO YU

    Hi Daniel,

    I'm a young graduate and just earned my Bachelor of Architecture last year in California. To my opinion, all reading materials seem really expensive. I'm wondering if you like to sale/rent your books to me. I'm planning to take ARE 5.0 in 2019 and on. 

    Thank you!

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    Daniel Flesher

    Hi Hao,

    I ended up only using the Ballast ARE 5.0 Review Manual. It's $90 new on Amazon, or $60 used. It's probably one of the cheapest ways to go. I used some Kaplan ARE 4.0 stuff for my first exam, but didn't get other books for my later exams. I didn't use any practice exam books, flashcards, or anything else.

    I can't sell you my book because my office bought it for me, so it's technically their property. Amazon is likely your best bet. 

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    HAO YU

    Hi Daniel,

    Thank you! Yea, some offices pay for readings but mine sponsors my coming exam fees. Appreciate your help! 

     

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    HAO YU

    Oh, btw, do you use any side books as references? Like, "The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice"?

    In fact, I have not yet worked at an architecture office for too long so I'd better be reading and preparing hard before any exams. When I'm taking mock ups, I realized I need to read lots more. 

    Thanks!

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    Daniel Flesher

    Hi La'Veesha,

    I'm just realizing that I never responded to your question. I hope you've continued taking your exams and are doing well. 

    I'm happy with the order I took the exams in. It was nice to start somewhat easy, then go to the longer exams, and finish with a short exam.

    Good luck!

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    Daniel Flesher

    Hi Hao,

    I think that having most of my IDP (now AXP) hours done when I started the exams helped a lot. There's a lot about professional practice that helped prepare me for the exams, which is why I think they were relatively easy. That combined with my relatively short time out of school meant that I had the academic memory of what I learned in school, what I was reading in the books, and what I was learning on the job. All of those helped to round me out for a good testing experience. 

    And I really only looked at the AIA standard contracts and other AIA references given by NCARB in combination with the Ballast book. Those were the only two study materials I needed. The Kaplan stuff I used at the beginning was good, but was probably not necessary in the end (although more entertaining than the Ballast book). 

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    HAO YU

    Now, I see. Thank you so much!

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    Kit Yee Li

    Hi Daniel,

    Was there any correlation between the order in which you took your exams and your work experience? For example, did you have more work experience in project management and less in programing/analysis so you decided to test in what you are most familiar in first?

    Thanks! 

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    Daniel Flesher

    Hi Kit,

    There was no correlation. My strategy was based solely on the length of the tests and the relationship of overlap study material between them. 

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    TOSIN ADE - ALAKA

    Hi Daniel Fletcher
    Thanks for the detailed insight of your study strategy and experience during the exams.
    I was able to get all seven kaplan ARE4.0 study guide. Will using solely this material be sufficient for ARE 5.0 especially because of the overlaps? Or any side recommendation pls. Thanks

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