Recent graduate looking to start on the ARE
So, I graduated recently and I am looking to start the ARE. I have done some research on what order to take the exams in, the kinds of material that is out there to study from, etc. My issue is that I am not sure if I should go ahead and start scheduling/ taking my exams since I am a recent graduate with a couple of months worth of experience.
From my research, it seems to me that having more experience would make the process smoother. My fear is that I start now and invest time, money, and effort that is all going to be wasted due to my limited experience. To put it simply, should I wait a year or two before starting, or is it the sooner the better?
I was also looking at resources like Amber Book and Black Spectacles. Would these two be helpful for the ARE for someone who lacks experience?
The pass rates for younger candidates are higher. See here:
I just finished the exams at age 40 and I think I would have had an easier time of it had I taken them sooner. My experience in the profession definitely helped, and maybe it was the difference between passing and failing on a couple exams… But you can retake an exam!
Overall I think the content I studied for the exams would have benefited me in my early career more than having a lot of experience benefited me in the exams later.
One last thought: I went through this process around the same time as a younger friend in the profession. I passed all six exams on the first try. He had multiple retakes. But we both passed. The way I see it, he’s fifteen years ahead of me! What a rockstar! If you’re on the fence, go for it!
I agree it is better to start taking ARE exams early:
- You learn a lot from studying for ARE exams, and it will definitely help you understand the whole architectural practice much better.
- You still remember a lot of things you have learned in architecture school, that definitely saves you a lot of time in restudying the same things again years later. All structural related items are a piece of cake when you are right out of school.
- You have a strong momentum when you are young. Just stay focus and pass the ARE exams and be done with them ASAP. You will be districted by many other things later, such as having and taking care of kids, etc.
Gang Chen, Author, AIA, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)
Piling on here, I've given 50 3-day ARE study sessions for AIA chapters around the country and while the average age of attendees is probably in the 30s, that's misleading. In fact, the age distribution looks not like a bell-curve but rather more like a double peaked camel's hump: lots of people in their 20s, some in their 30s, and lots of people in their 40s who wish they had started in their 20s.
--Michael Ermann, Amber Book creator
Professional experience is NOT necessary to pass the exams. Yes, a little bit of experience can help, but is by no means necessary. I was able to pass the exams with less than three years of professional experience and I have many friends who were able to pass with even less professional experience. I generally recommend the study resources recommended in the NCARB Guidelines, but you do not need all of them. You can see a breakdown of my recommendations for each exam on my YouTube channel as well as recommendations on what order to take the exams. https://www.youtube.com/c/dpDesignProfessionals
--Devina Parbhoo, dp.DesignProfessionals
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