ARE 5.0 Studying Tips?

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    Scott Barber

    Hi Jeffrey,

    It sounds like you're currently studying for Practice Management? I haven't taken that exam yet but I've found a lot of posts on this forum to be helpful when figuring out what books are best to read/study. My approach so far has been to spend a day or two reading through a lot of the forum posts for the exam I'm going to take, plan out what I need to study and how long, and then schedule my exam. Spending several hours reading through all the posts helps me feel better about what I need to focus on, and gives me a good direction to start in. 

    I think each exam most likely will vary (which is when posts on this forum will be helpful), but I typically focus on the books that are referenced at the end of each division. The matrix at the end may be good if you need to learn more about a specific topic, but are probably not necessary. There are also times when books not listed in the ARE Handbook are helpful for an exam. For example, The Architect's Studio Companion was the best book I read when studying for PPD, but it isn't listed in their references (several people on this forum suggested it). Side note: just double checked this and found it referenced in an explanation for a sample question, but not listed in the reference matrix or at the end of the PPD section. Seems like NCARB may want to edit this?

    I bought the Ballast review manual but ultimately didn't find it to be super useful. I've read it at the beginning of my studying to get a foundation of the concepts, but haven't found it to provide new info that the primary sources (those listed in the ARE Handbook) don't have. Also, they get waaay too detailed for structural calculations for PDD, so when you take that exam I wouldn't study Ballast for that. 
    Most 3rd party study material seems to be insufficient for these exams - 5.0 is just too new for them to create content that aligns with the new format and testing strategy. Most material is rearranged from 4.0 and most people haven't been impressed. I studied Architect Exam Prep for PPD and PDD and was very disappointed with it. 

    My approach for these exams has been to read a lot. And read some more. And read a little more than that, too. 
    One of the big improvements from 4.0 (from what others have said - I didn't take any under 4.0 so I can't say for sure) is that we no longer are focusing on memorization, but on application. This makes it a little more intimidating since most exams in my life have been about memorization, but I appreciate it's alignment with "real world" situations and actually knowing and applying information rather than regurgitating it. 
    As a result, I've spent all of my "studying" reading as much as I can. I know some people make flash cards or take notes to learn, but I've just read as much as I can. I'll likely need to change my study approach when I get to less familiar content (contracts, for example), though. But so far, as I read through a book I add bookmarks for sections I don't understand or know very well. Then after reading all the books I have a lot of bookmarked areas I know I need to read again. As I understand the sections, I remove the bookmark so I don't spend my time re-reading a lot of stuff I already know. It also gave me a good place to start when reviewing the last couple days before my exam.

    I think for 5.0, the more experience you have in an area the better. I don't think it's a necessity, but it can definitely help. My experience in CDs helped me a lot in PDD, but I also had to learn a lot of things when studying for PDD because I didn't have as much experience working with MEP systems. However, I've only been working full time since last May, so my experience is limited but I passed PDD and PPD last month. So while experience in the AXP areas will help, I don't think it's a requirement as long as you can read and understand the information.

    I know that's a lot of info, but I hope it helps! Good luck!

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    Jeffrey Xu

    Wow thank you so much!

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    Susan Scarlet-Macaw

    Jeffrey, I found the book Law for Architects: What you Need to Know very helpful for this exam. It gives you clear explanation of the Standard of Care, the meaning of the contracts and their importance. Also read B101 and the responsibilities of consultants and the architect in C401. Good luck...

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