When To Schedule Your Exam



  • Avatar
    Kevin Griendling


    My suggestion to candidates is Monday morning (if you can get off of work). If you schedule for Monday morning it allows for:

    • Friday evening to shed the stresses and concerns of your work week, beginning to reset your state of mind for test taking.
    • Saturday is best used for your last deep study, a practice test to double check your weaknesses, and digging into those areas a bit.
    • Sunday is best kept light, have a good breakfast, casually study throughout the day, prepare your "morning of" review sheet, eat a good dinner, take late Sunday evening and do something else, like watch a movie or play board games with the family, go to bed early. Don't cram. It doesn't help, usually only hurts.
    • Monday morning wake up early, eat a good breakfast, get to the test center early. Spend about 30 minutes prior to walking in for your appointment looking over your "morning of" review sheet. Then... kick butt on that test!

    Use the "morning of" review sheet to write down concepts that you often get confused (i.e. ADA slopes/rail requirements or soil types and appropriate foundations. Keep this tabulated, not written in paragraphs. This is something you scan over right before the exam to reconnect the dots in your subconscious when you are in the exam center.

    If you absolutely cannot do Monday morning, Sunday morning is your best bet.

    I don't suggest afternoon exams. It gives you too great of an opportunity for something to come along that morning and distract you from your mission.

    However, everyone is different. Know yourself and what you need to fit your schedule.



    Kevin Griendling, AIA



  • Avatar
    Julie Brown

    I didn't want to have to use personal time from work to take the exams, so I always scheduled for a weekend date. Sunday mornings are great because it gives you Saturday to distance yourself from whatever residual workweek stresses you may have had and review any fuzzy areas. Traffic is the best on Sunday morning, so your travel time to the testing center won't add anxiety. And, if your test goes great and you get that preliminary provisional 'pass', you have the afternoon to treat yo'self! If it goes bad and you get the 'fail', you have the afternoon to process, immediately make a list of any of the things on the test where you felt caught off-guard, and go home and look up anything you can while it's fresh.

  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai

    Really great thoughts above.  I've said it before, but taking these exams can actually be reasonably enjoyable -- figure out your own "least stressful approach".  Some candidates seem bent on adding an element of torture to their exam process! 

    Me -- I went a little different way, and took each of the six exams on Friday mornings  -- and as early as the test center would allow.  I began a couple of the exams at about 7am.    I also took the whole day off as PTO.

    For me, it was great to hit the exams with maximum intensity early in the morning, and then enjoy a couple of fine post-exam craft brews to decompress, followed by an entire weekend to recharge -- with lots of outdoor time.



  • Avatar
    David Kaplan

    I also did my exams first thing in the morning during the week.  I purposely avoided weekend times because I have two kids at home and my wife would've killed me if I was gone that long!!  They were at 9 AM (which was the earliest my center offered).  I woke up, went to a coffee shop to do some last minute looking over study materials, and then drove out to the testing center and did it.  I'm more productive first thing in the AM by far.  Glad that I didn't take these tests in the afternoon. 

    I actually did to go to work after every time, too.  Especially after my last exam, when I found out I passed, I went into work carrying a 12-pack of beer and announced my licensure.  We all drank and got nothing productive done for the rest of the afternoon, it was great.  Highly-recommended approach there.

  • Avatar
    Scott Barber

    Good suggestions above, from some of my go-to people for advice throughout the exam process. I scheduled my first two exams at the same time, and decided to try Monday morning and Monday afternoon (not the same day) to see which I liked more. Although I'm not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, I enjoyed the morning (8 or 8:30) much, much more than the afternoon. Even though I had to leave around 6:00 to get there on time and not have to worry about traffic, it was much better than the afternoon exam slot.

    For the morning exams I treated myself to some Bojangles before the sun came up and got some sweet tea in my system to start the day off right :) The afternoon time slot was just awkward - they ask you to get there 30-60 minutes before your exam starts (which I didn't know until the morning of the exam) so my lunch was at 11:00 am and I was hardly hungry at that point. Even though food was hardly on my mind during the exam it did play an important role in my preferred time slot. I did go into work after each morning exam, but I definitely understand that others wouldn't want to. Fortunately I passed each exam but if I had failed one I don't know if I would have wanted to go into work and have people asking me how it went. 

    I think what day of the week varies for each person - I liked Mondays because it let me have the weekend to be whatever I needed it to be (sleep, study, etc) and I didn't have anything from work to distract me. I ended up taking one exam on Friday for a number of reasons, and it worked out fine, but I still preferred Monday. 

    Ultimately there will be pros and cons to any approach, but I definitely agree with Kurt and finding the least stressful approach for you personally. You could try a couple different days or time slots to see what resonates with you. I was surprised that I liked the morning exams so much, and am glad that I gave it a shot.

  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai

    David, that's a great memory for you now -- 12 pack in tow with your big news, and a supportive bunch of coworkers to recognize your accomplishment and help celebrate.  That is straight up awesome.

    Scott -- I figured out what Bojangles is... ( no locations near me ).  When I first read your post I thought, hmm -- OK -- you treated yourself to some Bojangles?  What, like Mr. Bojangles, that crappy old song?  How would that help anyone get ready for the ARE exam...???

  • Avatar
    Scott Barber

    Haha, I forget that there are places that don't have the good fortune of Bojangles fast food restaurants nearby (as I'm sure I'm missing out on good restaurant chains here in NC). I'm sure that was a confusing sentence to someone not acquainted with the restaurant chain! But I don't often eat out (even for fast food), so getting a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit, bo rounds (hash brown patties), and a sweet tea was a small consolation for getting up early.

  • Avatar
    Karin Bell

    Well Scott, I'm in Alabama, so it all made perfect sense to me! Nothing beats a Bojangles biscuit. 

    Thank you everyone for so many different thoughts and ideas. I will definitely be thinking about my own personal patterns and how my body/energy levels work. I'll probably try different times, as some of you said, and of course, no cramming for me. That's never been my style!

  • Avatar
    Kurt Fanderclai (Edited )


    By the way -- Scott, I'm sure that Bojangles would have had me at bacon...!

    Karin -- honestly, the main thing is to not add any avoidable stress to your exam routine.  In full disclosure, would you like to see how NOT to take an exam?  I've got that covered as well -- see the link.  Good luck with your exams!

  • Avatar
    Philip Crosscup (Edited )

    All great tips thanks!  Even the Bojangles for breakfast, I saw my first one 15 minutes before reading this post, working in SC.


Please sign in to leave a comment.

Powered by Zendesk