Passed all 6 in 4 months

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    Yike Qin

    Congrats Michael! Great job!

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    Michael Smith

    Congratulations Michael on your accomplishment and journey. The IDP is the easy part. I have been reading your posts and have asked you several questions already. I am duplicating your exam path starting off with PcM 1st in March then so forth. I would also like to finish within a 6-8 month frame. Where can I find the Amber information? Any other suggestions that you can give me I'm more than open.

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    Michael Lawson

    Thanks Yike and Michael S! 

    Yeah, the IDP will definitely be the easy part now. The only tough part is getting the CE hours, but I work at a good place that will help me get it done. The exam path I laid out worked well for me, I hope it does for you too. The only bad part was getting to the end and facing the behemoth of them all, there was a lot riding on that last one! 

    The Amber information can be found here. Keep an eye out here for people signing up in groups - you get a discount. 

    Most of the advice I could think of is laid out above, and I hope it helps. I'd just reiterate that you can't rely on a secondary source as your only learning material. I think it might be possible to pass the exams that way, but it would be very hard. The primary sources and materials are your best bet. Also, keep referencing the Handbook again and again. It lays out exactly what is on each division of the test, and the questions they ask are very good examples of the types of questions you find on the tests. Practice exams are a really great way to quiz yourself and estimate your progress, but none of the practice questions match the exam as well as the handbook (of course).

    Also, when you're in the exam situation, any question can completely throw you off your game. If I ever got caught up in a question for too long or got flustered at what it was asking, I looked at the Buddhist philosophy of letting things pass. Mark and move on to the next question and let that one fade, there is no point dwelling too long on those tough questions. 

    Good luck! It sounds like you're working hard already! 

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    Nancy Redenius

    Congratulations Michael! Thank you for sharing so much of your experience and advice on this forum. I know I and many others have found it extremely helpful! I commend and envy you for having the dedication to study for and complete all 6 tests in such a short period of time. Definitely don't let anyone belittle your accomplishment; it's an impressive achievement. I'm eager to hear about your experience with PDD when you share your insights for that test as I'm hoping to follow a similar approach in studying for PPD & PDD (my last two!) together.

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    David Kaplan

    You're the man, sir, well done!

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    Michael Lawson

    Thank you David and Nancy! You can find my PDD breakdown here. I didn't go into as much detail as others have on actual content of the exam - I stayed more on the methodology and approach side. I did look to David's and others posts to find out about the content they saw on the exam. It was enough to realize that the content is broad and expansive. Take in what you can and don't worry about the little things. There will inevitably be something unexpected, but don't let it get to you. Congratulations for being on the last two, that's amazing. Good luck on them! 

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    William May

    Michael,

    Last year, et al, roughly 50% of all test takers failed, many more than once.  That's a lot of folks who aren't getting passing scores.  These are people with degrees, again, many with advanced degrees, and with years of experience.  In 2018 there were 15,493 people testing. The average percentage is 55.83% who are passing = 6,848 people who are failing. 

    I am taking my first test next month.  Over the past 11 months I have come to this group and read the comments.  I'm seeing someone like you and it's inspiring.  But I see far many more who want to give up after many tries.  What fascinates me is that I also see that you don't have a 5 year degree but a 3.5 year degree.  Many people have the 5 year BA and many have the MA as well.  Yet they are failing and you passed.

    For the group as a question, is a test, in it's totality, a "good" test if only 56% of the candidates pass?  People are paying a lot of money to be educated to "do" the work and I would think to pass the final test but it seems that the education is failing to prepare people to actually pass the test.  Without 3rd party practice materials, many more people would fail.  Should the study materials be part of the education process?

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    Michael Lawson (Edited )

    William,

    I think you're asking some deeper pedagogical questions than I can accurately answer, but I'll try to speculate from my experience. First, the 3.5 year program is for people who have an undergrad in an field that is not architecture. This does not discount the first undergrad program though, we still use that education in many ways - some design, some engineering. Those with an architecture undergrad are more likely to do a 1 or 2 year graduate program. 

    In our program, we learned some of what could be considered to be on these tests, but not in the way that you are asking. Our school drew a distinction between "Architectural Education" and an "Education of an Architect." We were on the latter side of things. (EDIT: Just to preempt any of my professors that might somehow stumble here, I still have trouble figuring out what you meant by this, and I'm sure I'm missing major components! Sorry!) I like to think of it as the difference between giving someone a fish and teaching someone to fish. We were taught less about what steel beam to use, and more about why the steel beam works at all. Their thought was that the conventions can and will change, but your motivation and drive to learn should be cultivated so that you would seek out those changes. 

    Bringing it back to the test, I think again you're asking why our schools don't teach us the materials. My school focused on the principle over the materials. In a roundabout way, I felt I was more prepared for the tests for that than if they had taught the "materials." In the ARE Handbook, NCARB frequently makes a distinction between memorization and application. When I started studying, I put my energy into that more than memorizing bits of data, and I think it paid off. The tests will ask you questions that are so far and away from what you studied, that you have to apply the principles of the structure or process in order to answer the question. 

    That said, you absolutely need to know general data and information, but it ends up being far more valuable to understand why than it is to just have a rolodex of numbers. Look at the common ADA dimensions and really understand what it is that the minimum requirements are responding to. I also don't think you need 3rd party study materials - look more at the recommended materials in the NCARB handbook. I heavily used 3rd party materials, yes, but I don't think you need them to pass. 

    Good luck William! 

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    William May

    How many architects would you venture to estimate are unemployed?

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    Kurt Fanderclai

    Michael -- great job passing all exams!  

    I passed the ARE 5.0 a bit over a year ago in just a bit over your timeframe, having procrastinated for years.  I definitely do agree that, for many candidates, taking them directly out of school can provide many advantages regarding the ARE exams.  

    As you now know, as do the rest of those of us on "the other side", there is just soooo much mis-information regarding these exams.  Step One for any candidate is to steer clear of the this, and also to steer clear of the general negativity that often arises among some candidates.   

    Whatever one's level of experience, these exams are doable...       

    Very well done, Michael.

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