Spoiler alert, this will be a loooooong post.
My ARE journey started in June 2015 right after I got the LEED AP BD+C. I scheduled my very first ARE 4.0 exam in the busiest time of my life - purchasing a condo, moving, parents coming to visit me. For some reason I passed it first try. Great right? Just wait. Ever since then, SPD - fail; CDS - fail; BDCS - fail. Retakes - fail. Then the ARE 5.0 transition happened. I have two friends who passed one exam one week, and both got done just like that. So I've decided to pursue my luck in the ARE 5.0 world. Then PcM - fail, PjM - fail. OK, at this point I'm pretty numb about waking up in the morning, the first thing is to check my phone and see a huge 'Fail' in NCARB test result. This was in 2017. I got married, then started my 7-month wedding planning for our wedding ceremony & concert, which was awesome since my husband and I are both musicians. At this point I decided to give up on ARE, due to the fact I kept failing and failing and it hurt so much. I told everybody I'm done, I'm going to spend time on learning piano jazz, play in my husband's band and etc. I don't want to get my architect license, it's not worth it blah blah blah. I tried so hard to persuade everybody, but who am I trying to persuade really? Myself. I deeply still want it so bad, but because I couldn't make it happen at that point, I used a sugar-coated cover to try to hide the fact that I was a coward, been defeated by the beast. And I refused to let my ego go (leggo my eggo), so I stopped the ARE process. This didn't take long, I started slowly studying PjM and getting back on the track after our honeymoon. But again crazy like me decided to move to a new apartment two weeks before my exam, so I was still unpacking and decorating the loft during the week of my exam. Even though I felt great and confident during the test, I still failed. I felt super sad and extremely frustrated. Is it because I'm a foreigner who has only lived here for 7.5 years? Is it because of me only having 2 years grad school here and can't incorporate multiple choice into my brain? Is it because I don't deserve to be a licensed architect? At this point, I didn't cry, but decided that I'm going to finally sign up for ARE Boot Camp, since I've followed Young Architect Blog ever since I stepped on the ARE journey. I felt I've done everything I could possibly did on my own, but if I still keep failing, then something is definitely not clicking for me. And I need help, really good professional help.
I signed up the ARE Boot Camp, and tried my best to finish all the syllabus Michael gave us every week, I studied my ass off, I told my husband I'm sorry but I have to do this. Michael asked us to study the three Pro Practice exams altogether, which are PcM, PjM, C&E. First 5 weeks we study all three, then starting from Week 6, each one picks their first exam and focus on that. We have a study log to keep tracking how much time we studied. I studied 328 hours during the whole 10 weeks. I changed my mindset, I learned test strategies, I passed PjM.
I can't thank ARE Boot Camp by Michael enough, and Ben's Hyperfine is also super awesome. After joining Boot Camp, I realized my problems of keep failing the exams before were:
I used to keep reading, reading, then doing practice test at the end to prove how much I study. That's not right. What you read doesn't equalize what you digest. What you need is to understand what you studied and use practice questions to facilitate that study process, and the real exam is to test how much you can express. So output > input.
I used to study every study material you can find or think of for ARE. Nothing wrong about being diversified, but since every publisher has mistakes, how can you know which one is incorrect? You might tried so hard to really dive in and understand one concept from one book, and never know it's actually wrong.
Everybody is studying on his or her own. There was never any available study group. Sure you can ask questions online, but is that going to solve 10 or 100 questions you have? The best thing happened to me from ARE Boot Camp is we have online meetups and I love it. I probably don't understand a concept, but after discussing with other folks, it helps so much to really digest by conversation, and believe me it sticks in your mind way deeper than studying alone and zoning out.
Apologize for such a crazy long post, but I'm just happy that I'm finally back on track. Wish y'all good luck with your exams. Remember, never give up. If you want something TRULY bad and put your mind to it, you will get it. You WILL.
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