I got provisional pass yesterday afternoon after finishing my PDD exam. This is my last exam of ARE and it was a very exciting moment to see the final pass. Now, I am finally done with the ARE!
Time Management & Strategy
Like many people's sharing in the forum, this test was definitely not easy. It covered a lot of stuff. Even though I thought I was well prepared for the test, but still there was some questions that I had no clue, and I had to follow the gut feeling. I finished the regular questions within 2 hr 15 min, case studies 1 hr 30 min, and the last 30 min I spent on going back through all my marked questions. I would say time management is important for the test, never stuck on the question that you really don't know, or you feel it will take you a lot of time to do the math. It is OK to follow your gut feeling or just skip it during the first round, get them marked and then checked back after you finish everything. You might have clear thoughts when reviewing.
Content & Preparation
The test was heavy on building details and section composition, I got many graphic questions. And I also got many questions on building materials (Single choice or Multiple Choice) So, make sure you get through the BCI, AGS and Fundamentals of Building Construction. Those books will help you on building composition and building materials.
Also, a lot of questions are around specifications. Make sure you are familiar with CSI format as well as division number for each section, understand different types of specs. I was using Ballast book, there is one specification chapter, it is compact, easy to read and covers most things that you should know about specs.
This test definitely will include code related stuff. You can use IBC book or Building Code Illustrated (it is much better to read and understand) . Be familiar with Chapter 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, especially chapter 10 means of egress. There is one trick for the test that I found, if you really don't remember the code, you can navigate to case study questions. Usually, case study will have IBC excerpt for you reference. The premise is you have to familiar with the code and related chapter so that you have enough time during the test to navigate through. If you could remember all of the code, it will save you a lot of time during case study session.
Cost Estimating. This was the easy part of the test and you should earn scores on those. Just make sure you are using the correct unit, and read questions or graphics clearly and in detail.
The last thing about test content. If you are relatively young in the architectural practice and are not familiar with CD set, just grab a set in your office and start navigating through the set searching for which sheet should include what information. This will prepare you for the case studies. Also, if you are new to the ARE 5.0 interface, make sure to be familiar the interface by using the demo exam on NCARB websit.
The test was not easy and we have to work hard to get through this. And to be honest, it is very easy to fail. How could you handle the situation when you fail the exam even though you working hard on this ? I would say you have to be determined on getting license and do not question yourself if you fail. As long as you see your progress, you will get this done. During the test, never focusing on the pass or fail, only focusing on trying to solve as many questions as you can. If you feel anxious during the test, take the break, it is necessary. Get yourself refreshed. It helps a lot on those longer test.
Good Luck to those who is getting through the ARE.
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