First time caller, long time listener....
I officially finished the ARE 5.0 last week, and would like to disseminate some of my test strategies that worked for me.
TEST SCHEDULE AND STRATEGY:
11/26/2017 - PDD (fail)
5/24/2018 - PDD (fail)
9/13/2018 - PDD (pass)
12/14/2018 - PPD (pass)
2/26/2019 - PA (pass)
3/27/2019 - CE (pass)
5/1/2019 - PjM (pass)
5/24/2019 - PcM (pass)
My strategy was to knock out the "hardest" (They're all challenging) and longest tests out first, forcing myself to absorb all of the information required to pass PDD before moving on to PPD and the rest of the tests.
The tests are pretty sequential (in that knowing PA helps you on PPD and knowing PPD assists on PDD) and they overlap, so this strategy MAY not have been the smartest approach, BUT it did make me feel more confident to take out the remaining 4 shorter tests rapidly, and because I started with PDD, I already had studied most of the content covered in PA, PPD, PDD, and CE.
There is A LOT of resources the NCARB Handbook spells out with reference to each test.
Resources I used:
Architect's Handbook for Professional Practice
ARE Exam Prep (PDD)
Ballast PPI Study Materials (Digital questions and E-books)
AIA Contracts 2017
NCARB ARE 5.0 Handbook / Questions
Other suggested References per test per NCARB ARE Handbook (Site design planning, Building construction illustrated, etc.)
USE THE ARE NCARB HANDBOOK TO DIVIDE
The amount of content and knowledge you need to pass these tests cannot be limited to one resource. You will need to study many different resources and be able to critically think with the information, not just retain / regurgitate.
My strategy for each test was to Re-write each objective on a blank google document, and as I read different resources, I would classify and take notes of that information to which objective I thought the material pertained. For example, if the objective was about cost estimating, I would take notes of anything I found regarding cost estimating in the different resources I was reading into that section.
This approach takes the focus of the information off the actual resource you're studying and helps create a more comprehensive study guide of information from all of the resources you use to study. It's based on the objectives of the NCARB ARE Handbook, which IS what the test is using to.develop questions. I found that as I added different notes from different sources, some of the topics would produce similar notes, which would highlight which info was likely important and allowed me to project potential ARE questions, tying all the information studied back to the objectives, which are key to understanding each test.
The NCARB Handbook Objectives ARE your framework of the test, use them to your advantage in your studying.
I used Google Docs and Apple Notes to take these notes, allowing access and studying from literally anywhere. I always find myself with idle time (and always on my phone), so when I did have it, I just reviewed the notes that I had taken from my phone. Those 5-10 minutes time spent waiting for something can really add up and help you understand something in the long run. Persistence and repetition is key to memorizing and understanding data / concepts. Once this is done, you can project what possible question scenarios might be from this information to help prepare for the tests.
Ballast Online Practice tests and Designer hacks quizzes / tests helped out the most when it came time to test knowledge in given situations.
The tests will give you questions that put you in a scenario as an Architect, which I think is an incredibly relevant way to test. When you're studying, try to think of these "what if scenarios". A lot of times the questions on the test will give you right answers, but you need to choose the MOST right answer for the scenario.
My approach has been to spend the first 30 minutes or so of each test answering as many multiple choice questions as I can, then immediately switching to the case studies and knocking those out. Don't read all the materials in the case studies, just read the questions first, and then go back and look at the materials.
TIME MANAGEMENT IS CRITICAL. Make a first guess and flag the question you're unsure of, then come back and review them later. Don't spend too much time on any one question or you'll freeze up and won't finish. I did not use the "references" tab at any time during any of these exams - They are extensive and can waste the limited time you have.
All in all, these tests are a grind, but I do think they'll produced better and more prepared Architects. At least I feel that way.
Good luck, and don't give up!
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