I finished my AREs in April, passing all 6 in one go, with the last 5 being tightly grouped into a 3 week period. I did this at the recommendation of the amber book study program, and wanted to share my experience with others, so that they are not overburdened and over studying. Disclaimer: I have worked in the field for about 5 years at a medium-sized design-build firm, so probably have a little more rounded experience than most.
After studying for about a month and passing PcM, I realized that I didn’t get tested on a LOT of the material I studied. This is fine for those with lots of time, and it would be great if we could all study that way, but as someone currently working in architecture usually 50+ hours a week, I realized all that over-studying was going to severely and negatively impact my work and home life, and that there had to be a better, more focused way. Some quick browsing around the NCARB ARE forums led me to the amber book. So I signed up and tried to prescribe as tightly to the method as my schedule would allow – I scheduled my remaining 5 tests to occur in one 3 week period, with about a month beforehand to study the material – I was definitely intimidated at the daunting schedule at first, but the testing strategy proved to be some of the most valuable information in the course – grouping the tests in tight succession was super beneficial for me.It helped me a lot to stay in the test-taking mindset while maintaining continuity in studying across tests (you will start to notice recurring themes. I used other resources to augment the information (ballast book, designer hacks practice tests, AHPP) but sparingly. The course is expensive, but find someone to partner up with for a discount and if you are strategic about it, you will only need 2 months worth of time, which can be a lot cheaper than failing and retaking multiple tests. Great material, great strategy - two thumbs up.
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