Advice on order of exams

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    Erin Vincent

    Hi Jeff!

    Also, following, for general order ideas.

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    Michael Ermann

    One Long Exam

     

    Jeffrey and Erin, one of the most common questions I get goes something like this: “In what order should I take the six divisions of the ARE 5.0.” Just today, three different people asked me this, then I read this thread, and that prompted me to write this post. Man, I wish I had a good answer to this query. If the questioner seems nervous, I may make up an order just to shift their focus to more useful pursuits, because nervous people sometimes crave certainty. But that’s a bit paternalistic on my part. The better answer to, “In what order should I take the six divisions of the ARE 5.0.?” is a confident, “Yes.”

     

    Because the overlap among five of the six divisions is so pronounced, the Venn diagram of them emerges almost as if it were a single, blurry, circle. (The sixth, more-outlying division is Practice Management, which still has significant overlap with the others, but less extreme.) Instead of six discrete tests, better to trick your mind into viewing these as a single, 600-question test—one that spans several days in a single week, and incorporates a familiarity with the unambiguous stench of a Prometric testing center.

     

    This advice is embraced by some, but met with disbelief or dread by others. I don’t know if the resistance to all-at-once-testing owes its roots to the natural human aversion to the idea of  a multi-day exam, to bad advice from senior colleagues who took previous versions of the exams when there was far less overlap between divisions, to imposter syndrome, to risk-aversion, or to masochism. I am certain that, on-balance, for most people, an all-at-once approach is less disruptive, less expensive, less overwhelming, and both the fastest and surest path to licensure. Studying for three months, taking six exams, and even passing only two of them is still preferable to studying for three months, taking one exam, and passing it. Be generous with yourself if you fail and remember that re-takes are your friend. —Michael Ermann The Amber Book

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    Erin Vincent

    Michael Ermann after reading and listening to some more materials today, I had started to come to this conclusion myself. Thank you for the great response. I think due to family life, I'll end up doing more like one test a week in quick succession rather than a test a day for a week, but following your same concept.

    Thanks again for the thorough response!

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    Julie Brown

    Jeffrey- 

    Based on your specific situation of having already passed PA and PPD, and having had one viewing of what PDD holds for you (spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't taken PDD: it holds A LOT.) I would recommend at least one more try at PDD before moving onto the other three divisions. While all divisions relate to each other as much as Michael described, I found it to be true that PA, PPD, and PDD could be studied for together, and you can treat PcM, PjM, and CE like their own trio. (They're also going to feel much more manageable once you've got PA, PPD, and PDD behind you. They're smaller, more focused exams.)

    Plus, since you recently experienced the PDD exam, you should be able to assess where you stand with it. Your exam report will help you understand where you need more attention, and hopefully when you came out of your exam you were able to recall items that tripped you up, things you were surprised by, topics where you waffled between two answer choices. Make yourself an outline of all the things where you remember doubting your answer, study up specifically on those things, overview the rest of the materials you used the first go-round, and take another crack at PDD. There's a chance you just barely missed the mark on passing, and clarifying your understanding on even a handful of items may be just the push you need to get that passing score. 

    Otherwise, order doesn't really matter as long as you study and understand the materials for each division. I personally went: 

    PA and CE on the same day --> PcM a week later --> PjM a week after that --> took the summer off --> PPD and PDD a week apart. I passed the first five, and tripped at the finish line with PDD. But I knew what topics might have snagged me, so I used the 60-day wait period to study up, repeated PDD and passed. 

     

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