I'm officially done with the daunting ARE process and ready to share my insight.
This is my first post on this blog, which is an amazing and important tool while navigating your way through these exams. 2019 was the first year I began looking at posts on ARE 5.0 Community which has 100% helped in redefining my approach to taking these exams. I officially passed PPD on my third, but technically second try, which I'll get into in a bit, but wanted to provide my feedback.
Just to give you a break down, I wanted to say to everyone out there still working on their ARE's, whether it's been for years or months, don't give up and keep pushing because you will be in the same position as I am, and it's an unbelievable feeling. I've been at these exams for years, passing and failing through ARE 4.0, often getting so discouraged I would have taken months off, and at one point, almost a year. I attempted to try and complete the trifecta of exams before the June 30th deadline of last year, in which i had passed CDS and Site Planning within a two month span, but couldn't seem to pass PPP in two attempts, the last being on June 30th. It was heartbreaking knowing that big effort I made meant nothing as only 1 credit carried over to 5.0 and I had 5 more exams to take. I took the remainder of the year off to recoup and went into 2019 with an ARE 5.0 only approach until i finished, and it is in fact possible to complete all exams in one year, you just have to apply yourself and schedule it appropriately.
I'm 30 years old, I have two masters degrees, one in Architecture and one in construction management; I'm also a licensed general contractor, president of my own construction company, husband (wife working on doctorate degree), and father of 2 kids, 2 cats, 1 dog and 2 horses, so my schedule is full most of the day, night and weekend, so for those of you saying you have to much going on to study for these exams, you're wrong, you just need to apply yourself, and of course, a good support system. For an entire year, I had enough of the failure and feeling hopeless that my dreams of being an architect would never be a reality. I studied everyday at work for lunch, or when i found myself with free time, every single weekend, both Saturday and Sunday for three to four hours, whether it was early in the morning or in the evening, and after work on available nights i would head straight to the library for 3-4 hours and study as well. It's best to avoid distractions when studying because that will be your downfall. I know if I go straight home, I become obligated to assist my kids with Homework, or cook, or clean, and next thing you know its 9-10 at night and I'm exhausted. Instead I go to library after work and on weekends, to disconnect from the distractions at home and take advantage of the quiet environment at the library. When I'm not studying, my wife will typically do the same and we swap roles, which is what a partnership is all about, and if you're single, then all the better.
As stated above, I'm a general contractor, and build commercial buildings, including ground up with values in excess of a million, yet, I myself even failed some of these exams even though i should have passed. These exams are very difficult to prepare for and your professional experience may or may not be useful when taking these exams. When I started this year, I studied and took Practice management and project management a week apart, and failed PcM and passed PjM, and 60 days later, passed PcM. I mean I run a successful business and I failed the exam about running a business. Sometimes it is what it is, so get over it and take it again. I say it's best to fail sometimes, because at least you have a better idea of what material is going to be on the test, make note of items you don't know or understand, even vocab words that catch you off guard, write it down on the paper they give you in testing center, look at the notes before you exit exam, run to your car and write as much down as you can remember. Go home, add notes to what you already have and study again. I took PA after passing PcM and passed, mostly using notes from PPP, but adding some more based on the material suggested by NCARB, and then I took PPD and PDD a week apart, failling PPD and passing PDD, both of which I studied from the same notes I compiled. I took PPD 60 days later in November, and now I get to explain what happened with the second go around. I was sitting in the exam room taking this exam which i studied for excessively to try and be done before the Christmas holiday, and halfway through the exam my computer freezes, they come over shut it off and restart it, and when the exam loads back up it went straight to the post exam questionnaire which I couldn't go back and finish. I was definitely passing that exam, I knew every answer, and I was pissed and quite emotional about it. I called NCARB the next day and asked if I could reschedule for the next available day and they told me that I had to wait 60 days to retake the exam because I had already completed a good portion of the test. This absolutely killed me, but I managed to make it through the holidays and started the new year full speed with studying and finally passed in January. I'm officially done, no more studying, and I can finally move forward with a design build version of my company.
I know this was lengthy, but I also know most of you can relate to my experience and I hope this serves as motivation to all of you to keep pushing and you will succeed. I'll try following these posts up with individual reviews of each exam to assist in your study methods
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