What would be the best way to start with ARE



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    Gang Chen (Edited )

    You are on the right track by starting with the ARE handbook. Now that you have read it, pick a division that you are most familiar and comfortable with, and focus on studying and passing one division first. Then, you can decide if you want to speed up your pace and study two or more divisions at the same time, or keep the pace of one division at a time.

    I think it is important for you to try your best to pass your first division first. This will build your confidence, and also will let you know the whole process.

    Your most valuable asset is your time and effort. I always find it easier to succeed if you can focus, at least at the beginning.

    Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)

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    Daniel Jacques

    I'm going to link you to a post by someone else who put together a very comprehensive study strategy. Their timeline was ambitious to say the least, so don't stick to that part of it necessarily. I'm using Ballast as my primary material as the OP did too (the book, practice questions and practice exams) supplemented with Hyperfine practice problems which I personally find very helpful.

    To save some money since you aren't being helped by an office, I suggest scouring eBay for some deals on the study materials. I actually bought my Ballast book used on Amazon, but it arrived in like-new condition. I then cut the binding apart and scanned the pages to PDF because it's way too thick for me to read comfortably.


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    Bryn Young

    Hey Diego,

    You're making a great first step by coming on here and even asking where to start. Starting the process of studying and completing the AREs is pretty daunting and can feel paralyzing with all the information out there (plus the cost of study materials). If you are interested, I wrote a blog post and made a video all about this topic - how to get started, what resources helped me pass, and what to do when you fail. I wrote it because I was asked all the time exactly what you are asking. I hope it is helpful and motivating for you! You can read all about it here: https://www.byoungdesign.com/post/getting-through-the-are

    My biggest advice you'll see is schedule your first exam! Good luck!

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    Diego Gonzalez Alvidrez

    Gang Cheng, thank you for your advice... I have now started to read the Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice to start.

    Dan Jacques, thank you for your advice, I have also find a bit hard to read the AHPP comfortably, it is way too thick, I read it several times during the day, but it is difficult to read it at night in bed, I think that I am also going to separate it in a binder with each chapter so it's easier.

    Bryng Young, thank you for your advice, I am going to read and watch the video that you shared first thing tomorrow morining, thank you for the encouraging words, I hope I stay motivated!

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    John Paolo Icmat

    Based on what I read and noticed on the resources available on the web, studying by reading books, learning through online courses, and listening to audible reviewers will significantly help you. I remember my professor told me that you could remember more by learning through listening and reading than by reading alone.

    You can check out ARE courses from Black Spectacles. They all look promising. You can also search for audio reviewers on the internet that you can buy inexpensively. The usual book material suspects you can use are DK Ching books (especially the "visual dictionary"), Brightwood books, and Ballast books.

    Although I do have some ideas regarding this matter, I posted a question in this forum on how to properly prepare in advance a year before starting the ARE so I can consider the things I haven't yet.

    Good luck on your ARE journey!

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    Michael Ermann

    The logistics of beginning the testing process can seem daunting, but if you treat it like a design problem, it’s nothing you can’t handle. You likely have done some of this already; know that I'm not talking down to you, I just don't know which parts you already have completed so I'm including everything. . . The studying is fun (or can be), but the paperwork is tedious. Below is a roadmap through the paperwork.

    1. Decide which state (“jurisdiction”) you want to be licensed in; you can change states later if you move during the testing process. Each state has different requirements for starting the process. You’ll want to go here and follow the instructions for your state. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call your state licensing administrators. The states’ websites are notoriously riddled with errors and out-of-date information; talking to a human can clear things up and give you confidence that you are on the right path. NCARB’s customer service operation is usually quite professional, even if your state’s is spotty: 202.879.0520 or customerservice@ncarb.org

    2. While your state’s board will grant you the license to practice, NCARB is the organization that serves as the gatekeeper for the licensing process nationally, administering the six licensure exams and certifying your work experience. If you haven’t already done so, register with NCARB to track your work hours (the program that tracks your hours is called the AXP). If you don’t have one, setup an account with NCARB here. Setting up an account is free, but they will charge you an annual fee to maintain your record. 

    3. Most states require proof of an accredited architecture college degree before testing can begin. (Though not all states do: I’m talking to you, Wisconsin.) If your state says so, you’ll need to have your university registrar’s office submit your official college transcript directly to NCARB. Don’t send a copy of your transcript to NCARB yourself; they want to open an original, sealed, transcript mailed directly from the university. First, though, check your university’s website or call the registrar’s office to find out about online options for submitting the NCARB form & requesting your transcript.  If there is an online option, it is usually significantly faster.  Regardless, you’ll complete and submit this form to your alma mater’s registrar. If they don’t have a web-based option for submitting the form, you’ll have to print it out and mail it to their office.  Know that this step may take weeks, depending on the speed of your registrar.

    4. Once you’ve created an account with NCARB, established a record with NCARB, and started the AXP (if starting the AXP is required by your jurisdiction), the next step will be requesting approval of your eligibility to take the ARE from your state. Typically, this submission can be found under the Exams tab of your NCARB Record page in your NCARB account.  NCARB handles all of this process for most jurisdictions, but in some cases there will be additional forms you’ll need to submit to your jurisdiction’s licensing body. You should hear back from NCARB on your request within a few days. See also NCARB’s official ARE 5.0 Guidelines document here.

    5. Congratulations! Once you’re approved to take the exam you can book seats at the test center to take each of these exam divisions. I recommend booking all of your exams at once to fall in a tight cluster on your calendar--all six exams over a 14 day span. The order of the exams doesn’t matter to me. This advice is intimidating to some, but I've helped 10,000 people study for these exams and I'm sure that for most people scheduling the exams first and then studying is both the shortest and surest path to licensure. While there has always been a good deal of overlap in content between exam divisions, overlap is the defining characteristic of ARE 5.0, so better to take all of the tests at once after studying for all of the tests at once. And we are all deadline-oriented people: scheduling the exam first gives you a hard deadline. Exam durations at Prometric testing centers vary between divisions, but fall in the 3.5 hour range, plus the 30 or more minutes it takes to get you queued, checked in, and booted up at the testing center. Each exam division will cost you $235. To sign up for your exams:

    1. Log in to My NCARB and click on your NCARB Record
    2. Go to “Exams”
    3. Click "Pay and schedule" to purchase an open seat
    4. From the list of ARE 5.0 divisions, select the “Schedule open seat” link for the division you would like to schedule
    5. Select the “Schedule” link for that division
    6. You will be taken to Prometric’s website, where you will select a testing location, date, and time from the list of available options
    7. The appointment will appear in your NCARB Record under the “Exams” tab

    6. Failed divisions can be retaken after a 60 day waiting period. NCARB will send you a “Fail Report” when you don’t pass an exam: unless that fail report suggests that you failed spectacularly, schedule the retakes for the first available spot and take the test again. If you are not sure whether or not you failed spectacularly, you didn't fail spectacularly and should retake in two months.

    7. As long as you are not failing spectacularly, keep retaking every 60 days. For each of the divisions, there is a limit of two re-takes per year (plus the original exam), so no more than three attempts of any one division in a 365-day window. Once the year is up, you can re-test again. Don’t tell people or post that you are taking an exam because if you fail, which is a feature of the process and not a bug, it sets up an awkward conversation when they ask you how the test went. Instead, tell everyone only after you’ve passed a division and keep the fails to yourself. 

    8. After you’ve passed all the exam divisions, go celebrate with the loved-ones you ignored while you were studying.

    —Michael Ermann The Amber Book

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    Pyline Tangsuvanich

    Hi Diego,

    AHPP is overwhelming (as you have mentioned). I found Wiley's guide extremely helpful to understand which sections should be read based on which exam you are studying.





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