Passing ARE exams on the first try, like everything else, needs not only hard work, but also great strategy.
- Find out how much you already know and what you should study
You goal is NOT to read all the study materials. Your goal is to pass the exam. Flip through the study materials. If you already know the information, skip these parts.
Complete the NCARB sample questions for the ARE exam you are preparing for NOW without ANY studying. See what percentage you get right. If you get 68% right, you should be able to pass the real exam without any studying. If you get 50% right, then you just need 18% more to pass.
This “truth-finding” exam or exercise will also help you to find out what your weakness areas are, and what to focus on.
Look at the same questions again at the end of your exam prep and check the differences.
Note: We suggest you study the sample questions in the official NCARB Study Guide first, and then other study materials, and then come back to NCARB sample questions again several days before the real ARE exam.
- Cherish and effectively use your limited time and effort
Let me paraphrase a story.
One time someone had a chance to talk with Napoleon. He said:
“You are such a great leader and have won so many battles, that you can use one of your soldiers to defeat ten enemy soldiers.”
“That may be true, but I always try to create opportunities where ten of my soldiers fight one enemy soldier. That is why I have won so many battles.”
Whether this story is true is irrelevant. The important thing that you need to know is how to concentrate your limited time and effort to achieve your goal. Do NOT spread yourself too thin. This is a principle many great leaders know and use and is why great leaders can use ordinary people to achieve extraordinary goals.
Time and effort are the most valuable asset of a candidate. How to cherish and effectively use your limited time and effort is the key to passing any exam.
If you study very hard and read many books, you are probably wasting your time. You are much better off picking one or two good books, covering the major framework of your exams, and then doing two sets of mock exams to find your weaknesses. You WILL pass if you follow this advice. You may still have minor weakness, but you will have covered your major bases…
Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)
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