I passed the AREs two years ago but the habit of learning and studying stuck. I was sharing my study tips with a colleague for his professional education, and realized they'd be useful here too. This should help you go from feeling crushed by studying to bring excited about it. What I was studying: 6 architecture exams, each exam was 4-5 hours, taking approx 3-4 months of study each. What I was doing at first: sitting down each night for 2 hours and reading the material Why that was bad for me: It was really demoralizing - I just felt like I was plodding through with no end in sight and had to read stuff over and over because I wasn't retaining anything, it was just words I wasn't seeing or feeling any progress, which meant I had no clear idea where I was at, and how much work I needed to do to get there It wasn't my learning style (only 10% of people learn by reading stuff, most people - especially Seabees, especially Builders, ARCHITECTS FOR THIS AUDIENCE need to do or see or sketch to retain it) How I solved those problems Progress/morale: I stopped using "2 hours a day" as a metric for progress, and instead started using chapters/sections as progress. I'd figure out how much material I needed to get through in the next 3 months, set a goal for the week, and say to myself, I'll get 3 chapters done this week. So that's how I gauged my effort throughout the week What this changed: feeling like I was more in control, less guilty about having to skip studying if I had to, and like I had more of a life. I could do a little less one day so I could do something social, and then make up more the next day. If I finished all 3 chapters by Thursday, I took the weekend off. If I needed more time, I studied through the weekend. How I decided what "done" meant: I did mini pre-quizzes and post-quizzes. I learnt how much I knew going in, and where I needed to be at coming out. Because passing was about 70% on these exams, I aimed for 80-90%. So I'd usually come in at around 25-30% and not leave the material until I was testing out with 80% What this changed: specific clear understanding of my knowledge of the material as relative to the expectations of the exam. I could stop trying to be perfect and aim for what was needed to comfortably pass. Identified weak areas: I kept track of what categories of things I was getting wrong. It sounds annoying, but it was pretty obvious pretty quickly what I was weak in. Once I figured out my weak areas, then I'd go back through and really dive in to that material and bring my numbers up to 80% just in that category I STOPPED READING MATERIAL AND STARTED SOLVING PROBLEMS: you'll never retain anything if you just read it. Once I started challenging myself to solve problems, it totally changed everything. I would find case studies and then use the material as reference to solve them, and read as I went. If you have case studies in the books, start focusing on those. If you don't, make some up. Think about problems you've heard about on Dets and work out how you'd solve them. Sketch, work things out with your references, but do it in your learning style. What this changed: if you're looking something up, you're going to be excited to read this material because you're going to use it to beat this mfkn challenge. You'll retain it because it has context. I also got through an amazing amount of material this way without having to sit down and deliberately read anything Ok, some material you just need to memorize: I solved this by listening to a lot of it on audio, and just doing chores/pullups/situps around the house or going for a walk and listening - turns out 10-15min here and there adds up to many many hours during the week. I didn't memorize everything off the bat, but I 50-75% payed attention and by the 3rd-4th time through listening to stuff it was pretty well locked in. But my study books aren't on audio!: try a pdf to audio converter: https://audiobookconverter.com/ ... it doesn't need to be pretty. These are well earned. And they earned me an RA. Retool your habits, patterns, and discipline for success, and you'll be unstoppable.
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