“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” –Mark Twain
Sounds easy, right? Just ‘get started’…hmm. So, how do you ‘get started’ for the Architectural Registration Exams?
Well, first you take a deep breath and congratulate yourself on getting to this point – i.e. authorized to sit for one of the most difficult professional licensing exam series. Channel the five to nine years of higher education you tackled, channel the over three years of Architectural Experience Program hours you meticulously tracked, and channel the latest work deadline you are likely still sleep deprived from. Channel all your personal experience into ‘getting started’ on this final phase required to legally be a: big-A ‘Architect’.
So now that you are feeling like the competent and capable ‘architect associate’ that you are, it’s time to make a few lists:
List one: What are your testing goals? Do you want to attempt all sections in one year or would you rather spread them out? How will passing the ARE support your professional career objectives? What non-architecture goals will you pursue once the exams are complete?
List Two: How will you prepare? How much time can you put into studying? Do you have enough reference resources and study material? How do you best learn (i.e. visual or audio, daytime or nighttime, alone or in a group)? Who will be on your support team, professionally and personally?
List Three: Which ARE version and what testing order? Do you have any passed exams that are subject to expiring or nullification by the version 5.0 transition? Which problem type do you prefer, v4.0 or v5.0? Do you have time to complete the exams under version 4.0 before the mandatory transition? Is your preference to start with or end with the exams you deem most difficult? Study for multiple exams at once or spread them out?
By the end of making list three, you should have a solid understanding of which exams you want to take, your testing order, and how much time to allot for each test. Looking at a calendar, give yourself a testing end date and work backwards to layout your exam and study schedule. Target a specific week for each exam, but hold off on scheduling them until you’re solidly immersed in studying for each specific exam.
Now that you have a macro ARE plan, prepare your micro plan for each exam. Breakdown what material you are going to study for each test, when you are going to study, and how you will handle the inevitable hold-ups along the way. When you do encounter unexpected challenges, go back and look at list one and remind yourself of why you are attempting this and what it will mean for your life once they are complete.
At some point this final phase will be behind you, but that point can’t come unless you sit down and ‘get started’.
Good luck – you GOT this.