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Tuesday, 02 June 2020


By Richard J. Mitchell, AIA, NCARB 

Being an architectural intern can be stressful. Having graduated from a much more structured learning environment (college) means that a shift to a more “self-directed” education is needed to prepare for the ARE exam. One question you might have: “What are the resources for study materials?” 

Certainly, there are many study guides and lectures/webinars for purchase online, and most are well done and very effective. Some companies have been producing written materials since the ‘70s, and they do a good job of assembling the basic information needed to get ready to take the architectural exam. But in my experience, those resources aren’t quite enough by themselves. Below are some ideas of additional resources and tips to help you further navigate self-directed study. 

First, if you are like me, you probably saved some of your old college textbooks. Perhaps not on all subjects, but those that addressed more technical content. In my case, I kept all my structural engineering materials from college. These ranged from the text for statics class, to lecture notebooks, and the timber, concrete, and steel manuals. I even saved examples of homework and tests/quizzes that were more complex and addressed resolving truss reactions, wind problems, calculating bending and shear forces in beams, and solving for deflection in complex monolithic concrete design. 

I also saved much of my texts and class materials from the environmental control systems (ECS) course. This covered a great deal about a range of subjects such as rainwater harvesting, passive solar design, natural ventilation, and daylighting strategies to name just a few. If you didn’t retain these materials from college, I’d recommend contacting your old college professors and asking them what version of the texts they are using now and see if you can obtain a copy to study. 

Other sources that may be helpful include materials readily available at the office. Most architectural firms have standards, policies, and procedures that are well documented and vetted by years of experience. These resources are also likely to be based on industry standards, which are very likely to be encountered in the ARE. 

Another great resource for architectural practice in general is the AIA’s Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, 15th edition. This handbook covers just about all aspects of architectural practice and in a way that is easy to absorb and understand. Topics include narratives addressing all phases of architectural services, office/business operations, and documents of service (including contracts). Again, in my experience, information provided in the handbook has appeared in the ARE in some form or another, making it “must read” on my list of recommended ARE preparation materials. 

Lastly, I have one non-conventional resource to recommend, which I used myself some 40 years ago. I recommend that you find and connect with architects inside and/or outside the office who have recently taken and passed the ARE. Interview them, ask them questions about the exam. Ask them about their experience with what worked well, and what didn’t work for them. When I was preparing for the ARE, I probably had eight to 10 individuals that I would pepper with questions about preparing for the ARE. I was careful not to exhaust any one individual resource, hence the large number of architects that I had in my resource pool. Often, I could frame my questions about the ARE around projects that I was working on in the office. I found that this was an effective way for me to get—and retain—information. 

ARE Prep Materials

The key to finding the appropriate materials to study for the ARE is to diversify and get creative. It is surprising how much information is right in front of us and available for use. Good luck! 

EduMind offers comprehensive exam review courses covering all six divisions of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE)® 5.0. Learn more about our classes and study materials on our website.

EduMind Inc at 08:14

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