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Friday, 31 July 2020


By Richard J. Mitchell, AIA, NCARB 

As the old saying goes, “Embrace discomfort, because it is an opportunity to grow.” This perspective is something that I have carried with me as I have progressed through my career in architecture. Let’s face it, failure is just about guaranteed in the architectural profession. Whether it is failing a section of the ARE® exam, a design idea that the client didn’t accept, or a proposal for new work that was rejected, failure will become part of any career in architecture. 

What can you do with failure? Isn’t failure, to some degree, a diagnosis that you weren’t quite ready? After processing the emotions that come with any form of failure, the thing that I fall back on time and time again is to embrace it as an opportunity to get stronger, better, and more advanced. Looking at it another way, how can you grow if you already know everything? Failure, if embraced, can be an opportunity to grow! Make the most of it. 

If you find yourself in the position of failing a section of the ARE, your self-confidence can certainly take a hit. I once heard a college football coach say following a loss the previous week: “We don’t want to let them continue to beat us all season.” The coach wasn’t referring to playing the same team each week. Instead, he was talking about not letting that one loss creep into the heads of the players to the extent that they lost the motivation needed for taking on their next opponent. The same thing applies to the ARE. To some extent, you need to shake off the disappointment and move forward. 

My advice for what to do when you fail a section of the ARE has a few aspects to it. First, if you can recall specific areas where you know you struggled during the exam, jot them down as targets for re-study. Then, hit the books with a vengeance. Push yourself hard. Make a new goal to not only pass, but to get a high score. Challenge yourself to master the material. This will not only result in improving your chances for the next exam attempt, but it will also help you get stronger as a professional. 

Next, look at your failing score. How close were you from a passing score? If you were close, it’s an indication that you weren’t that far off, and perhaps only a modest amount of additional preparation is required before you make another attempt. If you had a low score, it could be an indication of a couple of issues related to an understanding of content or comfort with the exam format itself. In my experience, it usually is a combination of both. Again, the best remedy that I have found is a relentless effort to master the content. Nothing is more effective for navigating the “land mines” the exam writers embed into the exam format than a high level of content knowledge. In addition, mastering content builds the confidence you will need when you make your next attempt.

What to do when you fail ARE5.0 Exam

Lastly, I recommend that you share your experience with peers and highly trained architects. There are often a few benefits to this: One is that talking about failing will help you get past the disappointment; Another is that you may learn from others about their experiences with the exam, and perhaps those insights will help you focus your re-study efforts. 

Failure isn’t initially something that feels satisfying. But, with enough work and effort, it certainly can be.

EduMind Inc at 07:59

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