Which exam to take first?

  • 08 December, 2020

When preparing to take the ARE® 5.0, one question that an exam candidate is sure to ponder is: which exam should I take first? Honestly, a case could be made for each section of the ARE to be a good section to begin with. There are many variables including the focus of the architectural program at college, practical worked experience, and the fit with an individual’s strengths and interests. That being said, here is the case to consider taking the Project Planning & Design (PPD) section of the ARE first.

The PPD section of the ARE focuses on the preliminary design of sites and buildings. Candidates should be able to demonstrate skills in the development of code complaint and environmentally responsive design concepts. Most NAAB Accredited architectural programs in universities across the U.S. have a strong focus on design, and as such, students give this aspect of architectural practice the most attention by far while in school.

So, in theory, early in an exam candidate’s career, the PPD section of the ARE would be the section where they are likely to have the most experience. The other 5 sections of the ARE require a bit of balance between studies in college and actual hands-on work experience.

What exam to take first

Another reason to start with the PPD section of the ARE is that likely, at least for the first several years of a career in architecture, actual design experience (in a firm) is going to be the least available to candidates. Certainly not in all cases, but most firms place design responsibilities in the hands of very experienced staff and will rarely provide an opportunity for someone early in their career to be responsible for the design of a project. Most architectural interns begin their careers in the production phases of a project and grow from there. If you consider the phases of an architectural project, starting with Schematic Design, then Design Development, Construction Documents, Bidding, and Contract Administration, most interns begin the experience in a firm by contributing in the production of construction documents. As the years pass by, they gain more experience in the adjacent phases of a project. Often the phases at each end of a project (Schematic Design and Construction Administration) are the last areas for an intern to gain experience while working in a firm. Yes, there are exceptions to this, but overall, an intern’s practical experience (working in a firm) is first grounded in production.

So again, why is the PPD section is a good section of the ARE to begin the exam process? If you start the exams soon after graduating and qualifying, the PPD section of the ARE is likely the one section that dominated your experience in college and should provide you with the best opportunity to start the exam process with success.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:06 AM