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Tuesday, 12 January 2021


Everyone has their own timeline for taking the AREs and, let me tell you, mine was LONG! When I started logging hours, NCARB’s program was IDP (Intern Development Program) - the precursor to the current AXP (Architectural Experience Program). With AXP, you can start earning hours quickly but that was not the case for IDP. For the later rendition of IDP, one had to be well into their accredited program to start counting hours towards sitting for the exams. 

As an eager, budding architecture professional, I started working for a large, international firm right after my first year of architecture school. I had that lined up before I even started architecture school! I worked for this firm throughout my undergraduate years during summer and winter breaks. In my final year of architecture school, disaster struck the nation - 9/11. I attended school in central New York with family in New York City, so it hit particularly close to home. It also hit the building industry and finding employment as a new graduate was difficult. I moved home to Minneapolis where the economy was not as resilient and worked for a financial firm in order to make ends meet. I knew I wanted to go back to architecture and back East, so I applied to graduate programs. About a year after earning my B.Arch degree, I was back in New York to earn my M.Arch. During this time, I found employment and worked during school, accumulating more hours for my IDP.

Tell my story

The next fifteen years included academic positions right out of graduate school while concurrently working for firms across New York City, designing projects of all types and complexities both domestically and internationally. There were also a series of recessions, financial, and personal hardships. I had more than enough hours to sit for the exams but what I lacked was time and, oftentimes, funding. 

I attempted the process and took my first exam in 2009. Fail. I was frustrated. I did not have the dedication and I was lost on content. In the meantime, though, I saw my friends get licensed and start their own firms. I felt that, even though I had the experience, I did not have that credential. I wanted that. 

I moved an hour outside of NYC, but I still taught and worked in the city which killed my time even more. It was not until 2017 that I tried again in earnest - when I moved to California for a teaching position which afforded me more time. Although I continued to work on projects in New York, I had a minimal commute and the time pressure was less. I was still anxious, though, as I felt I did not have a good grasp on exam content - there was just so much! I took two exams and failed. 

This is when I turned to online coaching. Having a schedule, a track, and defined content helped immensely. Although it still took a couple years, I passed all exams and can proudly call myself an Architect - after over a decade of the exam process. 

Take it from me - persistence is key and licensure is attainable. It’s not out of reach. It just may take a while!

EduMind Inc at 07:44

Tuesday, 05 January 2021


There are six exam divisions in the current format of the ARE (Architect Registration Exam): Practice Management, Project Management, Programming and Analysis, Project Planning and Design, Project Development and Documentation, and Construction and Evaluation. 

There is a logical sequence in this order as it follows the path from getting licensed to developing a professional practice to planning and developing a building commission for construction and then, subsequently, completing and closing out the building project. 

The exam divisions are always presented in this specific order in NCARB’s material and timeline tracking progress for completion. However, when taking the ARE, it is not necessary to take the division exams in the order in which they are listed. In fact, the division exams can be taken in any order. This sparks the question: what is the best order for taking all divisions of the ARE exam? 

This is a major topic that garners a lot of opinion and attention from exam candidates on discussion boards and the like. The discussion boards serve as a great tool for exam candidates to share information and there are many testing strategies being passed around. 

One common suggestion is to take the division exams with the highest pass rate first. Another is to take the ‘big ones’- Project Planning and Design and Project Development and Documentation - early and get them out of the way. Everyone has their process and success stories which vary from one individual to the next. Of course, I have my own opinion as well. 

Preferred Exam Division Order

Personally, I think it is important not to forget the division sequence. Even though the division exams can be taken in any order, in my experience, I recognized why the divisions were developed in the order listed. Each division builds upon the last and content from one division exam may show up in subsequent division exams. In my opinion, the order does, for the most part, matter. 

For this, I have two recommendations for the best order to take the division exams. The first recommendation is to take the division exams in the order that they are listed per NCARB - with one exception. I took Construction and Evaluation before Project Planning and Design and Project Development and Documentation. Construction and Evaluation has the highest pass rate and a close association with other divisions. Plus, there was the added bonus of not having to take another exam after I had completed the two hardest and longest division exams. Mentally, that was huge

Many people fail a division exam on the first attempt. There is a waiting period before that division exam can be retaken but keep going! My second recommendation is not to wait to retake the failed division exam before moving on but to move on and go back to it later - do not lose progress or lose time (especially with a rolling clock!). Keep taking the division exams and reschedule failed exams as soon as you are able to take them again. 

Again, this is what worked best for me. I started the process with some bumps but, once I followed this plan, I became comfortable with the process and earned my license.

EduMind Inc at 09:14

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