There is a lot of talk of the Architect’s Registration Exam (ARE) in our office of late. All tallied we have at least five people who are asking questions, doing research, compiling study materials and just generally getting prepared.
There is likely an exam taking strategy for every individual. I know I have listened to many people talk about their experience. That is my personality type. I am an information gatherer, and then I make decisions based on that broad base of knowledge. This lends into my study style which it to just read a lot of material. Then I read what is relevant again.
Of course there is one exam that is an exception to my learning style. That is the Structural Systems exam. This exam is just like math class in high school and college. Learn the formulas and understand the concepts. Armed with that knowledge any question is just a series of steps to complete.
The other exception in the exams is the vignettes. The best advice here is to understand the software. Practice makes perfect. Anyone even thinking of taking the ARE should be able to draw a building section and layout a site plan.
Even though there are many strategies for studying, I have found two general strategies for the order in which to take the exams. They are:
Construction Documents and Services, Programming, Planning and Practice, Site Planning, Schematic Design, Building Design and Construction Systems, Structural Systems, Building Systems.
Schematic Design, Site Planning, Building Systems, Structural Systems, Building Design and Construction Systems, Construction Documents and Services, Programming, Planning and Practice.
Obviously there are synergies between the various exams so certain parings make sense. The parings also depend on your strengths and weaknesses. As you go through the materials you should be able to recognize the links and formulate a game plan that is right for you.
Know what type of person you are. Do you need to just schedule all the exams so that there is a hard deadline? Or can you stick to a steady schedule and get things done? Do you study in groups? Alone? Do classes help?
Lastly, keep in mind that time slots at the testing center can fill up. Waiting until the last minute to schedule an exam could leave you in a lurch. Sometimes there isn’t anything available for a week or two. So my only hard and fast advice: schedule early then study. Good luck!