Notes on Finishing up

Notes on Finishing up

Postby thd7t » Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:00 am

Hi all,
I'm happy to say that I have finished up my exams. First, I need to thank coach for this forum. As far as I've found, it's the best repository for information and discussion of the ARE currently available online. I hope that traffic picks back up here, because it would result in more people doing better on these exams. Thanks also to everyone who contributes questions and answers.

I wanted to give a little (painfully long) rundown on a few elements that were helpful to me. A small note is that I've been in the field for about 15 years. Experience is a huge benefit on these exams, but for most people it will not be enough. However, for me, studying for these exams has been extraordinarily helpful in my professional life. Here are some strategies and other items that helped me get through.
1. General: The practice of architecture has not changed greatly over at least the last 20 years or more. AIA contracts, building codes and structure of Contract Documents get shuffled some, but overall the information that you need for the exams is the same. This means that old resources are just as valuable as new ones.

2. Sources: My best study source was a set of Archiflash 3.1 cards. They were good when I studied for CDS and PPP in 4.0, but they were solid gold when I was working on PA, PPD and PDD in 5.0. The next great source is ARE Coach forums. Go back to the 4.0 forums (particularly BS and BDCS) whenever you want something clarified (like lighting calculations). It's hard to find 5.0 material on some of this, but people were forced to learn it for the vignettes in earlier ARE formats and asked a ton of great questions.

After this, primary sources are good. Problem Seeking, the short brief on Historical Preservation from the Dept. of the Interior, and FEMA's earthquake guide don't really have substitutes. Get free copies of contracts from NCARB, but listen to the Schiff Hardin lectures and follow along. In the CDS section of these forums people have written which lectures are best. Building Construction Illustrated, Building Code Illustrated and Fundamentals of Building Design are useful to touch on, but if you have a lot of experience, they will just give you a little clarification. The Architect's Studio Companion is available free online. Get it's span table and look at the types of HVAC system.

3. Study Techniques: Practice questions and Flash cards. I'm pretty lazy about this, so I bought an old set of flashcards (the previously mentioned 3.1 archiflash). Physical cards were best for me, but you do what's best for you. I got a lot of ARE 3.1 and 4.0 practice question sets. The ones NCARB put out as study guides in earlier versions have around 40 free questions per section. They're great. Much better than the 5.0 study guide. I also paid for Designer Hacks question banks. These were excellent. Take them a whole lot and find your weak areas.

I used a few youtube videos. People have huge lists of them. Don't watch everything, be focused. Don't sweat the small categories too hard. The exams have a single cut score. You can get it by being good at the major elements of each exam.

4. Timeline: I made a big mistake not taking the exams all in a row. I took a couple two years ago, one a year ago, and two in the last week and a half. Information overlap in these exams is heavy and you can use it to your advantage. This is particularly true in ARE 5.0. People have done a good job of grouping them into sets to take together. I didn't do this until PPD and PDD. It was great. I only gave 8 days between those two and it was great. I didn't overstudy and I didn't have time to forget anything.

5. Test taking: First, answer every question. Use flags if you're feeling less than about 80% sure on an answer, but move on. Race through. Having time to review your answers will give you a lot of security. You can also get a feel for how you are doing.

Use the strikethrough tool. It's set up in a terrible and annoying way, but it saves you some mental energy if you don't have to look at a bad answer.

There is an awesome search tool in the bottom left of the case study materials. It can find room numbers and window tags and just about anything else! I didn't know about it until my last exam.

Speaking of case studies, don't sweat them. There will be around two dozen questions, but they're not weighted more heavily than any other questions. The good thing about the case studies is that the references included have answers for questions you may have encountered earlier in the exam. Because you're flying through the questions, you'll have time to go back.

6. Routine: I had a really regular routine for my exam taking. I'd take the exam in the afternoon (it was a one hour drive and I didn't want to leave the house before 6 am). I always picked up a sandwich, some orange juice and a couple of bananas on the way. I would eat them before testing and I'd always arrive at least 40 minutes early. My exam always started early, which was good for me, because I was sick of waiting.

These exams are a slog, but they're doable. One last note (which I've already said) is don't sweat the small stuff. Get a handle on it, but don't dig in too deeply. When people talk about having one question on something out of the blue and how tough that makes the exams, remember that it's less than 1% of getting where you need to go. Pay attention, but don't exhaust yourself on these.
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Re: Notes on Finishing up

Postby np230 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:02 pm

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Re: Notes on Finishing up

Postby thd7t » Wed Sep 19, 2018 5:08 am

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Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 1:23 pm

Re: Notes on Finishing up

Postby yk5526 » Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:29 pm

Thank you for your post! It helps a lot :D
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Joined: Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:43 pm


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