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  • Writer's pictureMark

6 Quick Tips to Pass the AREs

Here are 6 major points that no one told me nor did I read anywhere during my studying, that I want to point out to all you test takers out there:

1. Spend less time hyper focusing on a subject, and more time understanding the broader concepts of the subject.

I believe this will help you go CONFIDENTLY into the test, feeling that you can handle any question thrown at you. Rather than knowing the exact formula of how to calculate the sound transmission through hyperspace)

2. A LOT of the stuff you study may not come up on your exam.

You read A HELL OF A LOT of STUFF to be prepared for the #AREs.

I always suggest pointing your attention to the topics you feel like you know the least about. Read multiple resources (specifically primary resources) and broaden your knowledge on those subject. "Relax" on the things you know. (Relaxing means believing in yourself. Check your knowledge, but do not doubt what you know) For example, going into my second take of the PPD Exam, I read every resource about SITE DESIGN twice to the point where I thought to myself "I can't possibly absorb anything more about site design and if I read site design one more time I will be wasting time - I could be learning other things"

2B. Some things you DID NOT STUDY will come up on your exam.

If something that you DID NOT study comes up on the exam - DO NOT LET IT THROW YOUR GAME PLAN! Look, it is going to happen. A question will stump you. IT'S ONLY WORTH ONE POINT! Give it your best shot and move on.

3. I honestly recommend the Ballast ARE 5.0 Handbook.

For me - it was the clearest and most concise reference book, and going through it a couple few times really helped me take in what I needed to know about certain subjects. I DID NOT read the whole guide - I used it for information I did not know or was not confident about. But I DID read the whole section, usually multiple times until it sunk in. And for heaven's sake, ALWAYS CHECK WHAT YOU READ in the study guide WITH ANOTHER RESOURCE (which can even be "Joe Engineer" on the Youtube/internet.)

4. I do not recommend more than one month of Pluralsight.

I am sorry, but I believe that guy could put ANYONE to sleep. In my opinion, what he presents is a lot of general information about the exam, which basically leaves you without any hard facts on how to solve things, or what to actually know. When he does present formulas or diagrams, he buzzes through them, which does not facilitate learning.

If you do use Pluralsight - make it a point to watch the videos in a subscription month and do not leave the subscription hanging out there like it did for 6 months....


Studying with other people is amazingly helpful to bounce thoughts, ideas, questions and resources off each other. I studied with 6 people that all helped show me new and different resources, find answers, and solve problems. When they had questions, and I KNEW the answer, I would teach them my tidbits of knowledge and create further connections in my brain to the information. Having study partners was so valuable and I thank every one of them!

6. Finally, TAKE THE EXAMS!

Worst case, you do not pass, but you leave with a feel for what you need to know. This will allow you to focus your studies. I CAN NOT encourage people enough to JUST TAKE THE EXAMS! (when you feel ready of course). If you fail, the mandatory waiting period is a great amount of time to re-study, and motivation to be ready for the next available testing date!

As always, our best to everyone!

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