• Mark

Excuses..... (Why I did not take my exams sooner....)

Updated: Jan 24

(Not everyone who reads this post will be busy and struggling to finish their exams. If this is not you, then great! Keep it up and get them done!)


"Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn't have anything to regret for the rest of their life. But good luck to you. I'm sure this decision won't haunt you forever." - Lance Armstrong (in Dodgeball)


If we are lucky, we have full-time jobs gaining experience to become registered architects. Not all of us do. Crazy world events like a pandemic and global recession.

In 2010, I was out of the architecture world for more than 4 years, not gaining experience, not logging hours, not studying for my registration. I actually thought I was becoming more dyslexic and less intelligent every day...


In addition to full-time jobs, we have friends, family, hobbies, and obligations. Some of us are social people, maybe in a bowling or axe throwing league. (I was in two bowling leagues) Some of us have health problems. Some of us have busy social calendars. Some of us have weddings, children, buy houses, or all of the above.

I can not begin to know all the things that could possibly be happening in your life keeping you from scheduling your Architecture Registration Exam.



Excuse me for being brutally honest right now - Excuses are excuses, and with strength and determination you can overcome the things that are holding you back.


As I sit here and attempt to write this, my 15-month-old son (see ABOUT photo) has a fever of 102 and trouble breathing. (Yes, I am worried, especially since I write this in the times of COVID.)


Here are the common excuses I have heard:

* It costs too much money * I don't have the time to study

* It's been so long since I have taken a test * Nothing I studied was on the exam....

* There is too much to learn * I don't know what to study

* My friend/coworker/colleague tried to take them and did not pass......

(Sound familiar?)

First, Yes, the exams cost money.

$235 a pop X 6 = $1,410 (minimum) investment in your future. This is part of the reason I spaced my exams every two months and gave myself some time to save for each one. Let's say, worst case, you take EACH EXAM 3 TIMES to pass. 18 Exam attempts will cost you a total of $4,230. (not including study material). I don't have any information at all to back this up - but I think being registered is worth AT LEAST a $5,000 raise, and the exams and all the knowledge you have gained taking them has been paid off.


Next, there comes the time.

I personally do not have much time for this excuse. Suffice it to say from the time I get home from my job, until the time I go to bed I have 5 hours - minus dinner, putting my children to bed, and speaking to my wife. You can make time for anything that is important to you. Even if it is 30 minutes for an ARCHIZAM Practice Exam or 864 seconds a day (ala Hyperfine's study programs).


I graduated college in 2008, and took my first architecture exam in 2019. That is 11 years from the last time I took a test. And I am here to tell you, I PASSED, and you can too. A lot of people say to take as many practice exams as you can.

Honestly, that is part of why ARCHIZAM exists. To practice PRACTICE tests!


The exams come in many flavors. I believe NCARB says there are 4 exam forms, and you can only take 3 in a given year, so you do not ever know what you are going to get. So here's the thing about that -

You are going to get some questions that you feel like you did not study for.

You are going to get some questions you absolutely know the answer to. And you are going to get some questions in between those extremes.

There is no use stressing over what you did and did not know. Pick up, study what you did not know, and TRY AGAIN!


There is a lot to learn.

There is. You could try checking the NCARB ARE 5.0 Community Forum for tips, study strategies, and "roadmaps" if you will. I recommend the Ballast ARE 5.0 Manual as a great OVERVIEW of all the stuff you need to know for the exams. I also recommend taking it ONE EXAM AT A TIME. These are two great resources to solve the problem of not knowing what to study.


Everyone's Exam path is different.

Try not to compare yourself to your co-workers and friends. You can use it as motivation to continue and be more determined to pass. Look, Ben started AFTER ME and passed BEFORE ME, and sure I was upset. But I was also confident that I would pass, even if it took longer than someone else. And there are plenty of people that I passed before.


Then, there is the dreaded FAIL,

which can be more than enough in and of itself to keep a person from ever taking another test ever..... (When I failed - I questioned a lot, myself, my ability, if I should continue and how soon. In the end, It took me 2 weeks to let my determination prevail and to reschedule. I scheduled for the first available test day/time, my 60 days from the last attempt.)


“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”– Thomas A. Edison


I read the above quote and I feel it 100% applies to the AREs. Especially with the vague ARE 5.0 Handbook division percentage breakdowns. You need to 35% study this, but maybe only 25%, because you might need to 45% study this other thing, but maybe not. Not to mention the even more vague score reports that do not tell you how you actually did. I got a 2 - is that good? or is that bad? Did I meet the minimum standard to pass? or not? I don't understand.


USE A FAIL TO COME BACK STRONGER.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan


External factors will always be there to keep you from achieving your goals.

Determination and perseverance work. Study enough to BE CONFIDENT.

Start, keep going, and you will succeed.


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