Updated: Dec 5, 2020
Let's Be Honest
You can not learn EVERYTHING you need to know to ace the Architecture Registration Exams. How could anyone know everything there is to know?
Imagine if, instead of 6 exams, the ARE was just one giant exam, that asked you to know everything about everything you could need to know about architecture. What would the pass rate on that one be? (Go ahead and ask your semi-retired firm owner about his 8-hour, 3-day examination….) How long would that take you to accumulate all the knowledge you needed so you could pass? What would NCARB charge you to take that exam?
According to NCARB in 2018 for the average person passing their final registration exam took 6.5 years after college. The average candidate completing licensure requirements was 32.7 years old. I happened to graduate approximately 12.8 years ago, so that’s a fun fact. I also spent 3 years manufacturing toothpaste and hand lotion, while no one was hiring architects. I am bringing the curve up on this one
Back to the subject. In Pennsylvania, you are required to have approximately 3 years of full-time work experience before you are allowed to begin the tests. This varies by state but should be available on your NCARB record. That is “X” years to learn everything you can about the practice of architecture. Will this be enough to pass the registration exams? Probably not.
So where do you go from there?
How do you learn things that you have had and may not ever have exposure to?
First, let me ask you a question:
Do you want to be a registered architect? If you completed 4, 5, or 6 years of school, and an additional “X” number of years required to be allowed to test, I can be pretty sure you WANT to be a registered architect. Channel that as your motivation to continue to learn. You have to commit to putting in the work.
Next, the obvious answer – Study
Read the source and reference material. There are countless lists of knowledge and skills you need to understand, and how to study it. The internet is an endless resource where smart people who know a lot, produce videos to help you learn what they know. The people you work with may even be able to guide you through topics for better understanding. Review the complete project document sets that you have worked on.
Practice what you learn.
In high school I took German. I got good at speaking German because while I was delivering the newspapers on my route, I would speak to myself in the language. This would also lead me to words (subjects) I did not know, sparking me to learn more. Practice will make you more familiar with the subject matter and improve your proficiency. (This will come in handy when you are trying to decide which of the 4 ARE answers is the most correct answer to the question).
When you know enough that you can explain “insert subject here” to someone who knows nothing about the subject, that shows you understand the subject. As you teach, it makes you more confident in your knowledge (another key factor for the ARE questions is confidence). I cemented a lot of knowledge Revit, by teaching my coworkers how to accomplish certain tasks in the program. This is why study groups are helpful and we recommend them.
Finally, you should always be learning.
As part of professional registration, there is a requirement for continuing education. Trade organizations put on learning events. Product representatives offer demonstrations. Your brain is not a muscle but you can exercise it. This can actually improve your cognitive ability. To be cliché, If you are not moving forward (learning) then you are falling behind (regressing). So keep progressing!
As my high school announcements ended every day: