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Trigonometry and the Architecture Registration Exams #AREs

NCARB, aka the people behind the curtain, recently posted in their forum a random message about performing Trigonometry on the Architecture Registration Exams.

Ignoring the part about Trigonometry - which is a scary word for angles - the message had some important bits in it, that I tend to emphasize to people worried about failing due to math.


This is the post NCARB made on their forum (I bolded certain sentences):

"The calculator provided within the ARE testing application has been updated to better serve candidates. The new features include a history function as well as a more visible and easier to use memory function.

This new calculator provides all necessary standard calculator functions and no longer includes scientific buttons (sin, cos, tan, etc.). Does this mean as a candidate you are NOT going to need to calculate the angle of a condition using trigonometry? That is correct, you are NOT going to need to calculate the angle of a condition using trigonometry on the ARE. If you are presented with an angular condition, the necessary angles will be provided within the question.

Does this mean as a candidate you do NOT need to calculate the cosine of an angle as part of a formula, such as calculating lighting levels? That is correct, you are NOT going to need to calculate the cosine of an angle as part of a formula related to calculating lighting levels. For questions such as this, the appropriate value of cos Θ will be provided.

ARE candidates will need to continue to understand trigonometry and be able to appropriately apply given information to architecture related questions.

NCARB continues to author new items for the ARE and replace legacy items. As this has been occurring, we are removing the need for candidates to complete mundane calculations or look up necessary formulas from the reference tab. Newly authored items are written in a way that provides candidates any needed formulas and relevant preliminary values. Candidates will need to continue to be able to demonstrate the ability to appropriately apply the information given while completing standard calculations using the tools provided."


Let me restate this and break this down for you.

NCARB says that it is doing what it can to take the confusing hard calculations out of the exams.


but YOU DO NEED TO UNDERSTAND applicable mathematic subjects - Like WHY an angle of repose is important, or what a 30 DEGREE solar angle means to window overhangs and shading.

NCARB claims it is constantly changing the exams, removing old questions (that likely are the ones causing the most confusion,) and replacing them with new questions.

In my understanding, these questions are not "easier," they are just revised to be less obscure. Ideally, less about whether or not you can do math, and more about whether or not you get the subject matter they are questioning you about.

This is what we at Archizam have told you all along - UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPTS and you will pass the exams!

But what about STRUCTURES???:

It always comes up, how much structural engineering do I have to know to pass the exams. Here is my opinion : Actual engineering equations and problems - NOT MUCH.

And you should not let your fear of structural engineering stop you from attempting the exams.

HOWEVER! Do not take that statement wrong. If you do not know enough about structures, loads, forces and how they act - you will probably not be able to solve the structural questions correctly.

If you do not know the difference between a point load and a uniformly distributed load - keep studying.

If you do not know the difference between shear and moment, and what their respective diagrams should look like keep studying.

If you do not know how to calculate the moment generated by a point load at a certain distance - or know what positive or negative rotational effect that will have on a simply supported beam - Keep studying.

If you do not know the difference between a simply supported beam, a cantilever beam, or a one side pin connected beam - keep studying.

Do not think that you can easily skip through any of the technical exams without a solid UNDERSTANDING of Structures.

Please COMMENT BELOW and let us know if this topic gives you trouble, or brings up any questions you need help with. We will gladly do our best to clarify any subjects that are causing you to hesitate in your ARE journey!

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