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Preparing for ARE 5.0

By: David Kent Ballast, FAIA, CSI, NCIDQ-Cert. No. 9425
April 21, 2021
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Although ARE 5.0 is a difficult exam, passing it as the final step to architecture licensure is an important part of your architectural career. Becoming licensed gives you credibility, helps advance your career, and makes it possible to start your own practice. It also gives you pride in knowing you are a member of a distinguished profession.

You can find many tips on how to study for the exam in the ARE 5 Review Manual, but here is some advice I think is most important and a good place to start.

Remember that you don’t have to know everything an experienced architect needs to know; the exam tests what an entry-level candidate should know and what is important to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The exam also emphasizes contracts, AIA documents, and the responsibilities of the various people on the design and construction team.

Preparing for ARE 5.0? Test your knowledge with a free ARE 5.0 Sample Quiz.

Study Tips for ARE 5.0 

To begin, focus on one division at a time. Although there is some overlap among divisions (codes and site design, for example), I think it best to do one at time. Here are a few other suggestions:

  • Review the ARE 5.0 Handbook. The description of each objective (not just the title) gives a good idea of what topics you will be faced with and whether the questions will be the U/A (understand and apply) type or the more difficult A/E type (analyze and evaluate). In just a few sentences, NCARB gives a good summary of what you are supposed to be able to do with your knowledge.
  • Then, try the problems from the ARE 5 Practice Exams and ARE 5 Practice Problems books or questions in the Learning Hub. You may want to try a random sampling rather than take an entire practice exam. Looking at the answers will give you a good idea of what you don’t already know. This can be a good way to pinpoint what areas you need to study more and those that you can leave for later.
  • Read the problems carefully. Often the inclusion of a single word may change the correct answer. I think this is especially true for the “check-all-that-apply” types of questions. The set-up for the case study problems also requires careful reading and knowing what resource documents are available.
  • On a check-all-that apply question, it is sometimes easier to eliminate the ones that are clearly not required.
Best wishes to you all,

David Ballast

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