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Six Tips for ARE 5.0 Exam Review Success

April 23, 2021
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Taking the ARE 5.0 exam is an important part of investing in your career. Get the most out of your exam review time by following these six study tips. 

1. Familiarize Yourself with the NCARB Handbook

The NCARB Handbook provides an overview as well as several practice problems for each division of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE 5.0). Using this handbook will help focus your time on the knowledge areas where you need the most study.

We recommend creating a realistic schedule for your study times. To optimize your ARE prep, make sure to begin your review with a realistic study schedule. Consider going through the ARE 5.0 Review Manual, as well as the NCARB Handbook, to get a feeling for the scope of the divisions and how major topics are organized. Based on your review and a realistic evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses, it will be easier to plan your studies and ensure you spend enough time reviewing key topics for all six ARE 5.0 divisions.

2. Start Studying Early and Don't Study New Material the Day Before the Exam

Wrap up your architecture exam prep and stop reviewing a day or two before you take any ARE 5.0 division. Studies show that no amount of last minute cramming increases retention of information. Better yet, consider spending the evening before each exam division relaxing and be sure to get plenty of sleep. A light review of some of the areas you’ve already studied may be helpful on the morning of each exam division.

3. Learn Concepts First, Details Later

During your ARE prep, we recommend learning concepts first and filling in the details later, because once a concept is understood, the accompanying details are much easier to remember and apply during the exam. An exam tip from David Kent Ballast, FAIA, and Steven E. O’Hara, PE, authors of ARE Exam Review is that as an example, it’s much more advantageous to understand the basic ideas and theories of waterproofing than it is to try and memorize all the specific waterproofing methods and their details.

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

4. Brush Up on Architectural History

Consider reviewing architectural history before taking any of the divisions, because historical facts may turn up in any one of the divisions. It will benefit you to know major buildings and their architects, specifically structures that represent an architect’s philosophy, “firsts” or “turning points.” For example you may want to know Le Corbusier and the Villa Savoye, according to Ballast and O’Hara.

5. Do a Dry Run With Practice Exams in PPI Learning Hub

A week or two before you are scheduled to take a division, complete a dry run by taking the practice exams in PPI Learning Hub. Try to simulate the exam experience as closely as possible. Set an alarm for the exam’s testing time. The target times for the divisions are: three-and-a-half hours for Division 1, four hours for Divisions 2 and 3, five hours for Divisions 4 and 5, and four hours for Division 6. Work through the entire practice exam with only your calculator, a pencil, and a few sheets of scratch paper. During the actual exam, an on-screen calculator will be provided.

6. Keep Your Five-Year Deadline in Mind When Scheduling Your Exams

To get your architecture license, you must pass all six architect registration examination divisions within a single five-year period, or “rolling clock,” which begins on the date of the first division you pass. Therefore, to a certain extent, how you schedule each division of the exam and your ARE prep is up to you. ARE 5.0 allows you to schedule the exams six divisions in any order.

You may choose to take the divisions one at a time, which spreads out preparation time and exam costs, or you may decide to take them all together in any combination. The choice is yours, but again keep the five-year time limit in mind, because if you have not completed a division within five years, the divisions you passed more than five years ago are no longer credited and must be retaken. The new five-year period then begins on the date you passed the earliest division within the most recent five years.

To learn more about NCARB's ARE 5.0 and what you can expect from the exam, explore more articles like this in the ARE Resource Center.

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