By Meg Shubert Allen, AIA; Stantec
Three years ago at this time, I was enjoying the last bit of summer before I would buckle down and start studying for my last three architectural registration exams. I had a very reliable and convenient study partner – my husband, Drew – and we had designated 2015 the year of the exams. We sat down at the start of the year and came up with a study schedule to complete all seven sections of ARE 4.0, with a built-in summer study break to enjoy the Colorado summer (I highly recommend it).
Drew and I both prefer to study solo and at our own pace. So, most evenings after dinner we would end up studying silently in adjacent rooms, occasionally remarking on an obscure fact or incredibly specific practice exam question we had come across. We took the first exam at the same time, and then ended up adapting the schedule and exam order to fit our own individual preferences. While we were rarely ever studying the exact same content each night, simply having someone else going through what you were going through and being able to talk to them about it was a huge help when you’re staring down seven multi-hour exams with hundreds of pages of study guides and practice exams.
Just over a year after I took my first exam, I passed the last exam and received my license shortly after. I can honestly say that I would not have finished in that timeframe if it weren’t for these three things:
1. A schedule and not being too hard on myself when I needed to deviate from it
2. A study partner
3. Giving myself a break in the middle
I now share that bit of advice with any peer or colleague who asks about how the exams went for me, and it is part of why I wanted to be a part of the AIA Colorado committee that would put together the next ARE 5.0 prep program. Taking the exams, often while working, taking care of a family and/or still trying to be a normal human being that has at least a small amount of fun on occasion, is no small feat. But I do believe it’s better when you can share in that experience with others.
Over the past few months, a small group of AIA staff and volunteers at varying stages in our careers have been brainstorming how to make a program to help individuals on their path to licensure. With the introduction of ARE 5.0, there is a different exam structure to understand and new study materials to wade through. The twice monthly Path to Licensure program, starting in August, aims to provide support and motivation to people at any point in their test taking. Each exam’s content will be covered in a two-hour afternoon session with the help of architects and other professionals in the community. The following week there will be a more informal study group where participants will have access to all of AIA Colorado’s study materials and a number of people to help answer questions. Participants can use the time to study quietly on their own and ask questions when needed or break out into small groups to study.
If you’re just starting out on your exams and have been looking for that extra bit of motivation, you can sign up for the entire program (seven formal sessions, and six study groups). Or if you’re in the middle of taking exams or in the ARE 4.0 and 5.0 transition, you can sign up for individual exam sessions which includes the study group. Whether you prefer big study groups or studying at your own pace, come join a group of others who are working towards the same goal and put those exams in your rearview mirror!