What are Professional Exams and Why are They Important?
Professional exams, including the Architect Registration Examination, are a critical step in the licensing process, and it is imperative that professionals obtain licenses to practice in their field. According to the AIA:
“Improperly designed buildings can pose a threat to occupants and the public. The essential purpose of licensing architects is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and shield consumers from unqualified practitioners.”https://www.aia.org/resources/174971-where-we-stand-professional-licensure
Architect Registration Examination (ARE 5.0) Divisions
- Practice Management
- Project Management
- Programming & Analysis
- Project Planning & Design
- Project Development & Documentation
- Construction & Evaluation
The ARE Divisions coordinate with the six categories of required experience hours (known as AXP).
By the Numbers: Current Statistics about Licensing in South Dakota
- There are 38 candidates pursuing licenses in South Dakota and reporting hours through AXP
- 2 candidates have completed the AXP experience hours.
- There are 27 active testers in South Dakota
- 70 Divisions have been taken
- 12 testers have successfully completed the ARE
- Success rate of 61%. Higher than the national average of 53%.
- On average, it takes 4 years for someone to gain all AXP experience hours (4.2 years is the national average)
- On average, it takes 3 years for someone to pass all the divisions of the ARE in South Dakota (2.2 years is the national average)
- Of the 929 Total Licenses, 86% are reciprocal licenses and 14% are resident licenses (National Average is 52% reciprocal and 48% resident)
Figures from: https://www.ncarb.org/nbtn2019/jurisdictions Accessed on: 1/7/2020
Top 10 Tips for Taking Professional Exams
10. Feel Prepared
Be confident. You’ve got this! If you don’t feel confident, study until you do.
9. Dress for Success
First and foremost: be comfortable. I have found that dressing as the professional I aspire to be increases my confidence, which helps me test better. Regardless of style, find clothes you can sit comfortably in for 4 hours and that make you feel good about yourself. Avoid pockets to speed up the check-in process. Be sure to check the testing center rules for what jewelry is allowed (pretty much just wedding rings). Leave everything else at home.
8. Pass/Fail: It Doesn’t Define You
Passing an exam on the first try is the best-case scenario, but it’s critical to maintain the mindset that passing is not the only acceptable outcome. Your score doesn’t reflect your success as a person; it is merely an assessment of your knowledge or preparedness on a subject.
7. Stay Healthy
Mental and physical health are important! It is imperative to preserve relationships and healthy habits while studying and preparing for exams. No test is worth running yourself ragged.
6. Arrive Early
Give yourself time to acclimate to your surroundings and adjust your mindset; get in the zone. Waiting in a room with 12 nervous people will not aid your confidence or concentration. Arrive early and beat the crowd!
5. Flag Questions if You Don’t Know the Answer Right Away
There’s not enough time to mull over questions that you might never be clear about. Instead, flag the question and come back to it later. That way, you can get to questions that you know and might miss because you run out of time.
4. Consider What Information the Test Maker is Trying to Assess
If you’re stuck between a couple of right-sounding answers, reread the question and use this approach to determine the best answer.
3. Be the Ball
A reminder from youth sports: stay focused and keep your eye on the prize… passing your exam. It’s easy to become distracted during the exam; by using noise canceling headphones, you can eliminate some distractions caused by other test takers and testing center staff.
2. Visualize Success
Visualize yourself taking the exam, knowing the answers, and getting the notification that you passed. A positive attitude goes a long way, and even worse, a negative attitude can be destructive.
And the Number One Tip for Taking/Passing Professional Exams is… Drumroll please...
Positive Self-Talk Before, During, and After the Exam
Like some of the other tips, in order to succeed, it’s essential to keep the right attitude. It is easy to let doubt creep in throughout the process. Remember, you have survived harsh reviews in studio and grueling structures tests. Despite the hardships, you have a reason why you want to become a licensed professional. This is just one more hurdle to jump, and it certainly won’t be the last to overcome.
Note from the author: I do not proclaim to be a test-taking expert – I have only successfully passed two-thirds of the exams thus far. However, as someone pursuing a license, these are tips that I have found helpful. Congratulations to all who have passed and best of luck to all who are taking exams!
Links for people taking NCARB ARE:
https://www.ncarb.org/pass-the-are/prepare – NCARB provides in depth information when preparing to take ARE exams and the licensing process. https://www.ncarb.org/pass-the-are/are5-community – the forum is a great resource when preparing to take an exam. It has advice from people who are studying and have taken exams.
Since graduating from Kansas State in 2012, Liz has gained experience from a variety of fields within the building industry. From drafting at a metal building manufacturer to working at architecture firms to assisting a real estate broker/developer, she has always had a passion for influencing the built environment. As an architect-in-training at MSH Architects, Liz enjoys learning new things and refining her skills with help from other licensed professionals. She is pursuing an architectural license and hopes to continue to shape the spaces and places around her in a positive way.