I told myself at the beginning of 2013 that my goal, plan, New Year’s Resolution for this year was to take all 7 divisions of the ARE. Notice I said “take” rather than “pass” – this is me being realistic in my goal setting and personal expectations – exceeding expectations is way better than failing to meet them, in my opinion. Since embarking on this journey called “Becoming an Architect” I have always challenged myself with being licensed by the time I was 30. Back then, that seemed like an achievable goal. Today, 30 is just 8 short months ways and I’m wondering if I can make that dream come true. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty stressed out about this goal I set for myself nearly 10 years ago.
Until recently, that is. I attended the NCARB presentation at the AIA Colorado Office last month. To be honest, I expected to be bored – the only reason I was there was to fulfill my responsibilities of being the AIA Denver Associate Director and ACAD Chair. I was expecting a very dry, monotone speaking man to stand up in front of a 40 person crowd and go on and on about the way of NCARB, it’s rules and regulations, walking through the ins and outs of IDP and the ARE process, etc. To my surprise, the presentation was the exact opposite of my preconceived notion. Instead of a dry, monotone speaking, gray haired man, we got Martin. Martin was a charismatic presenter, an ARCHITECT, and one who cracked a joke about us being the Mile “High” city. His fast-talking, energetic spirit livened up the room and grabbed peoples’ attention, including mine.
Over the course of 90 minutes, Martin walked the group through the basic information of education, IDP, and the ARE process. He talked about why it’s important to become a licensed architect, how you can gain IDP credits while being unemployed, and reassured us that there would be no change to the ARE in the next year or two – though he made it clear that he was not allowed to talk about any possible changes that might be coming to a Prometrics near you. In other words, he gave the NCARB “spiel”. While all the information was good and definitely relevant to the audience, it’s what he said about taking the ARE and his personal experience that made me perk up and pay attention. Martin told the group that the first step in taking the ARE is to make plan – plan when you’re going to take the ARE, plan the order of the exams, and plan how long you are going to give yourself to study for each ARE. Then he said, it’s okay to change your plan as long as you continue to have a plan. I don’t know why this struck me as an “Ah HA” moment, but it did. Of course I had heard that before but in that moment, I guess, I needed to hear it again. He went on to say that the most important thing is not to stop once you’ve started taking the exams and gave an example about a friend of his who has taken the past 3 VERSIONS of the ARE – that includes hand drawn vignettes, ARE 3.1 and ARE 4.0 – and has yet to pass all divisions. Moral of that story, don’t be that guy. Study, take the exam, retake if needed, in a timely manner.
As a side note, the second best thing Martin said about these exams was to not second guess yourself when answering questions. He said that the worst thing you could do is go back and change an answer that you thought was right the first time. Apparently these exams are testing our intuition skills as much as testing our knowledge about how to be an architect.
It’s the first of April and I have taken 1 ARE and am about to take my second, I’m not exactly on the schedule I had set p for myself at the beginning on January. Back then, my plan was to take 6 of the 7 exams before the July 1 blackout. Like many will tell you, life has gotten in the way of my plan and has unfortunately shifted things. Between having a very ill family member and needing to travel back home more times than planned this year, work stressing me out daily leaving me little motivation to come home and crack open the books, and trying to maintain a social life that I so dearly love, I’ve been a bit derailed. I got pretty hard on myself for allowing life to get in the way. I had a plan and wanted so desperately to stick to it. I’m only 2 tests in and I feel like I have already failed my goal. Or at least that was how I was feeling, until I heard Martin talk and realize that while I may have deviated from my plan, I at least still have a plan and I continue to work towards it daily. My plan has shifted, and I’m sure it will shift again before the end of this year, but as long as I continue to move forward, continue to readjust my plan accordingly, I will reach my goal in a timely manner.