Strength in Numbers

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of blog posts and articles offering advice for taking the Architectural Registration Exams. There are even more comments within ARE forums, which are great for broadcasting the wide spectrum of human emotions. This post will probably not be anything mind blowing for most reading it, but here goes nothing.

This past January my wife and I began studying for our first ARE and are planning on sticking to the same test schedule to go through this whole arduous process together. When I told people about this strategy, the reactions usually went one of two ways. The first reaction was a positive one with some form of, “that must be nice to have a constant study partner so you aren’t neglecting your significant other and have some one to go through it with”. The second reaction, which was much less common, would pose a question I was hoping to not answer very soon, if at all: what happens when one of you passes and the other one fails?

Unfortunately, I found out my answer to this question after the very first test that we took (CDS). I woke up to the always stinging “fail” grade on my NCARB page while my wife had passed. Neither of these developments was exactly unexpected or earth shattering, but it did present a new development to our studying strategy. While I was happy that she had passed, I couldn’t help but be dejected about my own shortcomings.
However, at some point later that morning, something had dawned upon me: the fact that I had not passed this test had almost zero effect on my day to day life other than the fact that I would have to re-study for that test at some point. I was still expected to perform at the office, I was still going to come home to my family, and my friends were still going to be my friends. Your life does not all of a sudden fall into shambles because of this one test. Having the support system of my wife helped me come to this realization (that and being stressed out at work and not being allowed the time to wallow in self pity).

When it comes down to it, having a support system around you while taking these tests is a tremendous asset. Whether that is with a family member, a friend, or even just a study group, surrounding yourself with people in a similar situation is often one of the best tools for pushing forward. Some people will argue that going it alone in focused solitude is best and that may be fine for them. This is simply a strategy that I have found to be greatly helpful for keeping things in perspective. After all, we all got through the hell that is architecture school and much of the reason that we were able to do that was because of the people that we gather around ourselves.

Since this first test, we have both taken and passed our second test (PPP) and have another scheduled in the coming weeks. After my initial shortcomings, having my wife and a handful of others at work has helped to keep me motivated and on track. If nothing else, having a person or group of people to bounce ideas off of, explain ideas that I don’t quite get the first time around, or to just act as a sounding board for unusually high stress levels is a great way to stay sane through this process.

That being said, please feel free to use the comment section of this post to help you relieve some stress from your day.

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