Architecture Exams

Architecture Registration ExamThis post is part of a series on . Having recently completed this long process, the series examines my journey and the various things I learned along the way.

Several weeks ago I finished passing all seven divisions of the Architect Registration Exam. I still have several more things I need to do for the state of Oregon before I can say that I am an “architect” but as I have been saying to everyone “…it’s basically downhill from here.”

To get to this point you need to obtain a Bachelor’s or Master’s of Architecture (from an accredited program), complete 3.5 years of internship training and pass 7 very difficult exams relating to the health safety and welfare of the public. Then, depending upon which state you are in you may need to jump through additional hoops. Many states have extra exams on their state specific laws and I know California has an extra technical exam for understanding how earthquakes effect buildings.

Everyone has a very different experience taking the exam. The National Council of Architecture Board (NCARB) allows each candidate 5 years to complete all sections of the exam. After 5 years, the exams start expiring and would need to be retaken. The Architect Registration Exam (ARE) is a self-guided process. You basically study your heart out and then schedule each exam when you are ready.

Personally, for me, passing the architect’s exam was definitely the hardest part of becoming an architect. The test was extremely grueling, emotional, and had many highs and lows. Architecture is such a broad subject and you could go on forever finding stuff that you need to know as an architect. Taking the ARE basically forced me to learn everything I didn’t have time to study (..or spend enough time on) in architecture school.

Here is a list of a few things that I learned during my time with the exam.

1. Showing up is the hardest part

At the end of it all, I estimate I spent approximately 1, 000 hours preparing for these exams. When I started, I assumed I could do it in about half that amount of time.

While I was studying the rest of the world was making money, getting married, having kids, partying, traveling, and really enjoying their lives. Saying that sounds like a lot of fun. But I need to study.” That became the hardest part for me. Life was happening while you’re taking the exam and it’s not going to stop just because you have to study.

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