getting started

Getting Started

APT methodology:


How one approaches the 9 Divisions of the ARE is really a matter of personal preference. Often, candidates will select a Multiple Choice Division where they feel most confident, just to get some momentum started, getting accustomed to taking an examination at a Testing Center, on a computer, under time constraints. This is a very practical approach, as it will ease tensions when tackling the Graphic Divisions, which are the most intimidating for many. The important thing is to just get started, don�t give upkeep a schedule and be persistent. Do not study topics, or practice graphic problems, when you feel you have a free hour or two. Schedule a study time each evening, and stick to that schedule. Get this last hurdle of becoming a registered Architect behind you!

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All of the Divisions will require you to beg, borrow or steal reading materials on each subject matter. I have found some useful Forums on the Internet (see my links page) where candidates discuss issues, sell preparation materials and vent frustrations. It may be well worth a visit to some of these sites.

For the Graphic Divisions, reading about the various vignettes is important, but not enough. Candidates should also practice with NCARB�s tutorial problems, so as to become very efficient in using what some describe as �a very clumsy and inaccurate� system for solving the graphic problems.

I feel it is paramount that you obtain suggested passing solutions to these problems, so that you can compare your solutions to those expected by the computer scoring system (see my Home Study Course). These passing examples will also give you additional insights on various approaches and the degree of accuracy required. If possible, set up a study-group with a few friends, so that issues can be openly discussed or analyzed.

Solving other problems, in addition to NCARB�s tutorials, will be important for gaining confidence in making important design decisions within the suggested time constraints. Mock exams are an important and valuable part of all my workshops. I have yet to hear a candidate complain about the time or cost of taking a mock exam and getting some feedback on their solutions. Misinterpretation of code and program issues, of course, will often be fatal.

I can boast a 94% pass rate for those getting my feedback and suggestions for improving their scores. (see my testimonials)

Taking the exam

I am very often asked to suggest how much preparation time would be considered advisable and which of the Graphic Divisions to take first.

I feel, in general, allowing one month per Graphic Division, will give you sufficient time to master the graphic tools, practice various scenarios and approaches to each of vignettes, and hopefully, practice with other mock exam problems or get questions answered. Practice taking a test. Knowing the issues is really not enough! I have seen too often, at my workshops, how mock testing improves the scores of candidates who knew the fatal errors, but could not apply that knowledge within the time constraints, or make important decisions within the context of choices available for each problem, without practice. 

A candidate may feel confident in one Graphic Division or another, and probably should take that Division first. Short of that, I would recommend the following order for the reasons given:

1.  Site Design

  • Vignettes are very focused.
  • Test problems are similar to practice tutorial vignettes.
  • 2 of the 3 problems have only one answer, therefore they are less subjective �. more careful �doing� required, less options to consider.

 2.  B. Technology

  • Vignettes are very focused.
  • Test problems are similar to practice tutorial vignettes.
  • With six vignettes, failing one problem will not fail the Division.

3.  B. Planning

  • Many passing solutions to each vignette.
  • Problems more subjective (candidates, as designers, will naturally try various design options to find that �ideal� solution). Being very familiar with the NCARB software tools will allow more time to review and analyze options.