It’s no secret that the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE) is one of the toughest professional licensing exams. It often becomes a deterrent for someone considering the vocation of architecture.
With the current version (ARE 5.0), there are six sections. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) estimates that it takes over two years to complete. Any longer, and you can be facing the dreaded rolling clock—the time limit for any particular exam to be current. Passed exams are good for five years; if you take more than five years to complete all parts of the exam, the rolling clock will start deleting those that have expired. It may seem daunting for a candidate to have to pass all exams within five years, in addition to the stresses of practicing architecture and managing family or other personal obligations that inevitably come as candidates age during the process (the average age at completion, according to NCARB, is almost 33).
However great the challenge may be and however many reasons one may find to avoid this process, do not give up. What can look like a mountain just needs a strong and determined steady climb. The process of studying for the AREs—whether you pass or not—makes you a better professional. You will learn the challenges of not only the practice of architecture, but also the legal challenges, contracts, project delivery methods, and so on. There is a reason why the exams are so complex, but those complexities should make studying for the exams all the more exciting.
A colleague once told me, “It’s not that you fail, it’s just that you don’t pass.” No matter the outcome, you are “passing” through the process. Keep your nose in your study material and keep on passing!