Congrats. You made it through 3 or 5 or 6 years of Architecture school and have emerged with a professional degree.
Can you work in architecture? Yes.
Can you be an architect? Maybe.
Are you willing to now spend another three or five or more years to conquer not only the ARE but also IDP and all the other acronyms for the constant hoops you have to jump through?
Have late nights in studio fried your brain and your desire?
And then, when you do decide that you still want to be an architect, how do you structure it? Do you start the Architectural Exams right away? Do you try to build some real-life experience? Do you wait until your life quiets down? Does it ever?
I ask all these questions rhetorically because throughout this process the questions seem endless and it is not something that anyone particularly has the answer to.
No one can tell you the best way for you to study or what to study or how to study or in what order to study.
No one can tell you what will be on the exam; but I can tell you that if you think that stuff you are studying is going to cover even 70% of the material you will find on test day, you are going to be vastly disappointed.
And what happens at the end of the studying, or even in the middle or at the start? You become overwhelmed. You see futility. You find yourself stuck.
So, here I am, three tests passed with four to go, roughly halfway through my hours, and with a professional degree, wondering if I still want to be an architect.
Maybe, it’s just Structural Systems that will do this to you? Maybe, it’s just getting over the hump. But God, it’s hard.
So what advice can I offer to you? I can only tell you how I got here. And pretty soon it won’t matter because the ARE itself is changing and so is IDP (Intern Development Program) and all the other acronyms.
Just get started. Any way you can.
And when you find yourself at this moment, where you sit reading chapter after chapter on bolt connections and Moments of Inertia or whatever subject you happen to be stuck on, hope that you have at least someone else around you that is tackling the same thing (and if you don’t, I am! Talk to me!). This is where all those people that suffered through late nights in studio can once again have your back and you can have theirs. Because we all somewhere deep down have to find a desire to go through this.
Just like we all had to find that same desire to stay in studio night after night, and listen to critiques that almost always left you wondering whether you knew anything at all.
There are moments of doubt. There are moments of doubt in any profession I am sure. But here you are having dedicated your life to figuring out how to make space and decipher a plan and structure a site layout (as well as tens of thousands other things), and now you have to dedicate at least some more of it to figuring out how to conquer these exams even when they seem pointless and impractical. And not that they are pointless and impractical, because yes, we do want people that are designing our buildings to know how, but I can assure you in this process, you will have moments of doubt.
So the key. The key to conquering the ARE is simple really.
Find someone to inspire you when the going gets tough, someone to gripe with when none of the questions were in the material you covered, someone to push you through one more chapter on beam nature, and someone you can support too.
And once you have that someone. Just take it one step at a time.
And now I’m back to my chapter on Steel Construction.
Please comment if you too are finding your way through the Architectural Registration Exam, if you have words of encouragement, or need words. We are all in this together.