Something strange has been happening at LS3P.
Newly registered architects are popping up left and right. Just this year we have had over 10 people finish their A.R.E.'s and become licensed architects. Many of them passing their exams at a rapid pace, and a few getting licensed at age 24
Getting licensed at age 24 is incredible. To put that in perspective: I was still in graduate school at age 24. I passed my exams at age 28 but still had IDP to finish. By the time I finished IDP and became licensed I was 29. I would bet it is most common for people to become registered in their 30's.
24 year old architects? wtf?
I wanted to figure out what the secret was. I wanted some of that kool-aid! I also felt like there would be some good tips I could share with my BuildingsAreCool peeps.
So....I asked 6 newly registered architects the following questions:
What were some of the biggest hurdles or challenges with the A.R.E.?
What were some of the biggest challenges with IDP?
Can you share 1 study habit or tip that you developed?
What is one piece of advice you have for aspiring interns about to start their ARE journey?
Who was the first person you notified when you found out you passed the last exam and how did you celebrate?
What do you like best about your new title: Architect?
These 6 rockstars provided some awesome responses:
Without further adieu:
1. What were some of the biggest hurdles or challenges with the A.R.E.?
Elizabeth Corr (LC): The ARE is a marathon and not a sprint. It was challenging to study and take tests while the inevitable events of a year or two of life come your way.
Claire Kistler (CK): I think the biggest hurdle with the A.R.E is just getting the confidence to take the first one. It’s so easy to put it off until you think you are “ready” but you won’t ever feel ready and pass or fail, taking that first test is really one of the biggest challenges.
Bryan Beerman (BB): Getting started is the hardest part of the ARE. I can tell you firsthand that more time is spent planning, seeking advice, and worrying about the exams than actually doing it.
Zachary Schultz (ZS): The biggest challenge that I faced was committing to each of the testing dates. Time slots filled up quickly which meant it forced you to commit to a date anywhere from 2-5 weeks down the road. This actually played to my advantage by committing to a date, getting into the mind set of preparing for that exam, and figuring out how to make things happen in the given time frame.
Emily Clark (EC): The main hurdle for me was actually signing up for each exam, bc that meant I really had to start studying then
Jeffrey REngering (JR): Working long hours is tough. Also, finding the right study material that works for you. There is plenty of study material available but not all material is right for you.
2. What were some of the biggest challenges with IDP (Intern Development Program)?
Note from Steve: IDP has been changed to AXP, Architectural Experience Program
CK: In my opinion, challenges with IDP depend a lot on what is going on at your firm and how vocal you are about the hours you have left. I kept a countdown taped to my desk so that I could ask for hours in harder to get fields as they came up within the office.
ZS: I ran into difficulty finding the right types of experience to clock towards certain categories, especially towards the end of my hours. I would definitely suggest taking anyone up on any offers to help out with Construction Administration (CA) and Bidding hours (check out the Emerging Professionals Companion for bidding… you can double dip and knock out a huge chunk of hours doing the exercises related to attending a bid opening)
EC: My least favorite was going back through time sheets and trying to remember what I'd worked on
JR: The “Project Management” requirements were the most difficult for me to obtain, specifically “Bidding and Contract Negotiation”.
There just isn’t that many opportunities to get these hours.
LC: I began IDP in a federal studio where projects were not geographically close or easily accessible. This made CA hours hard to achieve. Luckily when I transferred offices I joined a project team early in design and achieved the rest of my CA hours locally.
BB: Some IDP categories are challenging to get experience in, depending on the stage of projects in your office. (For me, this was Bidding / Negotiation, Construction Observation, and Construction Administration.) So, you absolutely need to have regular conversations with your supervisor about IDP, where you can use experience, and long-term planning, if you don’t want to get held up at the end. Be willing to find alternatives on your own, like supplemental hours, EPC activities, or tagging-along to site visits, even if it means working extra to make up for it.
3. Can you share 1 study habit or tip that you developed?
BB: Find your rhythm and make it a routine. For me, it was most productive studying 2 hours before work every morning and all weekend. I had the same weekly plan of attack: learn the vignettes with Dorf’s Solutions and practice the software (1-2 days), do the multiple choice test in Ballast and study the answers (2 days), quickly read Ballast chapters and focus on what I don’t know (2 days), and practice the vignettes again before the test. Test days were always 8 am Monday morning, as this time was least busy and easiest to concentrate coming off a study weekend.
LC: 4. Can you share 1 study habit or tip that you developed?
Uninstall your most distracting apps.
EC: I tried to be consistent with my study hours (evenings were better for me) and timed it to just study a couple hours each night, while also building my schedule a few "free" nights or weekends to not feel so overwhelmed
CK: Everyone studies differently but one thing I found to be true is that it didn’t matter how many weeks I gave myself to study the last two weeks were the most important and the larger chunks of study time I gave myself in those last two weeks the more prepared I was. I usually made flashcards from my reading earlier in the month and then drilled them into my head the last week.
ZS: When I started to study for an exam I would first do a relatively quick pass through the Ballast reading to get a general overview. Use Kaplan to get into the nitty-gritty (except for Structures if you’re testing before the transition… definitely check out the Thaddeus lectures) and if you can get your hands on any of the Dorf videos for the vignettes they will be the easiest portion of the entire test. The last day or two before the exam consisted of a series of cram sessions with any flash cards made up from the readings and any flash cards circulating between friends.
JR: Try to study an hour each weekday. The first few exams I only studied on the weekends, which did not make for every enjoyable weekends. Once I started putting in time during the work week, my weekends weren’t as stressed and kept my mind fresh.
4. What is one piece of advice you have for aspiring architects about to start their ARE journey?
JR: Set the date of your exam. It was extra motivation for me to study when I gave myself a hard deadline, I mean, those exams are not free!
LC: START.. just start. (like now).
BB: Sign up for all the exams at once, right NOW, and don’t draw it out. Seriously. Deadlines (and money) are the best motivation, and testing times fill up fast. I studied and passed the ARE in 8 weeks – I know you think I’m crazy – but having a short timeframe helped me remember more, especially since content overlaps. Just make sure you put in the time to cover the content (40 hours each minimum), and actually read the AIA contract documents! Also, if you can take them all on 4.0, I think it’s worth the extra exams, because study material is out and you know what to expect.
CK: My advice to aspiring interns is not to wait. The longer you put it off the harder it will be. Take that first test even if you don’t feel 100% ready because you might be surprised at how much you actually know and even if you fail at least you now know what to expect.
ZS: Get started today and don’t wait for the transition to happen. When the format changes none of the material out there will match up in the manner they will be testing causing you study everything at once rather than piece by piece. Also they’re getting rid of the vignette portions. Once you figure out how to use the clunky program it’s the easiest part of the entire exam.
EC: I would recommend planning out which tests you will take when and how long you will take to study for each... then you will have a tangible goal to work towards and enough time to plan a "reward" for yourself when you're done--like a vacation to Spain/Portugal.
5. Who was the first person you notified when you found out you passed the last exam and how did you celebrate?
ZS: The first person to hear I passed was my girlfriend who also works in the same office and beat me to the end two weeks prior. I found out on a Friday so drinks were involved that night.
CK: I think the first person I told I passed was my mom.
EC: My siblings. I went out to dinner with some friends, and on a more special vacation to Spain/Portugal
JR: My wife, who was out of town for work, followed quickly by my entire family via text messages! I could hardly sleep the night prior to my last exam results being posted, so when I woke at 4:30am and saw that I was an Architect, I couldn’t wait till my family woke up. I was very surprised by how many of my family was awake at 4:30. Celebrated by throwing away all my study material!
BB: I got the final results on Thanksgiving Day (actually, the last three at once). So, I got to share the exciting news with my entire family – that was the best kind of celebration. Plus, lots of Thanksgiving food!
LC: I told my (now husband) Brian who had passed his last exam a few weeks before me. We celebrated both of our achievements with a fancy dinner and bottle of wine.
6. What do you like best about your new title: Architect?
CK: I like the title architect because I feel more relevant. People seem to treat you differently when you can say you have a license.
ZS: First off no more testing and recording hours, but more importantly the feeling of working at something for so long and having all your hard work payoff was very satisfying.
EC: Mostly, I like not having the confusing conversation of trying to explain the whole "intern" architect situation every time someone asks me what I do
JR: When I finally tell people what I do, “I’m an Architect”, it’s actually true! It’s nice not to have to explain that an Intern Architect is a full time job…
LC: I enjoy the clarity of officially being an Architect. Every time you tell someone you are an Architect, they may not know how much work it took to get you there, but you do.
BB: It’s so much easier to introduce myself! There’s a surreal feeling and sense of accomplishment in making it to a childhood dream, though really it’s just getting started. Also, others are extremely interested when I mention the word “Architect.” This opens up fun opportunities to share what architects do in our profession, rather than trying to explain the complexities of becoming licensed and debunking “intern” misconceptions.
Steve's Wrap Up
And how about a round of applause for these New Architects! A very impressive bunch. It would seem that the most consistent advice for aspiring architects is just to sign up for the damn test already!
How about that Bryan Beerman signing up for all 7 exams at once and knocking them out in 8 weeks! That dude is a maniac!
I love that Jeffrey Rengering celebrated by throwing away all of his study material.
And Liz Corr put it best when she said that the best thing about her new title was the clarity of being an architect.
Some of my blogger buds have been providing some really great resources for aspiring architects. Check out Lora Teagarden's visual study guide:
Michael Riscica of Young Architect provides a boatload of ARE study advice including his:
The only advice I have shared about the ARE was How Shame Pushed Me To Get My Architecture License.
Good luck aspiring architects.