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3 ARE 5.0 Tips to Know BEFORE Getting Started

Six years ago, I took one of the biggest steps in my life…

Starting my ARE® journey.

It was the best thing I’ve ever done for my career, but it was definitely the hardest. I didn’t know much about the ARE®, let alone the whole process. Plus, I didn’t have anyone to relate to or talk to about what I was going through. But you know what they say, the best way to learn is by doing, and that’s exactly what I did.

To sum up, how I felt? Excitement, fear, and uncertainty are all bundled into one moment.

Although I’m grateful that everything panned out the way it did, looking back and reflecting on that experience, I really wish I had known a few things before I jumped into testing.

Today, I dive into three things I wish I had known before starting my ARE® journey. Hopefully, these will give you a sneak peek into what to expect, shed light on the process, and give you helpful insights on approaching the exams with wisdom and confidence.

Whether you're a soon-to-be test-taker or an architecture student curious about the ARE®, this one's for you.


For those who know me, I’m ALWAYS talking about passing and failing the ARE®. Why? Because it is such an important subject that I wish people grasped more. Failing a few exams in the ARE® is normal, expected, and PERFECTLY OKAY.

I’m going to be frank. The ARE® is hard. Heck, I don’t think any architect out there will say it was “easy.” What we’ve studied for years is hard, so you can only imagine the questions that will come out in the exam. So, believe me when I say that failing them is not that big of a deal.

Of course, even though everyone says it’s okay, it certainly won’t feel like it is when it actually happens. But understanding how common failing is and knowing that you’re not the only one makes things lighter.

Plus, I promise that once you finally pass all the exams and start working as a licensed architect, you’ll forget the failed exams. It will feel like a speck of dust in your big architectural universe. I want all of you to remember, “A failed exam doesn’t mean you’re a failure,” especially when it comes to something as complex and challenging as the ARE®.


Going into the exams, I thought they were like any other ones I’ve taken. But there was just something different about these ones. I didn’t have anyone close to me that was taking the exams. Additionally, even if I had the love and support of my family and friends, they couldn’t understand exactly what I was going through, and it made me feel like I was alone.

Only people going through the ARE® or done with it know how daunting the whole process is and how difficult the exams are. We can’t avoid comments from others, especially those outside our industry who don’t understand it. I’m sure we’ve all heard a thing or two that got under our skin.

“Oh, you’re still taking them?”
“You didn’t pass yet?”
“OMG, haven’t you failed that one multiple times already?”
“Are they really that hard?”

Preparing yourself for conversations like this and coming up with a game plan on responding to questions like this can help you with your inner peace AND help educate people on how the ARE® process is.

Also, not everyone needs to know the ins and outs of your journey. Don't be afraid to do you; be more restrictive with what you share and who you share it with. Limiting the details of your progress allows you to focus directly on testing without the interference of external expectations. Additionally, being more private gives you space to overcome challenges at your own pace while maintaining a confident and positive mind.

One of the best things I can advise you, especially if you’re starting, is to FIND YOUR PEOPLE. Join a community that really understands and supports you.

Being able to share experiences, struggles, and even feelings throughout the whole testing process cannot be overstated. Having like-minded people and fellow test-takers to commiserate with and form a sense of camaraderie makes all the difference. Besides being able to offer guidance and share study advice, having a great support system and a community can motivate and encourage you to stay focused.

As someone who puts themselves out there as a support system and a mentor, I’ve recently started a community that I’d like to invite you to join! Besides having tons of resources that you can dive into for the exams, I wanted to create a place where everyone (no matter what stage in the ARE® you are in) can just come and hang out and support each other. Join us inside the group today!


Now this one is new to me, too! I didn’t know this until later, and I really, really wish I had done more research about this back then! I know the ARE® isn’t cheap, and some think they’re just wasting time and money. But consider it an investment that will ultimately benefit your career and success. And now there are ways to get around that cost!

There are a couple of ways to do this:

1. Employer opportunities

Many employers offer ARE® testing benefits to their employees—some pay for passed exams, and even those offer to pay for your study materials. Every employer is different, so don’t be shy to bring this up to them!

2. Scholarship opportunities

Who would’ve known that there are actually ARE® scholarships? Feel free to reach out to your local AIA chapter and ask if they have any scholarship opportunities. Below are a few scholarship opportunities you should check out:

AIA California

Architects Foundation

Jason Pettigrew Scholarship

Looking back, despite wishing I had known these three things before starting the exams, I wouldn’t have had my journey any other way. No regrets. And the last thing I wish for in this post is that these things hopefully make all the difference in our ARE® journey so you’ll feel the same way too.

Your road to becoming a licensed architect will definitely not be perfect. It could get bumpy, lonely, and stressful for sure. But I know that with resilience and a positive mindset, facing challenges head-on will make the light at the end of the tunnel seem so much closer. This is YOUR journey to take.

Don’t give up!

You are meant to be a licensed architect!

Our free ARE Community is NOW LIVE! Join us today. Sign up HERE.

Looking for ARE® Resources?

Access all our various resources below designed to help you PASS your exams and START your business! Including FREE downloads, courses, and group programs.

Join the Mind Over ARE waitlist now to get first access to my next group coaching.

Starting the ARE®? START HERE + ARE Resource Guide FREE download Bring back the FUN in studying architecture + ARE Activity Book Top Tips to PASS the ARE® + 31 Best ARE Tips FREE download FREE ARE® Personality Quiz + 60-second quiz to transform your exam process Learn how to Optimize your Note-Taking Skills based on YOUR Study Type! + Study Notes Workshop Want to know EXACTLY what to study and when? Get the 6-week study plans for each ARE division here: + Ultimate Study Plan course Starting a firm and want a contract template so you can start getting PAID today? Here you go! + Contract Templates + mini-course

Check out all our freebies here.

If you enjoyed this episode, it's inspired you, or you've found value in it, please let me know on Instagram or YouTube @ByoungDesign.

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