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Know Exactly When To Take Your FIRST Architect Registration Exam | ARE 5.0

Is there a RIGHT time to take the AREs?

As many of you know, I'm an open book when it comes to my whole architecture career, and I LOVE getting and answering questions. The other day, I got asked a really good question in my DMs.

“Where were you in your career when you started testing?”

Surprisingly, this wasn’t the first time I got a question like this. The AREs are a big deal, and I’m sure the thought of taking them and WHEN has crossed EVERY architect’s mind. So I wanted to take this chance to share my story, give my insight, and suggest a few things that’ll hopefully help you out on your journey.

So, if you want to know when the best time is to start studying for the AREs, I have two pieces of advice to help you decide.

Starting your exam

My first piece of advice is to get experience before taking the exams if you can. When I was in college for my bachelor's degree in interior architecture, I worked part-time as an interior designer and got LEED certified. Also, before I took my master's in architecture, I worked as a designer for a construction firm. Then while getting my master's I worked for an architecture firm and design-build. These experiences (especially in construction!) helped pave my way to a successful exam experience.

Working in a firm is a great way to learn about the industry before studying for the AREs. There are so many types of firms, each with something different to teach you. Some firms focus more on the business side of architecture, like administration and practice management, while others do more fieldwork. When you work for firms, you get practical experience you can't get from JUST reading. It goes without saying that studying hard is vital, but the BEST preparation comes from combining it with real-world experience.

Working in the field gave me more confidence and was a big reason I wanted to study immediately after graduation for the AREs. It’s not only a great way to gain experience, but it exposes you to the ins and outs of the industry and teaches you things that’ll really help you in the exams. That’s one of the things that makes this whole architecture journey so fascinating! When it comes to being an architect, you are always learning. This is a career of PERPETUAL LEARNING.

Life Will Always Be Busy!

My second piece of advice is to take the exams as early as possible after graduation. Try to take the exams while your mind is still in "study mode." You might never want to study again once you experience the freedom of not having to do it.

This calls for a throwback!

I always knew that after finishing my master's degree in architecture, I wanted to start studying for my exams. For me, studying would start becoming more challenging the longer I waited. I was already in "study mode" and had a 5-month-old baby, so I thought, "Why not?"

We all know the AREs are difficult and require time, effort, money, and willpower. When it comes to something as important (and daunting) as the exams, it's easy to want to put them off and find reasons why you don't have time to take them RIGHT NOW.

I already knew that would be the case for me. I knew that if I kept pushing them aside, I would always be too busy to take them. I already knew that it would be difficult reviewing with a baby, and it wouldn't get any easier for me when they hit the toddler years. Plus, my brain was still fresh with everything I learned from architecture school, so I decided to get to it.

After graduation, I felt like I deserved a breather. Having a baby and going to architecture school was a lot, so I gave myself the summer to chill out and spend time with family. I started gathering my study materials in August and finally kicked off studying in September. I took my first test in November, and sadly, I failed. That first fail felt defeating and it took me months to get the courage to take it again. If you haven't heard my story about failing yet, definitely go check that out!

Despite what happened, I'm glad I made the decisions I did. I'm so happy I took a few months off to relax, and I'm glad I harnessed my studying drive after graduating and took the AREs sooner. Even though I was juggling my job, being a parent, and studying, that moment taught me one of the best lessons:

LIFE HAPPENS. Life never gets less busy. LIFE WILL ALWAYS BE BUSY.

Obviously, there might be events in your life that'll require you to take a break from continuing your path, and that's perfectly fine! I've heard of people who put it off for 20 years and are just now getting back to it. I've also heard of people studying for exams while still in school! And that's amazing! I like to say, “Everyone has their own timeline, and everyone has their own time.”

Choosing when to take the AREs can be confusing, but it all comes down to your personal situation and goals. Don't forget that there is no "right" time to take the exams. Instead, consider your education, work experience, and availability.

Head over to YouTube and chat with me, I want to hear from you in the comments!

Where were you in your career when you took your exams?

When do you plan to start studying if you still haven’t taken them?

What piece of advice can you share with us?

Whether you take the AREs right away or put them off for a while, I know you’ll do an amazing job! Take it easy and trust in yourself.

Good luck!

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