First Steps

Today I took the first step toward taking the dreaded ARE (Architect Registration Examination) exams—those tests that prove that I am a responsible and capable architect. Or at least that I can memorize a LOT of stuff. When that’s all done (7 exams in all), I still have to finish my IDP (that’s Intern Development Program) hours, which theoretically I should finish sometime in September, if I can manage to get some construction management hours in sometime (I’ve finished all the other category requirements). I also should get some hours for passing the LEED test, I think, but I have to wait for my certificate before I can apply for those. Once the hours and the exams are both done I will be legally allowed to put ‘architect’ on my business cards and buy a fancy stamp to seal drawings with. I really want one of those stamps.

I’ve been dreading these exams—they’re 6 months (or at least that seems to be as fast as most people can get through them if they’re working at the same time) of social isolation, rote learning, and stress. Luckily I have a few friends who have finished or are about to finish, so I’m counting on them for advice, support, and commiseration. (Hello, friends!)

The step I took today was to download and print the seven* study guides/introductions from the NCARB site. I’m gonna have to beg, borrow, or steal (maybe even buy) a lot of other study material, but this hundred pages or so will at least help me sort out which test to take first, help me start to understand what I have to learn, and generally get me thinking testishly.

In addition to multiple-choice questions, the tests include ‘vignettes,’ which aren’t nearly as charming as they sound. They’re drawing tests, but using a fake made-up software program NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) invented for the exams. And, of course, it won’t work on my Mac. So to practice I guess I either have to, again, beg, borrow, or steal a PC or spend weekends at work studying. Yay.

I’m going to have at it in the New Year. For now, I’m warming up my brain by studying Scrabble a bit—learning two- and three- letter words, high scoring words, and strategies, practicing against online robots, and getting weirdly addicted to this game, which is a pretty good Scrabble warm-up. It’s a more fun kind of studying that doesn’t feel like work, but hopefully will kick my languorous brain into at least first gear. Then watch out ARE, here I come.

. . .

(I apologize to friends and relations who may not hear much from me for the first half of 2010. Please continue to send updates on your more exciting lives, and if you don’t hear back from me by summer solstice, send a search & rescue team.)

* If you’re curious, the exams are Programming, Planning & Practice; Site Planning & Design; Building Design & Construction Systems; Schematic Design; Structural Systems; Building Systems; and Construction Documents & Services.



This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 and is filed under architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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