5 Tricks to Accelerate Your ARE Studying

Are you having trouble getting started or making progress on the Architect Exam?!?? Is the self-guided nature of the ARE not working for you?

Join our virtual study group. The ARE Boot Camp offers a syllabus, a schedule with deadlines, people to study with, and accountability. To help you study for the Architect Exam, the program is organized similarly to a design studio.

We recently started accepting applications for sessions that are beginning in January and February 2018 for both ARE 4.0 and 5.0.  It's time to get started with making progress on the Architect Registration Exam. 


This post is part of a series on NCARB’s Architecture Registration Exam. Having recently completed this long process, the series examines my journey and the various things I learned along the way. Click here to see all the posts of my Architecture Registration Exam Series.

Starting and Ending

The beginning of my Architecture Registration Exam experience was drastically different from the end. Many things had changed in 4 years as I put 7 exams behind me.

When I started, I spent the first 2 years completing the CDS, PPP, SPD and SD. Unfortunately, due to the recession and being under employed, I was forced to disengage from the exams for a little while. Almost 2 years later, I came back and, very aggressively, completed my 3 remaining exams within a 10 month time frame while working 40 hours a week.

Everything was different on my last 3 exams.

My Attitude

I was mad at myself for taking such a long break and it was time for me to have my architecture license. I was literally missing out on project opportunities and not having my license prevented me from landing a great project.

My Approach and Systems

Having a very design-oriented architecture education, I had not studied for such an information-intensive exam this long before. Worst of all the ARE is a self guided process.  Learning how to study was harder for me then actually doing the work. Once I learned what worked and what didn’t, I became much more effective.


Structures was one of my biggest challenges. After I failed it once, I remember at one point thinking that my ARE experience could end right there. I later went back, studied hard, and aced that exam the second time.

Studying and testing topics that I wasn’t comfortable with no longer became an issue. After that, in fact, I embraced it.

Understanding the lay of the land.

Taking the ARE 7 times or more allows you to figure out how to take the test. I got really good at drafting with the NCARB software, dissecting questions, keeping calm, finding shortcuts, study hacks and anything I could do to help me get to the finish line much faster.

Accelerating your studying

There is no short and fast way to cross the finish line. However, there are lots of little tricks you can do to help you get there faster. I recently wrote a short PDF for my email subscribers containing 5 Tricks to Accelerate Your ARE Studying with actionable steps to help you efficiently pick up the pace.

I would love to share it with you in exchange for subscribing to the Young Architect Weekly Newsletter. You can certainly unsubscribe at any time, no hard feelings.

About the author

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect who lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon, with his Labrador Retriever. He is passionate about helping Young Architects change the world. In his free time, Michael likes to take very long bicycle rides across America. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In.

Steve Ramos - March 12, 2015

Michael, I passed my last exam 5 years ago now…So why did I read this post….who knows…..just kidding….I think it’s because it is a great post and I was just curious. Your site is a wonderful resource for the students and interns. They should all be reading! Well done and keep it up. – Steve Ramos

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