Why I Wrote: How to Pass the Architecture Registration Exam

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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.

OK Folks, here it is.

The book I said I would never write.

Wait, What!? Why wouldn't I write this book?


I spent 4 ½ years of my life stressing out, complaining and whining all about the Architecture Registration Exam. Since I was soo glad to get that thing out of my life, why would I keep talking about it?

99% of the people who complete the ARE try to forget all about it and just move on with their lives. I never wanted to become “Mike Riscica: The ARE Guy”.

I finished the exam 1 ½ years ago, and now I just wrote a book about it.

Here's what happened…


I wrote a few blog posts about the Architect Exam.

Towards the end of my exams, I decided that after I finished the process, I wanted to learn all about the internet. I started blogging under my own name and one day I decided:

I just want to write a blog for Young Architects.

Soon I had YoungArchitect.com and was blogging away. I wrote a few posts about a few things I learned during the ARE's and the response I received was unexpected and huge. Especially from a very little site that had very little traffic.

The more I shared my ARE experience, the bigger response I received. Eventually I realized that I had entirely over analyzed my whole ARE experience and through that process, I had a ton of valuable information to share with other ARE Candidates.


I really struggled with the ARE

I did pretty good in architecture school, especially my architecture classes. I immersed myself into as much design, theory and history that I could get my hands on. I love that stuff and I was a great student. I did OK in all my other classes. My passion was architecture, so that is where I channeled all my energy and resources.

It didnt really help me much that I was a good architecture student and had many years of experience working in architecture offices. Sometimes I think that it made it harder for me to complete the ARE. I really needed to learn how to prepare, study and take an exam that required a massive amount of information recall and I had ever done anything like this before. Especially not in Architecture school. Managing distractions (and my own creativity) became my biggest challenge in this self guided process through 7 exams.


I felt really dumb for a long time.

I invested a ton of time, money and energy into the ARE to complete the process. I felt like even NCARB made it seem as if it was no big deal and everyone should just finish it in a few months. That certainly wasn't my story. I needed to study my ass off and I still failed a few exams.

Halfway through the process, I drastically changed how I thought and felt about the exam. I decided that it didn't matter how many times I failed; the ARE wasn't stopping me from becoming an Architect. My time became much more valuable than my money.  I adopted the belief that studying and taking the ARE was making me a much better Architect, Citizen and Human Being and I still believe that.


No one else was completing the licensing process

I knew a lot of people who took a few exams and never finished. I almost didn't even finish. I cried about failing structures for a very long time. Throughout the years I watched soo many people come and go, all of them were much smarter and more talented then I was.

Yet, I finished, but why???

I've thought about this too much and after a lot of reflection I understand why.


Something else happened.

After seeing the success of my blog and the response my ARE blog posts were getting. I started to kick around the idea of writing the ARE Book that didn't exist. I had zero interest in writing a technical ARE book, because that didn't excite me. Besides, Ballast, Kaplan and Architect Exam Prep already do a great job with that. I started to think my book could discuss all the tips, tricks and hacks I used to get through the ARE process.

One day when I poking around amazon I found this book and thought:

Holy crap!!?! THIS IS THE BOOK, I have been thinking about writing! 

So I bought it.

5 minutes after opening the package, I was emailing Amazon saying I was ripped off and demanding a refund. Someone basically just sold me a really crappy set of ARE Notes for $50, while Jenny's ARE notes are way better and free. I also realized that the person who sold me this product actually sells the same exact product with all the same material for every other professional exam.

All the articles about studying were not written for or about the Architecture Registration Exam.  The book just happened to have the term “The ARE” inserted into every location where it mentions an exam. The same articles were in all the other exam books they sell.

This trivial experience reinforced that the book that I wanted to write; does not exist and I needed to start writing it.


I started writing a book

I began with taking a few of the old blog posts and started adding a ton of new content and then just kept writing and writing for 6 months..

In 120 pages, How to Pass the Architecture Registration Exam, takes a thorough look at the following topics:

What is the ARE and how to wrap your head around it.

Is taking the ARE even right for you?

How to use all the study material.

Dealing with failure

How to mentally think about the ARE.

Understanding how you learn.

How to break down multiple choice questions.

Things to consider on testing day

How to survive the long haul commitment of getting through 7 exams.

Finishing the process and becoming licensed.


I know the ARE process does not have to be the daunting and exhaustive task that most people make it out to be. However I truly believe that many people are under educated on what passing this exam consists of. My goal with this book was to share everything I learned so you could learn from me and have a smoother experience throughout the process than I did.


Michael Riscica


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How To Pass The Architecture Exam
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Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, and the creator of Young Architect, an online platform and community dedicated to helping the next generation of Architects become the most successful generation of Architects. 
Connect: Linkedin / Facebook / Instagram

Hi there!

I’m Michael Riscica, the guy behind Young Architect. I write to help Architecture Students, ARE Candidates and Young Architecture Professionals be more successful at school, work and life!


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