Last week was crazy. Overtime all weekend. Deadline on Tuesday. Sick on Wednesday. Then exam on Thursday! I was so sick and out of it during the exam that I don’t really remember much. But I will try to share with you all. My exam was at 6pm on Thursday, so I took a day off from work and lay in bed all day just listening to the Schiff Hardin Lectures – very good overviews of the contracts and delivery methods right before the exam.

I got to Prometric at 5:30pm, and there was a bunch of people waiting to be checked in. The check-in process took a while - I didn’t start the exam until 6:15pm! I wore a jacket to the testing center, because I had a cold. The attendant there said if you wanted to take your jacket off during the test, you would have to take it off and go back inside. Also, I asked them if I could bring some tissue paper with me, and they were okay with it as long as I leave it on the desk the whole time. A lot of rules! But I finally got into the exam room. Next to me was a loud lady signing during her test. One good thing about having a cold, I just lived in my own bubble and focused to get this thing done.

So it starts! I stayed the whole time for both parts of the exam. It took about an hour to go through the 100 questions. I marked up over 50% of the questions for review later. Half way through the exam, I caught myself falling asleep. The best way to keep you awake during a test? …Actually I didn’t really find a way to stay awake other than taking a deep breath and forcing myself to keep going. Being super stuffy and drowsy, I reviewed the marked ones and got down to about 10 questions. At the end, there were 4 questions that I just took a wild guess. I just kept reviewing them until the time ran out, and hope that I got most of them right.

It seems to be a trend lately (as seen on ARE coach) that a lot of questions are not from what we have studied.  There were some questions that were totally not in the books. But even if they are not usual content that I studied, I would say most of the questions are asked from a contract or construction documents perspective.

I came out of the exam room feeling like I got half of it right. The whole 15-minute break, I was just walking around wondering if I passed the first part.

Vignette was pretty simple - similar to the practice program on NCARB. I was, however, very sick and sluggish at this point that I was working very slow. It took me almost 45 minutes to draft up the section. 10 minutes before time runs out, I found out that I got one ceiling height wrong, which would totally fail me! I panicked a little, but I was able to fix the mistake right before it ends.  The “move group” tool is helpful when you have to move a bunch of things at the same time.

By the time I was done, it was 10pm. What’s open at 10pm in my town? Wendy’s! I guess I had to break my “no fast food” rule and get some Wendy’s for dinner. Next time, I will bring some snacks for the mandatory break.

So there you go – my first experience of the ARE. I will put up a list of study guides and tips soon. I am also going to share my study note with you, once I am done consolidating it. But no matter what the result is. I tried my best and that’s the most important part, right?!

Thanks for reading!


Aspiring architect and graphic designer. I design buildings and write about it. My interests revolve around urban architecture, people, graphics, arts and culture.