ARE 4.0 contents

Visualizing ARE 4.0 [Part 1] [Part 2]

ARE 4.0 content

Click on image to get full resolution

ARE 4.0 has 7 divisions, and for those who are looking to get the process started, the amount of information can seem overwhelming and intimidating. When they are trying to figure out their exam orders, they often want to know which exams overlap most so they can schedule those back to back or study both at the same time. While I was procrastinating instead of studying last night, I thought, maybe I can visualize it with a venn diagram. I have only taken 5 tests (passed SD, PPP, BS and SPD, failed SS), but I think I’ve read enough to make a summary. Here you are- all 7 exams and their contents in one poster. You can click on the division to access NCARB’s official exam guides. You can also click on the links at the bottom for my blog and pinterest page with additional ARE info.


The Multiple Choice
There is a general consensus that CDS, SPD and PPP belong to one group (left half of the diagram), while BS, SS and BDCS belong to another. In my opinion, BS and SPD actually also have some significant overlaps, as illustrated above.  Unfortunately I could NOT get the sizes of the circles to correspond to the amount of materials in each test– SPD and PPP are definitely much “lighter” tests. As you can see in the diagram, these two have minimal exclusive topics and a whole lot in common with others. SS is almost the opposite.

Now I am not saying they can’t ask you how elevators work in CD or test your structural concepts in PPP… because they can. But as far as studying goes, this is pretty much it. Most people take all three of the same group and then move onto another group, but I personally chose something that looks more like a heavy-light-heavy-light order.

SD is a stand-alone satellite, it has NO multiple choice questions, and is the easiest (although of course, one should by no means underestimate it). People either take it first, because it can boost their confidence; or they take it right in the middle, so they get an easy pass through the mid-way hump; or they take it last, because there’s nothing worse than failing your last test and waiting for 6 months without doing anything.

In the center of the diagram is ADA, IBC and zoning. They matter more to some exams than others, but in general they are sprinkled throughout. You can really get any code-related questions in any test. So, no matter which test you are taking first, start by getting your hands on the codes and you will benefit from it. You will find yourself going back to it for every single test.

The Vignettes
Vignettes are generally easier than MCs. Most of them can be prepared for within a week. Out of all 11 vignettes, I’d say SD’s interior layout, BS’s M&E plan, as well as SPD’s site design are a little trickier than the rest, mostly because of the time limit you are given. Anyway, all it takes to pass the vignettes is a little patience, the ability to follow directions, and attention to detail. Practice, develop a strategy for each type, be careful, and you will be fine.

I have 3 more test to go, so I am somewhere between seeing light at the end of the tunnel and having a long way to go (I have to RE-take SS for crying out loud!) So far I think getting started is THE hardest thing to do. Once you get your feet wet things will pan out one way or another, and so I hope this article will give you an overall idea of what it’s like and make the first step a little easier. Please feel free to share it and/or leave me some comments. Good luck fellow ARE-takers!

Visualizing ARE 4.0 [Part 1] [Part 2]

SS Vignette

Since I am not supposed to disclose any contents of the exam, all I can do is to draw your attention to one point that I was (still am) very confused about, something that almost threw me off entirely.

In the sample SS vignette on NCARB’s official guide, instruction #11 says “The structure must accommodate a clerestory window to be located along the FULL LENGTH of the north wall of the common area”. In the sample passing solution, there are two columns in that north wall, hence, according to my understanding, violating the FULL LENGTH requirement.

People on the forum suggest that instruction #4, which says “Columns may be located within walls, including the window wall and the clerestory window wall.” means it’s ok to put columns in the middle of the wall. My interpretation is that you can put columns at the ends of the wall, not in the middle of it; it just sounds like two conflicting requirements to ask for “full length accommodation” yet allowing columns in it.

Anyway, all I am saying is that I was not aware of this before going into the exam and it took me a long time to decide whether to put columns in the middle of the wall or make the beam span longer than it’s supposed to- more than 40′, which almost cost me the whole test.

ss vignette

ncarb sample vignette program

ss vignette 2

ncarb sample vignette passing solution- upper level

 

That said…. (I can’t believe) I passed!!! Other than this hiccup in the vignette everything was pretty reasonable, not too many curve balls and WTF questions. I am working on “visualizing ARE 4.0″ diagram #3, hopefully can share it soon.

Retaking CDS next month… last one!! Almost, almost there!!!

 

 

Back from Italy!

After retaking SS on 23rd June, I went on a short trip to Italy, as a little reward for myself for all the studies I’ve done so far. I saw two buildings from Kaplan’s “notable buildings”… The Pantheon and Palazzetto Dello Sport. Pantheon I planned to see (duh), but Palazzetto Dello Sport I just randomly came across on my way to Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI. What a pleasant surprise! It was a humble, quiet gem in a less busy area of Rome. If you are going to Rome, make sure you don’t miss it!

Sure I learned about them in “architecture 101″, but seeing these beautiful structures after taking the exam help me appreciate them even more.

pantheon

pantheon

palazzetto dello sport

palazzetto dello sport

Studying Outside

Talking about my favorite place to study, I am lucky to be in NYC with plenty of options. I like to mix it up, you name it- home, starbucks, office, on the train… and Bryant Park is definitely one of my favorites. For a nice warm Saturday, 2 hours in the beautiful NY public library and 2 hours under the sun in the park makes a pretty productive afternoon. It’s kinda tempting to people-watch, but at least it takes the pressure off and makes studying a little bit more enjoyable.

Few days before my SS rematch, I’ll just have to power through it.

Studying in Bryant Park

Studying in Bryant Park

(re)Starting with Flash Cards (SS)

Coming back from a two-week vacation in Hong Kong, it’s time to get back to study mode again. This is also about exactly one year since I took my first test, so maybe it’s a good time for a recap. For your reference, I did:

April 2013 – SD – pass
June 2013 – SS – fail
June 2013 – PPP – pass
Sept 2013 – BS – pass
Oct 2013 – SPD – pass

Nov 2013 – CDS – fail
Mar 2014 – BDCS – pass

In a nutshell, I passed 5 out of 7 tests in a year’s time, which I am pretty happy about. Looking back it might not have been the best testing order, but I was thrown off by the July-August blackout last year so it was different.

When I was studying for my BDCS exam, I realized it is extremely helpful to start with flash cards. I guess being familiar with the terminologies makes all the readings much easier. I also pin as much as I can on pinterest  cuz a lot of times pictures are better than words. As I prepare for my re-match with Structural Systems (SS), I plan to do exactly the same.

Kaplan Flash Cards

Kaplan Flash Cards

Insulation Stuff (BDCS)

LOOSE FILL

 :)  :(
Cellulose High recycle content
Low embodied energy
Cotton High recycle content
Low embodied energy
Fiberglass
Perlite
Vermiculite Might contain asbestos
Plastic Fiber

BOARD

 :)  :(
EPS Not ozone-depleting
Flexible
High embodied energy
XPS High R-value
High compressive strength
High resistance to water absorption
Ozone-depleting
Expensive
Polyiso Not ozone-depleting
Recycled content
High embodied energy
Polyurethane Not ozone-depleting
High R-value
Expensive

SPRAYED

 :)  :(
Sprayed Polyurethane
(Close Cell, High Density)
High R-value Ozone-depleting
 Sprayed Polyurethane
(Open Cell, Low Density)
Not Ozone-depleting Low R-value
 Icynene (Low Density) Good for retrofitting