Alright, back to work.

I spent most of the day plugged into Pandora listening to a combination of macklemore and paul simon (don’t ask me how that mix works, but it does…oh it does) while drafting and otherwise muddling through construction document sheet preparation. And as it typically goes, the mind wanders a little on days like this. It wanders to where to get the next cup of coffee, or to that sweet timbers victory last weekend, or to weekends in general. While I clicked about Revit and thought of cafes and soccer and visiting gallery exhibits a little voice piped up in the back of my head, likely one of those ignorable Pandora commercials….a split second later I realized that wait no, it wasn’t. Between the beats of lackadaisical hip hop my conscience steered me towards a more pressing dream.

*sigh* Alright. Let’s get this exam over with.

There are certain critical considerations to mull over when selecting a day to sit for any division of the ARE. After one determines what realistic timeframe they need to prepare for each exam, then it’s best to address the major events taking place that will severely distract from studying. You know the culprits: birthdays, holidays, major work deadlines, etc. Even if you say you will, we all know that there will be no preparation done on these days, and in some cases those leading up to them. I’ve found that taking a few minutes to thoroughly consider my personal commitments before registering has paid off by only having to reschedule one exam. Otherwise I’ve felt as if there’s been adequate time to prepare for each…regardless of my results. As I looked over my calendar for the next few months I found my options to be fairly open (save for Mother’s Day, a few Timbers matches, and a handful of after work events). A click into Prometric to search for availability came back with only two Saturdays that would work: May 25th or June 2nd. I’d be damned if I wasn’t taking it when I was eligible to do so in May, primarily for the sake of principle, and I really didn’t want to spend my entire Memorial Day weekend stuck at my desk studying. A few hours that Saturday morning taking the test would still leave plenty of time for fun….and to enjoy the long awaited return of Arrested Development (I never thought I’d see the day).

So I clicked the 25th, 9am, paid my fee, and jotted the appointment down in my calendar. As I said way back on Exam #2, the involuntary urge to hurl after signing up never goes away, even after all this time. For a brief moment it’s hard not to freeze and think that perhaps it would be better to just hold off a little longer. But then as quickly as that cowardly feeling arrives, it morphs into courage. You come to your senses, quit being a chicken, and get back to work.

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23 thoughts on “Alright, back to work.

  1. Cam says:


    As strange as it seems and well weird because it really is weird when I think of it. I am comforted in knowing that even for someone who has had so much success there is always that feeling in the bottom of your stomach and the sensation that you’re about to lose your kibbles n bits when you register for an exam on prometric. It makes me feel normal and helps me to remember that these are a big deal and despite the bravado it’s normal to be a little nervous. In my case however, I also feel this sensation when I pack away the previous exam books and start pulling all the info together to make preparations for the next one.

    I am excited that you’re back in the saddle to knock this one out! You’ll be just fine, go get em!

    • jennypdx says:

      I appreciate all your support Cam, thank you so much! Good call on the woozy feeling when changing out the materials between exams. It always feels like serious information overload. That being said, I’m looking forward to the day when I can pack away *all* of the accumulated study materials for the last time. It’ll be here before we know it!

      • Cam says:

        Ahh yes, that will be a grand day indeed when we can toss those books out of our rooms and lives (well toss to someone else who can use them at least =)
        I’m aiming for end of this year, heck yeah!

  2. Dom says:

    Good Luck

    Wishing you all the best

  3. Matt says:

    Best of luck on the 25th … Taking BS April 15th!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Jenny – I just took (and passed!) the Building Systems exam. I would HIGHLY recommend studying Architectural Graphic Standards as well as Building Construction Illustrated (and diagrams from MEEB of course). I have enjoye using your study sheets so thought I could give back a little!!

    • jennypdx says:

      Thanks for the recommendation Elizabeth, I’ll be sure to pull those all off my bookshelf and take a look. Appreciate you taking the time to share πŸ™‚ Congratulations on the pass!

  5. says:


    What is your take on the drawing order of plans for the ARE…. I have site/civil/arch/structural/mechanical/plumbing/electrical…..

    Some on the forum say it is P/M/E

    Also, in regards to list of order of activities…..a sample question: RFP Scope of services set a budget working plan

    Michael Watts, AIA, Affiliate ASLA, NCARB

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Michael, I’m not quite sure if I follow your question, but do believe that your drawing order is correct. At least that’s the order I’ve learned and used to date.

  6. Kate says:

    Good luck, Jenny! You’ll knock it out of the park this time. Now that you’ve had some time off, put your game face back on and get those pesky AREs over with once and for all πŸ™‚

  7. Nicole says:

    Jenny, I was terrified of this exam when it came around back in September that instead of the usual 2 month study time it took me 4 months to conquer this beast. Might i suggest alkikat’s BS notes which were very clear, concise and brought all the concepts you needed to know in a nice, easy, and visual learning tool together in one location. You can find them here: . Just thought I’d throw in my two cents. Good luck with this last monster!

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Nicole, I’m definitely more apprehensive about preparing for it the second time around, so I appreciate hearing what was useful to others. Thanks so much for the recommendation!!

  8. Stacy says:


    Good luck to you! I just found out this last weekend that I passed my final exam! Yea!
    I appreciate your blog and posting study notes. You sure have helped me along the way. I feel like we were in this together, so I wanted to wish you luck in your final exam! I love how you express some of the feelings and things along the way in this process of exam taking that only a fellow ARE candidate would know about. Like the feeling of going into the testing center and the people there know you because you have been there so many times and the sick feeling of registering for the exam and scheduling around life events, I did the same thing!


    • jennypdx says:

      Hey Stacy, huge congratulations on passing all your examinations!! Hope you’ve been celebrating πŸ™‚ Thanks for the kind words and for reading, I’m so thrilled to hear that our experiences have been similar, it’s always nice to know we’re not in this ARE process alone. Best of luck to you in your final steps for licensure.

  9. zeusjd says:

    You got this BS test and you’ll never think of it again. Pls leave your site up for future kiddos, such good info here. Taking SS on 6/24/13, w/ BDCS this fall, then I’m done before 2014. My wife, 3 kids, & dog miss me. Been grinding away at this since 2011. Cheers.

    • jennypdx says:

      Sounds like you have a solid plan in place and will be back to your loved ones before you know it. thanks for the kind words, bets of luck on the rest of your studies!

  10. Marji Lucero says:

    Hi, Jenny, I just wanted to wish you good luck on your BS exam as well as to thank you for your notes and good advice regarding the SPD exam that I failed last year. I took it again early this month, and I just received my “PASS” letter. I was soooooo relieved! Thank you for your help and your generosity in sharing your notes with all of us. Good luck again with the BS exam!!!!

    • jennypdx says:

      Congratulations on the pass Marji!!! That’s wonderful news, and I’m so happy to hear that my notes were able to be useful to you in your studies. Thanks for the luck on BS too, much appreciated! πŸ™‚

  11. Mandy says:

    Dear Jenny,
    I found your site on the ARE forum and I must say your notes are golden. I am sitting in a coffee shop chewing on my pen and procrastinating on studying for PPP. I checked out your blog for motivation. If you are ever in Baltimore, please let me know. I’d like to buy you a beer. Good luck on BS and thank you for sharing your notes and experience.

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Mandy, thanks for reading! I often write posts to procrastinate, so looks like we’re on common ground. I’ve yet to visit Baltimore, but I’d love to someday. Best of luck on PPP, hope the notes continue to be useful. Cheers!

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