Tag Archives: exam results

on Passing. Finally.

I don’t know why I was expecting to see the crisp white NCARB envelope as I flipped through the stack of statements and magazines, perhaps it’s some sort of ARE sixth sense that one develops over the course of the process.  That or, after all of the exams, I’ve finally learned how to listen to my gut.  And just as I had expected, there the unmistakeable blue striped envelope sat at the bottom of the stack.

For the first time in all of the result openings, I hesitated.

Walking out of the exam I had felt that I did a decent job, better than the first attempt, but still not sure if it was good enough.  As the week went on I scribbled notes to myself on concepts to remember to focus on should I be faced with a third round of studying.  As I waited for the results, exam specifics blended into an overall sense of uncertainty, followed by an overwhelming wave of peace.  The worst that could happen would be that I would fail again, and then try even harder.  As I looked at the envelope these two weeks of emotions all surged through my system once more in rapid succession.  First the fear, then the peace.

My finger slid through the fold of the envelope.  I peeked inside.


About a year ago, as I prepared for the structures exam, I caught myself daydreaming about the feeling of euphoria one must experience when getting their final pass letter.  Are there tears of joy?  Squeals of excitement?  Does the weight of the ARE albatross hanging around one’s neck suddenly disappear?  Whatever the feeling it must be glorious.  As my moment arrived it was a strange amalgamation of those things, a deep exhale of relief while blinking back a tear.  Upon reaching the light at the end of the tunnel one is enveloped in a warm sun lit glow of a perfect summer’s day.  It’s the most intimate and yet all encompassing feeling.  It’s not big or flashy, it’s simply tranquil.

There really is no fanfare at this point, I’m proud for accomplishing the seven exam feat and excited to finish up my IDP and state board requirements to finally get the license in hand.  Then we’ll party.  But until that day arrives I’m grateful for the success of passing, amazed at the amount I’ve grown as an [almost] architect, and  humbled by all of you who have joined me along the way.  I started writing this blog to keep track of a personal quest and never expected to reach the end of the journey with so many new colleagues and friends.   I’ve been touched by your stories and encouraged by your words.  To me, it’s incredible how an examination that is so highly individualized manages to bring us all together.

It’s been an honor to share my AREndurance with you and I thank you for sharing yours with me.


actually, more like the beginning

actually, more like the beginning.

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on failure.

Too soon to add this to my Christmas list?

To summarize: I failed BS. I bombed it with major deficiencies in all areas except the vignette, actually. Dang.

Not wanting to waste both my time and yours, I figured a little break to collect my thoughts and avoid a pity party would be a good idea. I also had a really nice Thanksgiving/Christmas kickoff weekend, which seriously helped my spirits. Yes, I’m still bummed, but I’m also relieved to know my fate and (finally) motivated to come up with a game plan for success six months from now.

The way I see it, when it comes to failure we are (arguably) fortunate to have so many motivators available to help get us back on track. Blogs on making things happen, encouragement from family/friends, a “get motivated” subreddit, Cool Runnings. We’re part of an industry/profession/culture where disappointment is as common, if not more-so, than success. Bad critiques, rejected proposals, cancelled projects…We’re trained and hardened to take lousy moments for what they’re worth and move on.

And yet tearing open that familiar white NCARB envelope with the blue trim, expecting the worst while hoping for the best, and seeing that four letter F word silences all of those motivators with a deafening blow. A fail is not what you want to see printed. In print, failure is real. It changes your mentality, and amidst all the other emotions and thoughts floating around your mind only one thing is certain:

Failing sucks.

It sucks when you’re so damn close to being finished with the whole ARE process. Or when you’re daydreaming of all the books you can fill the space on your bookshelf where your study materials sat for years. Or when you have to tell your family and friends as optimistically as you can that you didn’t do your best this time. It sucks because you know no one else thinks any less of you, but you still feel about as sharp as a bowl full of jello.

But failure is also a surefire way to get yourself motivated. To stop harping on your lack of perfection…and to quit getting teary eyed every time you see a light socket or an air handler unit. (True story.)  It motivates you to realize that not everything turns out the way you wanted it to the first time, but with perseverance it will eventually. Life hardly ever goes the way we planed, but sometime the path it takes is even better than we had hopped. The road to becoming a licensed architect is a long one and there are bound to be a few bumps along the way. God knows there were plenty during studio in school.

I’ve decided to not worry about my retake over the holidays (why spoil my favorite time of the year?) and be thankful for my successes instead. I’m still so thrilled to have passed six so far, and know the final pass will come soon enough. In January I’ll start back up researching the resources I missed and figure out when I can sign up for my retake. I have to wait around until May, but that will give me plenty of time to review what I already know and learn as many details as I can as a slower pace. I still have that pesky IDP to finish too, so it’s not like I won’t have the exams on my mind anyway. I know it will all get done in due time…but dang if I’m not a little anxious to see the day.

I guess we don’t call it AREndurance for nothing.

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BOOYA, she’s 6 for 6!


I waited oh so patiently for last Friday to arrive…NCARB letters typically come the second Friday after my exam.  Except this time.  Then it didn’t come on Saturday, and it certainly didn’t show up on Monday thanks to the Columbus Day Holiday (no one else got the day off either, right?).  I hoped and prayed that the letter would be waiting for me tonight and sure enough it was.

I tore into the envelope like a kid on Christmas morning, and peeked at the letter before taking it out:  PASS

*insert sigh of relief and fist pump #6 here*

I’m so grateful to have another one behind me.  To be honest I can’t believe how fast it’s all going… it feels like I was just studying for CDS.   Now that I’m almost done I’ve begun to realize just how much these exams teach us.  I catch myself smiling when the guys at work are discussing issues similar to those in my text books, and I feel so much more confident when given codes to research, contracts to look over, details to draw, etc.  Even though we complain about the exams, it’s incredible to think about how far they push us to become more rounded designers.  A part of me has enjoyed the learning process and I hope to have a career with many opportunities to gain knowledge.   Not that there’s much of a choice really…hello Continuing Education requirements.

So now I finally feel like I can focus on BS.  My biggest goal is to study as thoroughly as possible this month so I walk in to Prometric on November 4th feeling confident.  I’d hate to make a dumb mistake on my last exam and have it set me back 6 months at the end.   The only option at this point is to knock exam 7 out of the park.  Let’s do this!

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…and SD makes 5!

It’s funny how involuntary reactions work with exam results.  Every time I see an NCARB envelope my stomach drops to my diaphragm (oh no!) and then jumps up to my esophagus (oh boy!) and I hold my breath as I tear open the envelope.  My hands shake, ever so lightly, as I peek at the header of the NCARB letter still tucked inside.    Somehow this all occurs in a matter of seconds that feel like hours and is done without any conscious thought on my part.  I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar too.

And then an honest to goodness smile as I see the word PASS.

I’m pretty dang happy and a bit relieved, like always.  While I had a good feeling that the exam went well, it’s really nice to officially have another confirmed pass to my name.  With five down, this is truly the first moment when I’ve felt that the end is near.  There’s still plenty (and from what I’ve read on the forum that means a ton) of information to get thought on BDCS and BS  but I’m ready to buckle down and focus.   I’ve realized that  my goal of knocking out the last two exams in the next four months means that both must be a PASS so I’m not wasting any time waiting around for six months to retake either of them.

But for now…let’s party, like we have before and will no doubt do again.  While the examination process is getting a bit tiring, here’s hoping that celebration never does.

party cat by the very funny nedroid (click for the whole series, which surprisingly sums up the ARE process quite nicely)

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Shock and Awe

I got home from work last night and a white envelope was sitting on the desk.   Probably just a bill … wait…what’s that? NCARB?  ALREADY?  It’s only been a week and a half since my exam.  This couldn’t be good…or maybe it was….I ripped into it, holding my breath like always.

PASS!!  (A wine bottle was opened almost instantly.)

I’m honestly blown away, I didn’t expect to see that result.  Now that I’ve celebrated/calmed down a little bit,  I’ve been thinking about why it went my way.   Aside from studying until I was blue in the face, I think that having a solid conceptual understanding of structures truly saved me.  Reading about lateral, seismic, and wind forces from multiple sources (eg: FEMA, Buildings at Risk, Kaplan, misc study guides) was crucial to my success.  While I wish I would have spent more time on equations and practice problems, I understand (and agree) with other examinees suggestion that knowing what the equations and their components mean is almost more important than how to solve them.

When I told Nate the good news  he said “told you!”, which turned out to be the same sentiment from others as well.   Apparently you all have more faith in me than I do.  Thanks for that, and for all the kind words of support and encouragement during the process.  I know I couldn’t do this without you.

So, 4 down…3 to go.   Words cannot express how good it feels to be over the half way point.  Now let’s just hope that this successful streak continues.


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SPD is over. OVER.


Pardon my french but, ho-ho-hoooooly shit I cannot believed I pulled that off.

It’s been a long three weeks, the last of which I spent convincing myself that a Fail would be fine, and probably likely, given my site design vignette. But it turns out NCARB thought it was good enough and for that I’m ecstatic. I still feel humbled about the experience, and will be sure to remember the lesson I learned about asking for help on areforum. Speaking of which, I still need to post my exam thoughts and notes over there. Sounds like a good plan for tomorrow. Now it’s off to downtown for a victory burrito and Timbers match vs. Real Salt Lake (we beat them at home last year, hoping for a repeat tonight) in the pouring rain. I couldn’t be happier.

PS: For my non-Portlandia readers, take a look at this clip to get the full effect of the post title.

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this is exactly how my week is going.

Once again Architexts nails the nuances of our life right on the head. At least the nail-biting agony of waiting for exam scores is universal.

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who’s done with PPP? (Yeah you know me!)


Got the letter in the mail when I got home from work on Friday. Last exam I debated if I should open it (at the risk of running not only the weekend but my birthday too) or wait a couple days. This time I had the envelope halfway open before I really realized what I was doing. I’m absolutely elated that I don’t have to study for this thing again…it really was a challenge. Site Planning + Design is scheduled for March 11th, and I’m glad I can focus on that with a bit of renewed optimism for the study process. But today I think I’ll celebrate a bit more.

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Day 66: 365 days to 27th birthday


I almost didn’t open the letter, at the risk of ruining my birthday, but I knew I’d just wonder about it all night, so I tore open the NCARB envelope and peeked inside. At first I didn’t see it, and looked at what is 3/4 a blank piece of paper. Then I noticed the small confirmation up at the top of the page by my address. I have no idea if I got 100% or 72%, but at this point I really don’t care.

Now it’s officially time to celebrate my 26th birthday (and being 1/7th an architect!) with the family and Nate.

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