Tag Archives: pass

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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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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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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