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How to study for the ARE?

We all know studying for the ARE while balancing life and work can be challenging. However, timely decisions, smart work and a little bit of guidance can help you cross the finish line.

Studying for the ARE is a long journey that weaves its way through your personal and professional life. In our experience, the number one reason people don’t pass is that they fail to make a plan and pursue that plan. While we can’t help with every single distraction or roadblock that may come up, here are a few tips to help keep you on the right track.

Make a plan

It can be daunting to create a study plan, let alone follow it. That is why we created the 9-week study plan for each division of the ARE.

Every person will be a little different in what materials they find the most helpful. What is the most important, is the need to be consistent in your studying. Whether you’re using books, online lectures, and videos, make a plan and start your preparation.

If you’re searching for something new, DesignClass is creating a way to help you study with Remy & Ray’s Guide to the ARE.

Sign up as soon as possible

Once you are eligible for a division, schedule your exam appointment immediately. Don't overthink it, having the date set will give you a concrete deadline to complete your studying. The longer you wait, the easier it becomes to fully abandon your plans. Even though it may sound cheesy; 

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” 

Scheduling the exam will give a tangible date and spark a sense of responsibility which will greatly help you to stay consistent.

Don’t be afraid of failing a division

The passing rate for each ARE division is around 50%. You might be shocked to hear this but failing a division is not uncommon. The fact of the matter is that you will more than likely fail in one or more divisions. What you have to realize is that failing isn’t the end of your journey. As Henry Ford said,

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”

Mentally create a contract with yourself now, ahead of taking any of the divisions, that even if you fail at one, you will keep going.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

Success and failure are a part of life and if you never fail, you’ll never learn.

Needless to say, you’ll need a lot of emotional strength during this journey. Picking yourself up and starting again isn’t easy but it is one of the greatest human abilities and once you master that, nothing can stop you.

There are many online communities where people regularly discuss the ARE, help each other, share ideas and study materials and support each other. At DesignClass, we are focused on creating a community of designers from around the world. Whether you join our community or something else, the important thing is to connect with people who are on this journey who understand the struggles and can help you stay mentally and emotionally fit.

Start with your strongest divisions

There are differing opinions on which division sequence to follow. Some people think Practice Management and Project Management divisions are easier and Construction & Evaluation is the hardest. 

In our opinion, take advantage of the snowball effect and take the divisions you feel strongest in first and move on. The idea here is to build your confidence, perfect studying patterns, and gain momentum before tackling your weaker subjects. 

Reach out to mentors

It’s likely you know someone in your firm or AIA chapter who has recently obtained their license. Go seek their advice! Most people will be excited to share the resources and processes that worked for them. 

If you don’t know any recently licensed architects, online and professional communities can help you get connected. Don’t be afraid to do a quick search on LinkedIn and connect with someone in the industry, send them a message and more than likely you’ll receive some very good advice and maybe even make a new friend.


At the end of the day, constantly remind yourself why you started and why you are pursuing this goal. 

These exams will be rough, but they’ll make you a more valuable professional, trusted consultant, and informed leader.

If you’re already studying for the ARE or planning on starting your journey soon, take a look at Remy & Ray’s Guide to the ARE. It is the most fun & interactive way to study for the ARE.

How to study for the AREHow to study for the AREHow to study for the AREHow to study for the ARE
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