Passed all 6 Divisions on the first try - this was my strategy

Here’s a little about myself first. I put off taking the exams for years - I graduated in 2008 and worked at a small firm before they went under in 2010. I then worked for builders for years and was unable to get the required hours since I didn’t work for a licensed architect. In 2016, I worked my way back into architecture and in 2020 I decided it was finally time to take the exams.

Like the title says, I was able to pass all 6 divisions on the first attempt. This was my strategy:

  1. I took an exam every 4-6 weeks and always on a Saturday so I didn’t need to worry about conflicts with work. I’m fairly certain I could have taken PPD & PDD closer together but I took those two last and my process had already been established so I didn’t feel like switching it up would be a good move.
  2. This was my order: PcM, PjM, CE, PA, PPD, PDD. This order worked very well for me and helped my confidence grow as I went into each exam.
  3. With the spacing of the exams, I was able to watch all the Black Spectacles videos as a good refresher (typically 1-2 hours every night). I would plan out the month so that the week prior to my exams I would have all the videos and flashcards completed and then I would start the practice exams: Sunday (Test 1), Monday (review), Tuesday (Test 2), Wednesday (review), Thursday (Test 3), Friday (review), Saturday (The Actual Exam). On the review days I would review the previous test and also watch YouTube videos from Black Spectacles and others relating the that Division.
  4. I fairly consistently finished every exam with around 30 minutes left so I would go back and answer all the flagged questions with the remaining time. I would always read every answer then try to quickly select the answer I was most confident in. If I was not confident, I would still answer it, but I would flag the question. On the first 4 exams I did not use any breaks. On the last 2 exams (PPD & PDD), I took a break before the Case Studies.

That process worked for me. Hopefully it will work for others!

Good luck!!!


I love the inside how you planned you month! Thank you!

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hey! and congratulations!!!


Hi @ianschnack and welcome to the ARE Community! Congratulations on passing and thank you for sharing your study strategy! This will be extremely helpful for other candidates.

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do you mind share some study material list for ppd/pdd.

It was mostly Black Spectacles content (that was definitely the heavy lifting). I also found these study notes that I enjoyed - I would usually read through the prior to taking the Black Spectacles Practice Exams:

I also did a search on YouTube for “ARE 5.0 PPD” (and PDD) then basically just watched everything that showed up.

Good luck!!!