May 2015, Past AIAS President Charlie Klecha (School of the Art Institute Chicago) accepted a challenge to take all 7 parts of the ARE in one week. His challenge, considered crazy to many, was an example for students to tackle the exam in a manner that would create a progressive method towards completing the process. Surprising to many, Charlie passed all 7 exams after setting aside 2 full months - 40 hours a week of studying.
After hearing Charlie's story, Ricardo Maga Rojas, 2013 Tuskegee architecture graduate, decided to give the 7-in-7 ARE challenge a shot. Ricardo is currently a Master's of Urban Planning student at Texas A&M with expected graduation date of May 2016. TACAA admires Ricardo for his efforts due to the simple fact that many emerging professionals are intimidated by the process for reasons such as level of difficulty, financials, time commitment, etc. Ricardo's determination can serve as encouragement for others to take a shot without the fear of failing, and TACAA wishes him the best of luck as he received his results and progresses in his career. Interview as follows:
Q: Why did you decide to accept the ARE 7-in-7 challenge?
A: I wanted to stop making excuses and putting things off like most of the professionals I have encountered. I don't want to make excuses for myself and I don't want to put the ARE off as it will not get any easier. I am determined to become licensed and ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
Q: In what order did you take your exams? and what month/year?
A: I scheduled the exams September - October 2015.
Sept. 30 - Structural Systems
Oct. 1 - Building Systems
Oct. 2 - Building Design and Construction Systems
Oct. 5 - Construction Documents and Services
Oct. 6 - Site Planning and Design
Oct. 7 - Programming, Planning, Practice
Oct. 8 - Schematic Design
Q: What study materials did you use to study for the exams? and what is your study strategy?
A: Some of the study material that I used consisted of: Architect Exam Prep, Ballast, Kaplan, NCARB Software, Jenny's Notes, ARE Help, and AIA ARE Black Spectacles YouTube videos. Initially, I tried studying a division per day (which did not work out), then I began spending 3 days at a time for each division (practice exams first, reviewing incorrect answers then back to the study guide). I also reviewed flash cards (AEP and Archiflash) everyday, listened to AEP audio whenever I was not in front of the study guide or driving around running errands. Study Materials: Architect Exam Prep Audio, Flashcards, and Vignettes; Ballast ARE Review Manual; Ballast Practice Exam, Kaplan Practice Exams, Why Buildings Stand Up, Jenny's Notes, FEMA 454, NCARB Exam Guides, MEEB, ME Notes, AHPP - Student Edition, FBC, BCI, AGS, Secretary of the Interior's Guide, AIA Contract Docs.
Q: What advice can you offer those with financial and personal burdens who wish to take/pass the ARE?
A: I would advise future candidates to not let financial or personal burdens deter you from taking and PASSING the ARE. The Architect Registration Exam (ARE) will not get any harder the longer you prolong it and you will only continue making excuses for why you cannot take the ARE. As for the personal burden, there are 24 hours in a day and you CAN MAKE TIME for it. My time was juggled between final weeks of a summer internship, moving back to school, finding last minute housing, last fall semester in grad school, selecting a topic for my professional paper, AIAS duties (delegated to exec board and other officers), and I still managed to MAKE THE TIME to study. It boils down to commitment and time management. Studying every day made me want to continue studying so that I can take the ARE.
Q: Did you have any applicable architecture experiences or internships that have contributed to your professional development and success thus far?
A: Summer Internship at PGAL (Houston) from May 18, 2015 to August 28, 2015. Architectural Intern at Patterson Architects in Bryan, TX as of Sept. 9, 2015.
Q: If you could send a message to emerging professionals in the field of architecture, what would it be?
A: My message to emerging professionals is that nothing worth having ever came easy. SMART WORK not hard work, coupled with the determination and a drive for success WILL LEAD you there. Don’t chase the money, align your mind (YOUR MOST POWERFUL ASSET) and goals, and you will go further than you have ever imagined. Secondly, be patient if you do not find employment right away as I had to jump through hurdles to get to where I am. Sometimes in life, you have to play the cards you were dealt as if it’s the hand you wanted. You should persevere even when the pace seems slow or when debts are high and want to smile but have to cry. Lastly, Frustration is one of those things that you experienced in architecture school and will most likely encounter in the profession, but think about the big picture and know that each action does not warrant your reaction to it.