April 10, 2014

An Essay of my Architectural Journey

Thinking about my journey through architecture, it has been filled with many bumps along the way. I remember after graduation, wondering if this was the right path for me, with the rolling clock in play, job market crash and heavy debt trailing.

It took me nearly three years after graduating with my Bachelors of Architecture to essentially step back into the lifestyle that I always knew I belonged. The biggest struggle that seems to fall into many people’s mind is “is it worth it? All this struggling, all the hard work, can I do something else with my life?”

Three years after contemplating these thoughts, I have completed more than half my ARE’s. I’ve learned that this isn’t a journey any person can tackle alone. Whether it’s the encouragement of those around you who say how proud they are, or peers who are as determined as you to see you and themselves succeed, it takes a lot of love and determination to press on.
There are several factors that continue to resonate in my mind from the day I decided I was ready to test until every exam I apply for.

First, these exams are incredibly difficult and expensive, it seems to be the biggest fear factor in everyone considering to apply. Just remember, nobody is ever 100% ready, there WILL be questions that you could not even guess the answer to.  Be confident in yourself, use the forums, read the guidebooks, ask questions. These are your best tools to prepare yourself.
Second, what order do I take the tests in? Well, that depends, you have to get a basic idea of what each section contains and gauge for yourself what you feel comfortable taking. For me, I chose one I thought would be simple to get a hang of the exam format.

Third, what if I fail? What if the failures don’t meet the rolling clock deadline? Simple answer that I’ve received, most people fail. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off.  This goes back to “what order do I test in?” I decided to start off easy, with Site Planning and Design, and continued with what I thought had significant overlap. I also chose to test what I considered most difficult, saving what I was comfortable with toward the end to justify the 6 month wait between retesting periods.

Finally, School meant nothing. That’s right, I could have bought the books and studied for this test and felt as prepared or unprepared as I do now. School teaches us how to be designers, to be creative. These tests in my opinion test you on how to test. Sure there is some basic knowledge and experienced based questions, but I find most people struggle on the way these darn tests are worded. NCARB tends to screw with you. Many people have had complaints about their procedures, the difficulties in speaking to a live person about what they screwed up on and what other way they’ve chosen to screw us interns over with. I have my personal gripes with NCARB, constantly changing their rules and costing thousands of dollars throughout this internship experience in one form or another.  As many people have said, their testing standards today do not gauge a persons’ ability to successfully practice architecture, and yet, they are the national standard for what we are to prepare for. I believe many things I have learned in preparation for the exams are invaluable to life as an architect. However, their merit for the exam can be laughable.

In the end, I cannot tell you how you should study, or even if it is a path you would want to partake. This decision is yours. I chose to take an exam once per month which many would advise against, however, I have been able to study at a pace of 30 hours per week. I felt the information was fresh in my mind each time I stepped into the exam room. With SPD, CDs, PPP and Structures out of the way, I see the light at the end of my tunnel. These exams aren’t the most difficult thing you will encounter in your future practice of architecture, they are a hurdle that inducts us into a society. For me, after walking away from this profession, I discovered that it was what I want in life, a discovery that reinvigorated my desire to complete the ARE. All I can really say to you is: "Good Luck on your journey. Keep fighting."

Ron Kunateerachadalai

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff Ron! Keep rolling with the punches!


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