Steps After A Failing ARE Exam

Failing an ARE exam

When we ask what aspiring architects fear the most one of the answers we get most often is: failing ARE exam.  So in this post we’re going to delve into some tips on what to do if you’ve failed an exam so that it doesn’t keep you from achieving your goal of becoming a licensed architect.

Social Pride

One of the biggest things that stop candidates from pursuing licensure after they fail is the perceived social aspect.  It’s common to think,

“I failed, this is a sign that I shouldn’t be an architect.”


“Everyone will look at me as a phoney because I didn’t pass on the first try.”

Both of those are completely bogus.  Some of the best architects failed ARE exams.  No one will be as disappointed as you are when you fail in the same way that no one will be as excited as you when you pass.  If it really worries you about what other people think, don’t let anyone know you’re taking the exam until you’ve received that pass. This is hard work, it takes a lot of self-discipline and drive, but the only way to truly fail is to give up.  At the end of the day this is a battle between you and the exams.  Don’t let some multiple choice questions stand in the way of achieving your goals.

Plan to Fail

failing ARE exam

It’s great to be confident going into an exam, but don’t let your guard down.  If you have extra time, use it to review your answers.

After A Failing ARE Exam

After failing an ARE exam it’s important to ask some questions to assess why you failed the exam and how you can better prepare for your next go.

  • What content categories did you fail and how should that shape your studying? For any levels you received below level 1, assess what resources would be best to improve in those categories.  We have a sortable and clickable list of all the ARE 5.0 study materials.
  • How do your AXP hours align with this exam and the content covered on it?  Working knowledge of topics covered on the exam can greatly help you retain information for testing day.  If you failed an exam take a look at your AXP hours and see if maybe you can gain some more time with on-the-job training before your next test.  Be careful with this one though, it’s a common pitfall for candidates to gain working knowledge that doesn’t exactly line up with the best practice or by-the-book methods.  It’s always helpful to study the information while you’re practicing it.
  • Assess your test taking strategy and methodology. When it comes to any exam, you’ll hear of “good” test takers and “bad” test takers.  Daniel Tosh has pretty funny skit about “bad” test takers.  We don’t necessarily agree with Tosh, but we think that bad test taking is a result of any number of the following factors: anxiety, poor test taking strategies, and/or poor study strategies.  If you get a failing are exam it’s a good idea to do an audit for your test taking strategy.  Check out our ARE test taking tips.
  • Assess your studying strategy and methodology. It’s possible that you spent all your time studying in a way that doesn’t resonate with how you learn.  Unfortunately most of us went through school being taught in a certain way, and when we start studying for the ARE exams we use those same ways, regardless of whether they are effective for us or not.  We’re probably most familiar with tactile, auditory, and visual learning, but there is new information that suggests that there are actually eight “intelligences”.  We also put together a post with some ARE study tips.
  • Schedule your retake.  You might want to move on to another exam after receiving a failing score which is completely fine, but set a timeline for when you plan to retake this test.
  • Shake things up. If you’ve taken an exam a few times and failed it’s probably a good idea to move onto another exam if you have any available.  The NCARB exams always have overlapping information so studying in another area might help reinforce what you’ve already learned

Lastly, remember that nothing worth having comes easy.  You’ve got this.
ARE fail

Have your own tips for those with a failing ARE exam?  Let us know in the comments below.


  1. allstarcarpetandtiles June 24, 2019 at 10:31 am #

    Great tips. I’m bookmarking this page. Its a great resource to keep. Thanks for sharing.

  2. hamzakhan17826 May 19, 2019 at 7:16 am #

    Ok sure, I will follow your steps before going to do exams. I hope your article will help me more.

  3. karlmistos May 14, 2019 at 10:41 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ll definitely share this with my classmates at de la salle zobel.

  4. classboat01 October 17, 2018 at 7:37 am #

    Hello there and thanks for your information, I have certainly picked up allot new info from right your post. You are also provided information about best tips for exam,Which is very helpful to me and other people also.

  5. mikemoreno September 5, 2018 at 3:48 am #

    thank you very much, verry helpfull…

  6. jogesh12345 August 14, 2018 at 1:55 am #

    Very effective and informative article.Thanks for sharing such an important tutorial.

  7. FLMIMA August 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm #

    Really helpful website

  8. Rumi July 15, 2018 at 7:16 am #

    I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it.

  9. RJennings April 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you for this website. The practice questions are helpful.

  10. Scott March 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    Taking this test on Saturday. Last 4.0 exam to complete for the trio, then on to 5.0. This site is my go-to place when organizing what materials I’ll be studying

  11. shozab January 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi , very good article.

    thanks for sharing, keep up the good work

  12. dyba January 27, 2018 at 1:08 am #

    Good advice. Best of luck to all!

  13. KendraShirley January 16, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

    This is my favorite site for practicing for my tests! Great advise and super helpful.

  14. reximagetrim January 16, 2018 at 10:37 am #

    Nice post to read. A complete guide that can help all of us.

  15. tylerstockholm December 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Nice one… very helpful! Thanks!!!

  16. Aartiwalvekar November 21, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    Nice post

  17. Aartiwalvekar October 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    Great post!

  18. Tony August 30, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    In the NCARB ARE 5.0 handbook they reference Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods in both of their example questions for cost estimating. Unfortunately there isn’t a specific chapter on cost estimating, it’s woven throughout the content.

  19. Spencer August 30, 2017 at 1:15 am #

    What is the best reference for cost estimating for PDD.

  20. Amy July 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks! Great advice

  21. Tony June 29, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    Deciduous trees should only be used for shade (especially in temperate climates). Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and will have little protection against wind in the winter when it is most needed. Likewise, the leafless trees allow solar heat gain in the winter when it is desired, and shade in the summer.

    Coniferous trees are only to be used to block wind and views. Since they don’t lose their needles, they work great for these two items year-round.

  22. Shahid Logan June 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Hello. My name is Shahid. This comment is for anyone who would like to reply. On the Siteplanning test. To block the wind, can you use a Deciduous tree or must you use a Coniferous tree?

  23. Mike January 4, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Tony,

    I need to take 5.0 PPD & PDD. Do you plan on posting notes such as “Caroline’s Notes” that you had posted for the various 4.0 exams for either of those sections? I found those notes to be some of the best resources in studying for the 4.0 sections. If so any idea when? Thanks

  24. Stephen October 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Tony,
    Any updates on the SS exam ? If there’s an expected release date ? Thanks

  25. DesignerHacks October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm #


    We are releasing practice exams for the SS exam later this fall.


  26. Paige October 4, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  27. Daniel September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    Great post, very helpful with the lists of suggested materials, I just passed CDs in July and am taking PPP in November so I definitely needed the list.

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