Go to school…get a job…complete the AXP…pass the ARE’s…get your license.
Easy enough, right? Wrong.
Life gets busy; we all have commitments, families, friends, obligations…the list goes on and on. It’s easy to blink and realize that 10 years has gone by since you graduated and you haven’t even started thinking about the ARE yet.
Without some motivation and a serious plan set in place, you will always continue to come up with excuses to push the whole process off. You may even convince yourself you are doing the right thing: “the more office experience I have, the easier it will be for me to pass the exams”.
The truth is, the sooner you test, the better.
Candidates that have recently graduated are more likely to still be in the “testing mode”.
When you have been out of school for many years it can be harder to get back into the schedule and groove of tedious studying; especially since it seems that the older we get, the more responsibilities we have to worry about.
There will probably never be an “ideal” time to start taking these exams.
Let’s be honest…who really enjoys studying and taking tests?
It is important to remember, though, the freedom and opportunities that having a license can give you and your career.
Currently, 50 out of the 54 jurisdictions allow candidates to begin testing before they even complete the AXP! This means there is a possibility that you could be done with the exams by the time you finish your required AXP hours.
Furthermore, the 2017 edition of NCARB By the Numbers Report shows that…
“Candidates who take the ARE within a two-year window before completing the AXP tend to have the highest success rates”. (source)
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that candidates that have been out of school for 5 or 10+ years have no hope!
In fact, the style of the new ARE 5.0 exams may be more relatable to older candidates that have been working longer, since many questions are more application-based.
However, that doesn’t mean you should purposely wait longer to test! Nor does it mean that an older candidate, with more work experience, won’t need to study for the exams. You could easily be asked questions that aren’t covered in what you do in your day to day practice.
The takeaway here is: whatever stage you are at currently in your practice is the perfect time to start. Beginning is the biggest step…but you won’t regret it.