PA Pass ARE 5.0 – Study Materials and Methods

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.


I took and passed PA in November last year on the first try. I think some of the major factors for my success were the YouTube playlist I created, my study group, and maintaining the consistency with my study process. The scope of the PA exam is so large, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

With this exam, despite meeting my study goal, I still felt very unsure of whether or not I was going to pass when I walked into Prometric. There were definitely some references that I felt like I could have spent more time with, such as Problem Seeking and the Standards for Historic Properties. But ultimately it’s the result that counts. Read on below to see what materials I used for this test.

Books

Site Planning & Design Handbook – This book was heavily recommended in the ARE 5.0 Community, I definitely recommend it for this exam. I think my strategy for this book was to focus on the chapters with relevant content to this exam. Focus on the following topics with this book:

  • Controlling Wind, Water and Sun onsite
  • Use of Shading
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Floodplains
  • Brownfields and Remediation, Radon, Lead and Asbestos
  • Unstable soil

Price:

$60.09 to rent hardcover per three month semester, subscription with extension option

$72.49 to buy hardcover new, one-time purchase

$67.82 Kindle digital version, one time purchase

Sun, Wind, and Light: Architectural Design Strategies – I actually love this book, however, I think the format is terrible for this exam. The book is designed to assist you in figuring out sustainable strategies for a project you are planning. Some of the content in this book was kind of obvious for me, since I am both a LEED Green Associate and a Green Star Accredited Professional, but if you are not very familiar with sustainable strategies, this book will be great for you.

It is really more of a workbook than a textbook, even though it is full of very useful information. I focused on reading Chapters I, II and VI. You may want to skip over the chapters explaining how this manual works, but I highly recommend that you read those chapters in their entirety to even begin to understand how to use this book.

Price:

$16 to rent spiral-bound per three month semester, subscription with extension option

$84.38 to buy spiral-bound, one time purchase

Building Codes Illustrated Textbook – This book is a great reference for visual learners, since it explains many aspects of the code in diagrams. I actually purchased the 2015 version just before the switch to 2018 IBC, since I figured it wouldn’t have that much effect on this exam. I still made sure to read the actual 2018 version of the code separately.

One great thing about this book is that the chapters are organized by the corresponding code sections, chapter 3 in this book is the Use and Occupancy section, just like in the IBC. I feel like that made it easier to keep track of where I would find the relevant information in the actual code.

Price:

Fifth Edition Kindle – $39.99

Sixth Edition Paperback – $38, one time purchase

Sixth Edition Paperback Rental per 3 month Semester – $19, with option to extend

Sixth Edition Kindle- $54, one-time purchase

Hyperfine PA Course – My main technique for using this course for PA was to print it out and do the assignment by hand because it’s easier for me to go back and forth. This resource comes as digital files, but trying to do it as a digital assignment wasn’t working well for me. I consider these to be a kind of textbook because how much resource reading I have to do for each assignment.

The assignments themselves are very detailed and come with multiple resources per topic, between 2 or 3. For PA, the way I used Hyperfine was to first read the resources for each assignment, then try to complete the assignment itself. I find this to be the best way to use it for subjects you’re not very familiar with.

Price: $40, one-time purchase

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) – I would mainly focus on the Preface and Chapter 1 for this book, as this is not a large focus of this exam’s objectives. It is important to understand the principles of CPTED and how they would be applied.

Price: Free

Problem Seeking: An Architectural Programming Primer – A very interesting book that breaks down all of the different concepts within programming. I would recommend that you read it once and try to understand the concept definitions. You will also need to understand the process of creating the architectural problem, which may be familiar for those of you who went through creating your architecture thesis.

Price: Paperback: $65.16, Kindle: $54.00

Ballast Review Manual – I read the PA sections of this textbook.

Codes & Standards

Since this exam doesn’t deal with any contracts, I’ll use this section to talk about codes and standards instead. Most of these codes come directly from NCARB’s Reference Matrix.

ADA referenced in the NCARB Reference Matrix

International Building Code 2018

I studied the building code in two main ways; the Building Codes Illustrated textbook, and by using the actual building codes online, through Upcodes, which includes the individual state adoptions of the IBC, or through the ICC website. I tried to read the critical chapters/code sections of both, which were chapters 3,4,5,6, and 10.

I would definitely recommend that you use this resource through a digital website instead of buying the hard copy. It’s much faster to search through in digital format, and I would say that it prepares you better to use the code in a digital format like you might encounter in the exam. If you realllly want to use a hard copy, you can get it here. Make sure you’ve memorized the most common IBC sections so that you can recall them easily in the exam.

Building Codes Illustrated, as mentioned above, takes a lot of the codes concepts and simplifies and diagrams them, however, I would still recommend that you read through the entire relevant code sections, before you use the summarized version. Also keep in mind that for this exam, NCARB has moved on to the 2018 version of the IBC, so make sure your study materials reflect that.

Price:

Code Access: Free for the websites, but it is also possible to buy a hard copy of the code, but I certainly would not recommend it.

Building Codes Illustrated: A Guide to Understanding the 2018 International Building Code, see above for prices

2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design

I would say this is one of these resources that you should use as a primary resource. Many different ARE prep materials reference the diagrams and definitions from this standard, but the definitions can be simplified to the point where it’s difficult to determine the difference between similar conditions.

So I would highly recommend that you read through this code from UpCodes in its entirety before you move on to reading about it from somewhere else. It will really help you understand where each standard is actually used.

One of my favorite resources for studying the ADA was with the videos from Archicorner and from the U.S. Access Board, which you can find in my ARE 5.0 PA YouTube Playlist.

Price: Free

Protruding Objects video from the U.S. Access Board as part of my ARE 5.0 PA Playlist.

Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties

This document is very straightforward document, that I wouldn’t say that you need to do a deep and detailed reading on. Just make sure you understand the definitions for each of the treatment methods (I have a Quizlet deck for this below).

When I was reading this book, I went through the:

  • Introduction, page 2
  • Historical Overview, page 4
  • Introduction Sections for Each of the Standards (Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Reconstruction)

You can read the sections on building materials, features and systems, etc. but I did not focus on those for this exam.

Price: Free

Digital Resources

Quizlet – I am very big on using my time efficiently for this exam, which is why I don’t spend a lot of time making physical flashcards. Many topics within PA are pretty self-explanatory when it comes to their definitions, so my focus was on the more standards, codes, and soil information, that cna’t be easily guessed at, or which can be easily confused for a similar word or definition.

  1. ADA Deck by glhightower- This was helpful in terms of memorizing the required clearances and ADA standards.
  2. Building Efficiency Deck by Yu-Chen Zhang- It is important to study how different spaces are calculated in terms of net assignable areas and gross area.
  3. Historic Preservation Standards Deck by Chase Jackson- Many of the terms within the Secretary of the Interiors Standards can sound very similar, so it is important to know the definitions in detail.
  4. Soils Deck by MADSHOTDOT- Concepts related to soil, including sizes, performance and types

Price for all decks: Free

NCARB Forum/ARE 5 Community I use this resource a lot to figure out what resources I will actually use. I will always compare the NCARB Reference Matrix to what the Community says has actually worked for them in the past. Unfortunately, NCARB recently purged their older posts, meaning years of exam passes and knowledge is now lost to us, however, of the posts that remain, here is what I would recommend you look at:

PA Pass! Tips and Study Materials by Pedro Espinet

PA Pass Tips! by Ashley Biren

“Likely pass” PA by Audrey Bertrand

Price for NCARB Forum: Free

ARE 5.0 PA YouTube Videos – This was another essential resource for me to understand so many aspects of this exam. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • water management, water tables and flooding
  • climates and sun orientation
  • floor area ratios
  • egress, ADA, and IBC
  • soils and site surveys
  • bioremediation and historic preservation
  • R-value, U-Value and Reflectance
  • Zoning and property considerations

I created an entire playlist just for the PA exam that you can access from this article or my YouTube channel. Make sure to subscribe to my channel for more of my latest video content.

Price: Free

Practice Exams

Designer Hacks PA Exam – I asked my office to purchase the full Designer Hacks practice questions for all 6 exams, since they were the same price as one physical textbook. Designer Hacks is super portable, with its mobile version, along with multiple levels from pop quizzes to full length timed exams. You can find my one-minute review for this resource here.

I like that I can break it into smaller portions. These questions are pretty easy so if you can’t take these questions then more complicated questions will not be possible, so these are always a good starting point.

I really like using these questions when I have an extra bit of time like if I’m waiting in line or if I just have time to kill and I can whip it out on my phone and start doing practice questions. They are also a good way to make sure I practice answering questions quickly.

Price: This item was free for me as described above, but for this course alone it is $39.

WEARE Website – I’ve found that this exam is slightly more difficult than the Designer Hacks, and allows me to cross-train with different questions. They are available in digital form, making them highly portable.

One of my favorite parts of this resource is that they can be done as smaller portions, including short quizzes, and tests that can be separated into specific exam divisions. They also provide free versions of these questions, so you can see whether you are interested before you purchase. You can also check back on your previous takes of this exam, and see your progress over time.

Price: $34 per division, one-time purchase

Walking the ARE 5.0 PA Practice Exam – This exam totally kicked my butt, but it was completely worth it. I took it in the middle of my studying, not at the end because otherwise I would have cancelled my exam. My study group and I all bought this practice exam, and took it independently to see what concepts we struggled with individually and as a group.

It really helped me with understanding where the gaps were in my studying, which is another reason that I recommend that you take it in the middle, so you have the opportunity to go back and read each of the concepts you didn’t understand. It really tackles concepts like zoning, site selection, and climate that I feel is on par with the level of question difficulty you would see on a real exam.

Price: $42, one-time purchase

Ballast Practice Exam – I went through this practice exam for PA at least once.

Time Tracking Software

Clockify Website – This website is how I know that I reached my hourly study goal for this exam, 99.62 hours out of 100. I use it to track my hours spent studying every day, and then can show you your total progress for your exam, and your progress for the week. You can use my study material tracker to list your hourly study goals for each resource as well.

I really like that I can start the timer as soon as I sit down to study, and it takes care of the rest in terms of organizing my time spent and putting it in easy to read charts that help me stay accountable. It is also completely free!

Price: Free


Other Resources

  • I did a very quick overview of this exam with Pluralsight Prepare for the ARE Vol. 3 Programming & Analysis, kind of like a speed round to get acquainted with the material. This method was recommended by Marina Curac, in a blog post I used extensively to help come up with my resource organization for this exam.
  • I was studying for this exam intially about once a week with my study group, and as we got closer to the exam, we moved it up to twice a week. Each study group session we have is about 2 hours.
  • I also spent some time looking at soil boring reports, and trying to find examples of the soil classification USPLSS to study from.

Resources I Did Not Use

Black Spectacles – Their Youtube videos were helpful, but I have not purcahsed their paid offerings. It was very expensive for me, and getting to use their Demo Exam wasn’t worth it for me.

AEP – expensive, and not enough positive reviews to purchase

Amberbooks – I didn’t get Amberbooks for this exam, as I created my own Youtube playlist, and used other Practice Exams. There are some useful Amber Book videos on Youtube though.

Young Architect Bootcamp – If I am thinking of possibly investing in this if I struggle to pass my final exam. I’m still trying to remain mostly self-guided for as long as I can.

In Conclusion

The exam was very nerve wracking for me. I was sure I was going to fail when I walked in, and I believed I was going to fail up until it said that I had passed.

I think this was one of those instances where hard work pays off, with being really hyper-focused on this exam, reducing my distractions and social functions and other obligations really making a difference in keeping me on task.

I’m hoping to share my PPD exam pass with you all soon. Let me know if you have any additional questions and happy studying!


CE Studio – A New Online Course for the ARE 5.0 Construction & Evaluation Exam

CE was an exam that I had initially failed, and as I mentioned in my original CE pass announcement, there were many aspects of the exam that I felt were not clearly communicated in the exam objectives and study materials. This led me to reevaluate my study strategy and focus, to make sure that the material I was studying actually going to help me pass.

To help you with this, I’m happy to introduce CE Studio. It is an on-demand online course, that will give you the essential concepts for studying for the ARE 5.0 CE Exam, giving you a structured study plan and helping you reach your study goals. This course will be starting on the 28th of February, 2021. This is a online course with videos and practice questions, not another PDF that will just sit in your Documents folder. CE Studio is designed for your to interact with it in multiple ways, and allow you to get started with it immediately.

This course is designed to help get you through these CE concepts:

  • Drawings in Detail
  • Project Management Made Easy
  • Estimation Essentials
  • Conquering Contracts
  • Tried and True Study Method
  • Schedules Simplified
  • Building Element Breakdown
  • Closeout Comprehension
  • and Take That Test!

CE Studio members will also receive assigned readings and material recommendations for each module, which will prepare you in advance of each lesson, so you can be familiar with the material and be able to ask deeper questions. Since the course is offered as on-demand, videos are accessible at anytime.

We will also be working out some of the practice questions using the NCARB Digital Whiteboard, to make test takers familiar with the software before they go into Prometric.

This course also comes with a 100% moneyback guarantee, no questions asked, and no matter how you’ve been taking the course, if you think it wasn’t valuable for you.

The best part is that all of this is available for an early-bird rate of only $94.50. This includes all video lessons, practice questions, bonus materials and reading assignments for 10% off. When you join the course, you have access to the course materials and videos for an unlimited amount of time, no need to email back and renew.

Early-bird pricing for this course is only available until February 28th, when the course content all goes live, so don’t delay signing up. After the early-bird pricing is over, the course cost goes back up to $105. I look forward to seeing you on the first day of the course, February 28th, 2021!

Ways To Reset Your Study Process After the Holidays

Trying to get your motivation back after the holiday season? Use these tips to get back on the wagon.

Happy New Years Everyone! I don’t know about you, but I may have been a bit ambitious in my productivity expectations for the month of December. I didn’t have family visiting, and I hadn’t made extensive social plans, but I still ended up studying way less than I had originally planned. It’s really easy to get bogged down with feelings of guilt and ineffectiveness at times like this, but I decided to reset my thinking instead and shift my focus. You can take advantage of these tips as well, and let me know in the comments if any of these tips work for you.

Book an Exam

I have found that I work best under a deadline. As I’ve shared in my past videos, my entire study process changed when I bought my first exam seat in 2020. My energy, focus and priorities changed. Even though I am taking PPD in a few weeks, I decided to go ahead and buy a seat for PDD a month afterwards. This will allow me to keep up the momentum, whether I pass PPD or not, and stop me from losing focus if I do fail.

Connect With Your Study Buddies

I have both an accountability and study group for my upcoming exams, both of which I meet with once a week. In my first session with my accountability partner, she reminded me that everyone tends to fall off during the holiday season, and that it’s normal to fall behind during these times. It was great to hear that, since I tend to hold myself to very high expectations.

Connecting with other people going through the same thing as you will give a fresh perspective and understanding that we’re all going through the same struggles. It will also help you figure out how to move forward in spite of your setbacks, with a second set of eyes that can sometimes see a solution that you can’t.

Reorganize Your Calendar

One of my favorite concepts/thought exercises is this:

  1. Write down your top 3 priorities in life
  2. Open Up Your Calendar
  3. Check Where Your Priorities Show Up in Your Calendar

I love doing this exercise, because it really forces me to put my money where my mouth is in terms of organizing my time around the things I say are important to me. Long story short, if you say passing your exams is a priority for you this year, then your study time, exam dates, and study group meetups need to all be blocked off (marked as “Busy”) on your calendar.

For me, this helps avoid double booking myself, promising someone I will attend an event or a meeting when I’m supposed to be studying. This also helps me keep a regular routine, and build a consistent study habit. I did not have my study times marked out this December, which I hold partially responsible for my loss of focus.


Did you experience the same problems that I did this holiday season? If you did, let me know in the comments, and how you plan to overcome them. If you’re interested in receiving more updates and content from me, make sure to sign up for my mailing list.

Study With Us: Live Study Session

A live ARE 5.0 virtual study session on Instagram, in collaboration with @arch_exam_study

Collaboration time! If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may have seen my recent #studywithme video (see below), which I got inspiration for from following @arch_exam_study.

With over a hundred views on the first day, we thought it would be a good idea to collaborate on a study session together. So we will be hosting an Instagram Live Study Session on September 1st, 2020. If you want to participate in our session, you can join by following me on Instagram at @rmsmstudio. I’ve also created a Facebook event for this live session, if you want to keep it in your Facebook calendar.

Study With Us! Instagram Live ARE 5.0 Study Session

Date: Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Time: 8:30pm EST – 9:30pm EST

Location: RMSM Studio Instagram

Prerequisites: None! Just bring yourself and your current study materials and join in the session! Make sure to check out my study guides for PcM and PjM for material recommendations.

The format will be a quick intro, then silent study for an hour using the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes study, 5 minutes break). You can even follow along with your own Pomodoro timer if you want. I can answer any comments or questions during the 5-minute break. I will be studying for the CE exam, but you can feel free to join in and study for your current exam.

For an example of one of the previous #studywithme sessions, you can check out my 2-hour Late Night Pomodoro Study Session here.

If you have additional questions, feel free to message me on the Facebook event page, on my Instagram at @rmsmstudio, or send me an email at rmsmstudio@gmail.com.

Mini Quiz: CM Project Delivery Methods

Mini Quiz from RMSM Studio on Construction Manager Project Delivery Methods

I haven’t had any experience in the past with working with Construction Managers, so I feel like I really had to go the extra mile to understand all the differences and roles & responsibilities in the different CM project delivery methods. I’ve created some very handy charts to help explain the differences between CMa and CMc, I may release it later when I’m less overwhelmed.

I’m also trying to get back into the habit of regular note taking instead of being so focused on watching the explanatory videos. I was really inspired by this video I watched today by Jorge Herrera on quick study tips. I’ll probably be buying an assortment of notebooks and binders for my path forward, and take advantage of some of these back to school sales.

Question 01

Joanne Bowman is the manager of a government branch looking to expand in the near future. She is looking for a high-quality design, with low risk. Which project delivery methods would you, as her architect, recommend to her? (Select two)

  • Design-Bid-Build
  • Construction Manager as Advisor
  • Construction Manager as Constructor
  • Integrated Project Delivery

Question 02

While on the construction site, the Project Architect Maryam Lanoir notices a defect in the work. Since this project is a Construction Manager as Advisor project delivery method, what should be her next steps?

  • Instruct the superintendent to correct the deficiency, as per the contract drawings
  • Notify the Owner
  • Notify the Contractor
  • Notify the Construction manager
  • All of the above

Question 03

Jessica Trevi is an architect providing construction administration services on a Construction Manager as Advisor project. What is not a joint service that she provides?

  • Certifying applications for payment
  • Preparing change orders
  • Reviewing RFIs
  • Rejecting work

Question 01

CORRECT ANSWERS

  • Construction Manager as Constructor
  • Integrated Project Delivery

Both CMc and IPD are preferred in projects with high building quality standards, and where owners want to reduce their risk.

inCORRECT ANSWERS

Construction Manager as Adviser is a preferred choice for reducing project risk, but it is not always used for high building quality. Design-bid-build, is known for being low cost, which also can create low quality, as well as being high risk.

For reference, read Ballast Chapter 3.

Question 02

While on the construction site, the Project Architect Maryam Lanoir notices a defect in the work. Since this project is a Construction Manager as Advisor project delivery method, what should be her next steps?

  • Notify the Owner
  • Notify the Contractor
  • Notify the Construction Manager

With CMa projects, it is the architect’s responsibility to notify the Owner and the Construction Manager of any observed defects and deficiencies. See A232 – Article 4.2.2

The architect is not able to issue instructions to the superintendent. According to A232 – Article 3.9.1, it is only communications, not instructions that can be given to the superintendent.

Question 03

Jessica Trevi is an architect providing construction administration services on a Construction Manager as Advisor project. What is not a joint service that she provides?

Preparing change orders

CORRECT ANSWER

Preparing change orders or construction change directives is not a joint service provided the architect in construction administration.

Certifying applications for payment, RFI review and rejecting work is something that is done by both the CM and architect in a CMa project delivery.


I hope you like this mini quiz. Let me know how you did in the comments, or on the RMSM Studio Facebook page.

All of my recent practice questions are now available in one place, on the Practice Questions page in the top menu.

If you want to find other great practice tests, you can also have a look at my One Minute Reviews, where I give my feedback on ARE study materials in under a minute.

Mini Quiz: Risk Management

Mini Quiz from RMSM Studio on the Management of Risk For Architects

Risk Management is one of the key concepts in all stages of design. This is because whenever you are creating a building, you must always assume some risk. This is an essential concept for both Practice Management and Project Management. In the Wiley AHPP Guide for the Project Management (PjM) Exam, under the Risk Management chapter, they just say “All”. It’s that important. I hope you enjoy this mini quiz and as always, let me know how you did in the comments.

Question 01

Which types of firms will some underwriters have hesitation insuring?

  • Those with low deductibles
  • Those that don’t provide construction administration services
  • Those with a high number of inexperienced employees
  • Those using the AIA contract document suite

Question 02

Jay York, Esq. is an attorney who has been hired by Jasmine Board Architects. They have been hired to review their proposed insurance policies. Which of the following policy’s should Jay mark for further review with Jasmine Board Architects?

  • Indemnification for those not party to the Agreement
  • Client indemnity to architect for misuse of the architect’s drawings
  • Defending the Owner against third-party claims
  • Mutual indemnities between architects and consultants
  • All of the above

Question 03

Select all problematic words from the advertisement below created by Diedre Lock Associates:


Question 01

Those that don’t provide construction administration services

There is a high number of claims that arise when an architect only provides pre-construction services, as they are not there to defend themselves or their drawings.

Incorrect Answers

  • Those with low deductibles – Deductibles with another insurer would not affect another company’s coverage.
  • Those with a high number of inexperienced employees – As long as there are staff available that are qualified to complete the projects on hand, the number of inexperienced employees is irrelevant.
  • Those using the AIA contract document suite – Using a the standard AIA contract documents means that an insurer specializing in construction would be more likely to insure you, due to the industry’s familiarity with them.

Question 02

Policies that should be reviewed, due to being unmanageable risks, are:

  • Indemnification for those not party to the Agreement
  • Client indemnity to architect for misuse of the architect’s drawings
  • Defending the Owner against third-party claims

Incorrect Answers

Mutual indemnities between architects and consultants is actually a beneficial policy for an architect’s agreement. Study B101 8.4 for a good model of policies.

Question 03

The problematic words in this advertisement were:

  • Ensure
  • Best
  • 100% Completion
  • All
  • Assured
  • Thorough
  • Best
  • Guaranteed

I hope you like this mini quiz. Let me know how you did in the comments, or on the RMSM Studio Facebook page.

If you’re studying for Practice Management, feel free to check out my other Mini Quiz on the AIA A201 Document and my post on passing the PcM Exam. I have also created a one-page study guide based on the methods I used to pass PcM on the first try.

If you’re studying for Construction & Evaluation or Project Management, check out my Mini Quiz on the AIA C401 Contract.

All of my recent practice questions are also available for you to scroll through below, or on the specific page I’ve created for them at the top of the website:

If you want to find other great practice tests, you can also have a look at my One Minute Reviews, where I give my feedback on ARE study materials in under a minute.

Event Wish List Roundup: August 2020

The events I would be going to if I wasn’t busy studying for the ARE 5.0.

If you don’t want to read the whole post and skip to the events, go here.

I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey, and one of his favorite quotes is,

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

Dave Ramsey

He has his own explanation for what that means, but for myself, it means that to achieve results that no one else is seeing, you have to do what no one else is doing.

Michael Riscica of Young Architect mentioned in his “How to Pass the ARE 5.0” presentation in Washington, D.C. (which he is hosting again virtually, you should check it out) that passing these exams requires sacrifices. One of the biggest challenges for me in terms of making time to study is social engagements and architecture events.

For social engagements, I feel like it’s definitely normal to want to spend time with your family and friends, even virtually, especially in these lonely times with COVID. I also use my time with friends to unwind and vent about my week and be less in my own mind. But I’ve found that even when I go, at the end of the day, I’m wracked with guilt when I think about all the time that I’ve lost from studying for what is supposed to be my main focus.

In terms of architecture events, I have a variety of reasons for why they’ve taken up a huge part of my free time:

  • Networking and connecting with like-minded professional
  • Being able to support other architects in their journey
  • Getting additional experience hours to complete my AXP
  • Learning new skills that will make me more competitive in the marketplace
  • A lot of events are being hosted virtually now, giving me greater access to events, such as building tours and local forums, that I never would have been able to attend in person, pre-COVID
  • I want to remain connected in the industry when so many people are becoming disengaged due to distance and canceled events
  • I want to be supportive of social and racial justice events within the industry
  • I want to learn more about the history of architecture and preservation from regional experts who I would not have had the chance to see in person
  • Since events are virtual, I can easily attend during lunch hours without having to worry about the commute time back and forth

Whew, that list was longer than I thought it would be. Clearly I have a lot of solid reasons. However, as good as many of these reasons are, it still misses the point. Not matter how many events I attend, or forums I’m on, or tours I go to, none of these will make me a fully-fledged, licensed, registered, legal architect. But passing the ARE 5.0 definitely will. Even if I took a 100 construction tours for AXP CE experience, NCARB only accepts 20 hours obtained that way, so the impact would be very limited.

So let’s talk about strategy. My new aim is to not attend any more architecture industry events (unless I’m presenting) until I pass my AREs. My main challenge with this is that my social media feeds are curated to specifically send me information about news and interesting events on a regular basis. So what can I do with this information?

I turn it into an event roundup that the readers of my blog can use, obviously!

So I’ll be trying to create lists of architecture, design, historic preservation, racial justice and equity events I wish I could be attending, but I can’t because I’m studying for my ARE’s. They’re not in chronological order, just listed as I find them. I’ll be updating these lists throughout the month, so make sure to check back for any updates.

Event Wish List Roundup: August 2020

Architecture in Turbulent Times: Equity, Environment, Health, & Economy

Date: August 12, 2020

Time: 12:00 pm -5:00 pm EST

Price: $49

The last few months have catapulted the world into uncharted territory. The simultaneous crises of climate change, COVID-19, a looming economic depression, and systemic racial injustice have exposed structural failings that architecture, and society, must address. It’s a perfect storm that has created an unprecedented call for change. Where do we go from here?

This one-day virtual learning event is centered around change. It’s designed to help you confront these challenges and change your practice and the architecture profession for the better. Twenty sessions dive into the important, intersecting issues of equity, the economy, the environment, and public health. You’ll learn from a diverse range of experts in architecture and beyond—architects, climate champions, civic leaders, leading academics, and more. Don’t miss this event, packed with the brave ideas and honest dialogue that architecture needs now.

Your $49 ticket includes all day-of live programming, access to on-demand sessions for 60 days, and access to recordings of the live sessions for 60 days.

Earns up to 14.5 AIA LUs / RIBA and 6.25 AIA LUs / HSW.

You can find a link to the schedule here, and the link to register is here.

*There is also a scholarship for this event, available to NOMA members. Visit this link for further details.

THE MEMORIAL TO THE ENSLAVED LABORERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

Date: August 12, 2020

Time: 4:00pm EST

Price: Free

The design of a new Memorial to Enslaved Laborers (MEL) on the grounds of the University of Virginia marks a critical moment to address the complex history of the University – and of the country. It directly responds to a deep need to address an untold and uncomfortable history – one that is still very much a difficult, though necessary, national conversation on race. The goal of the Memorial is to create a physical place of remembrance and a symbolic acknowledgement of a difficult past and offers a place of learning and a place of healing.

The Memorial was designed as part of a collaboration between Howeler + Yoon Architects, Studio&, Gregg Bleam Landscape Architect, Eto Otitigbe, and had thoughtful input from many more. During this program, Alice Raucher and Mary Hughes (UVA Office of the Architect), Mabel Wilson (Studio&), and J. Meejin Yoon (Höweler + Yoon Architects) will discuss the unique process that made this project possible.

The session will describe the momentum of the project, beginning with student-led initiatives as early as 2010, the ideas competition, final design resolution, and the guiding work of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University (PCSU). Participants will also learn of the robust community engagement process, including descendants of the enslaved and how the shared vision informed each element of the Memorial’s design.

Earn 1 AIA LU | HSW

You can register for the Zoom webinar here.

PROFS & PINTS ONLINE: THE WICKEDNESS OF THE THREE-FIFTHS CLAUSE

Date: August 4, 2020

Time: 7:00pm to 9:00pm EST

Price: $12

Profs and Pints Online presents: “The Wickedness of the Three-Fifths Clause,” a deep dive into the troubling hidden history of the 1787 federal Constitution, with Rick Bell, professor of history at the University of Maryland.

The original United States Constitution looked both ways. Its preamble announces its purpose to secure “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” an important acknowledgement that liberty is the goal and right of all citizens. Yet, most constitutional scholars regard the 1787 Constitution as being vigorously pro-slavery, something that becomes apparent when we take a long hard look at its infamous Three-Fifths Clause.

Be on hand as Rick Bell, a history professor who has given thrilling Profs and Pints talks on the Hamilton musical and on Benjamin Franklin, returns to the virtual stage to explore how the Three-Fifths Clause came into being. He’ll look at how the Constitutional delegates did their work, reconstruct all of the contemporary opposition that their work generated, and consider the legacy of clauses like Three-Fifths in our post-slavery world.

Far more insidious than is commonly understood, the Three-Fifths Clause wove slaveholder power into the fabric of each of all three branches of government—executive, legislative, and judicial—shaping every aspect of federal policy regarding slavery for decades to come. And it turns out that Three-Fifths clause was just one of almost a dozen clauses in the original Constitution that affected the relationships of the government of the United States to slavery and the slave trade. Through the chemistry of those other clauses, the many delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention who were slaveholders themselves, or who were slavery-dependent or slavery-adjacent, worked to prop up and protect that institution.

“Considering all circumstances,” one slave-owning delegate later boasted, “we have made the best terms for the security of this species of property it was in our power to make.”

The Bill of Rights, a list of ten amendments added to the Constitution in 1791, recognized freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, and of petition. Those freedoms would come to serve as major channels for antislavery action and expression in the decades before the Civil War, helping give rise to the forces that eventually would bring an end to slavery and the Three-Fifths Clause. Yet the damage done by that clause haunts us today. (Ticket: $12. A recorded version of this talk will remain available online at the link given here.)

This talk will be held online via Crowdcast. You can purchase your tickets here.

FAIRFAX COUNTY NAACP: TOWNHALL ON SYSTEMIC RACISM WITH DR. SCOTT BRABAND

Date: August 5, 2020

Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm EST

Price: Free

Join us for our rescheduled townhall on systemic racism with Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand. We’re excited to have Dr. Brabrand engage in this crucial discussion on systemic racism and equity issues within our public schools.

From academic achievement, enrollment at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, to the School Resource Officer program and the school-to-prison pipeline, systemic racism effects our children’s lives every day. This will be a civil discourse where we can openly talk about our and our kids’ experiences, ask questions, and talk about what change looks like.

Please RSVP at: fairfaxnaacp.org/upcoming-events or watch on FB Live: facebook.com/fairfaxnaacp/live

AIA NY: VOICES OF EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION: CHAMPIONING CHANGE

Date: August 20, 2020

Time: 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Price:

AIANY Member: Free
AIA Long Island Member: Free
AIA Member (not AIANY or AIA LI): $5
Student with Valid .edu Email Address: Free
General Public: $10

In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, and in support of the ongoing effort to improve our profession to achieve Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in our workplace and our industry, WIA is hosting a panel with four extraordinary women who are leading and championing change through their various meaningful and impactful organizations.

Please join the AIA New York and the AIA Long Island Women in Architecture Committees in this important panel discussion with three prominent voices of EDI: Bolanle Williams-Olley, Danei Cesario AIA, RIBA, NCARB, NOMA, and Pascale Sablan AIA, NOMA, LEED AP. They will share their initiatives in promoting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and offer suggestions, ideas, and actions on how each one of us can contribute to building an equitable profession. Julia Gamolina will be moderating the discussion, and will also highlight her work and dedication in making women in our industry more visible through her online platform Madame Architect.

Register here: https://calendar.aiany.org/2020/07/22/voices-of-equity-diversity-and-inclusion-championing-change/

Panelists:
Bolanle Williams-Olley, Chief Financial Officer, Mancini Duffy; Founder, SheBuildsWaves, SheBuildLives & REACH Nigeria
Danei Cesario AIA, RIBA, NCARB, NOMA, Project Manager, SOM; Founder, WALLEN + daub
Pascale Sablan AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Senior Associate, S9ARCHITECTURE

Moderator:
Julia Gamolina, Associate AIA, Director of Strategy, Trahan Architects; Founder & Editorial Director, Madame Architect

1,5 LU Credits.

TEXAS FREEDOM COLONIES PROJECT COFFEE TALK: HONORING OUR ANCESTORS – BURIAL GROUNDS, CEMETERIES AND FINAL RESTING PLACES

Date: August 21, 2020

Time: 11:00am EST

Price: Free

For this month’s Coffee Talk, our guests will be discussing the status of African American burial grounds, cemeteries and final resting places of our ancestors. Preservation work is often fueled by the veneration of our ancestors work.

Guests will include:
Dr. Antoinette Harrell
Genealogist/Local Historian/Peonage Researcher

Dr. Tara Dudley
Architectural Historian & Lecturer (University of Texas – Austin)

Diana Hernandez
University of Texas Master’s Candidate

Jennifer Blanks, MS
TAMU Doctoral Student & Founder of The Cemetery Sista.

Real Life. Real Issues. Real People.

You can participate in this talk via Live Video by The Texas Freedom Colonies Project.

STRONG TOWNS: INNOVATIONS IN NATURALLY AFFORDABLE HOUSING VIRTUAL SUMMIT

Date: August 11 – 12, 2020

Time: 8:00am – 11:00PM

Price: Free

Strong Towns president Chuck Marohn will deliver his lecture Breaking out of the Housing Trap at the Innovations in Naturally Affordable Housing, Virtual Summit.

Talk of a “housing crisis” pervades American cities—whether off-the-charts rents in coastal cities or hyper-vacancy in the Rust Belt. These problems are symptoms of a deeper dysfunction. Over nearly a century, through often well-intended top-down policy interventions, we’ve turned a complex system that should be adaptive and self-correcting into one prone to a never-ending cycle of boom and bust, crises and overcorrections.

To address the dysfunction at the root of our housing problems, we need to shift our approach. We must move away from a model in which large developers and centralized financial institutions have unprecedented sway over what is built and where, to a more antifragile housing ecosystem in which the bar to entry is low, and every neighborhood can undergo incremental change over time.

The Breaking Out of the Housing Trap presentation will help you understand the root causes of America’s interrelated housing crises, and identify some rational responses that your city (and every city) can take.

ABOUT THE INNOVATIONS IN NATURALLY AFFORDABLE HOUSING, VIRTUAL SUMMIT

This two day, online experience allows you learn from the nation’s leading innovators and experts about many different parts of a comprehensive strategy to tackle the housing crisis. This virtual summit is not targeting the traditional affordable housing developers who live in a world of complex tax credits, regulations, and housing finance—although they are welcome to attend. This is the summit for everyone else who cares about rapidly addressing your community’s affordable housing crisis.

Free Access and All-Access registration subscriptions available.

This conference is organized and hosted by the Population Health Learning Collaborative: https://improvepophealth.org/


I hope you liked this roundup, feel free to post any events I’ve forgotten in the comments. As I mentioned before, I’ll be updating this roundup regularly as I discover new events throughout the month. Make sure to follow the blog on Facebook and Instagram to get more content like this. Happy studying!

Practice Question: Quality Management

As I continue to study for ARE 5.0 Project Management, one of the areas I struggle with the most is Quality Management, but not for the reason you might think. For me, a lot of the concepts seem so obvious that it’s difficult for me to retain. So I’ll be reading it, agreeing with everything it says, but not retaining any specifics. So I’ve been trying to work on that in ways that will stay in my memory. Videos like the one below, and other tools are great visual aids to help me retain those details.

Practice Problem: Quality Management

Which of these items are not elements of a Quality Management (QM) in Construction Procurement?

  • Effective In-House Procurement Protocol
  • Beneficial Support Resources
  • Constant Monitoring and Documentation
  • Document Access and Control

Correct Answer

Document Access and Control is an Element of Quality Management in Construction Administration.

Wrong Answers

All of these items are Elements of Quality Management in Construction Procurement:

  • Effective In-House Procurement Protocol
  • Beneficial Support Resources
  • Constant Monitoring and Documentation

For reference for this question, check out AHPP Chapter 12.4.


Let me know how you did on this question, and make sure to follow RMSM Studios on Facebook and Instagram!

Practice Question: Utilization Rates

ARE 5.0 Project Management (PjM) Practice Question on firm utilization rates.

Utilization Rates are an important part of how firms track the hours spent on direct versus indirect labor, and are considered one of the 7 Key Financial Performance Indicators for architecture firms. I created this practice problem using the concept and real ways that it might change over time. Hyperfine is a great resource for practice questions and examples on both practice and project management concepts, as part of their Financial Formulas Workbook and their ARE 5.0 Courses.

Here’s a video of them going through a set of utilization rate questions.

Practice Question: Utilization Rates

The image below shows the salaries and utilization rates for the previous year for SKY Architects.

The salaries and utilization rates for this year are expected to be exactly the same, with the following changes:

  • Baboucar will be on paid paternity leave for 3 months
  • Yandeh will only be working part-time to pursue her graduate degree in historic presentation. Her utilization rate will be cut in half.

With these changes in mind, calculate the following:

  1. Estimated annual direct labor budget
  2. Yandeh R.’s estimated annual direct labor hours

Correct Answers

Question 01

In order to calculate the estimated annual budget we first need to calculate the direct labor budget for each member of staff:

  • Samuel: $170,000 * 0.5 = $85,000
  • Jeoffrey: $60,000 * 0 = $0
  • Yandeh: $90,500 salary, utilization rate = 0.8 * 0.5 = 0.4, so Yandeh’s direct salary this year will be $90,500 * 0.4 = $36,200
  • Fatou:$90,500 * 0.9 = $81,450
  • Baboucar: $70,000 salary, but he will only be working for 9 months out of 12, so we calculate 9/12 of his salary or 75%. So $70,000 * 0.75 = $52,500. With a consistent utilization rate of 0.9, his direct salary is $52,500 * 0.9 = $47,250

If we add up all of these direct salaries, we get $249,900.

Question 02

In order to calculate Yandeh’s estimated direct labor hours, we first need to determine hours per year. The number of hours in a year is 2080. Her current utilization rate is 80% but with her new graduate program, her utilization rate is reduced to 40% for this year.

So we would calculate 2080 hours * 0.4 = 832 direct labor hours this year.


Let me know how you did on this question, and make sure to follow RMSM Studios on Facebook and Instagram! Feel free to look through my blog for additional PjM Practice Questions and Mini Quizzes. You can search by tags, or by categories. If you have any questions, or you want to tell me how you did, leave a comment on the blog or on my Facebook page.

Practice Question: ADA

ARE 5.0 Practice question from RMSM Studio on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, which is celebrating its 30 year anniversary!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

Try your hand at this practice problem I created today based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which had its 30th anniversary this week! Though this is something we study as a mandatory code to be enforced in architecture and the ARE specifically, it’s still important to remember the impact this legislation has on the lives of people everyday. You can also check out these great videos from Archicorner as a study reference for ADA design. Here’s a great video from them on the differences between ADA and Building Code Accessibility.

Here’s an additional great article from ArchDaily, which provides a simple guide to using ADA standards.

Practice Problem: ADA

The ADA prevents discrimination based on which of the following:

  • Discrimination based on gender, for employers with 15+ employees
  • Discrimination based on disability, regardless of employer size
  • Discrimination based on age, for employers with 20+ employees
  • Discrimination based on disbility, for employers with 15+ employees

ARE 5.0 Practice question from RMSM Studio on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, which is celebrating its 30 year anniversary!

Correct Answer

Discrimination based on disability, for employers with 15+ employees.

Wrong Answers

The Civil Right Act, Title VII prevents discrimination based on gender, race color, religion, national origin and sexual orientation for employers with 15+ employees.

ADA prevents discrimination based on disability specifically for employers with 15+ employees.

ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act) prevents discrimination based on age.


Let me know how you did on this question, and make sure to follow RMSM Studios on Facebook and Instagram! For more practice questions you can check out my mini quizzes, or some of the awesome practice exams created by Designer Hacks (which I just used today, got a 77% lol) and the Walking the ARE Practice Exams. As always, happy studying!

Mini Quiz: Project Management

Mini Quiz from RMSM Studio on the Project Planning and Management

I’ve created these questions based on the Ballast Review Manual, which you can find for on Amazon, or search for a used version in the ARE Facebook Group. The Ballast Review Manual comes very highly recommended for multiple ARE exams, and you can check out the Young Architect website for a 15% off discount from PPI2Pass.

Question 01

Within the Critical Path Method (CPM), which items are denoted by a solid arrow?

  • Dummies
  • Tasks
  • The Critical Path
  • Dependencies

Question 02

Which elements form part of the project work plan? (Select all that apply)

  • Allocation of time and fees
  • Staff Required
  • Instruments of service
  • Milestones
  • Contingencies
  • Consultant work and fees

Question 03

Architects should consider the follow issues when assembling a project team, except for: (Select one)

  • Billing Rates
  • Project Size and Complexity
  • Personalities
  • Contractor Experience

Question 04

What is the typical fee percentage for Design Development?

  • 15%
  • 20%
  • 30%
  • 40%

Question 01

Within the Critical Path Method (CPM), which items are denoted by a solid arrow?

  • Tasks

Dummies are represented by dashed arrows, as opposed to the heavy dashed arrows which show the Critical Path. Dummies are another name for Dependencies.

Ballast, page 4-6

Question 02

Which elements form part of the project work plan? (Select all that apply)

  • Allocation of time and fees
  • Staff Required
  • Milestones
  • Consultant work and fees

Though the project can be broken down into phases and individual tasks, the instruments of service themselves are not an element of the project work plan.

Although time and fees allocated to the project can both include contingencies, contingencies themselves are not an element of the project work plan.

Ballast, page 4-8

Question 03

Architects should consider the follow issues when assembling a project team, except for: (Select one)

  • Contractor Experience

Architects do not make the selection for contractors, though contractors can be a part of the overall project team.

Ballast, page 4-4

Question 04

What is the typical fee percentage for Design Development?

  • 20%

On a typical design-bid-build project, the fee percentages are as follows:

Schematic Design: 15%

Design Development: 20%

Construction Documentation: 40%

Bidding: 5%

Contract Administration: 20%

Ballast, page 4-9


I hope you like this mini quiz. Let me know how you did in the comments, or on the RMSM Studio Facebook page. If you got none of them right, it’s time to hit the books!

If you’re studying for Project Management, feel free to check out my other Mini Quiz on the A201, and if you’re studying for Construction & Evaluation, check out my Mini Quiz on C401.

If you want to find other great practice tests, you can also have a look at my One Minute Reviews, where I give my feedback on ARE study materials in under a minute.