4 Ways To Gain AXP Hours Outside Of A Firm

As you go through your licensure process, you’ll discover that time is everything. Hours spent studying for the AREs, experience hours for AXP, how long it takes you to earn your degree, all of these contribute to the time it takes for you to get your professional registration.

I also know that for many people, there is always at least one experience area for AXP that you really had to struggle to get. For many people in medium to large scale firms, that can be the practice management area, since they aren’t at a level where they could make decisions, or charge billable hours on that work. It’s the traditional catch-22 of, “I need to work to get the experience, I need the experience to get the work”. I am currently going through a similar struggle to get my hours in for Construction & Evaluation.

This has inspired me to create a list of some of the alternative ways you can gain experience, based off of both my personal experience and the NCARB AXP Guidelines.

AEC Daily

Free.

Free. Free. Free.

This is one of the best things about AEC Daily which is amazing because their library of courses is so huge. They offer online courses in a variety of formats for those in the design and construction industry. The reason that they can offer their courses for free is because most of the courses are created by product manufacturers or suppliers.

However, this is not a negative, because in order for them to apply for AIA CE (Continuing Education) credits (which they do) they have to be genuinely educational. Another great benefit of the courses being made by the actual product suppliers is that you get to see how each of these items and systems would be used in the field, their installation processes, and best practices for using them in your own projects. Since they are an approved AIA course provider, they report all of the courses you’ve completed directly to the AIA for you, all you have to do is check your transcript.

AIAU

The online learning platform hosted by the AIA, they have several online, self-paced courses that can help you gain experience, up to 20 hours per experience area for HSW credit (Health Safty and Welfare) courses. The website interface allows you to filter the courses to search for HSW credits specifically. The subjects for these courses can vary widely, allowing you to find something for each experience area, and many of these courses are free for AIA members.

Architecture Design Competitions

This one is a biggie, as it allows you to earn up to 320 hours in experience, which is huge. My favorite thing about this experience opportunity is that you don’t even have to win the competition, you just have to complete your entry. You can also participate in a competition as part of your firm, but it’s pretty great that you can enter as an individual as well. In order for your hours to count, see below:

The design competition must be completed under the supervision of a mentor and meet the following criteria:
• Align to at least one of the AXP tasks
• Be for a “building” or “planning” project
• Be a formally structured competition with specified
submission requirements
• Sponsored by a recognized business entity, governmental agency,
or professional association
• You must be appropriately credited on the competition entry

NCARB AXP Guidelines, May 2020

Some great websites to find architecture design competitions are ArchDaily, Bustler, and Competitions.Archi.

Site Visit with a Mentor

As I mentioned in the beginning, I am currently struggling to get Construction and Evaluation experience with my company. And with the current recession and COVID combined, companies don’t want additional people on site who aren’t there to work on the specific project.

I’ve decided to overcome this obstacle by scheduling virtual site visits with my mentor. No, this didn’t involve checking the site out via Google maps or live-stream. What he did was take me through one of his completed projects from start to finish, including all the client and community review processes that he had to conduct along the way. We went through:

  • site photos at different stages
  • site considerations and challenges the project faced
  • procurement process for bidding the project
  • value engineering
  • engineers and consultants required
  • reasons for specific design decisions
  • zoning and approvals

And throughout this presentation, I was asking questions based on what I’ve learned from studying for the ARE’s and architectural practice. It felt really great to apply my knowledge and feel like I had a real understanding of the concepts and processes he was describing.


These were just a few of the many methods available to you to obtain your AXP experience hours. If you have tried any of these, or have tried other methods, please share in the comments. For those still studying for the AREs, I’ll soon be sharing my PjM study guide, which is being released for free on August 31st 2020. You can pre-order it for free today!

What I Learned From My First ARE Exam Fail

After my recent ARE exam fail, I had a solid pity party for a few hours, then decided it would be more productive to write down what I have learned from my first failure.

Never Assume You Have Time Just Because You’re Moving Quickly

In the first half of the exam I was moving fast and doing good, I completed all of my multiple choice exams, and hit pause before going off to my break. I thought I had plenty of time. Fast forward to the end of the exam, with seconds left and still a few unanswered case study questions which I eventually just had to guess at. Time management is KEY to this exam. Don’t make my mistakes, make sure that getting through the test as a whole is your main priority and never think that you have it under control just because you made it through the multiple choice questions quickly.

Don’t Cram What You Don’t Know

Again, in studying for the exams, it is the same as taking the exams, time management is KEY. In the days before your exams, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of emotions and anxiety, don’t make this worse by trying to cram in a bunch of material you have never even looked at before. It will make you feel worse because:

  1. You’ll feel like you don’t know anything, even if you’re really strong on other topics
  2. You will get frustrated at your inability to retain this brand new information
  3. You’re dealing with exam nerves, and if you do badly on practice tests on the new material, your confidence will be shot

Make sure, well before you’re scheduled to take your exams, you’re making sure that all the topics that are going to be included in the test are a part of your study plan. Be intentional about what you’re reading, not just trying to read as much as possible. This guide on test-taking skills has a lot of helpful tips on getting prepared in advance.

Reinforce Your Weaknesses

While I wouldn’t recommend cramming new material right before an exam, I would recommend checking the information that you know that you are not performing well on. There’s a difference between trying to learn all the details of ADA clearances in one day, and having a look at your previous notes on contract documents. One involves completely learning new concepts, the other is just brushing up on what you already know.

I would say working on your weaknesses is especially important AFTER you’ve failed the exam as well. The study materials that got you a poor result may not give you success the next time around, so make sure that you are making changes to your methods or resources based off of what your previous exam was aksing you. This is part of the reason why the ARE’s are called “the most expensive practice exam you’ll ever take”. Failing is part of the process, and learning from the fails is part of the process too.

One thing I’ve done is to look at multiple posts of people who have passed each specific exam, and tried to change my method based on the different content that they used. You can find passing stories on the ARE Facebook group or in the NCARB ARE 5.0 Community.

Don’t be afraid to write your own questions

In my recent exam failure, I was very frustrated with some of the practice question providers, since I felt like they failed to cover some of the very technical and graphic aspects of that exam. I was also mad at NCARB for failing to properly specify the resources that were needed to pass that exam. However, being mad at external forces won’t bring me any closer to passing the ARE.

So my recommendation is, if you feel like the questions you’re seeing on the exam are not matching the materials you are studying, feel free to write your own questions. There is literally nothing stopping you, as long as you are not copying the questions that you’ve seen in your previous ARE exams. These questions can be at whatever level of difficulty you feel comfortable with, but I have the following tips:

  1. Use the source material. If you’re writing a question on contracts, use the actual contract to write the question based on what you’ve literally read in the contract, not what Ballast, Pluralsight or Hyperfine wrote about it. This is because a lot of study resources summarize instead of writing the actual articles, which may cause you to remember the phrasing or intent clearly later on.
  2. Write why the answers are correct and why they’re wrong. This will force you to explain exactly why you’ve chosen that answer, and helps cement the concept, not just the specific answer.
  3. Share your questions! Not only does this help other people who are studying, but this also allows them to let you know if your answers are wrong and why. If people have further questions. You can share in your personal study group, which you can join through the NCARB ARE Community, in the ARE Facebook group, or with your architecture mentor, and see if they can work through the correct answer based on their professional experience.

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.

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.

Mini Quiz: AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

Mini Quiz from RMSM Studio on the AIA Code of Ethics and Professional COnduct 2018

I’ve created these questions based on the 2018 AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, which you can find for free here. This is a very short, easy to read document, but very important to professional practice.

Question 01

Which Ethical Standards fall under Canon VI: Obligations to the Environment?

  • Alternative energy sources
  • Building materials
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • None of the Above

Question 02

Penalties imposed by the National Ethics Council include: (Select all that apply)

  • Censure, with appeal
  • Admonition, with appeal
  • Litigation, with appeal
  • Suspension of membership, with appeal
  • Termination of membership, without appeal

Question 03

An architect wants to file a claim against another architect using Rule 4.101 of the Code of Ethics. What actions must they take?

  • Consult their legal counsel
  • Ensure proof of violation of one other rule
  • Consult their insurance company
  • Ensure proof of fraud based on an independent finding of a violation of the law

Question 04

What Canon does this statement fall within:

Members shall continually seek to raise the standards of aesthetic excellence, architectural education, research, training, and practice.

  • Canon II: Obligations to the Public
  • Canon I: General Obligations
  • Canon V: Obligations to Colleagues
  • Canon IV: Obligations to the Profession

Question 01

Which Ethical Standard fall under Canon VI: Obligations to the Environment?

  • Building materials

All other answers are not ethical standards under Canon VI: Obligations to the Environment.

Question 02

Penalties imposed by the National Ethics Council include: (Select all that apply)

  • Censure, with appeal
  • Admonition, with appeal
  • Suspension of membership, with appeal

Litigation is not a penalty imposed by the Natinoal Ethics Council. All penalties allow for appeal procedures, so “Termination of membership, without appeal” is incorrect.

Question 03

An architect wants to file a claim against another architect using Rule 4.101 of the Code of Ethics. What actions must they take?

  • Ensure proof of violation of one other rule

Under Canon IV: Obligations to the Profession: “Enforcement of Rule 4.101 refers to and supports enforcement of other Rules. A violation of Rule 4.101 cannot be established without proof of a pertinent violation of at least one other Rule.”

Question 04

What Canon does this statement fall within:

Members shall continually seek to raise the standards of aesthetic excellence, architectural education, research, training, and practice.

  • Canon I: General Obligations

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 A201 and my post on passing the PcM Exam, 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.

Live Webinar: Using Digital Tools To Study For The ARE

Learn how to set up and use multiple digital tools in order to study more efficiently for the ARE 5.0 Exam, and track the hours and materials you used for each exam, with a live demonstration and Q&A.

Studying for the ARE exams is a critical, but often daunting task on many architecture professionals’ journey towards registration. NCARB lists over 30 different sources in their reference matrix for this exam, and keeping track of all the resources and time spent studying can be a heavy task, to say nothing of 14 contract documents, test prep services, practice exams, and multi-media tools. It can also be a challenge to track study progress, organize materials, and create study goals.

Join me on Saturday, June 20, 2020 at 1 PM EST for the Using Digital Tools for ARE 5.0 Study Tracking Live Webinar. In this free hour-long webinar, it’s time to get organized and learn how you can use digital tools such as Clockify and Quizlet to study for your ARE exams, and study more effectively.

Join us for this live tutorial where I’ll go through:

  • Creating study material lists for each exam
  • Tracking the hours spent studying
  • Best practices for managing your time
  • Getting the most use out of website
  • Automatic graphics showing your progress
  • And more!

To register for this live webinar, you need to sign up here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. The meeting will be hosted via Zoom, accessible through your internet browser or the Zoom app.

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments, and I look forward to seeing you on the 20th of June!