My Studytime Rules

Rules that I use to keep focused as I study for the ARE 5.0

I spend a lot of time studying for my exams, so you might be wondering how I stay focused and study effectively. Together with my accountability partner, I was able to come up with some concrete rules on ways to study effectively without wearing myself out. You don’t have to follow these rules yourself, but feel free to use them as a template if you think they’ll help your study process.

1. Phone in a Different Room

This was a major one, as my phone is a major distraction for me. It’s the easiest way for me to get derailed in my study sessions. So the method that I use is to leave it to charge in a completely different room on silent. It’s a simple method, but it really works.

Another method that I’ve started using recently for productivity tracking and distraction free testing is using the Flora app. This app has a variety of great uses including time tracking and locked in study time frames, that stop you from seeing your phone notifications and checking your feeds, as you will lose all your studying progress. It also allows you to set time goals for yourself, and track your total hours over time. Flora also has a very fun function that allows you collect plants, trees and flowers for each successful study session, so you can create a new garden every week.

2. Laptop: Only Music & Clockify

Even though I avoid using my phone, I still need to use my laptop for activities like Young Architect or Pluralsight videos, Hyperfine assignments, or looking up concepts I’m studying, so I still keep it with me when I’m studying.

However, when I’m not studying with it directly, how do I make sure I don’t get distracted? I make sure that I’m only using my laptop for my studytime playlist on Youtube, and for the Clockify app for my time tracking. I’ve talked about how I use Clockify for both my PcM and PjM passes.

3. One Architecture & Design Event Per Week

In one of my posts, I’ve described in detail why I’m trying to avoid architecture events. They are a big temptation for me because I love to learn, but they also take up time that I could be studying. So I’m only allowing myself to attend one architecture event per week, and that includes events hosted in-house at my company. It doesn’t matter whether it virtual (they’re all virtual at this point, lol) or in person.

Since I’m still wrapping up the last few hours of my AXP, I definitely value being able to use architecture events to earn AIA LUs (Learning Units) and CEUs. However, I feel like the AXP Hours will come eventually, but passing these exams may not happen without my deliberate effort.

4. One Personal Event Per Week

With a similar reasoning as for the architecture events, I’m trying to limit my interpersonal events and meetings. My state is currently in Phase III of reopening, so things are more relaxed and there are way more opportunities to interact than just a few months ago.

However, I realize that these social events take several hours out of my day, between the transport and the actual meeting. So until I pass these exams, I’m limiting myself to just one social/personal event or gathering a week.

5. Only 1 hour MAX of studying on site visit days or traveling days

We all know that work can get intense, which is why a lot of people recommend that you only start studying for the AREs if you have the time available. As I’m about to mention below, if you don’t have 3 hours a day free to study, you’re really going to struggle with this exam.

But sometimes we have those workdays that drain you and leave you completely able to function once you get home. That’s ok! Give yourself permission to take it easy, if you need a break. Your body and mind will thank you. Build this into your schedule, so if necessary, you can study for additional hours on the days you know you don’t have site visits or late nights. On days like that, I give myself permission to study for one hour or zero hours.

6. Study for 3 hours a day

So this is my goal for each studying day. I don’t always reach it, but it’s what I aim towards. One thing about my studying method is that I plan what I’m going to study weeks in advance, and sometimes it takes less than 3 hours. That’s still fine! I get that time back in my day if I’ve thoroughly studied everything on my plate for that day.

Normally I track my daily hourly totals through Clockify or through the Flora app on my phone. Clockify also allows you to see your overall study totals, and seeing that number go up is a big motivator for me. I have a goal to study 100 hours per exam, which I tried to capture in the #ARE100Challenge, which encourages people to study 100 hours for the ARE Exam. I also use the Study Material Tracker I created to help me figure out my overall hourly goal for each study resource.

7. One detail or document a day

This one is straightforward and is very helpful if you are taking any technical exams or CE, which I recently passed! It basically means that you are checking out or drawing or sketching a new detail or document every day.

You guys have gotten this far, so I’m pretty sure you know how to sketch. For the documents portion, it just involves going one step beyond your study materials. Cross train with real-world examples of your study content.

For example, if you were studying concrete and slump tests, watch a video of a slump test being conducted, or check out an actual test report. It really helps you with filling in the gaps of your experience, and help you better visualize the concepts.

8. No studying after midnight

This is as simple as it is effective. I know in architectural studio we prided ourselves on our long hours and thought that showed a level of dedication in our craft.

However, there are a lot of negative effects of studying late into the night, the most important of which for me is that I’m completely burned out by the next day, and I use my late night to justify studying less the next day.

Don’t fall for this cycle, it is a trap! Get the study hours you need in enough time to get to bed at a reasonable time (now I sound like someone’s mom), and your body and mind will thank you. I want my mind to be in top form for both my work and for studying again the next day.

9. All Notes need Title & Date

Do you take notes when you study? A lot of people do. I was against it at first, because it just felt like repetition to me, but I’ve been convinced of its usefulness over time.

But if you have a binder full of notes, on different subjects without labels, you’ll have no idea what you’ve studied, the relevant objectives, and whether or not you’ve covered this material before. So I try to make sure that every page is labeled with the title of the study material, the subject matter, and the date. This keeps my notes organized and let’s me see my level of understanding of the content over time, since I write my notes in my own words.

Another useful note taking tip for me is that I don’t write what I already know. Really basic information that I already know and will be able to remember for the exam, I don’t bother to write down. For example, what is the B101? I don’t need to write that down, I know that easily. As you start to absorb information, you’ll have to write less and less in your notes, making it easier to review materials.


If you made it to the end of this lengthy post, congrats! Thank you for taking the time to read it all, and I hope this explanation of my study time rules gave you some inspiration on things to add to your own routine. You can download the study time rules graphic as a PDF at my Downloads page or my Store for free.

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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.

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.

NOMA BRAVE Breakdown

NOMA BRAVE Action Steps

For those that don’t know, the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) has released some action steps for architects of all backgrounds to support their colleagues in the fight for racial justice and equity.

This initiative is called BRAVE, and NOMA challenges all large architecture firms to become dues paying members of the organization, as well adopting NOMA’s steps for an inclusive atmosphere, which include:

NOMA BRAVE Breakdown

I think this initiative is a great opportunity for those who may just be joining the fight for social injustice, but I believe that it needs a bit more detail to help with implementation. To help those who want to make a difference in the profession, but aren’t sure where to start, I’ve create the NOMA BRAVE Breakdown. This breakdown takes the action steps provided by NOMA and provides tangible next steps and goals for architecture & design professionals. Here is an image of the breakdown.

Keep in mind that the links will only work if you download the actual PDF, which is available here.

NOMA BRAVE Breakdown Image. Don’t forget that the links will only work if you download the PDF.

Disclaimer: This guide is a recommendation made by me based on the framework provided by NOMA. This breakdown was not created by or sponsored by NOMA. All thoughts and opinions contained within it are my own.

Anti-Racism Design Resources

I would also highly recommend that you check out this comprehensive list of Anti-Racism Design Resources, which cover:

Black architects, designers, planners, activists’ recent responses, reflections, statements

Firms/practices currently offering pro bono services

Firms/practices currently taking actions (e.g. matching donations)

Resources about offering pro bono services

Examples of pro bono services you and/or your firm/practice/collective can offer

Examples of fellowships/internships your firm can offer to Black students

Support Black designers, especially our colleagues, with opportunities like these!

For non-Black and white folks organizing within our firms/practices/collectives

Additional resources to share both internally and in a public statement

List of Black organizers/leadership

List of Black-led firms/practices/collectives

List of architecture/design organizations doing anti-racism work in academic institutions

List of architecture/design organizations doing anti-racism work in the field at large

List of organizations to follow on social media

Past Events

If you have any additional resources or events on this topic, feel free to share them in the comments!