Taking AREs has been one of the most challenging experiences of my lifetime. I don’t think it is because I was born into a privileged life and pampered with comfort up until that point:). On the contrary, I have always had to study/work so hard to achieve things. The geography you are born in pre-defines your future, and ripping through that pre-defined borders requires a lot of willpower. I believe it was one of the biggest challenges of my life because my standardized test-taking strategy was not reasonably available when it came to AREs.
What was my test-taking strategy up until AREs?
Simple: Study the content and take as many questions as you can. Repetition is the key! But when it came to AREs, there were not enough sample questions in the market. I hear you saying, “Wait for a second, we have Designerhacks, Black Spectacles, PPI, Hyperfine, and WEARE…..and they all have mock exams” Yes, they do, and I am thankful to most of them but believe it or not, it is/was not enough! I needed a minimum of ten thousand questions per exam to pass these exams on my first try. Back in high school, we were doing 400-500 questions a day, and we did it for three years, every day, to pass the college exam! That was what I knew and was good at, and it wasn’t there…
So, what did I do????
Yup! You got it! I sat down and wrote almost 1500 questions for myself for all six exams. Insane…? No, actually, it is called desperation…What we have currently in the ARE market is roughly 1500 questions per exam. You can push the numbers a little higher if you include Kaplan and Ballast ARE 4.0 questions too, but that is it. And as a (forced) pro-test taker, I knew it was not enough when I started to take my first exam. So, I turned every valuable information in the books I was studying into a question. That was my way of taking notes.
Why have I launched PPD & PDD questions first?
I started with PPD and PDD questions first because they are the hardest of these six exams, and the low pass rates broke my heart. My journey with these two was not different than what some of you are going through now. Reading books and writing my questions worked great for the first four exams; CDS (4.0), PjM, PCM, and PA, but it almost felt like I hit the PPD & PDD (the painful duo) like I drove head-on to a wall. But, of course, like many of you, I did not give up! Shout out to us all who persist! I kept reading, studying, and writing questions. (You can read that journey and my suggestions to pass PPD and PDD in the following posts.) The number of questions accumulated.
Eventually, I started to share those questions with friends, colleagues, and people I met on online study forums, and they liked it. Some even said they passed because of them. So after I passed my last exam in December 2019, I decided to share my questions, starting with the hardest ones: PPD and PDD.
How to utilize the AREquestions best?
- Ideally, before starting to study for an exam, visit the posts I wrote regarding how I studied PPD or PDD exam and which books are a must-read to pass. Start reading/reviewing the material first.
- After doing the first round of reading or reviewing the books (yes, there will be another round of reading some chapters and sections), take quizzes one by one.
- I set up the quizzes to show the feedback immediately after every question so that you can utilize them as study tools. With each question, read the feedback carefully. Go to the referenced book and section and read that portion again if you answered the question wrong or feel weak in that content. Eventually, all questions will make you read almost four to five books.
- Pay attention to incorrect options as well! I have included a lot of feedback for wrong answers. They are there for a reason. Study them too. Nothing is random.
- Once you are done with quizzes and reading, precisely two weeks to your exam, take mock exams every day until you consistently score 80% and over. It is why the pass rate for mock exams and quizzes is set to be 80%.
- Let’s be honest; you cannot pass these exams by just doing my questions, and I don’t believe anyone else has promised you this. There is no such thing as passing these exams using only one source. Look at the pass rates. If there were any single third-party material that was enough on its own to pass these exams, first, they would be insanely rich, and second, we would have 90 percent pass rates for the PPD exam, not 42 percent.
- So, you have to read the books in ARE 5.0 Reference Matrix. My questions will refer you to many of them and help you pass, but they cannot do it without you reading the books. Please visit the testimonials page and see what other people say about the questions and how they utilized them to succeed. Good luck!!
Elif Bayram, AIA