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Architect Registration Exams/ARE/Oy

Let's hope this doesn't happen.

I’ve been out of school for about 3.5 years now, and have finally committed to taking and completing all of my AREs. I’ve taken and passed my first 3 (out of 7 total), and am currently studying for Structural Systems. I haven’t taken a practice exam yet, so I don’t know really what I’m up against, but let me tell you – having not touched structures in 3 years, review is difficult! It certainly comes back after practice, but it’s really frustrating when the study materials are terrible. And by terrible I mean atrocious. I’m using Kaplan study materials for ARE 4.0, and I’ve never seen any study guides this bad. Ever. How bad? Let’s break it down.

Errors, Errors and more Errors: Sure, every book has a typo here and there. Even books that have been proofed really well. But this is just ridiculous.

  • Example calculations will switch between units (say kips to pounds) w/o noting the conversion.
  • Example calculations will use the entirely wrong value for an equation. No idea where the value came from, but it sure as hell doesn’t belong in the calculation. Best part is that the final answer typically reflects a calculation using the correct value, despite the incorrect value being shown.
  • Example calculation will simplify the calculation, but not explain how or why it was simplified. Which requires me to backtrack and see where units and values were combined.

As a company providing study materials, these sorts of mistakes are inexcusable. If it happened once, maybe twice, it’s something that could be lived with. But the fact is that I second-guess everything I read, which is terribly frustrating when studying for any exam, let alone one that determines your professional future. Not to mention that it costs $210 each time you take a test. This shoddy level of work results in my reading every section, deconstructing it, reconstructing it, then reviewing it again. To Kaplan’s credit, this approach certainly makes me more familiar with the material. But you shouldn’t really have to question your study guide in the first place…

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