How I passed the ARE Exam 1: Practice Management in 5 weeks while working full time. Story from ARE 5.0 Community.


This is a report from Scott Barber on the ARE 5.0 Community.

To study, he scheduled exams 1, 2, 3 in 5 weeks, after already taking 4, 5, and 6. He studied for an hour each day.

He used the Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice and the Schiff Hardin lectures. He advises people to focus on business types, contracts, and finances and risk.

Check out my guide on how to study for the ARE Exam 1 if you want more information, or read on for the original post.

Original post

Just took PcM this morning and got the “provisional pass” at the end – definitely a relief!
I felt nervous about this one more than some of the previous exams, I had a tighter study schedule and even last night as I was reviewing I wish I had spent more time on some topics. I had a good grasp of the content overall, but some of the application of the knowledge wasn’t where I wanted it to be. Regardless, here’s my overview on study materials and two cents about what you need to know:

Study Schedule

For a number of reasons, I decided to schedule PcM, PjM, and CE all before Memorial Day. I scheduled them all on April 4 – so that left about 5 weeks before my first exam today. I had passed PDD, PPD, and PA and given the advice from others regarding overlap of these three exams and the smaller amount of content covered (compared to PPD/PDD), I decided to go for it.  

I kept the same approach as I did for similar exams: spent half of my lunch break studying, and stayed at the office after work for roughly an hour each day. The time spent studying for these exams can definitely cause a strain on family, so I tried to make the most of my time and be present when I got home. 

I think I could have used another week to review main topics, but if you’re just studying for PcM I think 5 weeks would be plenty. The first ~4 weeks were studying for all three exams (reading most of AHPP) so that divided up my time.

What to Study

  • AHPP – This book is essential for these three exams. I used Narmour Wright/Wiley’s list of suggested chapters and this helped me focus what I was reading. This is a big book but very helpful.
  • Schiff Hardin Lectures – I listened to these daily on my commute, focusing on the lectures for the A201 and B101, and then listened to a few others after I had gone through these a few times. These are a fantastic resource to understand contracts and other legal/professional concepts. The A201 isn’t heavily covered on PcM but it’s useful for my next two, so that’s why I spent time listening to it. 
  • Ballast – I started out studying this, but I don’t think it’s really necessary. Could be helpful but I focused my time on AHPP.
  • I also read the Owner’s Guide to Project Delivery Methods. This content is covered in the AHPP but I used it as a refresher and it’s helpful to read about concepts from different sources to get a well-rounded understanding. 
  • I also studied a few resources found throughout this forum, just based on what I felt weaker in.

What to Know

  • Business Types: Chart 5.1 on page 201-202 in the AHPP is a good summary, but make sure you know when each one is preferred (criteria could include ownership, control, personal asset risk, tax treatment, etc)
  • Contracts: This exam is heavier on the B101 but make sure you have a general understanding of contracts for different applications (project delivery types, etc).
  • Finances and risk (ARE Handbook, Section 2 stuff)

These areas are what stood out to me when taking the exam, but be sure to look at the ARE Handbook for the overall content. I think it aligned well with what I saw on the actual exam – the content listed above is what I felt weaker in and so that’s probably why it stood out.

Additional Thought: This exam has a lot of “pick 3” or “pick 4” out of a list of 6 choices. These can be tricky, but I typically wrote down numbers 1-6 on the scratch paper and crossed out or put a check next two options that I was more confident that would or wouldn’t be correct. Even so – there was generally one or two that I thought could go either way. Just be prepared for these types of questions.

Hope that is helpful! There are a lot of good posts on this forum from others who identified what they focused on, I definitely used their advice and would encourage others to do the same. Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll do my best to help! 

Going to spend the weekend preparing for PjM which I’m taking Monday morning. Hopefully I’ll have more good news then and can share advice after that exam too.

Good luck!

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