Episode 32: Get in the RIGHT Mindset to Pass the ARE!

What if YOU are the reason you’re not passing the ARE?

Join Eric and I as we discuss how to find that positive mindset so critical to preparing for and passing the ARE.

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Show Notes:

Benjamin Barber, an eminent sociologist, once said, “I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures… I divide the world into the learners and nonlearners.”
Today we’re going to talk about MINDSET and how your mindset might be preventing you from passing the ARE.
what if YOU are the reason you’re not passing the ARE?
You know the material, have a few years of great experience, but yet you’re still not passing and you don’t know why.
listening to hundreds of candidates.  I can now tell you which will pass and which won’t.  Not magic, just but their approach to learning, their “Mindset”
How can you use your mindset to help you pass the ARE?
Eric read book by Carol S. Dweck, PhD? called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
How can you apply this to your studying for the ARE?
failed an exam she thought she aced.  Took it again with renewed enthusiasm and passed with all Level 1’s on score report.  She was surprised.
has taken the same exam 11 times and failed 11 times.  Keeps blaming the “system”
failed cause they were sick that week, but didn’t reschedule the exam.
blames the rolling clock, the computers at the testing center, the deadlines at work, the study guides!
here’s some tough love:  YOURE THE PROBLEM!  Or namely, your mindset is wrong.
Everyone is born with an intense drive to learn.
Infants stretch their skills daily. Not just ordinary skills, but the most difficult tasks of a lifetime, like learning to walk and talk. They never decide it’s too hard or not worth the effort.
Babies don’t worry about making mistakes or humiliating themselves. They walk, they fall, they get up. They just barge forward.
But as people age, they fall into the “fixed mindset.”  Fixed mindset means you expect yourself to get it right the first time, to be perfect, to do it right away too.  In short, you’re afraid of learning and afraid of making mistakes.
BUT making mistakes is how we learn.
Change from a fixed mindset, to a “growth mindset”
example of candidate who hates NCARB, hates the format, hates the testing center.
3a.  Focus on Learning Over Achievement
Accept that these exams are hard and you will struggle
Instead of depending on luck or “natural” talent, you focus on developing your skills and abilities, and learning from your efforts.
3b.  Change your Mindset
Even a fixed mindset is not a fixed thing!  Change it.
Just by knowing about the two mindsets, you can start thinking and reacting in new ways.
As you approach a challenge:
THE FIXED-MINDSET says “Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don’t have the talent.”
THE GROWTH-MINDSET answers, “I’m not sure I can do it now, but I think I can learn to with time and effort.”
FIXED MINDSET: “What if you fail—you’ll be a failure”
GROWTH MINDSET: “Most successful people had failures along the way.”
FIXED MINDSET: “If you don’t try, you can protect yourself and keep your dignity.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “If I don’t try, I automatically fail. Where’s the dignity in that?”
As you hit a setback:
FIXED MINDSET: “This would have been a snap if you really had talent.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “That is so wrong. Basketball wasn’t easy for Michael Jordan and science wasn’t easy for Thomas Edison. They had a passion and put in tons of effort.
As you face criticism:
FIXED MINDSET: “It’s not my fault. It was something or someone else’s fault.”
GROWTH MINDSET: “If I don’t take responsibility, I can’t fix it. Let me listen—however painful it is– and learn whatever I can.”
Over time, which voice you heed becomes pretty much your choice. Whether you take on the challenge wholeheartedly, learn from your setbacks and try again hear the criticism and act on it is now in your hands.
Is there someone in your office, maybe an older or career person who seems stuck?  At some point they got “good enough” at their work and just stopped?
You want to avoid that.  Be a lifelong student.  Be willing to try new materials, new systems, new approaches.  Whether in your design projects, or how you manage those projects.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

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By |2019-01-21T18:38:57+00:00May 16th, 2017|Categories: 5.0, Podcast, Study Advice|2 Comments

About the Author:

David Doucette
David Doucette, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP is founder of Architect Exam Prep and CSEprep.com and has been helping candidates successfully prepare for and pass the California Supplemental Exam (CSE) for the last four years. He also hosts a podcast dedicated to preparing for the California Supplemental Exam as well as CSE Video Tips at CSEprep.com.


  1. Avatar
    Dena Courtney May 17, 2017 at 8:47 am

    David and Eric, Thanks so much for this podcast as for me the exams has been ALL ABOUT mindset. i have technically taken and passed all of my exams, but when i passed the last one i missed the 5 year rolling clock by 3 months. and not only that but i had 4 exams that were getting ready to fall off the rolling clock in short order after i thought i had just passed my last one. So essentially one minute i thought i had passed but after talking to NCARB not only had i not finished all of them i had not just one more to take i have 5 more to take! which as you can imagine put me into an emotional tale spin. I took me a long time (5 years to be exact), to get over the emotional toll of that and get back in the saddle and start working to pass my exams. I am not saying i did not play a role in my not passing, as i know i did…but what my question is how do you keep the right mindset for your exams when big life things happen? this is what i struggled with and why i did not pass. i had 3 large things happen in my life while i was taking my exams. my father got Cancer and died, i had a child and went through a divorce. all 3 of those things on their own are huge things but i had all 3 happen within 2 years. this undoubtedly had my mind and emotions in other places than my exams… but i was still working to pass my exams through this because i did not want to make excuses. i was taking them…but not passing during these 2 years. So my question is, in situations where you have big life things like that happen and sneak up on you in the middle of your exam process… How do you maintain the right mindset for passing and not let your emotions from your personal life take over?

    I am now well past those 3 things and in a place where i cannot afford to fail…. i need to pass and i would like to be licensed by next year.

    Thanks for this podcast! it was a great one!

  2. David
    David May 25, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Hi Dena, wow, great comment and questions! I think it’s a daily struggle to stay in the positive mindset. And sometimes we fall off that. I know I have in the past but the important thing is to get back on the horse at some point. It took me seven years to pass the ARE and in that time, there wasn’t a day that didn’t go by that I didn’t beat myself up a little bit for not completing the ARE. I did the hard part (architecture school and IDP) but why couldn’t I just get through these exams was a question I asked myself frequently during that time. I think we all struggle and we all have our own stories and excuses. I think sometime a break is necessary. For how long? Only you can answer that. BUT I will say when I finally passed the last exam and became licensed, I NEVER beat myself up about it again. I never looked back and said it took me seven years, what a loser I am. Instead, I said yes I dragged it out but so what, I am now licensed and I achieved my goal. I NEVER looked back on that experience with disdain. We learn from it. At the end of the day, you just have to keep trying and keep your head up. Some days are harder than others, but keep your mind on the end goal. I know too many friends who I went to architecture school who never ended up getting their license. Stay the course and frankly with the 60 day retake period, this process is a no brainer to just stay in it. The 6 month wait was brutal. 60 days is nothing now. Definitely keep me posted on your progress!

    Thanks, David

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