ARE - General Structures / by Michelle Linden

After finishing up the graphic exams, I decided to knock out the two structural tests. I had already signed up to take the mechanical/electrical exam before they changed the format, but I wanted to first study for the structural tests and finish them both before Christmas. I waited a bit too long to schedule the general structures test... I was ready to take it, but the next available exam was almost a month away. So, I decided to schedule both tests about 10 days apart right before Christmas. This was the closest together that I took any of the exams. I know that a lot of people take the exams very close together, but I just couldn't seem to get my act together. Luckily, because the two exams are so similar, and obviously relate, I didn't have any problems studying for them both together.

Just like with the other multiple choice exams, I used the Kaplan General Structures Book and CD as well as the Archiflash cards as my main study materials. Also, make sure that if you use the Kaplan books, that you check out both structural books when studying for the general structures exam. I didn't realize until I started studying for the lateral forces exam that the general structures portion bleeds into the second book (with only 3 chapters devoted to lateral forces). I guess it was a good thing that I decided to study for both tests at once, or else I would have never studied half the material. Unfortunately, general structures is a very wide subject and it is pretty difficult to get a good grasp on all of the possible material. Having said that, I though that the combination of the Kaplan book, cd, and archiflash was pretty sufficient in studying... with the exception of one major section - masonry. I can not stress enough how important it is to study masonry. Especially as someone who doesn't really have any real life experience in masonry, I had wished that I had been better prepared for this subject. Studying the structural components of masonry will also help you in the materials exam.

When actually taking the exam, I realized how ill prepared I was for the masonry sections. While, I had no problems with the steel or concrete or conceptual structural questions, I really struggled with the masonry section. I had trouble focusing on this test because I felt so blindsided by the shear amount of material with which I wasn't the least bit familiar. But, just like the other architectural registration exams, I just kept rereading and checking the answers of the questions I didn't know. Often, I was able to deduce an answer on one question based on the wording of another.

Leaving the test, I felt absolutely deflated... But I knew that I couldn't dwell on the negative because the lateral forces exam was not far away.

I definitely think that the key to this exam is understanding the concepts and having a good understanding of how and when different formulas are used. The formulas are given to you, so you don't need to memorize them... but if you can, it will only make your life easier. It can be a waste of time to go back and forth from the formula page to the questions.

Good Luck!