What order should I take the ARE exams in?

Ah, a question for the ages.

There really isn’t one “right” order to take these tests in, and there are definitely reasons you would want to switch it up. We can share with you what worked for us, and our thoughts on other orders and why you might want to consider following them.

The important things to consider are how much time you have to study, how quickly you want to do the exams, and how much work experience you have. If you have 1-2 years of experience and are working full time while taking these tests, then we recommend the following order (this is what we did):

  • PcM, PjM, CE, PA, PPD, PDD

This groups the contract exams first, then moves into the more technical exams. It also, generally speaking, moves from the easiest exam to the hardest. Saving the two most difficult exams (PPD and PDD) for the end is a good move because you’ll have a ton of experience with the whole testing process at that point, and if you fail one when you’re so close to the end, you’ll be that much more inclined to get it done! 

One note for the above order is that if you don’t have any construction or CD experience you might consider taking CE at the end. This exam can have some random details thrown in which are hard to prepare for, but studying for PDD will help. Leaving an easy one for the end has benefits too, it will be all downhill after the two big exams PPD and PDD!

If you’re taking time off for the exams and want to finish them as soon as possible, then you might want to consider the following order: (this will go better if you have 2+ years of experience)

  • PA, PPD, PDD, CE, PcM, PjM

The main benefit here is that if you fail one of the big exams (PPD/PDD) you can just mix your re-take back into your testing schedule after the 3 month waiting period. These two are HARD, and we know a ton of people that have failed them. So don’t feel bad AT ALL if that happens to you! But it’s something to be aware of if you’re working on a tight schedule. 

That concludes our extensive and very profound thoughts on test order. Hopefully this helps! We have some more insight on scheduling and timing of exams in the Desk Crits book too, so definitely check it out if you have more questions about this!