The Part III Exam – Becoming an architect… @RIAIonline @Gilleeece mentioned

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. The Topic ‘Leader’ for this post ‘The Architectural Registration Exam’ is Meghana Joshi.

As an ‘Archi-Talker’ I’ve seen the topics in advance and this is the topic that I’ve really wanted to give you my experience on…:

The UK and Ireland system (more or less) in becoming an architect is to do the following:

1. An architecture degree (Part I) (The Parts refer to the exemptions given by the RIBA)

2. A post-graduate architecture degree, Masters or diploma (Part II). In Ireland at most colleges – Parts I and II are bundled together into the same degree

3. Part III – The final qualifying examination. In the UK this includes:

• 24 months of practical experience
• Professional CV and career evaluation
• Case study
• Written examination
• Final oral examination

The RIBA has more information on these steps HERE

In the U.S the equivalent is the ARE (The Architectural Registration Exam)

I undertook all my architectural education leading to Part III (UK) in the UK at Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University). Let’s now skip the first five years and jump straight to Part III:

Bear in mind that you are at this stage working in order to achieve 2 years of qualifying practical experience; now there’s a new fancy online system but back then (in the 80’s) it was filling in paper certificates, getting them checked & signed by your boss and then posted to the course supervisor for him/her to also check and sign. The reason why I tell you this is that it’s important that you get the right job that’s giving you the right experience to show your all-round skills as an architect. You also need to take into account that you’re working all day and then have to revise all evening prior to taking the exams. You’ll also need to find the time to write up your career evaluation and case study whilst also still working.

So you’ve now got the right experience and done the right revision and you’re ready for the final exam…

From memory I think (for me it was a full day) but I’m checking and it now seems to be two full days. that’s two full days of written papers, the current exam details at Oxford Brookes are as follows:

“The first written paper is a question and answer paper and the second require the interpretation of a particular scenario that you might experience in practice.”

At the time I was also teaching CAD to the Architecture Students at the University and I was scheduled to teach a class later afternoon after the exam. No problem thinks me.

After the exam was over, hand aching like f**ck after all the writing, I turned the corner and then promptly vomitted into the bushes. Needless to say I had to cancel the class. The exam was tough.

Then comes the Oral examination.

Generally about an hour. Each student waits nervously in the corridor to be called into the examination room where you are questioned (from memory) by about 3-4 people.

Now the oral exam is a few weeks after the written papers. The examiners know everything that you have written correctly and they also know everything you have written incorrectly. In essence – they know what you don’t know. Plus to add to the mix the examiners might also want to test how convincing you are in arguing against them over something that you got correct!

This is how it began (for me):

Examiner: “Hi Mark, how are you?

Me: “Really well thanks, how are you?

Examiner: “Now in answer No. 6 you answered that JCT Clause 21.2.1 insurance is a clause that can be purchased as an addition to cover damage where there is no negligence by the party carrying out the works – can you explain what you mean by this?” (this wan’t what was actually said but you get the idea) – the hour-long interrogation had begun.

I have no real memory of that exam other than what happened before it.

I’m sitting down next to a friend (hi Craig) and one of our fellow students leaves the examination room after the interrogation and simply looks at us all and shakes his head and walks out.

The examination results are then pinned on the wall for everyone to see and there are then scenes of joyousness (me) and upset (a few others) and no-shows (the chap shaking his head).

A few years later whilst travelling around the world with my new-wife; we bump into the ‘shaking head chap’ in Kathmandu, Nepal. He informs us that he’s travelling across Asia (same as us) to get his head together in order to attack the Part III again!

Chapter 2:

So yay, I passed and then I worked as an architect, and lived happily ever after. Not so fast. This exam was in the UK and I moved to Ireland in 2003 and had to re-qualify here. The following is my example (at a time prior to the Registration of the Title of Architect in Ireland and also bear in mind that at this time I wasn’t working in an architects office doing architectural work (I was consulting to other architects on CAD and BIM).

So I applied to the RIAI in order to register as an architect in Ireland and was called to interview.

I reminisced about this to Emma Gilleece recently and the way I described it was very similar to the scene in Billy Elliott where Billy is asked to ‘Move to some music’ as part of his interview – now change this in my case to wanting to be an architect; what I should have said was “once I get going (in architecture) I forget everything and sort of disappear, I can feel a change in my whole body, like there’s fire in my body, I’m just there flying, like a bird, like electricity”.

Below is the clip if you’ve forgotten, obviously I didn’t strip down to my vest and shorts for my architecture interview.

Well, in the same way they also said Billy Mark – We’ll let you know”

What they let me know was that as I wasn’t working as an architect at the time (and although qualified) it was recommended that I attend the Irish Part III lecture series. And thank god wasn’t asked to take the exam again – signing the attendance sheets was enough. In retrospect I learnt a lot from the lectures – especially when I had no real experience of working in a fundamentally different country. At the time it was a pain in the a*s; having to travel from Mayo to Dublin every week for nearly a year – but it was worth it.

But hold on, the story doesn’t quite end there. After working in Ireland now for the last 15 years, I have also ended up teaching business and Part III to students at a few Architecture Colleges – one of which at the same place where I was requested to attend the Part III lecture series fifteen years earlier – life is strange.

So now that is the end of this story where I qualified as an architect in the UK and in Ireland. Just don’t ask me to do it all in another country and especially not in the US with the ARE.

See how other ‘Architalking’ bloggers have approached this topic in the links below:

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
What is the Big Deal about the ARE?

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
what A.R.E. you willing to do 

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Take the architect registration exam, already

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
ARE – The Turnstile

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
the architect registration exam

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
I forget

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
The Architecture Registration Exam

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
What is the Benefit of Becoming a Licensed Architect?

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Every Architect’s Agony

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
To do or not to do ?

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Test or Task

Ilaria Marani – Creative Aptitude (@creaptitude)
How to Become a Licensed Architect in Italy

Jane Vorbrodt – Kuno Architecture (@janevorbrodt)
Seven Years of Highlighters and Post-it Notes

Apologies if I’m missing anyone – will update again when everyone is live…

Comments as allows welcome…

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