Failing an ARE exam is something no candidate wants to think about but the reality is that it happens quite a bit so it’s important that you’re ready to rebound quickly.
For starters, failing an exam division is NOTHING to be embarrassed about. It’s actually more common that a candidate will fail at least one exam than it is to get through all 7 exams without failing one.
So if you are self-conscious or embarrassed about failing one, DON’T BE. Understand that it happens to a lot of other people.
Before getting too far into some of the strategies for getting over a failed ARE exam, I want to disclose my experience taking the ARE:
Back in 2011, I had passed my first 3 ARE exams (CDS, PPP and BS) so my confidence was high. I decided that it was time to try one of the more ‘difficult’ exams, BDCS. I took it and failed it.
I’m not going to lie, it was hard for me to deal with and I wasn’t sure how I was going to rebound. I had already passed some of the ‘easier’ exams so I knew I had some challenging exams ahead of me.
Mentally, it definitely set me back but I was able to push forward and take SS shortly after receiving my failed BDCS score.
I ended up taking the rest of the exams before taking my BDCS re-take last (back when the 6-month retake policy was in effect) and passing it the second time around.
Move On To The Next
I know it’s so much easier said than done, but one of the first things you need to do after failing an ARE exam is to put it behind you and move on to the next.
The worst thing you can do is dwell on your failed score and throw yourself a pity party. This won’t do you any good and you won’t be able to go back and get your score changed.
Honestly, it sounds cliche but it is what it is as this point.
Review your ARE Exam Order and see what you need to focus on next. Keep in mind that you may need to tweak your exam order a little bit but try to stay with same general idea.
You need to start thinking about your next exam and preparing for that one.
Prepare For The Next Exam Right Away
The hardest part of failing an exam is the mental aspect.
You think to yourself, ‘I just put in weeks of studying and I failed. How can I go through this again?”
A good way to get through this is to already be focusing on your next exam. To do this, you need to start studying a day or two after you TAKE your exam, BEFORE you receive your score.
If you’re already focusing on preparing for your next ARE exam before finding out how you did on the previous one, you’re more likely to stay on track if you receive a failed score.
This can be tough mentally because a lot of candidates want to take a few days or even weeks after they take a test. In my opinion, this is risky if you fail because it will be MUCH HARDER to rebound and to get back into that studying routine.
I would keep the momentum going and start preparing for your next exam right after you take one.
Learn From Your Mistakes
This last tip can be a little tricky because it all depends on your situation and how you failed your ARE exam.
If you know exactly what you did to fail your ARE, it’s much easier to learn from your mistakes in order to prepare better for the re-take.
For example, say you were trying to complete the vignette and you messed up something and didn’t have enough time to go back and fix it before time ran out. This error should be easier to fix for the re-take because you know exactly what you need to focus on to prepare yourself.
Where it gets challenging is when you thought you did well but you still failed. This is definitely the more common situation for ARE candidates, especially when they fail the multiple choice.
Granted, if you fail the multiple choice NCARB still provides you with feedback on the categories in which you were deficient, but this does not always tell you exactly what you need to focus on.
In a situation like this, it may be best to prepare for the re-take almost like you’re studying for this exam the first time.
If you do it this way, then you know you’ll cover the material needed and hopefully you’ll do better the second time around. Sure, you can focus a little more on your deficient categories, but don’t ignore the test as a whole.
Failing and ARE exam can be very difficult for a lot of candidates, but learning how to get over a failed exam is critical.
The best thing you can do is remind yourself that you’re not alone and try to push yourself to move forward. Luckily, there are 6 other exams that you still need to pass so there is plenty of other things to focus on.
Just remember, failing an ARE exam is not the end of the world.