We, Yuki and Colette, recently became licensed landscape architects and would like to share some tips on preparing for the licensure exams and some stories from our paths to licensure.
Q1.) Where do I begin?
Yuki (YI): This was my biggest question! I think signing up for a prep course like “Sarah Gronquist Landscape Architect (SGLA) Technical Training” is a great way to get your mindset right for study mode and have a handle on what to focus on. It also helps you navigate how questions are asked on the LARE, which is sometimes one of the most difficult parts.
Colette (CC): I began by reading CLARB’s Orientation Guide including the exam content charts for each section. I then acquired the recommended readings for each section and started reading on the topics listed on the exam content charts. Since many of the topics are broad and the recommended readings are extensive, I also signed up for an SGLA course before my first exam to help me identify how to study and what to focus on.
Q2.) How did you study?
YI: Quizlet (online flashcard), Notion (note-taking application), and a physical notebook were my go-to items by the end of the exams. I watched a video while prepping for my exam on Notion (linked below) and decided to give it a try. It’s a pretty basic app but you have a lot of freedom to move things around, categorize, etc. My favorite feature is the toggling – you can write questions and make it a toggle bullet so you can hide the answers until you are ready to look at it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONG26-2mIHU&ab_channel=AliAbdaal
CC: (you should share about your study groups:) Participating in study groups helped me prepare for the exams and stay motivated. I found people to study with by posting on the LARE Exam Google Group, reaching out to former classmates, and connecting with people I met through prep classes. In the study groups, we asked each other questions, reviewed practice exams and vignettes for Sections 3 and 4, looked at flashcards, selected topics to study and then discussed what we learned at the next study session.
Q3.) How often did you study?
CC: A few months before my exam, I would study two to three times a week and then increase my studying frequency to nearly every day the last few weeks leading up to the exam. I created a study schedule and blocked out times to study to help me stay focused. When I only had 5 or 10 minutes, such as when I was eating breakfast or waiting for a train, I would look at flashcards.
YI: For memorization, I liked to try to get to it everyday, even for 15 or 30 min. Since I was working full-time while I was studying, it was important for me to narrow down how I was going to study, whether that is going through flashcards online or reading through notes and quizzing myself. Once I narrowed that down whenever I had longer chunks of time available like the weekend, I could really focus even in a short period of time.
Q4.) What study resources do you recommend?
YI: I recommend the LAREprep online exams. They have the most comprehensive explanation of solutions and were useful to me in the weeks leading up to the exam.
CC: I also recommend checking out ASLA’s LARE prep resources. ASLA offers members some free resources including sample questions, practice vignettes for Sections 3 and 4, and notes on LARE test topics and how to study. Bay Area LARC has put together a list of LARE and CSE resources. These resources can be found under the LARE & CSE tab on our resources spreadsheet.
Q5.) What is the craziest thing that you experienced the day of an exam and what did you learn from that experience?
CC: For Section 3, I tried to cram more information the night before the exam, which led me to doubt what I knew and feel anxious about the test. This led me to not be able to fall asleep until 5 AM the day before my exam! I certainly felt tired taking my exam, but I did my best to stay focused and I passed the exam. I realized that I would have been better off relaxing the night before the exam so that I could have slept better and felt better during the exam. Not cramming and doing something relaxing the nights before my last two exams resulted in me sleeping much better and feeling better going into the exams.
YI: There was a technical difficulty at my station and the proctor had to call CLARB multiple times throughout the exam to resolve it. It definitely took away from my time and threw me off. The second time there was a malfunction, I sat at my station silently with my hand raised because those were the instructions written on the walls of the exam room, but was unattended for 5-10 minutes. In the end they were okay with me going up to the door to get their attention, but I think it’s a good idea to always check every location’s policy before you start your exam, so you don’t risk your time like I did.
We hope that this information is helpful. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions for us about preparing for the LARE or CSE.
Have you taken the LARE yet? Do you have any other resources, tips, or stories from your experience taking the exams that you would like to share?