Quite obviously, the perfect time to begin taking the tests does not exist, the only way to finish is to start.
I set myself a completion date for Christmas, timing it so I finished my exams as I finished the remainder of my hours. Conveniently, this also allowed me to enjoy the holidays without feeling stressed about my exams.
Boost your confidence. Sign up for the test that you are most familiar with or that requires the least amount of studying. You have a higher likelihood of passing and feeling confident in your abilities on your path to licensure.
I know that with big picture things (like finishing my AREs), my motivation tends to shut down. The more I can break a large task up into smaller, manageable pieces and start checking them off a list, the more motivated I will feel. For me, this meant signing up for one test at a time and commit to reading one chapter of studying material a night (with some buffer days built in).
You won’t take studying seriously and prioritize it over other commitments and life events before that date is real.
This may be personal preference, some people are very motivated by peer support and are better able to hold themselves accountable by verbally committing to a goal. For me, it was great to have a cheering section at the end (thanks Mom!), but the last thing I needed when taking the first few was anyone asking me how it was going. For me, the less time spent talking about the exams meant less time for worry and stress.
The ARE website lists a lot of possible study materials for each test. It’s truly overwhelming. I started with Brightwood books available in the Payette library and YouTube videos. It provided the foundation I needed to understand what I would be tested on and where the gaps in my knowledge were. That combined with practical experience from working and general test taking skills made each test passable.
In October, after I took the third exam, I had two out-of-town weddings to attend. I took those weeks off and didn’t study. After three weeks off, I returned to my one chapter a day schedule and felt a renewed motivation to complete the last two tests.