ARE Stuff

The Architectural Registration Exams!

What can I say about them… besides… Fun… Fun…

I’ve posted before about the process of becoming an architect… however on this page I wanted to concentrate on the ARE’s themselves. Below is a record of how I am approaching them, how I did on them, and what I studied for them…The $ in front of each bullet designates that its a link to something you have to buy… if there is no $ then its a free resource that you can get to from this page. Hopefully someone will find this aggregate of information useful… if not amusing.


$ = it will cost you money… “legally” if you can’t find it from someone to borrow. Check with your local AIA chapter, sometimes they have these more expensive books in limited quantity to loan to potential candidates for free.

CS- Construction Documents and Services~Taken 2011.11.17 (pass letter 2011.12.08)


SPD Site Planing & Design~Taken 2012.01.06 (pass letter 2012.01.20)

PPP Programing, Planning, &Practice ~Taken 2012.02.17 (FAIL letter 2012.02.29)

This fail bummed me out… took longer than necessary to get ready for the next exam because of the fail letter. However… people do fail these test quite often… and I wanted to show everyone I was one of them.  I’ll re-sum up what re-studied and the additional material i looked over for when I retake this test in August sometime.

BDCS Building Design and Construction Systems~Taken 2012.03.12 (pass letter 2012.03.29)

SS Structural Systems ~Taken 2013.06.17 (pass letter 2013.07.05)

  • PREP A.R.E vignette video ( part of the course above.  full course videos need payment, but there are free videos going over the vignette that are helpful.
  • $ Dorf Video(click insight video tab at top of page)
    • Structural Layout Vignette: 19 minutes
  • Fema Earthquake design guide ( i just “perused” most of this, as I knew some of it already and it overlapped other material on here)


(infamous 2013 NCARB / ARE Black-Out occurred here)

BS Building Systems ~ Taken 2013.10.02 (Online Notification on 2013.10.10)

  • Jenny’s Study Notes on BS : This page on her site is like mine, but better organized and a lot cleaner layout (someday I’ll spruce up to be a little more web friends… someday). You should check out her blog as well that records her journey taking the ARE’s to becoming licensed, as its a good read everyone can relate too.


PP (Part Duex) Programing, Planning, & Practice for the second time ~  Taken 2014.02.24 (Online Notification on 2014.03.06)

So far this is the only test I’ve failed… this time around I studied the following in this order

  • Jenny’s Notes (PPP) great brush up
  • $ Ballust PPP Q&A… did practice exam… to help brush up
  • $ AHPP (I used 13th Ed.)
    • chapter 10 (Delivery methods and Compensation)
    • chapter 12 (Risk management strategies + Insurance Coverage)
    • Chapter 17 (Planning and pre-design services)
  • Cruising Coach Forum (not only for other vin solutions, but just reading topics in PPP)
  • I did practice VIN from NCARB and also used these sources for VIN study alone…


PPP video study guide on vimeo

    from Vignette Master
  • Last thing I studied weekend before the test was I re-read some of the AIA docs available via your NCARB record website. I AM SUPER GLAD I DID… i almost forgot how much of an overlap test PPP is, going over some of the topics from CD’s, SPD, BS, and even some knowledge that could have been on SS. I am already familiar with some of the more important AIA docs, but wanted a quikck refresher… re-reading them quckly was well worth the time in my opinion. Specifically I read the following for PPP…
    • A101 -2007 | Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Contractor
    • A201-2007 | General Conditions of the Contract for Construction
    • B101-2007 | Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect
    • C401-2007 | Standard Form of Agreement Between Architect and Consultant

    PS. If you don’t know what the letters are in front of the the contract numbers or what the go to , you can see them… By Family and by Letter Series by clicking on the links

SD Schematic Design ~Taken 2014.03.24 (Online Notification on 2014.04.03)

All I can say to my final test is… ho-lee-chit. I Practiced, practiced, and then practiced some more both interior and BL for about 3 weeks. I was really nervous as I was completing the interior layouts about 15 or 20 minutes past my practice timer… during the test it was the opposite… cranked out IL and got screwed with time changing my BL last second. I was sure I failed… in fact when I went back to my office I told everyone I failed i was that confident i did… What a relief when I got the pass letter… i think i literally did go to my office roof top and sing!

  • $ Dorf PPP ving video (click insight video tab at top)
  • sbyrktct’s web page was helpful, he also has some links to alternate files
  • Jenny’s notes were also simple, yet helpful.
  • Mostly though… this one is just practice with the software, getting a system down, and making sure you don’t forget something mundane or fatal in your solutions. I found the best way to achieve this was to do NCARB practice vignette, and post on coach’s forum. Also make sure you look at other peoples and don’t be afraid to comment on there’s either… as that is not only important for them, but its a way to practice reviewing your own solutions and spotting things that are wrong.

Other Resources |

  •– more than extremely helpful, essential
  • AREcoach, which has either temporarily or permanently replaced AREforum while they work out their down time issues.
  • There is an ARE group on facebook, which has some content, but a great way to buy or sell used study materials.
  • This shows how long each test division is on this NCARB Page
  • NCARB Computer Practice programs and exam guides
  • is a pretty fun and informative blog about the ARE’s as well.
  • Youtube Channel of bjfb1ethere are a few video tutorials with the NCARB ving here.
    • Again, be diligent in looking at what other people call “passing solutions”. Use them to help you analyze different situations, not necessarily for the correct answer. Case in point… read comments under his ramp tutorial, I believe he got his landing widths wrong when compared to what the program calls for to meet turning radies.

General Notes and My Opinions | Helpful if your starting to study for the ARE’s

  • Kaplan flashcards are a waste… for simple definitions that are way overpriced.
  • Ask other recent architects in your office or elsewhere what they studied… most have a collection of study material they will gladly pass down or tell you where to get.
  • To me Ballast and Kaplan study book materials are redundant in material. They also seem to be the most popular “base” study material (basically going over the same information) although very helpful, I think you can pick one or the other and be suffice in your brush up information, no need to study both in my opinion unless your office has them… (not cheap to buy)
  • The study material overlaps. Besides Arch History questions popping up on each exam… it seams so far they always ask something related to contracts and bond/insurance. A few people in my office recommended I do CS first because of this, which is what I did, and I must say… so far on each test there has been a few questions relating to it. Also the PPP and SD overlap quite a bit. I would recommend you group these 3 sections together, but that is just my opinon.
  • I thought “the Dorf videos” were key for all vignettes. They are expensive, but worth it in my opinion… same with his solution book and the alternate
  • There is a user on the areforums called “dwg” check out the last page on his comments. He has a list of his study materials (which is where i go the idea to do this page)…. there are also plenty of other users on those forums that have done the same as well. Explore and Learn…
  • Be diligent in looking at what other people call “passing solutions”. Use them to help you analyze different situations, not necessarily for the correct answer. Even with published books, such as the Dorf solutions, colleges and myself have discussed them publishing “passing solutions” with discrepancies that could be argued as mark downs. Case in point the ramp passing solution in Dorf’s book… gaurdrails interfere with 60″ turning radius’ at the ramp landings


~~let me know if any of my links are not working, or if you think I misinterpreted anything, Thanks~~


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