The ULTIMATE list of NCARB ARE study material (Part 2: Each specific multiple choice exam)

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This post is part of a series on NCARB’s Architecture Registration Exam. Having recently completed this long process, the series examines my journey and the various things I learned along the way. Click here to see all the posts of my Architecture Registration Exam Series.

Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

“What other ARE Material is available for this exam that I don’t know about?”

This is another question I frequently found myself asking during the Architecture Registration Exam. I was putting a lot of my time, money and energy into studying. I needed to be assured that I was using the most effective information. I’ll also admit that I got tired of Ballast ARE Review Manual and Kaplan Study Guides.

Reading Architect Exam Prep, Ballast and Kaplan alone will definitely not be enough. They’re a great starting point and super helpful for seeing the bigger picture, but often times more is needed.

Studying for each exam requires using many different sources of information. Reading the same topic from different authors from different points of view was often what I needed to full understand the material. Kaplan and Ballast frequently leave out or do a lousy job explaining a topic and you won’t understand it until you’ve read what Gang Chen has to say about it and suddenly it all comes together and finally makes sense. I had a lot of those moments.

In Part 1: Study material overview – I cover the basics to start studying, locating materials and a list of materials and resources that are used for all the exams.

In this Part 2: Each specific multiple choice exam – I run through each test and provide a brief overview of the content, what the vignettes are like, what my experience was and then share the information that I found useful.

In Part 3: Passing graphic vignettes – I teach you everything I know about beating the graphic vignettes like the low-tech architectural video games that they are.

If you haven’t read Part 1, I would recommend starting there before you jump into the details of each exam. It has a goldmine of helpful resources.

Be warned.

The information I am about to share with you is overwhelming if you haven’t been in the thick of it. You’ll wonder if you really need to buy all these books? No. Definitely not.

My recommendation is to always start with Architect Exam Prep, Kaplan or Ballast. They’re fantastic for seeing the big picture. Once you have studied those materials and worked with the practice exams you’ll have a better idea of where and how you should supplement.

I recently shared my standard ARE Studying Schedule  and went into detail about how to implement all these study guides.

 

 

 About the links within this post

Since Amazon is essentially a crowd sourced used book market, I noticed there are several listings for the same book and the prices are all over the place. I provided links to all of the listings, so you can find the best price.

Due to the length of this post I have created a duplicate list without all the narrative or pictures Click here for the master list of study material

Knowing that most people are only focusing on one test at a time I have included links to jump to each exam.     Click one of these links to jump down to the following exams

Construction Documents and Services exam (CDS)

The content of CDS multiple choice exam consists of:

  • Developing, evaluating, coordinating, organizing and laying out construction drawings and details, project manuals, specifications.
  • Project delivery methods, Owner-Architect agreements, Owner – Contract agreements, general conditions of the contract, supplementary conditions, business organizations, office organizations, legal issues, project management.
  • Construction administration, construction sequencing, scheduling, evaluating costs, bidding, value engineering, submittals, changes in the work, field administration, progress payments, closeout.
  • Building Codes, ADA and health and life safety.
  • Content from PPP and SPD will appear on this exam. I would recommend reviewing those chapters or study guides as well.

The vignette consists of constructing a building section from a plan.  The keys to solving the vignette are:

  • The ability to translate a 2D plan, program and code requirements into a 2D building cross section drawing. It’s kind of like Drafting 101.
  • Calculating the appropriate floor to floor heights and ceiling heights.

Out of all the vignettes this seemed to be one of the most basic. Although if this is your first vignette (it was mine) I would give yourself extra time to get comfortable with using NCARB’s goofy drafting software.

Make sure you remember to draw the grade line, that’s a really big deal in the building section vignette. I have a friend who did really well taking the exam but forgot to draw the grade line and failed the whole damn thing.

CDS was my first exam and I was really enthusiastic.  I aced this exam. I slaughtered it. I definitely over studied for this exam, but that’s not a bad thing. I learned a lot of great information that immediately helped me in the office.  Here is a list of all the study materials that I used for CDS:

NCARB ARE 4.0 Study Guide – CDS Exam

 NCARB ARE Study Guide CDS - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam
The NCARB multiple choice practice exams give a pretty accurate portrayal of the content of CDS.

Click HERE for the link to CDS ARE exam guide

Ballast CDS Practice Exam and ARE Review Manual

Ballast CDS - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam       Ballast

I bought this practice test to contrast the Kaplan information. I didn’t find the Ballast book as helpful as Kaplan for CDS. However, I did review the Ballast CDS chapters prior to taking every other exam to make sure I had all the legal and contracts stuff straight. It’s easy to confuse some of the contracts and numbering.
Click HERE for Ballast CDS practice exam
Click HERE for Ballast ARE review manual 
Click here for a link to PPI, the Ballast Publisher. Use discount code YARCH will work for a 5% discount, as long as PPI isn’t already running a promotion. 
Click HERE for my Review the Ballast ARE review manual   

Kaplan CDS

Kaplan CDS - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

I studied Kaplan quite a bit for this exam and found it to be very well done. I highly recommend using Kaplan for CDS PPP and SPD, I found Ballast to be good for review after I learned everything in Kaplan. Kaplan rules for CDS!

For CDS Kaplan Study Guide Click year for corresponding edition 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014

For CDS Kaplan Question and Answers, Click year for corresponding edition 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011,  2012 and 2013

For CDS Kaplan Practice Vignettes Click year for corresponding edition 2009, 2010, 2011,  and 2012

Gang Chen CDS

CDS Gang Chen - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Gang Chen thinks CDS is the easiest of all the exams. He wrote a bunch of good stuff about CDS on his amazon page. Click HERE for link to Gang Chen’s CDS Book on Amazon

 

Architect Exam Prep – CDS Enchilada

Architect Exam Prep CDS - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Architect Exam Prep offers a whole SPD package to download for $99.  Their CDS package consists of:

  • A 140+ page study guide with a review of the key AIA documents.
  • 9 Hours of mp3 audio files.
  • 6 videos about the vignette.
  • 2 example vignettes, 2 passing solutions and 2 failing solutions.
  • 4 practice vignettes, 2 passing solutions and 2 failing solutions – Available to practice on paper or in the software.
  • 300+ flashcards ready to go, just print and cut them out.
  • Access to an online test simulator.
  • 12 AIA Sample documents for A201, B101, B102, B201, B202, B203, C401, G701, G702, G704, G710 and G714.

I purchased the CDS enchilada and wrote a very thorough review of what is inside this package. 

Click HERE for link to Architect Exam Prep – CDS Enchilada

Designer Hacks CDS Practice Questions

designerhackslogo-02-150x150

Designer Hacks gives away a free 25 question practice CDS exam and they also have a premium CDS exam content. I am a big fan of Designer Hacks practice questions and think they are perfect for practicing answering ARE Questions.

Here is a link to my review of Designer Hacks Practice Exams

Here is a link to the Designer Hacks CDS Exams.

Architects Handbook of Professional Practice

AHPP - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

 This was one my favorite books from CDS and is frequently referred to as AHPP. It is published by the AIA and it’s kind of like the bible for the business of architecture. I used it quite a bit learning about the delivery of projects, business models, insurance, and many other topics. My office had a copy, but I later purchased my own copy.

When I was studying I always used the expensive fancy version, but I am sure the cheaper student version will work just fine. Infact many other ARE Candidates use the student version to study for the CDS Exam.

Just like Kaplan there are a ton of different listings for the same book of all versions. My advice is to find the best price and go with that. I highly doubt having a new copy of AHPP will give you any kind of competitive edge.  I would also stay away from the 1996 version, I do not provide those links below.

13th Edition AHPP – Version 1

14th Edition AHPP – Version 1, Version 2, Version 3

15th Edition AHPP – Version 1, Version 2, Version 3, Version 4, Version 5

Architecture Student’s 13th Edition AHPP – Version 1, Version 2

Architecture Student’s 14th Edition AHPP – Version 1, Version 2, Version 3, Version 4, Version 5, Version 6

 

Professional Practice: A Guide to Turning Designs Into Buildings by Paul Segal FAIA

propractice

I recently purchased this book long after I took the CDS exam, I was intrigued by the title.  However, everything in this book is applicable to the CDS exam. It is essentially an abridged version of The Architects Handbook of Professional Practice, but significantly shorter. It is also much easier to read and less intimidating. I really enjoyed how well it was written. I read through it with ease in just a few sittings.

Click here for a link to Professional Practice: A Guide to Turning Designs Into Buildings

AIA Docs w/ commentary

KNOW AIA DOCS

I got my hands on a copy of the AIA General Conditions document that is broken down line by line in plain (non-lawyer) English. Search the web for these and make sure you are studying the most up to date documents. Click HERE for link to the AIA Docs

AIA Sample docs

AIA

The AIA hooks ARE candidates up with samples of all their documents online with a big sample watermark in the background that are helpful for studying. One day when I was logged into the NCARB website and I was poking around I noticed that they have a special link to the AIA Documents for ARE candidates studying for CDS. Click HERE for instructions on accessing the AIA documents

Schiff Hardin Professional Practice Class Lectures

Schiff Hardin

I listened to these excellent lectures on my headphones while I threw a ball to my dog in the park. Click HERE for a link to the Schiff Hardin Pro Practice class lectures

 

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Practice Planning and Programming exam (PPP)

The content of PPP multiple choice exam consists of:

  • Urban design, community design, land analysis, transportation influence, climatic influence, legal and economic influences.
  • Historic structures, predesign services, programming, scheduling, legal issues, project management.
  • LEED/Sustainability.
  • Building Codes, ADA and health and life safety.
  • Content from CDS and SPD will appear on this exam. I would recommend reviewing those chapters or study guides as well.

The vignette is drawing a site zoning section. I didn’t find it too difficult, I spent 75% time studying MC and 25% on the vignette. The keys to solving the vignette are:

  • Understanding how to read the zoning code information.
  • Ability to draw the maximum building envelope on a site in both plan and a section through the site.

My experience with PPP was pretty smooth. It was a challenging test, but I had plenty of time to check all my questions and tackle the vignette. I don’t really remember a whole lot from this exam which is probably a good thing.

Below are links to the ARE study materials I used to get ready for PPP:

NCARB ARE 4.0 Study Guide – PPP Exam

 NCARB ARE Study Guide PPP - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

THe NCARB multiple choice practice exam guide has the History of Architecture by Spiro Kostoff on the suggested reading list. I read that in college and wouldn’t suggest that to anyone studying for this exam.    Click HERE for link to NCARB PPP ARE exam guide

Kaplan PPP

PPP Kaplan - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

For PPP Kaplan Study Guide Click year for corresponding edition 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014

For PPP Kaplan Question and Answers Click year for corresponding edition 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013

For PPP Kaplan Practice Vignettes Click year for corresponding edition 2010 and 2012

 

Ballast PPP Practice Exam

PPP Ballast - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam        Ballast

The PPP Chapters in the ARE Review Manual are a little light. I would recommend adding the following chapters: 5 Site Analysis, 15 Soil and Foundations, 29 Energy Efficiency, 30 Sustainable Design, 35 Site work.
Click HERE for link to Ballast PPP Practice Exam
Click HERE for Ballast ARE review manual 
Click HERE for my Review the Ballast ARE review manual
Click here for a link to PPI, the Ballast Publisher. Use discount code YARCH will work for a 5% discount, as long as PPI isn’t already running a promotion. 

Gang Chen PPP

ppp gang chen - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Click HERE for link to Gang Chen PPP

 

 

Architect Exam Prep PPP Enchilada

Architect Exam Prep PPP - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Architect Exam Prep offers a whole PPP package to download for $99. I haven’t officially checked out all of these products but I must admit I am intrigued. Their PPP package consists of:

  • A 100+ page study guide with 50+ diagrams.
  • 7 Hours of mp3 audio files.
  • 6 videos about the vignette.
  • 2 example vignettes, 2 passing solutions and 2 failing solutions.
  • 4 practice vignettes, 2 passing solutions and 2 failing solutions – Available to practice on paper or in the software.
  • 348 flashcards ready to go, just print and cut them out.
  • Access to an online test simulator.
  • 6 AIA Sample documents for A201, B101, B102, B201, B202, B203.

Seems like a lot of stuff for $99. If anyone has purchased this package I would love to hear your feedback. Check out the review I wrote of the Architect Exam Preps CDS Package, it may give you some insight on what to expect for the PPP exam.

Click HERE for link to Architect Exam Prep – PPP Enchilada

Designer Hacks PPP Practice Questions

designerhackslogo-02-150x150

Designer Hacks gives away a free 25 question practice PPP exam and they also have a premium PPP exam content. I am a big fan of Designer Hacks practice questions and think they are perfect for practicing answering ARE Questions.

Here is a link to my review of Designer Hacks Practice Exams
Here is a link to the Designer Hacks PPP Exams.

 

Defensible Space by Oscar Newman

defensible space by oscar newman - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Defensible Space is like a cookbook for helping designers create urban environments that foster safety and community, rather than the opposite. The basics of Defensible Space are briefly mentioned in Ballast and Kaplan. I really enjoyed reading it because it has tons of diagrams and is super interesting. Click HERE for link to a free download of Oscar Newmans, Defensible Space

Pruit-Igoe Myth

I recently watched this movie and wrote a blog post about it. Pruit-Igoe is a fascinating story about a failed low-income housing project in St. Louis, Missouri. Click HERE for link to The Pruit-Igoe Myth

Standards and Guidelines for Historic Buildings By National Park Service

park service

You’ll need to understand differences between the different treatments. This is the long version, Ballast and Kaplan cover this. This information comes up on several exams. I wouldn’t go crazy memorizing all the details, but focus on the concepts and differences of each treatment.  Click HERE for link to the Standards and Guidelines for Historic Buildings 

Programming For Design, by Edith Cherry

programming for design by Edith Cherry - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

When I took PPP I had zero experience with architectural programming and this book was a wonderful introduction. It really helped me wrap my head around the programming phase and see that it is so crucial to the overall project. Click HERE for link to Programming For Design

Design With Climate by Victor Olgyay

 Design with Climate by victor olgyay - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

I also read this book cover to cover, although it was difficult to get through.  It is super old, but yet still very relevant.  I learned about this book from the NCARB study guide list of recommended resources and luckily my library had it. This book gets deep into psychometric charts and was the first place I learned to understand how to use them. It would also be excellent book for the building systems test. Click HERE for link to Design with Climate

Image of A City by Kevin Lynch

Image of a city by kevin lynch - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

My library had this book so I checked it out. I spent little time reading it. I didn’t get too deep into the details. Ballast and Kaplan both reference this book and his theories. Click HERE for link to Image of a City

Urbanized

This movie is a really great primer on urban design. Click HERE for link to Urbanized

 

 

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Site Planning and Design exam (SPD)

The content on SPD multiple choice exam consists of:

  • Site analysis, topography, climate, drainage, utilities, parking, landscaping, property descriptions, material calculations.
  • Human comfort, Psychometrics, air quality.
  • Soil, earthwork, shoring and bracing, site improvements.
  • Building Codes, ADA and health and life safety.
  • Content from CDS and SPD will appear on this exam. I would recommend reviewing those chapters or study guides as well.

The SPD exam has 2 vignettes, Site grading and Site Planning. I found both the vignettes to both be very challenging. Make sure to allow extra time to practice these vignettes. The key to passing the site grading vignette is

  • Understanding how to read a 2D topographic map and adjust the topography to provide positive drainage.
  • Ability to manipulate the grading and maintain the grading thresholds.

The key to passing the site plan is:

  • Ability to quickly calculate, design and draw parking lots in various sizes and layouts.
  • Providing a site plan that fulfills the extensive code and programmatic requirements.

Both vignettes took me a lot of trial and error to get the hang of.  I probably spent 50% of my time studying for the multiple choice and 50% on the vignette.

My experience with SPD was a weird one. The first time I took the test I studied really hard and felt very confident walking in. The test I took felt impossible. The MC questions were extremely difficult; I had many WTF questions and saw a lot of questions on things I had never even heard of. The vignettes were the same way. I was really confident in my ability to solve the vignettes, yet the site plan I had to solve was also impossible. I practically did parking lot gymnastics to get my parking to work without making a fatal error. The parking design looked absurd, but it worked and met all the requirements. I failed the multiple choice with minor deficiencies and passed the vignettes. I was really frustrated.

The second time I took SPD, I couldn’t say I was a whole lot more prepared than the first time. Luckily test #2 was a walk in the park. No curveballs at all. The multiple choice was straight forward. The vignette was very similar to the NCARB practice vignette. It felt too good to be true.

Below are links to the ARE study materials I studied for the SPD exam:

NCARB ARE 4.0 Study Guide – SPD Exam

NCARB Exam Guide SPD - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

I used this study guide much more than any of the others.   Click HERE for link to SPD ARE exam guide

Kaplan SPD

Kaplan does a great job for the CDS, PPP and SPD trifecta.

 

For SPD Kaplan Study Guide Click year for corresponding edition 2004, 2006, 2009,  2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014

For SPD Kaplan Question and Answers, Click year for corresponding edition 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013

For SPD Kaplan Practice Vignettes Click year for corresponding edition 2009, 2010 and 2012

 

Ballast SPD Practice Exam & Review Manual

ballast spd - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam       Ballast - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Ballast only has one chapter for site planning. I would include all the CDS and PPP chapters and Chapter 15 soils. The practice exam is good and the information on the vignettes I found to be very helpful.
Click HERE for link to Ballast SPD Practice Exam      
Click HERE for Ballast ARE review manual 
Click HERE for my Review the Ballast ARE review manual
Click here for a link to PPI, the Ballast Publisher. Use discount code YARCH will work for a 5% discount, as long as PPI isn’t already running a promotion. 

Site Planning by Kevin Lynch

kevin lynch Site Planning - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

I didn’t use this but many other people spoke highly of it.

Click HERE for Site Planning by Kevin Lynch

Gang Chen SPD

GANG spd - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

This book didn’t exist when I took SPD, but I would be interested in what Gang Chen has to say about passing the vignettes.

Click HERE for link to Gang Chen SPD

Architect Exam Prep SPD Enchilada

Architect Exam Prep SPD - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Architect Exam Prep offers a whole SPD package to download for $99. I haven’t officially checked out all of these products but I must admit I am intrigued. Their SPD package consists of:

  • A 100+ page study guide with 50+ diagrams.
  • 7.5 Hours of mp3 audio files.
  • 12 videos about the vignette.
  • 4 example vignettes, 4 passing solutions and 4 failing solutions.
  • 8 practice vignettes, 8 passing solutions and 8 failing solutions – Available to practice on paper or in the software.
  • 240+ flashcards ready to go, just print and cut them out.
  • Access to an online test simulator.

Seems like a lot of stuff for $99. If anyone has purchased this package I would love to hear your feedback. Check out the review I wrote of the Architect Exam Preps CDS Package, it may give you some insight on what to expect for the SPD exam.
Click HERE for link to Architect Exam Prep SPD Enchilada

 

Designer Hacks SPD Practice Questions

designerhackslogo-02-150x150

Designer Hacks gives away a free 25 question practice SPD exam and they also have a premium SPD exam content. I am a big fan of Designer Hacks practice questions and think they are perfect for practicing answering ARE Questions.

Here is a link to my review of Designer Hacks Practice Exams

Here is a link to the Designer Hacks SPD Exams.

 

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Schematic Design exam (SD)

The SD test consists of 2 very complicated vignettes with no multiple choice questions. The first vignette is an interior layout that meets a lengthy list of program, code and ADA requirements. The second vignette is a floor plan of a building that meets many programmatic and code requirements.   I will discuss SD at length in Part 3 of this series. Some people like to think the SD exam is just one big video game. Here are some study materials to help you wrap your brain around it.

 

Ballast Schematic Guide

ballast sd - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

I borrowed this from a friend and found it to be very helpful to get up to speed. There are multiple versions of the same exact listing with different prices.

Here they are. Version 1, Version 2, Version 3, Version 4 and Version 5
Click here for a link to PPI, the Ballast Publisher. Use discount code YARCH will work for a 5% discount, as long as PPI isn’t already running a promotion. 

 

 Kaplan Schematic Design

SD Kaplan - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

 

For SD Kaplan Study Guide Click year for corresponding edition 2009, 2011, 2012  and 2014

For SD Kaplan Practice Vignettes Click year for corresponding edition 2010, 2011 and 2012

 

Gang Chen Schematic Design

gang chen SD - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

This book came out after I finished SD. Im sure its good. Gang Chen did a thorough job with the vignettes in his other books. Click here for a link 

 

Architect Exam Prep SD Enchilada

Architect Exam Prep - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Architect Exam Prep will be releasing their SD Package around the end of 2014. Check out the review I wrote of the Architect Exam Preps CDS Package, it may give you some insight on what to expect from their products.

Click HERE for link to Architect Exam Prep

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Structural Systems Exam (SS)

The content of SS multiple choice consists of:

  • Understanding loads, equilibrium, determinate and indeterminate structures, properties of sections, statics, forces, moments, stress, diaphragms, trusses.
  • Basic structural systems, foundations, soils.
  • Structural steel design.
  • Structural wood design.
  • Structural concrete design.
  • Seismic and wind forces.
  • Building codes, ADA and health and life safety.

I found this vignette on par with some of the easier vignettes. It requires drawing a roof framing plan.  The key to the vignette consist of:

  • Calculating the heights of walls from a 2D plan view to accommodate windows and program requirements.
  • Providing bearing walls or headers where they’re needed.
  • Reading basic code requirements.

The vignette was very straight forward. Not having a super difficult vignette really helped with the intense studying I did for structures. I probably spent my study time 75% on mc and 25% on the vignette.

Let me preface my SS experience with saying I didn’t start this test with a strong structures foundation. I really struggled in architecture school with math, physics, statics and structures classes. I had excellent teachers, it was just a subject that wasn’t a particular strength (or interest) of mine.   The first time I took this test I mainly studied Ballast and Kaplan for 3 painful months. I feel like I memorized ton of the information, but didn’t quite have a working knowledge of the information to pass the test on the first round. I failed all sections with minor deficiencies.

I became extremely discouraged with failing SS. On round 2 I decided to use all new study material. After a lot of debate I dropped $415 and signed up for Mark Mitalski’s PrepARE course. The course consists of 36 hours of online video of Mark teaching structures in a way that directly addresses the content of the exam outlined by NCARB. I really enjoyed this class. I feel like he quickly got me up and running by presenting the material in a logical order that builds upon itself. He also brought a lot of personal information and stories to the subject which really helped me tie it all together.

When I took Mark’s course I hooked up the computer to my 48” flat screen. I then spent 40+ hours sitting on my couch with the dog studying for the entire rainy January in Portland, Oregon. It was really nice watching videos to study and getting away from reading textbooks. I printed the notes with his markups and then put my own notes on top of his.

Shortly before I retook the exam I reviewed Ballast and Kaplan again from round one and I got a lot more out of that information. The Ballast and Kaplan stuff is good I just needed more hand holding for this exam, actually I really needed to be held like a baby. I killed it on the second time and now it’s over. This test was my proudest moment of 2013.

Below are links to the ARE materials I studied for SS:

NCARB ARE 4.0 Study Guide – SS Exam

NCARB ARE Study Guide SS - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Click HERE for link to SS ARE exam guide       Click HERE for link for Mike’s commentary to NCARB SS guide

Mark Mitalski’s PrepARE Structures Course

PrepARE Mark Mitalski - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

I owe this man my life for helping me pass the SS Exam. His class is a little pricey, but I found it to be worth its weight in gold. Click HERE for link to Mark Mitalski’s course

Ballast SS Practice exam

Ballast ss - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Highly recommend this book as well. The questions are hard as hell and very detail oriented.
Click HERE for link to Ballast SS Practice exam
Click HERE for my Review the Ballast ARE review manual 
Click here for a link to PPI, the Ballast Publisher. Use discount code YARCH will work for a 5% discount, as long as PPI isn’t already running a promotion. 

Kaplan SS

kaplan ss - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

The Kaplan material was published with several errors. Many of which aren’t hard to find. Luckily your good friend Jennypdx has provided the you the errata to the Kaplan SS Study guide to correct all the errors.

For SS Kaplan Study Guide Click year for corresponding edition 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2014

For SS Kaplan Question and Answers, Click year for corresponding edition 2008, 2010 and 2012

For SS Kaplan Practice Vignettes Click year for corresponding edition 2010 and 2012

 

Gang Chen Structural Systems

Gang chen ss - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Click Here for Link to Gang Chen Structural Systems

 

Architect Exam Prep SS Enchilada

Architect Exam Prep - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Architect Exam Prep offers a whole SS package to download for $99. I haven’t officially checked out all of these products but I must admit I am intrigued. Their SS package consists of:

  • A 140+ page study guide with a review of the key AIA documents.
  • 5 Hours of mp3 audio files.
  • 6 videos about the vignette.
  • 2 example vignettes, 2 passing solutions and 2 failing solutions.
  • 4 practice vignettes, 2 passing solutions and 2  failing solutions – Available to practice on paper or in the software.
  • 230+ flashcards ready to go, just print and cut them out.
  • Access to an online test simulator.

Seems like a lot of stuff for $99. If anyone has purchased this package I would love to hear your feedback. Email me. Check out the review I wrote of the Architect Exam Preps CDS Package, it may give you some insight on what to expect for the SS exam.

Click HERE for link for Architect Exam Prep SS Enchilada

Designer Hacks SS Practice Questions

designerhackslogo-02-150x150

Designer Hacks gives away a free 25 question practice SS exam. I am a big fan of Designer Hacks practice questions and think they are perfect for practicing answering ARE Questions.

Here is a link to my review of Designer Hacks Practice Exams

Here is a link to the Designer Hacks SS Exam

 

Professor David Thaddeus

thaddeus-1+copy

David Thaddeus has been helping ARE Candidates pass the structures exam since the beginning of time. He now offers his ARE structures course online.

Many many people have raved on and on about David Thaddeus’s ARE seminars.  Thaddeus wasn’t offering his seminar online when I tested otherwise I would have been an easy sell.  Since I never took Thaddeus’s course I really have no insight, except that it is highly raved about from every who has taken it.

If structures was not your favorite time of architecture school I highly recommend purchasing one of these expensive online video courses.

Visit http://davidthaddeus.com/

 

Why Buildings Stand Up and Why Buildings Fall Down


Why Building stand up - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam                             Why Buildings fall down - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam
I read these in college, but skipped them for the ARE. Many people use reading these a starting point for the SS exam.

Click HERE for link to Why Buildings Stand Up            Click HERE for link to Why Buildings Fall Down  

Building Structures by James Ambrose

Building Structures Ambrose - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

I this book for both exams and learned a lot from it.

Click HERE For link to Building Structures

 

FEMA 454 Designing For Earthquakes

FEMA 454 - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

 

Click HERE For link to FEMA 454 Designing for Earthquakes

 

Top of Page – Click HERE 

The Building Design and Construction System exam (BDCS)

The content of BDCS multiple choice consists of:

  • Soil, earthwork, shoring and bracing, site improvements.
  • Concrete, formwork, vapor barriers, masonry.
  • Steel, metals.
  • Wood.
  • Structural and rough carpentry, finish carpentry, moisture protection, roofing, flashing, sealants, doors, windows, glazing, finish materials.
  • Elevators, escalators, ramps.
  • Building codes, ADA and health and life safety.

This is another vignette intensive exam. I spent 50/50 studying for MC and Vignettes. BDCS consists of 3 vignettes: An ADA ramp, a roof plan and a staircase. All 3 of vignettes have many nuances to them. Each took me a bit practice to get the hang of.

The key to the ramp vignette is:

  • Designing a complaint ramp and a stair to meet all code and program at a 30” +/- elevation change.

The key to the roof plan vignette is:

  • Involves placing the roof plans on a building and calculating the correct heights and pitches.

The key to the staircase vignette involves:

  • Designing a 2 story staircase in a plan view only to meet all the clearance and codes.

The staircase was by far the most challenging of the three. It took me some time to understanding how to do the calculations for the riser and treads to meet all the clearances. In my opinion, it is one of the most challenging vignettes on the ARE.

There is a lot of information to get through in this exam and not a lot of multiple choice questions. I went crazy memorizing a ton of info but I didn’t find the multiple choice exam to be too challenging. The vignettes on the other hand were pretty tough.  It took a while to get a good design for the staircase. I was a nervous wreck after this exam not knowing how I did on the vignette.

Below are links to the ARE study materials I used to get ready for the BDCS exam:

NCARB ARE 4.0 Study Guide – BDCS Exam

NCARB Study Guide BDCS - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Click HERE for link to BDCS ARE exam guide

Ballast Practice Exam BDCS

ballast bdcs - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

This book was really helpful for the vignettes.  At times I thought the Ballast book was a little bit overkill and overly detailed on some of the BDCS topics.
Click HERE for link to Ballast BDCS Practice Exam
Click HERE for my Review the Ballast ARE review manual 
Click here for a link to PPI, the Ballast Publisher. Use discount code YARCH will work for a 5% discount, as long as PPI isn’t already running a promotion. 

Kaplan BDCS

Kaplan BDCS - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

I read this cover to cover. It’s a little overly detailed, which is not a bad thing as long as you don’t get caught up in the details. I pulled out all the vocabulary from the glossary and made flashcards when I found very helpful.

For BDCS Kaplan Study Guide Click year for corresponding edition 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014

For BDCS Kaplan Question and Answers, Click year for corresponding edition 2009, 2010, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

For BDCS Kaplan Practice Vignettes Click year for corresponding edition 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012

 

Fundamentals of Building Construction By Edward Allen

Fundamentals of Building construction - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam
Remember this old paperweight from architecture school? Well, it’s time to dust it off and go find a comfortable chair. I studied an old copy. I didn’t read it cover to cover, although some people do.  I just used it to bone up on different topics I didn’t feel I knew so well. Click year for corresponding edition  2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2013.

Ching Building Construction Illustrated

Francis DK Ching building construction - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

I really only paid attention to the topics that are also outlined in Ballast and Kaplan.   Click HERE for link to Building Construction Illustrated

Gang Chen BDCS

gang chen BDCS

Gang Chen did a great job with the vignette section of this book. He really helped me understand the stairs. His practice test is also very helpful. Click HERE for link to Gang Chen’s BDCS Book

 

Architect Exam Prep BDCS Enchilada

Architect Exam Prep - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Architect Exam Prep offers a whole BDCS package to download for $99. I haven’t officially checked out all of these products but I must admit I am intrigued. Their BDCS package consists of:

  • A 200+ page study guide with a review of the key AIA documents.
  • 12 Hours of mp3 audio files.
  • 12 videos about the vignette.
  • 6 example vignettes, 6 passing solutions and 6 failing solutions.
  • 6 practice vignettes, 6 passing solutions and 6  failing solutions – Available to practice on paper or in the software.
  • 340+ flashcards ready to go, just print and cut them out.
  • Access to an online test simulator.
  • 2 AIA Sample documents for A201, B101.

Seems like a lot of stuff for $99. If anyone has purchased this package I would love to hear your feedback. Email me. Check out the review I wrote of the Architect Exam Preps CDS Package, it may give you some insight on what to expect for the BDCS exam.

Click HERE for link for Architect Exam Prep BDCS Enchilada

Designer Hacks BDCS Practice Questions

designerhackslogo-02-150x150

Designer Hacks gives away a free 25 question practice BDCS exam. I am a big fan of Designer Hacks practice questions and think they are perfect for practicing answering ARE Questions.

Here is a link to my review of Designer Hacks Practice Exams

Here is a link to the Designer Hacks BDCS Exam

Top of Page – Click HERE 

The Building Systems Exam (BS)

The content of BS multiple choice consists of:

  • HVAC, human comfort,  alternative energy sources, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, recycling and reuse, life cycle cost analysis, LEED and other rating systems.
  • Plumbing design, water systems, sanitary drainage and venting, storm drainage, fire protection.
  • Electrical, power supply, lighting, fire alarm systems, moisture protection,
  • Building codes, ADA and health and life safety.
  • Content from PPP and SPD will appear on this exam. I would recommend reviewing those chapters or study guides as well.

The BS exam only has one vignette consisting of drawing mechanical and lighting layout.  The key to the BS vignette is:

  • Creating a lighting plan with program and lighting diagrams.
  • Drawing an efficient mechanical layout meeting programmatic requirements.

I thought the vignette was kind of tricky to get the hang of at first. Once I completed it, I found that it was as straight forward as the rest. I needed a lot of practice drawing this one. I probably spent 75% studying for the multiple choice and 25% on the vignette.

BS was my second hardest test after SS. It took me awhile to get through all the content. Unfortunately I don’t really have a whole lot of MEP experience so it took some time to get up to speed. I took BS for the first time 8 weeks after I did structures. I hit it really hard during those 8 weeks, but unfortunately it just wasn’t enough to pass. Apparently I failed the Plumbing section although I hardly remember answering many plumbing questions besides a calculation that I must have screwed up.

The second time around I used all new study materials and I still found the exam to be completely jarring and had no idea how I did after I finished the exam. But I passed and that was my last ARE test.

Below are links to the ARE study materials I used for BS:

NCARB ARE 4.0 Study Guide – BS Exam

NCARB Guide BS - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Click HERE for link to BS ARE exam guide

NCARB BS Exam Reference Sheet

ncarb

These are the reference materials that are available during the exam. This is one of the few exams that NCARB provides you with formulas as a reference sheet. This reference sheet will be available to you during the exam and you should understand how to use all the information. Click HERE for link to NCARB BS Exam Reference Sheet k

The Amber Book by Michael Ermann

amber - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

This book has a very helpful practice test for BS. Michael Ermann also made several really good YouTube videos. Which were key to learning the refrigeration cycle.  Click HERE for link to The Amber Book                 Click HERE for Link to Michael’s Youtube Videos         

Gang Chen BS Book

gang chen bs - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

This book was a big time help in assisting my understanding of all the calculations. Click HERE for link to Gang Chen BS Book

Kaplan Building Systems

Kapl bs

The Kaplan BS is pretty good to get started with studying for this test. After I read it once I only revisited a few sections.

For BS Kaplan Study Guide Click year for corresponding edition  2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014

For BS Kaplan Question and Answers, Click year for corresponding edition 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

For BS Kaplan Practice Vignettes Click year for corresponding edition  2010 and 2012

MEEB MEEB MEEB

meeb - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

MEEB is the best. I really got a lot from MEEB.  It is a very intimidating book because it’s 2 ½” thick. MEEB is super detailed and thorough. I must admit some parts I used an old copy of MEEB that I borrowed from a friend. Someone put together this chart outlining where all of the MEEB chapters can be found and what you should study. I pretty much followed this chart verbatim. There are also free practice quizzes online. MEEB is also the only textbook that I know of that has its own music video. (although there is no shortage on videos of Gang Chen singing Kareoke)

Click year for corresponding MEEB edition 1999, 2005, 2009 and 2014

 Click HERE for Link to free MEEB practice quizes

Heating, Cooling, Lighting: Sustainable Design Methods for Architects by Norbert Lechner

norton

I really enjoyed this book, I rented it from Amazon. I read about 75% of it. This is a great intro book if you don’t have much background in HVAC or sustainability. It’s a lot more basic and easier to read than MEEB, Ballast or Kaplan. This book got me up to speed quickly. It would be a good book to read first starting out studying or if you are feeling overwhelmed by the other study materials.  Norbert Lechner also has another book called “Plumbing, Electricity and Acoustics”, which I considered checking out but didn’t have the time. I’m sure it is very similar to Heating, Cooling and Lighting.  Click HERE for link to Heating, Cooling and Lighting      Click HERE for link to Plumbing, Electricity and Acoustics

A boat load of Youtube videos

Youtube

Various Youtube videos helped me significantly in understanding the concepts. I found YouTube to be the most useful studying for BS than any other exam. I don’t have a single link I could give, so you’re on your own searching around. I found some of the old school animations to be super helpful.  Here are a few videos to get you started: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpaEGhjpZgc    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20Vb6hlLQSg  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTkeTX3FF9A

 

Architect Exam Prep BS Enchilada

Architect Exam Prep - Ultimate List of ARE Study Material for the Architecture Registration Exam

Architect Exam Prep offers a whole BS package to download for $99. I haven’t officially checked out all of these products but I must admit I am intrigued. Their BS package consists of:

  • A 100+ page study guide with a review of the key AIA documents.
  • 7.5 hours of mp3 audio files.
  • 6 videos about the vignette.
  • 2 example vignettes, 2 passing solutions and 2 failing solutions.
  • 4 practice vignettes, 2 passing solutions and 2 failing solutions – Available to practice on paper or in the software.
  • 300+ flashcards ready to go, just print and cut them out.
  • Access to an online test simulator.

Seems like a lot of stuff for $99. If anyone has purchased this package I would love to hear your feedback. Check out the review I wrote of the Architect Exam Preps CDS Package, it may give you some insight on what to expect for the BS exam.

Click HERE for link for Architect Exam Prep BS Enchilada

Designer Hacks SS Practice Questions

designerhackslogo-02-150x150

Designer Hacks gives away a free 25 question practice BS exam. I am a big fan of Designer Hacks practice questions and think they are perfect for practicing answering ARE Questions.

Here is a link to my review of Designer Hacks Practice Exams

Here is a link to the Designer Hacks BS Exam

 Top of Page – Click HERE 

There you have it, everything I studied and then some.

In Part 3 of this blog series I will tell you everything I know about the vignettes. I actually really enjoyed figuring out the vignettes. I always considered them to be a video game that I would eventually crack, beat and move on to the next level. The crappy drafting software kind of also reminds me of the Atari I had as a kid.

There are many other study materials that I never used or touched that are not mentioned in this post. Please feel free to leave a comment if you know about a resource that I may not have mentioned but is worth mentioning.

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If you found this information useful please share this article by clicking one of the buttons below or send this post to someone you know who could use this information. Good luck with your exams

 

Read the full series
This post is part of a series on NCARB’s Architect Registration Exam. Having recently completed this long process, the series examines my journey and the various things I learned along the way. Click here to see all the posts of my Architect Registration Exam Series.

About the author

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect who lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon, with his Labrador Retriever. He is passionate about helping Young Architects change the world. In his free time, Michael likes to take very long bicycle rides across America. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In. Also check out his new project Young Architect Gear, designing architecturally themed gifts and products.

The ULTIMATE List Of ARE Study Material (Part I: Study Material Overview) | Michael Riscica.Com - January 3, 2014

[…] The Ultimate List Of ARE Study Material (Part 2: Each Specific Multiple Choice exam) […]

ARE’s Programming, Planning, and Practice « Matthew C Hagen - March 15, 2014

[…] read both Kaplan and Ballast for this test. I took the advice of youngarchitect.org to read the following chapters in Ballast, that turned out to be helpful: 5 […]

Sarah - October 27, 2015

I truly appreciate your insights! Thank you very much.

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