The April and May ARE Boot Camp

Make Massive Progress on the ARE During the Spring of 2017!

I am looking for smart, hardworking ARE Candidates, who are very serious about getting started on the ARE and making massive progress with their exams.

Starting in April and May 2017, Young Architect will be offering ARE Boot Camp program to help ARE Candidates study for the following tests:

Construction Documents and Services (CDS)
Practice Management (ARE 5.0)
Project Management  (ARE 5.0)
Programming Planning and Design (PPP)
Programming and Analysis (ARE 5.0)

All sessions for the April Boot Camp will be starting on Sunday nights, April 9th, 2017 and meeting each Sunday afternoon or evening (depending on your timezone) for 10 weeks. 

All sessions for the May Boot Camp will be starting on Monday nights, May 8th, 2017 and meeting each Monday afternoon or evening (depending on your timezone) for 10 weeks. 

Read the blog post: 10 Ways the ARE Boot Camp Helps You Pass the Architect Exam

The ARE Boot Camp Background Story

The Architecture Registration Exam (ARE) is one of the most difficult professional exams to take. Ironically, it’s not the content that makes it so difficult. It’s the discipline, determination, and motivation to keep plugging away at it year after year, until all 7 exams have been passed. Fewer than 10% of the people I graduated with (or know)—who were on the path to licensure—actually followed through and became licensed Architects.

When I took the ARE several years ago, I had many of the same issues and challenges that people are still struggling with today. Sharing this information is part of what inspired me to start

I’ve listened to many people’s challenges, written several blogposts, and even written a book about how to pass the ARE. It’s very clear that the self-guided test-taking process is the biggest challenge ARE Candidates face. There was absolutely nothing self-guided about architecture education prior to the ARE, and most ARE Candidates have no idea how to get started with taking their first exam.

To combat this problem, I’ve developed The ARE Boot Camp. This program is designed for a small group of ARE Candidates, to help set them up for success.

Over the course of 10 weeks, the ARE Boot Camp meets weekly. We will:

  • Create a realistic schedule to get you quickly up-to-speed and studying for your first ARE.
  • Guide you as you study during these 10 weeks.
  • Provide accountability for your work.
  • Set you up for success, so you have the knowledge you need to finish the remaining 6 exams on your own.
  • Provide a supportive environment for everyone in the group—to learn from and help each other.
  • Help save you time when studying for the remaining 6 exams.

The 3 different groups of the September ARE Boot Camp will be:

The 4.0 CDS & 5.0 Practice Management and Project Management Exam Group (5 or 6 People)

Since much of the 4.0 CDS content area’s and the 5.0 Project Management and Practice Management exam’s test spec have significant overlapping information, candidates studying for these exams and meeting in the same group.

The 2 types of ideal candidates for this program are:

Someone who needs to complete the CDS exam and maybe has failed it before.

Someone who is just getting started with their ARE process and taking their first exam in either ARE 4.0 or 5.0.

The cost for this program is $545 or (2) payments of $272.50.

The 4.0 PPP and 5.0 Programming and Analysis Exam Group (5 or 6 People)

With the overlapping content of PPP and Programming and Analysis group will be run together. The PPP and SPD candidates will be using separate syllabus, but apart of the same conversations in the weekly meeting.

The ideal candidates for this program have taken 1 exam before, preferably the CDS exam. Passing the CDS exam is not a requirement, but having studied for it is.

The cost for this program is $545 or (2) payments of $272.50.

ARE Boot Camp Alumni

Many Alumni from the program have gotten so much value from the program and the accountability, that they would like to take more programs. Any of these Boot Camps are available for ARE Boot Camp Alumni at a reduced cost of $250. All Alumni signing up need to fill out the ARE Boot Camp Application to make sure you are accounted for in each program. Contact Michael and ask for the link to make the payment.

What do the ARE Boot Camp Alumni have to say about the program?

“In the past, I’ve tried to study by myself, but it never really worked. I would end up reading too much, spinning my wheels, not moving forward, and just getting frustrating and not studying. My experience with the ARE Boot Camp has been great! It has made me feel motivated to tackle the AREs.

From the beginning, Mike was very clear that the responsibility of studying was ours—that he was there to help us along the way. And he did. He brought other resources to my attention I had no idea about.

It was helpful that he checked on us weekly and suggested different things, regarding our own personal studying struggles. The collaboration of the other boot camp participants was fantastic too; everyone had a great energy and attitude about helping each other. In the near future, I hope to tell Mike that I passed all seven exams!”

Photo Nov 19, 2 34 36 PM
Griscel Diaz  Associate AIA
BAC Graduate

“This is the perfect program for someone that acknowledges the ARE’s are a daunting task but doesn’t know where to start, and is seeking guidance to the path of least resistance.

Study methodologies and materials are the heart of the entire course; rather than starting at zero and working your way through inevitable failures, this program sets you up for success for all the exams to come.

Daily interactions with Mike and your fellow bootcampers keeps the momentum going and maintains accountability, along with study tracking which really shows you how hard you and your peers are working! The cost of this program easily outweighs the stress of uncertainty and cost of failed exams. I highly recommend!”

Leslie Forehand 
Professor of Architecture at Iowa State University

“The reason I joined the Boot Camp is because I was looking for guidance and structure to the studying process. There is a massive amount of material to study and what I needed was having an outlined process to take you through it.

I tried studying with groups and individuals in the past and finding people to commit was hard. With the Boot Camp, I pledged a commitment to myself and the group to support each other. I had my doubts at first, but it worked. The video conference call covered four time zones, but we were all there sharing what we were learning.  What I learned from this program will definitely help for the remaining exams.

The ARE Boot Camp was worth every penny.

craig herrmann
Craig Herrmann Associate AIA
BAC Graduate

What Are the Components of ARE Boot Camp?

The Weekly Meeting – As a group, we will meet on a GotoMeeting video chat for about an hour. We’ll check in with each other to discuss your week of studying and address any questions or challenges that you may have come up. The meetings are on either Sunday afternoon/night or Monday night depending on your time zone.

A Private Facebook Group is used to continue the dialogue about the ARE Boot Camp. ARE Boot Camp Alum continue to use the group to discuss their current exams.

Time Tracking – Every single day, you will be logging all of the time spend studying—to measure how hard you are working. This will also be used to create a realistic schedule.

A Private Webpage – I maintain a password protected webpage on for ARE Boot Campers to access a plethora of ARE information.

The ARE Book – ARE Boot Campers will receive a free copy of my book, How To Pass The Architecture Registration Exam.

The Syllabus – The program is laid out and structured. After you have built momentum with showing up to study, reviewed everything at least once and have a test date, then everyone starts to develop a more personalized studying schedule. The last 5 weeks everyone gets really aggressive about filling in the gaps of their knowledge.

Videos –  The ARE Boot Camp will always be a live in person program. Each time I run the program I create more videos, so we can use the meeting times more effectively. The growing archive of ARE Boot Camp videos are used in each program.

Several Weekly Meetups – Participants meetup several times a week on video chat to work on practice questions together or study together.

Fresh Practice Questions – As part of the program everyone writes their own practice questions about something they learned that week. All ARE Practice questions created in former ARE Boot Camps are available to participants.

The Group

After working with over 50 different ARE Candidates, the biggest benefit of this program, is having the face to face communication and being apart of a group of people that are all working on a the same goal at a similar pace.

This program is designed to get away from the “self-guided studying” model and is more aligned with the “design studio” model of learning used in architecture school. The ARE Boot Camp is a community and has a ton of camaraderie.

Everyone in the program gets know each other really well. We shares insights and experiences and we all learn from each other. They frequently meet up “unofficially” between weekly calls to study and work together.

 Strong females pushing kettle bell weights over their heads

Who is this program for? Is it right for you?

You must have written authorization from NCARB to take the ARE. The entire group will be scheduling their exams at the 5-week mark.

You must have the time do this program and study. Let’s be honest: No one has time to study for the ARE, but the only way to complete it is to make the time and sacrifice less important things. The expectation is that you will spend approximately 6-15 hours a week of time studying. Expect fewer at the beginning, and a lot more toward the end. It would also be great if you could take a few days off from work toward the end to study.

You have the financial ability. You can pay for the exam, study materials, the program fee, and many cups of coffee.

You have the Study Materials. You should plan on having either the Ballast book, Architect Exam Prep, or Kaplan before the program begins. If your studying for ARE 5.0 exams please wait for instructions before purchasing study materials.

I tell everyone to buy the The ARE Review Manual by David Kent Ballast as soon as they consider taking this exam. It’s an amazing book and a must-have for anyone studying for the ARE. I wrote a very thorough review of the Ballast book last year.

Architect Exam Prep (AEP) now offers a 50% discount to ARE Boot Camp attendees for a one time offer.  Last year, I wrote a review explaining Architect Exam Prep’s product.

Using Designer Hacks practice exams is now a requirement of all ARE Boot Camp. Designer Hacks gives a 30% discount to all ARE Boot Camp Members. All study material discounts are given out after the program begins.

Have a good internet connection. Having face to face communication is a big part of the ARE Boot Camp. You’ll need to be able to use GoToMeeting on a computer or smartphone. Worst case scenario you can call in with your phone so the audio is clear.

Be serious and willing to work hard! Attendance at the weekly meeting is extremely important. Being supportive of others also plays a big part in your own success with the ARE—and in life.

Who isn’t this program for?

People very far along in their ARE’s. A huge part of this program is about getting up-to-speed on your first exam and developing new study habits.

People without the time. The program requires you to study between 6-15 hours per week. The studying starts slow, and then it ramps up the closer you get to your exam day.

People studying for a different exam. ARE Boot Camp is currently only available for the CDS, PPP, SPD, Project Management, Practice Management and Project Planning and Design exams.

The Enrollment Process

  1. Application– Fill out the application. Take some time to think about the answers, but giving your life story with lots of details is not necessary. All applications remain “pending review” until payment has been received.
  1. Payment– After payment is received, your application will be reviewed, and we will schedule an interview on Gotomeeting.
  1. Interview– We will have a discussion to make sure you are a good fit for the group. During the interview, I run through the entire program and explain all the details of it. This is also a good time to ask me any questions you may have about the exam, ARE Boot Camp, Young Architect, the profession, or anything else. If after the interview you or I decide the group isn’t for you, I’ll return your payment.
  1. Follow-up – Shortly after the interview, I follow up with an email summarizing our conversation and start giving you some tasks to work on before the program begins, so you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

Here is a link to the ARE Boot Camp application:


Below is a link to make a payment:    

Click here to make a payment.  I now offer paying for the program in (2) $272.50 payments as an option.

Frequently Asked Questions about  ARE Boot Camp

Why can’t you tell me when the meeting will be?
When the time comes to figure out what time the meeting will be, I take a poll and find out what times work for everyone in the group. Everyone has such different availability and time zones really complicated.

I am reluctant to say what time the call will be in advance, because it really depends on the timezones of everyone who signs up. And even then, I often have east coast people who prefer a start time of 9:30pm.

Worst case scenario your call would cut into the last hour of your workday or a little bit late, but I try to avoid doing that as much as I can. I was able to structure the November group so only 1 person was slightly inconvenienced by the time being a little late. I ask in advance that everyone be flexible and I will do the best i can to make the times work with your situation and time zones. Worst case I will refund your money if we cant get it to work.

Why do I have to pay first before you review my application or interview me for the group?
If I had $1 for everyone person who has told me they would complete their exams, I would be a very rich man. It’s a “put your money where your mouth is” kinda thing. I don’t have time to give to people who aren’t committed and serious.

I also need to make sure you are a good fit for the group, which is why there is an interview. We’re going to spend 10 weeks together. I need to confirm face-to-face that you are serious and would be a good fit for this program. Having been in several similar groups, I have seen how one person can have a huge influence over the group’s dynamic.

If you fill out the application and do not make a payment, I will not be in touch to schedule an interview, and the group will fill without you.

How many people are you accepting into this group?
Each group has 6 people. I purposely keep it small because the value of the program is it’s very personalized and so everyone can get to know each other in the group.

I am really nervous about the NCARB Vignette Software. Is this something you will cover in the ARE Boot Camp?
Absolutely. We will definitely cover this. Vignettes are a little tricky of to get the hang of at first, but you’ll see that they are easier than you think. The CDS Vignette is the easiest vignette of them all, which is perfect for the first exam because it allows you time to get used to the software.

What day and time will the call take place?
All calls will be done on Monday night depending on your timezone. It’s not established yet what time each group will be, but I can tell you all calls we be between 6-9pm EST .

Why GoTo Meeting?
It’s easy to use and works perfectly for a group of this size. You can get on the calls with your computer, your smartphone or worst case with a phone call. If your wifi signal isnt super strong, you can use your cell phone to call in so the audio is clear and you wont miss a beat. 

What if I can’t make all the calls, but I still want to be in the group?
I am not accepting anyone into the group who cannot commit to being on all the calls. It’s not fair to the group. This group is very much about accountability and showing up. Sure, it’s understandable if there is an emergency or a one-time situation, when you know in advance you can’t attend. But every person needs to make attendance a priority. Just see it as a recurring weekly meeting that you can’t get out of.

I work 40 hours a week and have kids, and time is always an issue. But I am very passionate about getting my license. Can I still be in this program?
Absolutely. But you will have to make space for it in your life somehow, which may mean sacrificing some time somewhere else. The group will continually be about evaluating how to find the time to study. Lots of people in your situation complete the ARE, but it always requires sacrificing something to find the time to study. Hopefully, it’ll be easy for you, like letting go of watching 2 hours of TV every night.  Let’s talk more about this during your interview.

What about the ARE Transition?
The ARE Boot Camp has changed and evolved alot since it began over a year ago. As the ARE transitions into 5.0, so is the Boot Camp. Much of the program will stay the same for ARE 4.0 and 5.0 Candidates

What is the refund policy?
I can not offer a refund after the program has begun. I limit the number of people to six for each group and I prevent people from signing up after the groups are filled.

Will the calls be recorded?
I have in the past for special occasions, but I don’t record the calls.

Michael Riscica, will you be studying as well?
Funny you should ask. I will actually be studying for the CDT exam this spring. Much of it is very aligned with the CDS, PcM and PjM exams.

Out of everything in this program offers, what would you say is the most important?!
Easy, its the relationships and the meetings. It’s being apart of this group. It’s getting away from that model of the “self-guided studying” and having a group of people to have a discussion with or bounce ideas off of.

More Questions?

If you have read this far and still have other questions, feel free to email me at, or schedule a 30 minute phone call with me. I will happily discuss the program with you and help you determine if you are a good fit.

For additional reading about the ARE Boot Camp also check out:

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.

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