The ARE Transition BACKUP Plan!

Are you having trouble getting started or making progress on the Architect Exam?!?? Is the self-guided nature of the ARE not working for you?

Join our virtual study group. The ARE Boot Camp has a syllabus, a schedule with deadlines, people to study with and hold you accountable. The program is organized similar to a "design studio", to help you study for the Architect Exam.

We recently started accepting applications for sessions beginning in September and October 2017  for both ARE 4.0 and 5.0.  It's time to get started with making progress on the Architect Registration Exam. 

You’re Running Out of Time

It seems like we’ve been hearing this forever:

“You HAVE to get the CDS, PPP, and SPD done before June 2018. Then you only have to take two 5.0 exams to complete the ARE in five exams, instead of six or seven.”

With less than a year left, I think it’s time to have a serious conversation about wrapping up ARE 4.0 and moving on with our lives.

In last week’s blog post, I mentioned that time is the real enemy, much more than failing. With the ARE’s, time is always the enemy—especially if you are planning on taking advantage of this ARE transition plan right now, and you’re still working on ARE 5.0.

The ARE Transition BACKUP Plan

In my conversations with ARE Candidates, there are still many people who don’t realize that there are other routes available for the transition.

If you can complete CDS and PPP, you can transition at that point, only take three 5.0 exams, and still complete the ARE in five exams.

Take a look at the ARE transition calculator, and see for yourself. You can take Programming & Analysis instead of SPD.


June 2018 is less than a year away, so I have been strongly urging people to STOP working on SPD if you haven’t completed CDS and PPP. SPD is a waste of time without completing CDS and PPP first.

So tell me about Programming and Analysis…

I’m starting to see more and more people with less than a year to wrap up 4.0 talking about this plan: transitioning after CDS and PPP, and abandoning SPD.

As of August 2017, we know the least about Programming and Analysis, compared to all the other exams. Way more people have taken PPD and PDD. Everyone starting ARE 5.0 is busy working on PcM, PjM, and CE.

I would highly recommend getting really familiar with the Programming and Analysis chapter in the ARE 5.0 Handbook, as well as checking out my blog post about the Reorganization of ARE 4.0.

Off the cuff, Programming and Analysis seems to be made up of mostly PPP and SPD content. It’s too early to tell, but I’m hoping that it will be easier to study for and much more focused than PPP.

A Good Plan?!???

If vignettes were never your thing, then I would highly recommend taking this route. Many people agree that the vignettes in SPD are no walk in the park. A big part of the site-design vignette relies on your ability to design and draft a parking lot using silly software. In the site-grading vignette, you need to adjust all the topos and regrade a sloped site with proper drainage.

HOWEVER, if you go this route, I would encourage you to still become familiar with the SPD Vignettes without actually practicing them. Those vignettes tested very important concepts, which could easily be replicated by the new question types.

But maybe you love vignettes, and they never give you a hard time. Many people have told me that they really love vignettes and excel at them. If this is you, then my advice is to hurry up and get CDS and PPP done, because SPD is a vignette party.

Depending on how you look at it, it might also be a good thing to see the new 5.0 exam format. That way, you can try out the new question types and case studies, before you get to PPD and PDD. These last two exams have very broad content areas, so they’re beasts to study for.

Moving Forward

I think you need to let go of SPD, until you’ve completed CDS and PPP.  Between now and June 30, 2018, CDS and PPP are the priorities. After CDS and PPP are done and depending on time, it’s really your decision about whether to take SPD or jump into ARE 5.0.

Here is some blog content that I have written to help you get through CDS, PPP, and SPD:

The ULTIMATE List Of ARE Study Materials (Part I: Study Material Overview) 

Discussion of study materials available for ALL exams.

The ULTIMATE List Of ARE Study Materials (Part 2: Each Specific Multiple Choice Exam)

Discussion of study materials available for EACH exams.

The ULTIMATE List of ARE Study Materials (Part 3: The Vignettes)

All about the vignettes.

The Life of an Architecture Project: Diagram

Amazing infographic outlining the lifespan of an Architecture Project.

Don’t Take the SPD Exam until You’ve Read This!

All about SPD.

Learn to Swap Out ARE Practice Vignettes for ARE 3.1

Using the 3.1 practice vignettes with the ARE 4.0 software.

Don’t Study for CDS until You Read This! 

All about CDS.





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.