The Ultimate List of ARE Study Materials Part 2 – Practice Management

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Welcome to the Ultimate List of ARE Study Materials Part 2: Practice Management Exam.

In Part 1 of this series, we take a broad look at the study materials available for ALL the ARE 5.0 Exams. I highly recommend reviewing Part 1, before getting into the details of each exam with Part 2. Here is a link to 5.0 Ultimate List Part 1.

In Part 2 of this series, we zoom in to closely individually examine each test, and list out all the available resources to help you study for each exam. Below are links to each exam.

If you are looking for information about ARE 4.0, here are links to the Ultimate List of 4.0 ARE study materials: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

The Ultimate List of 5.0 ARE Study Materials Part 2:

  • Practice Management (PcM)
  • Project Management (PjM)
  • Programming and Analysis (PA)
  • Project Planning and Design (PPD)
  • Project Development and Documentation (PDD)
  • Construction Evaluation (CE)

(These links will be added as each post gets published.)

How This Blog Post Works

To keep things simple, I have organized each part of the Ultimate Part 2 Exam post in the following order:

  • Summary of each exam – I share a short synopsis of what each exam is about.
  • The ARE Publishers – The best place to start studying involves using ARE materials that were specifically created for that exam.
  • Using 4.0 Materials – Just because the exam was updated, that doesn’t mean 4.0 study materials are now trash. I explain where to find materials in 4.0 that could be helpful for each 5.0 exam. I also give you all the chapters in Ballast 4.0 that are applicable to each 5.0 exam, and tell you where they added new content in 5.0.
  • Other References – Miscellaneous books or references I think will be helpful for each exam.
  • NCARB References – These references were mentioned at the end of each exam in the 5.0 handbook.
  • NCARB References Matrix – At the end of the 5.0 Handbook, there is a matrix (a chart) with many more references, which were used in creating each exam. But always keep in mind that just because NCARB used these references to write the exam, that doesn’t mean that they always make great study materials.

Lets get started…

The Practice Management (PcM) Summary

The Practice Management exam is all about The Business of Architecture and What does it mean to run an architecture practice?

This division will assess objectives relating to the management of architectural practice, including professional ethics, fiduciary responsibilities, and the regulations that govern the practice of architecture.

It will focus on issues relating to pre-contract tasks, including negotiation, human resource management, and consultant development.

Candidates must demonstrate an understanding of, and abilities in, business structure, business development, and the development and protection of assets.

This division will test a candidate’s ability to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare by:

  • Applying the competent delivery of professional architectural services
  • Applying the laws and regulationsof an architectural practice
  • Evaluating legal, ethical, and contractual standardsin the performance of architectural tasks

Practice Management covers everything that surrounds the practice of architecture—all the way up to the point when a contact gets signed. Once the contract is signed, you now have a project, and you move into the next practice area: Project Management.

State licensing boards pressured NCARB to test this area harder because many disciplinary issues surrounding architectural licensing fall under the umbrella of Practice Management.

The sections of the PcM exam in the 5.0 Handbook are as follows:

  1. Business Operations
  2. Finances Risk & Development of Practice
  3. Practice-wide Delivery Solutions
  4. Practice Methodologies

Inside each of those sections there are many objectives. While studying for PcM make sure you have a very strong understand for each objective and have spent time studying them.

The ARE Publishers

These publishers create content exclusively for the Architect exam. It is highly recommended that you review the study materials created by the publishers FIRST, before you start using many different supplemental resources. I highly recommend checking out The Truth About All ARE Study Materials, to learn why.

Architect Exam Prep
Architect Exam Prep (AEP)

I am a big fan of Architect Exam Prep. I think they do an excellent job of creating ARE Study Materials. They sell each exam’s content in a package that costs $99, which you can purchase online and instantly download.

Each package offers an excellent study guide with diagrams and graphics. They record each study guide as an mp3, which you can listen to while you commute or walk your dog. They also give you flashcards to print out and cut up, and all of their practice questions are online in software that simulates the exam.

I have personally purchased many of their products, and have always been impressed. I wrote a very thorough review of their 4.0 Construction Documents and Services package, which I would recommend checking out if you want to learn more about Architect Exam Prep.

Here is a link to my review of their CDS Product.

Here is a link to Architect Exam Prep


It is no secret that I have a love/hate relationship with Ballast. A few years ago I wrote a review of the 4.0 Ballast ARE Review Manual and everything I wrote about the 4.0 book applies to the 5.0 book.

Having said that, Mr. Ballast worked pretty hard at creating many new chapters for the 5.0 ARE Review Manual and I think he did a pretty good job.

The ARE Review Manual has 52 pages of content for PcM.

The Practice Exam book has an 80 question practice exam. It includes 65 MC and 2 case studies with 15 questions relating to each case study for a total of 80 questions.

The Practice Problems book has 62 practice questions and 2 case studies with 16 questions for PcM.

Basically, The Ballast 5.0 ARE Review Manual is a must have tool that will help you study for all exams.

Here is a link to the Ballast Study Materials on the PPI website. Use the promo code YARCH for a 15% discount, which is exclusively for Young Architect Readers.

Here is a link to the Ballast 5.0 ARE Review Manual on Amazon.

Here is a link to the Ballast ARE Practice Problems on Amazon.

Here is a link to the Ballast ARE Practice Exam on Amazon.

Here is a link to the Ballast 5.0 Flashcards on Amazon.

Designer Hacks

Designer Hacks is powerful online ARE Practice Question software that helps you study and get used to answering questions about the content.

They offer questions for the Practice Management Exam. I also recommend buying the 4.0 CDS Designer Hacks questions and using those as well.

As always, practice questions are only tools to help you prepare for the exam. The people who write the practice questions do not write the actual exam, so you cannot assume that your result on a practice exam will be the same as your result on the actual exam.

Click here for Young Architect’s review of Designer Hacks.

Click here for a link to Designer Hack’s website.


Brightwood (formerly Kaplan) offers a study guide and flashcards for PcM. I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on the new 5.0 Brightwood study materials. I will update this section once I do.

However, several people in The ARE Facebook Group have pointed out that new Brightwood ARE 5.0 books have the same repeated chapters across the Brightwood PcM, PjM and CE Study Materials.

After I get my hands on the Brightwood 5.0 study materials I will examine and write a proper review.

Click here for a link to the Brightwood PcM Study Guide.

Click here for a link to the Brightwood PcM Flashcards.


Pluralsight is one of the newer publishers offering video courses for several 5.0 exams and will ultimately cover all of them.

Several people in the ARE Boot Camp speak very highly of the Pluralsight PcM and PjM courses, although I haven’t personally checked them out myself.

I really like how Pluralsight offers a 2 week free trial before your credit card gets billed. A lot can happen in 2 weeks when you have a hard deadline like the Architect Registration Exam.

Here is a link to Pluralsight’s ARE Video Courses

Using old ARE 4.0 Content to Study for PcM

The content areas of PcM falls within the 4.0 CDS exam, but the 5.0 Practice Management has a significant amount of new information that was not really tested on ARE 4.0.

A very small amount of the 4.0 CDS exam study materials is directly related to PcM. However, I think ALL of the 4.0 CDS study materials is indirectly related to PcM.


If you can get your hands on a copy of the Kaplan 4.0 CDS, I would start there. I wouldn’t recommend spending too much money on 4.0 study materials, but if you can get an old used book for a few dollars, it’s a win!

Below are links to all the versions of it on Amazon. The old versions are just fine, since they have all the same errors as the new versions.

For the CDS Kaplan Study Guide, click the year to see the corresponding edition of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014.

Ballast 4.0 Chapters for Practice Management

Out of all the 5.0 exams, the 4.0 Ballast book is the LEAST helpful for the Practice Management exam.

Ballast has significantly added a lot of new content in the 5.0 book under the practice management exam regarding the topics of:

Ethics, HR, business development, financial and risk management, project delivery, and practice methodologies

The practice management content in the 4.0 is in Chapters 50 and 53, near delivery methods and business/legal types.  However, I would also recommend reading these chapters for the PcM Exam:

  • 48-53: All CDS Chapters
  • 55 and 56 Codes and ADA

Other Resources

Project Delivery Practice Guide (PDPG)

I discovered the PDPG Book when I was studying for the CSI CDT Exam. I was really impressed with how it taught project delivery in such a thorough, detailed, clear way.

For Practice Management, I would recommend the following chapters:

Stakeholders and Participants; Facility Life Cycle; Codes, Regulations, and Standards; Contracts and Legal Issues; and Project Delivery. I think the PDPG often does a much clearer job of explaining Project Delivery than Ballast or Brightwood.

Here is a link to The Project Delivery Practice Guide.

The Life of An Architecture Project

In the ARE Boot Camp, everyone prints out the giant infographic:

We grab a highlighter or a red pen, start reading at the top, and cross off the parts we’ve read, until we arrive at the bottom of the document.

BQE Blog

Check out this blog post that goes through a firms profit plan. It is a little easier to understand then the AHPP Profit Plan info.
Here is a link to BQE blog


Download the app for your phone and search for the Practice Management content that has been created by other people, that you can also use.

Here is a link to the Quizlet website. 

The NCARB References

These are the important study materials that were listed after each division in the ARE 5.0 Handbook.

Architect’s Guide to Small Firm ManagementMaking Chaos Work for Your Small Firm

Many people have spoken very highly of this book. I haven’t personally checked it out.

Here is a link to Small Firm Management book on Amazon.

The Architects Handbook of Professional Practice (AHPP) 

Personally I think out of every supplementary book listed in this blogpost, the AHPP is probably the most important. AHPP is a crucial resource for PcM, but it is also a monster of a book. It can be intimidating, and sometimes people get lost when they dive directly into the AHPP.

When using AHPP, I recommend studying in the following order:

  1. Review the information created for PcM from the publishers who create ARE Study materials first.
  2. Print out the ARE 5.0 Handbook PcM chapter, and use the AHPP as a reference guide to look up all the different topics outlined in each objective.
  3. To fill in any gaps, start reviewing the chapters listed below, while constantly reviewing the objectives.

Study these AHPP Chapters for the PcM Exam:

1. Ethics and Pro-practice
3. Career Development
4. Public Interest Design
5. Organizational Development
7. Financial Management
8. Human Resources
9. Design Project Delivery
10. Design Project Management
12. Quality Management
13. Codes and Regulations
15. Project Definition
16. Risk Management
17. Agreements and the AIA Docs Program

Also, I highly recommend learning and memorizing all the financial formulas, especially the ones about calculating overhead and profit.

Here is a link to the AHPP 15th Edition and the AHPP 14th Edition on Amazon.

Law for Architects: What You Need to Know

A must read for ARE Candidate and Practicing Architect. This book is highly recommended for the Practice Management Exam.

Here is a link to Law for Architects on Amazon.

AIA Contracts

The ARE 5.0 Handbook recommends studying B101 and C401 contracts. I would also recommend studying A201, with an emphasis on what the role of the architect is during the project. I personally think it’s hard to understand B101 without looking at A201.

Use the Contracts with Commentary to study B101 and A201. I made a shortcut to them for you at and .

Extra NCARB References in Matrix

Buried away in the back of the ARE 5.0 Handbook, there is a matrix (a chart) that has many more references for each exam. These references didn’t make the cut to be listed at the end of the exam section.

NCARB Rules of Conduct and AIA Code of Ethics

NCARB only lists the rules of conduct for the PcM exam, however I recommend reviewing them before every exam.

Also check out the AIA Code of Ethics. Focus more on understanding the bigger picture of it, then getting caught up in memorizing every rule and canon number.

Here is a link to the NCARB Rules of Conduct

Here is a link to the AIA Code of Ethics

Professional Practice: A Guide to Turning Designs into Buildings By Paul Segal

I bought this book last year because everyone was raving about it. It’s a well-written and easy to read Pro-Practice book. I recommend it.

Here is a link to Turning Designs into Buildings on Amazon.

BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice

I would closely cross reference this book with the objectives in the 5.0 handbook, before spending too much time with it. That being said, it looks like a great book.

Here is a link to BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice

Wrapping Up Practice Management

I hope you found this information helpful. If you know about other resources that should be included on this list, please send an email to

Here are links to the other blog posts in The Ultimate List of 5.0 ARE Study Materials Part 2:

  • Practice Management (PcM)
  • Project Management (PjM)
  • Programming and Analysis (PA)
  • Project Planning and Design (PPD)
  • Project Development and Documentation (PDD)
  • Construction Evaluation (CE)

Here is a link to The Ultimate List of 5.0 ARE Study Materials Part 1.

Here is a link to other Young Architect Articles about the ARE.

Here is a link to The ARE Boot Camp.

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.

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