The ARE Boot Camp – Starting January and February 2018

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 offers a syllabus, a schedule with deadlines, people to study with, and accountability. To help you study for the Architect Exam, the program is organized similarly to a design studio.

We recently started accepting applications for sessions that are beginning in January and February 2018 for both ARE 4.0 and 5.0.  It's time to get started with making progress on the Architect Registration Exam. 

Start Making Massive Progress on the ARE!

The ARE Boot Camp is a Virtual Study Group that meets weekly on video chat. The program was created in September 2015 and has taken over 200 ARE Candidates through the systematic approach to studying for the ARE.

We are currently taking applications for smart, hardworking ARE Candidates, who are very serious about getting started on the ARE and making massive progress with their exams.

Starting in January and February 2018, Young Architect will be offering ARE Boot Camp program to help ARE Candidates study for the following tests:

  • Construction Documents and Services (CDS ARE 4.0)
  • Practice Management (PcM ARE 5.0)
  • Project Management  (PjM ARE 5.0)
  • Construction Evaluation (CE ARE 5.0)
  • Programming Planning and Design (PPP ARE 4.0)
  • Programming and Analysis (PA ARE 5.0)

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 you’ve passed all 6 exams. Fewer than 10% of the people I graduated with (or even 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. Part of what inspired me to start was sharing this information.

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

To combat this problem, in September 2015, I developed The ARE Boot Camp and took 200+ ARE Candidates through this powerful program. The Boot Camp is designed for a small group of ARE Candidates, and it helps them get set up for success.

During the course of 10 weeks, the ARE Boot Camp meets weekly. During these sessions, 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.
  • Provide many opportunities to study with the others in the program each week.
  • Help save you time when studying for the remaining exams.

All sessions for the January Boot Camp will start on January 8th, 2018 and will  meet for 10 weeks each Monday afternoon or evening (depending on your time zone).

Each meeting is about an hour long. Before the program begins, 3 times are proposed, each attendee is asked to choose a 1-hour slot that works for their schedule.

The earliest meeting will begin approximately at 6:30 pm EST, 5:30 pm CST, 4:30 pm MST, 3:30 pm PST. The last meeting will end at 10pm EST.

All sessions for the February Boot Camp will start on Sunday February 4th, 2018, and meet for 10 weeks each Sunday afternoon or evening (depending on your time zone).

Each meeting is about an hour long. Before the program begins, 3 times are proposed, each attendee is asked to choose a 1-hour slot that works for their schedule.

The earliest meeting will begin approximately at 6:30 pm EST, 5:30 pm CST, 4:30 pm MST, 3:30 pm PST. The last meeting will end at 10pm EST.

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

The 2 different groups in the ARE Boot Camp will be:

The 4.0 CDS & 5.0 Practice Management, Project Management and Construction Evaluation Exam Group (7 or 8 People)

Since much of the content areas in the 4.0 CDS content areas and 5.0 PjM, PcM, and CE exams have significant overlapping information, I have the candidates who are studying for these exams meet in the same group. For the first 5 weeks, everyone is studying the same content, you’ll understand the bigger picture. Then during the second 5 weeks, everyone chooses an exam and exclusively focuses on the details of it.

The ideal candidates for this program are:

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

2. Someone who needs to complete the 4.0 CDS exam (including anyone who’s failed it before).

To sign up for this group, scroll down to The Enrollment Process section below.

The 4.0 PPP and 5.0 Programming and Analysis Exam Group (7 or 8 People)

With the overlapping content, the PPP and Programming and Analysis groups will run together. The PPP and PA candidates will use separate syllabi, as well as a part of the same conversations in the weekly meeting.

The ideal candidates for this program are:

1. Anyone who has taken at least 1 ARE exam before.

2. Anyone who has studied for and taken the CDS, PcM, PjM or CE exam. Passing these exams isn’t a requirement, but studying for them is.

To sign up for this group, scroll down to The Enrollment Process section below.

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

“Before I even graduated from college, I knew I wanted to start taking the ARE exams soon, but as I kept reading and researching about it, it felt so overwhelming. A few months went by, and all I had was research and no start. I wanted to begin 2017 strong, so I took the leap and signed up for the ARE February BootCamp. It was the best decision I’ve made.

Mike does a great job at setting up a syllabus and other basic tools, which give you enough structure to begin studying. I definitely felt less overwhelmed with a syllabus. The organization of the study materials allows you to focus on a specific topic, one at a time, while integrating different modes of studying as time passes. That way, each person can shape their study time based on strengths and weaknesses.

Mike’s methodology is amazing. It takes dedication, but soon after, it becomes a habit. I still continue using this method as I continue to study for other exams.

The key component of the Boot Camp is the weekly meetings. They were very informative. They not only made me accountable for my own studying, but also developed great conversations about what I was studying in relation to my everyday work.

The thing I enjoyed the most was that it was a co-teaching/co-learning environment. I especially liked the Meetups, which gave us the opportunity to study practice questions with different people every time we were able to attend them.

Over the course of 10 weeks, you will study for an exam, and you’ll learn what works best for you and what does not, which will give you confidence to keep studying for the remainder of the exams. I highly recommend the program to anyone who’s willing to put in the work and needs a jumpstart towards their architecture license.”

Katherine Serrano 
2016 CCNY BARCH Graduate

“In the past, I tried to study by myself, but it never really worked. I would end up reading too much, spinning my wheels, and not moving forward. Then I’d just get frustrating and stop 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 that I had no idea about.

It was helpful that he checked on us weekly and suggested different things about our own personal struggles with studying. The collaboration of the other boot camp participants was also fantastic; everyone had great energy and an attitude of 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

What Are the Components of The ARE Boot Camp?

The Weekly Meeting – As a group, we will meet via Zoom 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 may have come up. Depending on your time zone, the meetings are on either Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, or Monday night.

A Private Facebook Group – This feature is used to continue the dialogue about the ARE Boot Camp. And 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 spent studying—to measure how hard you are working. This data will also be used to create a realistic schedule.

A Private Webpage – I maintain a password-protected webpage on That way, ARE Boot Campers can access a plethora of ARE information.

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

The Syllabus – The program is very structured. After you have built momentum, started showing up to study, reviewed everything at least once, and have a test date, then everyone starts developing a more personalized study schedule. During 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. That way, 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 meet up several times a week to study together via video chat. Everyone in the Boot Camp gets together several times a week for meetups, which are informal sessions to study together and work on practice questions.

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

The Group

After working with over 200 different ARE Candidates over the past 2 years, I’ve found that the biggest benefits they received involve having face-to-face communications and being part of a group of people that are all working toward the same goal at a similar pace.

This program is designed to get away from the self-guided studying model. It’s 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 to know each other really well. We share insights and experiences, and we all learn from each other.

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

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

In order to succeed in this program, you must:

Make time to 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 8-20 hours a week studying. And the time commitment slowly grows as you move through the program. It would also be great if you could take a few days off, and devote that time to studying.

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

Have the study materials.
You should plan on having either the Ballast book, Architect Exam Prep, or Kaplan before the program begins. If you’re studying for the ARE 5.0 exams, please wait for instructions before purchasing the study materials.

As soon as anyone considers taking this program, I tell them to get their hands on either the The Ballast 4.0 ARE Review Manual or The Ballast 5.0 ARE Review Manual. (Use the discount code YARCH.) It’s an amazing must-have for anyone studying for the ARE. I wrote a very thorough review of the 4.0 Ballast book last year, which applies to the 5.0 book as well.

Later in the program, we’ll incorporate other materials, such as Architect Exam Prep (AEP), who has an excellent package of study materials.  Last year, I wrote a review explaining Architect Exam Prep’s product.

Using the Designer Hacks practice exams is now a requirement for all ARE Boot Campers. Designer Hacks gives a 30% discount to all ARE Boot Camp Members. All discounts on study materials 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 Zoom Video Conferencing on a computer or smartphone. Or in the worst-case scenario, you can call in with your phone, and the audio will be 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 8-15 hours per week. The studying starts slow, and then it ramps up the closer you get to your exam day.

People committed to other coaching programs or study groups. The ARE Boot Camp methodology is unique from every other program out there. We do not accept people committed to other study groups.

People studying for a different exam. ARE Boot Camp is currently only available for the CDS, PPP, Project Management, Practice Management, Construction Evaluation and Programming and Analysis exams

People not committed to being at the meetings. The program could not exist, if you do not show up. Attendance of the program is mandatory, with an exception to emergencies and advance notice about events, like weddings. Special arrangements can be made with advance notice.

The Enrollment Process

  1. Application – Fill out the application. Take some time to think about the answers, but it’s not necessary to give your life story with lots of details. All applications remain “pending review” until payment has been received. Here is a link to the ARE Boot Camp application: ARE BOOTCAMP APPLICATION
  1. Payment  – Nothing happens until you’ve paid for the program. After payment is received, it will secure your spot in the program, and your application will be reviewed. Michael will email you with instructions to schedule an interview via Zoom video conferencing. During the interview, if we discover that the program will not work for your situation, your payment will be immediately refunded. Click here to pay for all ARE Boot Camp Programs.  The ARE Boot Camp is 1 payment of $625 or Pay $325.00 today and in 30 days the remaining $325.00 = $650 Total  
  1. Interview – To make sure you are a good fit for the group, we will have a 1-hour discussion. During the interview, I run through the entire program and explain all the details. Therefore, it’s a good time to ask me any questions you may have about the exam, ARE Boot Camp, Young Architect, the profession, or anything else. After the interview, if you or I decide the group isn’t for you, I’ll refund your payment.
  1. Follow-up – Shortly after the interview, I follow up with an email summarizing our conversation, and I start giving you some important tasks to work on before the program begins. That way, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

***Important: The process of getting you enrolled in the ARE Boot Camp will not begin until payment for the program has been received. After payment, you will receive an email shortly about taking the next steps.

Frequently Asked Questions about The ARE Boot Camp

Why do I have to pay before you review my application or interview me for the group?
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 a face-to-face confirmation 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 7 or 8 people. I purposely keep it small because the value of the program is that it’s very personalized. That way, everyone can get to know each other in the group.

I am really nervous about the NCARB Vignette Software. Will you be covering this subject in the ARE Boot Camp?
Absolutely. We will definitely cover it. Vignettes are a little tricky 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, so it’s perfect for the first exam because it allows you time to get used to the software.

Why Zoom Video Conferencing?
It’s easy to use and works perfectly for a group of this size. You can get on the calls online via your computer or smartphone. Here’s the worst-case scenario: If your WiFi signal isn’t super strong, you can use your cell phone to call in. The audio is clear, so you won’t miss a beat.

Can I take another Boot Camp after I finish the first one?
The intention of the program is to hold your hand for 10 weeks, study for 1 test together, and teach you how to finish the rest of the exams on your own. It is not to keep selling Boot Camps to you. 

However, I do love to work with people more than once, so I offer a big discount to Alumni who would like to take a second program. Let’s discuss it when you are close to the end of the program.

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 another one-time situation when you know in advance that you can’t attend. 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. This program was created for you. I want to help you figure out how to juggle everything. Keep in mind that you will have to make space for it in your life somehow, which may mean sacrificing time somewhere else. The group will continuously be 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 matter during your interview.

What about the ARE Transition?
As the ARE evolves and transitions into 5.0, the ARE Boot Camp has also evolved a lot since it began in 2015.  I have a ton of knowledge about ARE 5.0, and my approach to taking those exams has proven to be successful.

What is the refund policy?
I cannot offer a refund after the program has begun. I limit the number of people in each group, and I prevent people from signing up after the program sells out.

Will the calls be recorded?
No, not regularly. Sometimes, I record a meeting for someone if they cannot be there, but then the recordings are deleted after they have been watched.

Since this program offers so much, what would you say is its most important aspect?!
Easy, it’s the accountability and community of people. It’s being a part of this group. It’s getting away from that model of “self-guided studying” and having a group of people to have a discussion with or bounce ideas off of.

Everyone in the program knows that I will ask “How’d it go?” each week. Many people have said that this question makes them study much harder than they would if they were doing it on their own.

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.

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