Lets Get Ready For Architect Registration Exam 5.0

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin


News from Young Architect

Greetings! This is Michael Riscica. Before I start discussing NCARB and ARE 5.0, I need to talk about Young Architect.


After 3 months of traveling and bicycling 4,300 miles across America, I’m physically and (almost) mentally back to being a normal, everyday citizen. While I had more fun than you could ever imagine, there’s no place like home.

I blogged every single day and uploaded all my pictures. In the end, I published 55,000 words about cycling across America. Moving forward, I’m super-excited about ARE 5.0 coming out, and helping you navigate those murky waters.


I am in the process of updating, How to Pass The Architect Registration Exam to remove all the ARE 4.0 references and start discussing the 5.0 exams. I have several chapters about studying that I created for the ARE Boot Camp which I would like to include in the next version.  Anyone who has purchased this book, will get the update when it comes out in February 2017. In some ways the ARE 5.0 Transition is irrelevant, because this isnt a study book of information to memorize. This is a book to help get you started and teach you how to juggle your already busy life working 40 hours a week, while you study for the Architect Registration Exam.


The September ARE Boot Camp filled up last week. The next program will begin in the middle of November, and signups will begin in early October.

Running The ARE Boot Camp has turned out to be more fun than I ever thought it’d be. So I’m just going to keep running them back-to-back until they’re not fun anymore or you guys stop signing up. “If it’s not Baroque, then don’t fix it!” That’s what I like to say.


I’m creating The Young Architect Portland ARE Lecture Series for my ARE community here in Portland, OR. I’m still working out all the details for speakers and dates, but the first lecture this fall is titled “CDS, PPP and SPD: Let’s talk about strategy—wrapping them up and moving on to 5.0!”

My Crew from the Construct Show!

I got back yesterday from a quick trip to Austin, Texas where I attended the CSI Construct Show. Our friend CSI Cherise invited me to come speak at their Young Professionals Day event, and I gave a presentation called Getting Started with the Architect Exam. My presentation received a really positive response. Several people invited me to speak at their local AIA and CSI Chapters and at future events.

I might also make a trip to the East Coast sometime in January for a speaking tour. In the meantime, if you have a group of people that I should come speak to about the Architect Exam, let’s talk about how to make it happen.


My last news item is… Do you need a new book bag, t-shirt or a comfortable yoga pants that’ll facilitate studying, while also look damn good???
I started a little side project called Young Architect Gear, which includes clothes, products, and gifts for the design community. This project is brand-new. But every day, I’m adding new items into the store.

Whew…  OK, enough from our sponsors. Let’s talk about some important stuff.

Back to ARE School Folks

It’s been very quiet this summer for the ARE, which is partly why I traveled when I did. But Labor Day has come and gone, the kids are back in school, and lots of stuff is starting to happen with ARE 5.0.


The ARE 4.0 to 5.0 Transition Schedule

ARE 4.0 will be retired in June 2018. Since it takes an average of 2.5 years to complete the ARE process, it’s kind of too late to start and finish all 7 exams ARE 4.0.

As of right now, everyone pretty much falls into one of these three categories:

  1. Finish your remaining 4.0 exams before June 2018.
  2. Complete CDS, PPP, and SPD before June 2018.
  3. Start at the beginning with ARE 5.0, which will be launched this November.

Lots of people are still really confused about the difference between ARE 4.0 and 5.0. The best resource about this information is a blogpost called Understanding the Reorganization of ARE 5.0


The ARE 5.0 Handbook

NCARB surprised everyone this week by releasing the long-awaited ARE 5.0 Handbook to the public. I havent had a chance to go through it as thoroughly as I would like to just yet. Here are some initial comments I had:

  • At appears to be a more reader friendlier version of the ARE 5.0 test spec.
  • There 2 sample questions for each section in each exam. So thats around 8-10 practice questions per exam.
  • Answers are provided on practice questions.

I will be drilling down pretty deep and getting to know this document really well. I highly recommend everyone print out the Handbook and get super famialiar with using it.

Bored, stressed and exhausted people sitting on chairs waiting

The ARE Cut Score

Ryan at NCARB published a blogpost a few days ago. He explained that they need to figure out what the pass/fail threshold of the new exam will be.


For the first 600 people that take each exam in ARE 5.0, it’ll take NCARB 6-10 weeks to receive your test result. (In Project Manager language, that really means 11 weeks.)

::mic drop::

Luckily, there is a silver lining.

NCARB wants to give you a $100 gift card as a way of thanking you for the “opportunity to have your test data influence the cut score process and experience the new exam format.”

It is what it is.

You can also collect more than one gift card. Finally, there’s a real incentive for people who think it’s a good idea to take all of the ARE’s at the same time.

Someone told a joke in the ARE Facebook group: The worst part is that you can only use the gift cards to purchase the NCARB Monograph Series. BUT THAT’S NOT TRUE. IT’S ONLY A RUMOR.


I couldn’t find any evidence of NCARB doing this cut score evaluation last time, when they transitioned into from 3.1 into 4.0, which may explain why the 4.0 pass rate was low in the beginning.

What’s up with the ARE 5.0 Study Materials?!??

Everyone is still waiting on the ARE 5.0 Study materials across the board. Regarding my upcoming materials, I’m working on extensive blogposts about each exam, which all still need a lot more research and work. This week I reached out to all the ARE Publishers, and here’s what’s going on:


Architect Exam Prep is having a preorder discount on their ARE 5.0 materials, which haven’t been released yet. The Architect Exam Prep Release schedule is as follows:

Project Planning and Design – October 15, 2016
Project Development and Documentation – October 15, 2016
Practice Management – November 15, 2016
Project Management – November 15, 2016
Programming and Analysis – December 15, 2016
Construction Evaluation – December 15, 2016

I appreciate how their release schedule is very mindful of the transition schedule. I personally think Architect Exam Prep has a fantastic product, and I’m excited to see the 5.0 study materials. Here’s a link to their website and a link to the review I wrote about their ARE 4.0 CDS study materials.


I spoke with the good folks at PPI (the Ballast Publisher). They explained that the new Ballast Book will be out at the end of September, and they’re also having a presale for the 5.0 study materials.

I learned that they’re big fans of Young Architect. They gave me the code YARCH, which will give Young Architect readers an extra 5% off—if you buy the Ballast products from their website. Here’s a link to the review I wrote of the 4.0 ARE Review Manual.


Tony Gushnas at Designer Hacks told me he will have the Project Planning and Design and the Project Development and Documentation questions out in early 2017 and will release the remaining exams content incrementally until the fall. I am a big fan of Designer Hacks and we use it as part of the ARE Boot Camp. You can check out my review of his product here.




I had a lovely chat with my friends at Nalsa about everything that’s going on with 5.0. They’re completely redoing all their products for 5.0, they were still unsure of the timeline for the release when we spoke. I’m looking forward to seeing what they put out. Nalsa also recently published this blog post What's The Deal With The ARE 5.0 Study Material?


I chatted with Lora Teagarden about the ARE Sketches, who told me that volume two will be out in the spring. She is focusing on content not testing category. She said the visual nature of the new multiple choice questions play right into the ARE Sketches.

I purchased her book at the AIA Convention and haven’t had a chance to write a review yet. This is another book we also use in the boot camp. I highly recommend it.


I wasn’t able to connect with Black Spectacles, but I heard through the grapevine that they will start rolling 5.0 content out in October.


The ARE Facebook Group

At the beginning of 2016, I took over being the Moderator of the NCARB – Architecture Registration Exam Facebook group. At that time, there were 800 members. Now there are 2,195 members.

I kicked out all the spammers, and I contribute to and monitor most of the discussions. I’ve been told it’s many people’s favorite forum for discussing topics about the exam. But lots of ARE Candidates still have no idea that this group even exists.

How are we supposed to study for 5.0 without study materials?

Great question…

At this point I would recommend printing the ARE 5.0 Handbook and the 5.0 Test Specification and start getting really familiar with all the objectives for the test you are studying for.

Then I would recommend using your 4.0 study materials and start looking where this information is located in the 4.0 materials. Remember the content of the exam is pretty much staying the same, its where and how that content falls is being reorganized.

I would also look at the Architecture Experience Program AXP (formerly called Intern Development Program IDP) Experience Areas and Tasks. The 5.0 reorganization is very aligned to the AXP.  This information is valuable with helping to guide your 5.0 studying, however its not perfect.

For each exam question NCARB has tons of backup, resources and references explaining why that question exists and why each option is right or wrong.

I would also recommend taking a look at some of the references at the bottom of the ARE 5.0 Handbook. Keep in mind those references are what they used to create the exam questions. That doesn’t always mean they make good study materials. Architectural Graphic Standards was hardly helpful to me with studying, but I can see how they would use it to create exam content. Architects Handbook of Professional Practice is a great book, but it can sometimes be way too detailed for the scope of studying, nevertheless overwhelming. This is how the private test prep industry came about.

NCARB will never endorse any of the private test prep companies like Architect Exam Prep or Ballast. It creates a conflict of interest for them.

That’s all for now, folks.

A lot is still going to happen between now and the end of the year, so stay tuned. I would highly recommend jumping on the Young Architect Semi Weekly Newsletter. Each week I email out the new blog posts and often share information that doesnt make it into the blog.


Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, and the creator of Young Architect, an online platform and community dedicated to helping the next generation of Architects become the most successful generation of Architects. 
Connect: Linkedin / Facebook / Instagram

Hi there!

I’m Michael Riscica, the guy behind Young Architect. I write to help Architecture Students, ARE Candidates and Young Architecture Professionals be more successful at school, work and life!


Stay Informed!

Join the Young Architect newsletter:

Studying for ARE 5.0?