Top 10 Simple & POWERFUL Tools to Help You Prepare For The Architect Exam

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People always ask me what types of office supplies they should buy when preparing to study for the ARE.  The basic materials you will need for studying do not have to be highly high-tech or budget-breaking. I’ve also seen having a fancy laptop or tablet doesn't always make things easier, when trying to focus on preparing for the ARE. 

The best items you should be looking for when trying to create the perfect study environment should be the ones that will keep you confident, organized, and focused. 

This list is organized from cheapest to most expensive products. 

10 Simple Tools That Will Help You Study for the ARE

1. Multi-colored Pens or Pencils

Take notes for each subject in a different color. This will help you keep your information organized and easy to find. I like these classic old BiC pens so you can change the pen color in a moment's notice. The seconds of not having to look for a new pen all add up

Click here for multi-colored pen and pencil options.

2. Highlighters

Keeping highlighters on hand can help you quickly highlight information as you come across it while studying your handbooks and guides. Keeping multi-colored highlights can also help to organize your data and notes by topic.

Click here for highlighter options.

3. Colored Book Tabs

Keeping up with the color coordination theme, buy a pack or two of colored book tabs. Use these tabs to keep your place while going through all of your information, or use the tabs to color coordinate each subject in your studying materials to quickly flip to where you left off or find specific information while studying.

Click here for colored book tab options.

4. Flash Cards 

Purchase a set of flashcards so that you can write down all of the critical facts and information for each section of the ARE, then take them with you EVERYWHERE you go so you can study at any time without carting around your books or clunky computer.

Click here to check out some flashcards. 

5. Magnifying Glass

Keeping a magnifying glass on hand at all times will help you see any small print much more effortlessly. I recently learned that someone taking a remote proctoring exam used a magnifying glass to help the Remote Proctor see their ID more clearly. If you are using remote proctoring, I would recommend getting a magnifying glass as cheap insurance.

Click here for magnifying glass options.


6. Countdown Timer

There are many great uses for a timer while studying. I used to study using the Pomodoro Technique and set 25-minute blocks of time and then take a short break before resuming my session.  

Using a countdown timer can help you get through some of the more challenging topics that need a little extra attention during study time.

Also, since the ARE is a timed exam, try using the count-down timer to rehearse getting through the practice questions quickly without sacrificing the quality of your answers.

Click here for time clock options.

7. Book Stand

Having a book stand will keep you from the infamous back aches associated with leaning over your books for long periods. It will also give you a place to help keep your book easily visible and out of the way of other work at your desk.

Click here for book stand options.

8. Backpack Dedicated To The ARE

Find a backpack you would be comfortable taking with you everywhere that has enough space to hold all of your primary study materials. Including books, notebooks, pens, and computers or tablets. Bonus points if it is equipped with a USB charging port. This bag should be dedicated only to your studying materials, giving you easy access to everything you need.

Click here for backpack options.

9. A Book Tree

Try keeping your books and study guides organized using a book tree, INSTEAD of a boring old bookshelf. The tree design holds plenty of books and is more efficient for keeping your items easier to see and find. Plus, it looks incredible sitting near your desk.

Click here for book tree options.

10. Noise Cancelling Headphones

When I took the ARE, I primarily studied in public places (Starbucks, Library, Panera, etc.), and there was no shortage of distractions in those places. The last thing you want when studying, is background noise to interrupt your focus. To keep outside noises to a minimum, I purchased a high-quality set of noise-canceling headphones. Sometimes I wouldn’t even play music and would just turn on the noise-canceling feature. Doing this will stop you from being distracted, making it difficult to retain the information.

Click here for noise-canceling headphone options.

Bonus Item – A Really Good Water Bottle

Keeping yourself well-hydrated is extremely important for all aspects of life. Studies have shown that, on average, 75% of people are suffering daily from dehydration. So, how does this affect studying for the AREs? 

Dehydration leads to feeling tired, dizzy, and lightheaded. This is going to interfere with your ability to retain information and stay alert long enough to study.

Recently I’ve been using this Bluetooth water bottle. These bottles sync with my phone, giving me alarms, daily goals and accurately measuring how much water I am drinking each day.

Click here to purchase a Smart Water Bottle

There you have it! 

Here’s 10 simple tools to help you get more studying done. 


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!


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