CE Pass ARE 5.0 – Study Materials and Methods

Learn what study materials and methods I used to pass ARE 5.0 CE exam from NCARB on my second try.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.


CE was the first and only exam that I failed, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to share with you the differences between the first and second time that I took it. I believe that failing an exam doesn’t mean that you don’t know the material, but maybe you need to refocus your attention to fill you gaps.

As I shared in my CE Pass announcement there were many aspects of the exam that I was frustrated with, especially the lack of emphasis in the NCARB Handbook on the importance of studying construction details. I hope that you all can learn from my experience and that it helps move you forward in your exams.

Books

Kaplan ARE 4.0 Construction Documents and Services: For my first try, the major book that I used is actually the Kaplan CDS study guide. It explains a lot of basic concepts very well, some diagrams and is very good at explaining construction administration concepts. I purchased this textbook, along with the Questions and Answers, which I purchased from someone in the ARE Facebook Group.

Price: My version doesn’t appear to be for sale on Amazon, maybe check in the Facebook groups or Forums.

Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice – I read this book mainly during my first try, focusing on chapter 9 and 10. here’s the Wiley Guide for the AHPP for Construction & Evaluation. I barely looked at the AHPP during my second attempt at this exam. I didn’t read as much AHPP as I did in ARE 5.0 Practice Management or Project Management. During my second attempt I spent a lot of time trying to focus on the contracts and construction details instead. I was able to get this book for free through my office.

Price:

$147 to rent hardcover per semester, subscription with extension option

$210 to buy hardcover, one time purchase

$208 to buy Kindle/e-book, one time purchase

Building Construction Illustrated Textbook – I only glanced at this book for my first try, like maybe a couple of hours which is definitely not enough for this exam. I went through the book and I had the digital version for that so what I would do is I would highlight all the relevant parts of the book which is very handy because then I could if I wanted to review a specific section all the important parts are already highlighted for me and it being a digital a resource you don’t have to worry about you know reselling the book or anything if you highlight and no one cares so that was very helpful tool for me another thing I also did to help with the sort of masterformat portions of the exam is building construction Illustrated also mentions the masked magicians each each section of the book so and it shows you something at all so tell you what part of masterformat it belongs to us I would highlight those as well so I get really familiar with how those things are organized what they look like.

Price:

Fifth Edition – $60

Sixth Edition Paperback – $36, one time purchase

Sixth Edition E-book – $42, one-time purchase

Hyperfine CE Course – My main technique for using this course for CE was to print it out and do the assignment by hand because it’s easier for me to go back and forth. This resource comes as digital files, but trying to do it as a digital assignment wasn’t working well for me.

Price: $30, one-time purchase

Contracts

NCARB covers a lot of contracts for the CE exam as you can see below. This exam actually includes the most contracts for you to review. I read through all of them. Don’t be intimidated by the number, since several of them are one-page documents.

My method for the contracts was:

  1. Reading through the all actual contracts above at least once
  2. Rewriting the contracts in shorthand as described in Christopher Richardson’s NCARB forum post
  3. The Young Architect Contracts course was an essential reference for me for the Project Management exam. One of the biggest advantages of this course is that it goes through all of the contracts that are listed in the NCARB matrix, not just the B101 and A201. You can purchase this course separately from the CE exam, but I had purchased it for my previous exam.
  4. Listen to Schiff Hardin Lectures

The main contracts that I focused on were the A201 and the B101. The way that I studied them was both trying to write the contract out in my own words, and using the Schiff Hardin lectures. The lectures were the main way that I studied contracts at work. I don’t get much time doing my day to look at material, so I mostly focused on listening to the contracts.

I mainly focused on Schiff Hardin during my first attempt at this exam. I felt very comfortable with the contracts when I failed, so I didn’t use Schiff Hardin as much the second time. The other contracts I focused on for this exam were the G704, A305, the C401

Price:

  1. Contracts: free on AIA website
  2. Schiff Hardin Lectures: Free
  3. Contract shorthand: free
  4. Young Architects Contracts Course individually ($85), one-time purchase

Digital Resources

Quizlet – Full disclosure, I am not a big fan of physical flashcard decks. They’re a hassle to write and organize. I greatly prefer using digital flash cards for easy portability, I can save my spot in learning and test myself all within one app.

  1. CSI Divisions Deck – It is important to be familiar with the common CSI divisions for this exam.
  2. Building Construction Deck- This monster deck comes with pictures on over 400 cards, that allow you to study many different types of construction techniques and construction administration concepts.
  3. ADA Flashcard Deck – It is important to be able to study ADA violations and measurements for this exam.

Price for all decks: Free

NCARB Forum I also used the forum a lot for this exam. I always try to look at what other people have done, and what has or has not worked of the forums. However the element mentioned in the forum that I didn’t take it seriously was the construction portion of the exam. I thought it wasn’t as big of a part as it eventually ended up being. I thought I could just look at construction details for a couple of hours to get a general idea and I would be okay. That was not the case. So when someone says it something’s going to be on in the exam, that means it’s really important.

CE Pass First Try (PcM, PjM then CE) – Tips by Aimee Neikart

CE Pass – my last exam! by Toby

Passed CE on 2nd try by Yasmin Fathi

Price for NCARB Forum: Free

Young Architect Academy Construction & Evaluation 101 – this resource was helpful in terms of helping me understand Construction Administration and Project Management for this exam. This was studied in tandem with the Young Architect Academy AIA Contracts 101 course. The CE course is broken down to cover the specific objectives of this exam. The video format was very helpful and allowed me to study while I was working, or I can listen to it in the car. In addition to the audio from the videos, the course also has assigned readings and case studies.

Like all YAA courses, this course has a flat one-time fee and you can access it for as long as you like as opposed to paying for ongoing subscriptions if you fail. I only got this course for my second attempt at this exam.

Price: For CE 101 only, $99

Hammer & Hand Website – I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked to on this resource on my first attempt at this exam. I really like the way that this website takes you through the creation of each detail, and shows you how the object is being built and layered. The overlapping of some items for example window details for sheathing, which are kind of difficult to understand in a regular section. So I really like the way that it’s done in 3D for better comprehension. This website was really great for understanding thermal protection and Foundation Construction. if you’re not familiar with these details I would say this is an essential reference.

XQ for ARE 5.0 App – This app was created by Kevin Griendling from Pluralsight. I really like using this for my second run of CE, because it allows you to answer questions in all four of exam formats, including hot spot and multiple choice. This is a subscription-based service so you have to decide how long you want to use the subscription for but I felt like this resource filled in a lot of the gaps in terms of tests addressing a construction detail questions so I thought it was very helpful for that reason. Many tests are good at talking about the construction Administration side not many practice exams focus on the construction detail side of course it makes it highly portable which is another great feature.

Price: $19.99, monthly subscription

YouTube Videos – This was another essential resource for me to understand details, construction administration, tests, common building practices, site safety, construction materials, and ADA information. I created an entire playlist just for the CE exam that you can access from this article or my YouTube page. Make sure to subscribe for more of my latest video content.

Price: Free

Practice Exams

Designer Hacks PjM Exam – I asked my office to purchase the full Designer Hacks practice questions for all 6 exams, since they were the same price as one physical textbook. Designer Hacks is super portable, with its mobile version, along with multiple levels from pop quizzes to full length timed exams. You can find my one-minute review for this resource here.

I like that I can break it into smaller portions. These questions are pretty easy so if you can’t take these questions then more complicated questions will not be possible, so these are always a good starting point. I really like using these questions when I have an extra bit of time like if I’m waiting in line or if I just have time to kill and I can whip it out on my phone and start doing practice questions.

Price: This item was free for me as described above, but for this course alone it is $39.

WEARE Website – I’ve found that this exam is slightly more difficult than the Designer Hacks, and allows me to cross-train with different questions. They are available in digital form, making them highly portable. One of my favorite parts of this resource is that they can be done as smaller portions, including short quizzes, and tests that can be separated into specific exam divisions. They also provide free versions of these questions, so you can see whether you are interested before you purchase.

Price: $34 per division, one-time purchase

Time Tracking Software

Clockify Website – I have really come to love this website, and it has been really helpful for me in seeing the difference between my two attempts at this exam. I use it to track my hours spent studying every day, and then can show you your total progress for your exam, and your progress for the week. You can use my study material tracker to list your hourly study goals for each resource

Price: Free


Flora App – This is a time tracking app that functions similar to a Pomodoro Timer, in that it tries to reduce distractions. While you have this app running, you can’t run other apps on your phone, which removes a major source of distraction for me. One of the great functions of Flora, is that for each section of time that you remain undistracted, you can grow a tree or flower, and create a garden, which I found to be really fun. This app also allows you to bet money against running your time undistracted, which goes towards tree planting if you fail.

Other Resources

  • I used the Ballast Practice Exam and Review Manual.
  • I read real specifications and project manuals to help me understand the Master Format Divisions
  • I downloaded full Construction Drawing set examples and went over them with my study group members. You need to look at every drawing individually in the set, and become familiar with them. This is especially critical for those who don’t have a lot of Construction Document experience.
  • Practice drawing actual build sections, like parapet walls, foundation details, column sections, window and door details.

Resources I Did Not Use

Black Spectacles – Not a lot of positive reviews and extremely expensive. I wish they broke their program into the individual parts as it would be useful to try their demo exam independent of their other offerings.

Pluralsight – since Pluralsight’s PjM course is mostly contracts, I didn’t want to purchase both this and the YA Contracts course.

AEP – expensive, and not enough positive reviews to purchase

Amberbooks – I didn’t get Amberbooks for this exam, but I may use it if I don’t pass my upcoming PPD and PDD exams.

Young Architect Bootcamp – If I am thinking of possibly investing in this for the final 3 technical exams, if I don’t pass my two technical exams. I’m still trying to remain mostly self-guided for as long as I can.

In Conclusion

I was so nervous when I went into my second attempt at this exam, but I felt very confident with the amount of work I had done to catch up on my construction detail sections. If you want to find out more of my impressions immediately after my exam, you can see my article on it here.

CE Studio – Live ARE 5.0 CE Coaching

As I mentioned in my initial CE pass announcement, I had a lot of frustrations with this exam. I think there were many aspects of it that were not clearly defined by the NCARB Reference Matrix. I’ve tried to cover as many of them as possible in this article, but it’s difficult to go into a lot of detail in this format. If you don’t have much experience working on construction sites or with construction details, these gaps can be very difficult to fill in.

To help you with this, I’m happy to introduce CE Studio. It is a live 4-week training series, that will give you the essential concepts for studying for the CE exam, giving you a structured study plan and helping you reach your study goals. This course will be starting on the 1st of December, 2020. Each of the training sessions is 1.5 hours, followed by a live Q&A. This is a live course, not another PDF that will just sit in your Documents folder. CE Studio is designed for your to interact with it in multiple ways, and allow you to get started with it immediately.

This course is designed to help get you through these CE concepts:

  • Drawings in Detail
  • Project Management Made Easy
  • Estimation Essentials
  • Conquering Contracts

This course will provide you live sessions, which will be recorded and available to you afterwards. CE Studio members will also receive a new, comprehensive case study every week. The course also provides you with assigned readings and material recommendations for each week, which will prepare you in advance of each session, so you can be familiar with the material and be able to ask deeper questions.

We will also be working out the case study questions and any practice questions using the NCARB Digital Whiteboard, to make test takers familiar with the software before they go into Prometric. This course also comes with a 100% moneyback guarantee, no questions asked, and no matter how you’ve been taking the course, if you think it wasn’t valuable for you.

The best part is that all of this is available for only $69. This includes all live training sessions, case studies, and reading assignments. When you join the course, you have access to the course materials and videos for download for 60 days.

One of the best parts of this course timing is that it allows you to study through the exam transition in December without stressing out.

Registration for this course is only available until November 29th, so don’t delay signing up. I look forward to seeing you on the first day of the course, December 1st!

Statute of Repose vs. Statute of Limitations

Explaining the differences between the statute of repose and statute of limitations, with a free wallpaper download!

*This post has been corrected based off of helpful information from the ARE Facebook group.*


So in my ARE study group we were discussing the differences between these two concepts, and how confusing the many different references can be when trying to explain them. You can read several resources and watch many videos explaining the concept of statute of repose and statute of limitations, and that’s all fine and dandy, but what the actual limits when it comes to construction?

Here are some of the videos I checked out for reference:

Another helpful video by an actual architect, Werner Sabo:

These videos were helpful, but they didn’t give me the answer I was looking for. I thought it would be best to check the Architects Handbook, as it is definitely one of the main resources that NCARB is using to create these exams. *However, it does appear that the AHPP is wrong on this one.

What I found was, at its most basic level:

Statute of Repose is a claim based on negligence for design professionals or others, 3 to 10 years after substantial completion.

Statute of Limitations sets time limits under which claims can be made, commencing when the alleged digression is discovered, normally 10 years.

That’s it, that’s the difference. Each state has its own time limits, I had fun checking out mine, which seem pretty average (this list taught me to never sign a contract in Maine, lol.) There are also reasons why on average, statutes of repose are longer than statutes of limitations. To quote this article from Kevin Hara, referencing the Texas Supreme Court,

The whole point of layering a statute of repose over the statute of limitations is to fix an outer limit beyond which no action can be maintained.  One practical upside of curbing open-ended exposure is to prevent defendants from answering claims where evidence may prove elusive due to unavailable witnesses (perhaps deceased), faded memories, lost or destroyed records, and institutions that no longer exist.

Methodist Healthcare Sys. of San Antonio v. Rankin, 307 S.W.3d 283, 286-87  (Tex. 2010 ) (internal citations and marks omitted)

To help me remember the difference between the two, I created a helpful wallpaper providing the differences in a simple way. You can get it for free at my Downloads page.

As always happy studying!

Mini Quiz: CM Project Delivery Methods

Mini Quiz from RMSM Studio on Construction Manager Project Delivery Methods

I haven’t had any experience in the past with working with Construction Managers, so I feel like I really had to go the extra mile to understand all the differences and roles & responsibilities in the different CM project delivery methods. I’ve created some very handy charts to help explain the differences between CMa and CMc, I may release it later when I’m less overwhelmed.

I’m also trying to get back into the habit of regular note taking instead of being so focused on watching the explanatory videos. I was really inspired by this video I watched today by Jorge Herrera on quick study tips. I’ll probably be buying an assortment of notebooks and binders for my path forward, and take advantage of some of these back to school sales.

Question 01

Joanne Bowman is the manager of a government branch looking to expand in the near future. She is looking for a high-quality design, with low risk. Which project delivery methods would you, as her architect, recommend to her? (Select two)

  • Design-Bid-Build
  • Construction Manager as Advisor
  • Construction Manager as Constructor
  • Integrated Project Delivery

Question 02

While on the construction site, the Project Architect Maryam Lanoir notices a defect in the work. Since this project is a Construction Manager as Advisor project delivery method, what should be her next steps?

  • Instruct the superintendent to correct the deficiency, as per the contract drawings
  • Notify the Owner
  • Notify the Contractor
  • Notify the Construction manager
  • All of the above

Question 03

Jessica Trevi is an architect providing construction administration services on a Construction Manager as Advisor project. What is not a joint service that she provides?

  • Certifying applications for payment
  • Preparing change orders
  • Reviewing RFIs
  • Rejecting work

Question 01

CORRECT ANSWERS

  • Construction Manager as Constructor
  • Integrated Project Delivery

Both CMc and IPD are preferred in projects with high building quality standards, and where owners want to reduce their risk.

inCORRECT ANSWERS

Construction Manager as Adviser is a preferred choice for reducing project risk, but it is not always used for high building quality. Design-bid-build, is known for being low cost, which also can create low quality, as well as being high risk.

For reference, read Ballast Chapter 3.

Question 02

While on the construction site, the Project Architect Maryam Lanoir notices a defect in the work. Since this project is a Construction Manager as Advisor project delivery method, what should be her next steps?

  • Notify the Owner
  • Notify the Contractor
  • Notify the Construction Manager

With CMa projects, it is the architect’s responsibility to notify the Owner and the Construction Manager of any observed defects and deficiencies. See A232 – Article 4.2.2

The architect is not able to issue instructions to the superintendent. According to A232 – Article 3.9.1, it is only communications, not instructions that can be given to the superintendent.

Question 03

Jessica Trevi is an architect providing construction administration services on a Construction Manager as Advisor project. What is not a joint service that she provides?

Preparing change orders

CORRECT ANSWER

Preparing change orders or construction change directives is not a joint service provided the architect in construction administration.

Certifying applications for payment, RFI review and rejecting work is something that is done by both the CM and architect in a CMa project delivery.


I hope you like this mini quiz. Let me know how you did in the comments, or on the RMSM Studio Facebook page.

All of my recent practice questions are now available in one place, on the Practice Questions page in the top menu.

If you want to find other great practice tests, you can also have a look at my One Minute Reviews, where I give my feedback on ARE study materials in under a minute.

Mini Quiz: Risk Management

Mini Quiz from RMSM Studio on the Management of Risk For Architects

Risk Management is one of the key concepts in all stages of design. This is because whenever you are creating a building, you must always assume some risk. This is an essential concept for both Practice Management and Project Management. In the Wiley AHPP Guide for the Project Management (PjM) Exam, under the Risk Management chapter, they just say “All”. It’s that important. I hope you enjoy this mini quiz and as always, let me know how you did in the comments.

Question 01

Which types of firms will some underwriters have hesitation insuring?

  • Those with low deductibles
  • Those that don’t provide construction administration services
  • Those with a high number of inexperienced employees
  • Those using the AIA contract document suite

Question 02

Jay York, Esq. is an attorney who has been hired by Jasmine Board Architects. They have been hired to review their proposed insurance policies. Which of the following policy’s should Jay mark for further review with Jasmine Board Architects?

  • Indemnification for those not party to the Agreement
  • Client indemnity to architect for misuse of the architect’s drawings
  • Defending the Owner against third-party claims
  • Mutual indemnities between architects and consultants
  • All of the above

Question 03

Select all problematic words from the advertisement below created by Diedre Lock Associates:


Question 01

Those that don’t provide construction administration services

There is a high number of claims that arise when an architect only provides pre-construction services, as they are not there to defend themselves or their drawings.

Incorrect Answers

  • Those with low deductibles – Deductibles with another insurer would not affect another company’s coverage.
  • Those with a high number of inexperienced employees – As long as there are staff available that are qualified to complete the projects on hand, the number of inexperienced employees is irrelevant.
  • Those using the AIA contract document suite – Using a the standard AIA contract documents means that an insurer specializing in construction would be more likely to insure you, due to the industry’s familiarity with them.

Question 02

Policies that should be reviewed, due to being unmanageable risks, are:

  • Indemnification for those not party to the Agreement
  • Client indemnity to architect for misuse of the architect’s drawings
  • Defending the Owner against third-party claims

Incorrect Answers

Mutual indemnities between architects and consultants is actually a beneficial policy for an architect’s agreement. Study B101 8.4 for a good model of policies.

Question 03

The problematic words in this advertisement were:

  • Ensure
  • Best
  • 100% Completion
  • All
  • Assured
  • Thorough
  • Best
  • Guaranteed

I hope you like this mini quiz. Let me know how you did in the comments, or on the RMSM Studio Facebook page.

If you’re studying for Practice Management, feel free to check out my other Mini Quiz on the AIA A201 Document and my post on passing the PcM Exam. I have also created a one-page study guide based on the methods I used to pass PcM on the first try.

If you’re studying for Construction & Evaluation or Project Management, check out my Mini Quiz on the AIA C401 Contract.

All of my recent practice questions are also available for you to scroll through below, or on the specific page I’ve created for them at the top of the website:

If you want to find other great practice tests, you can also have a look at my One Minute Reviews, where I give my feedback on ARE study materials in under a minute.

#ARE100Challenge Day 1: Starting My Challenge

Thank you to everyone who expressed interest and support in this challenge within the ARE test taking community, especially within the ARE Facebook Group. After introducing the challenge, I thought it would be a good idea to share my own journey with using it.

My initial plan was to start the #ARE100Challenge the same day that I released it, but I decided to push it back for a few reasons:

  1. My tests, like many others, were rescheduled. As soon as the notice from NCARB regarding the cancellations, I decided, with COVID-19, that I didn’t want the additional stress of an uncertain test date on top of everything else. So my next test is scheduled for July.
  2. I have difficulty retaining information from too far back in the past. Even if I started studying now, I’m sure that I would end up forgetting a lot of the concepts I learned back in April.
  3. I wanted to take a break to reassess my priorities and get in the right mindset for studying. Rescheduling my exams took a lot of motivation out of me, and my head wasn’t in the right space.

So I am starting my countdown timer from the first day: You can find the link to my #ARE100Challenge Countdown from Day 60 here.

#ARE100Challenge Graphic. Created by RMSM Studio.

ARE 100 Challenge Countdown: 60 Days Left

HOUR COUNT: 0 OF 100 HOURS

Studying for: construction & Evaluation (CE)

challenge step: step 1. Read All required Textbooks first!

My goal for today and the next few weeks is to read as many of the main textbooks for my exam. This includes the AHPP, Ballast, and some of the Kaplan books which I’ve been able to purchase to give me a general understanding of the Construction Administration topics.

I’ve already completed the Wiley/Namour Wright Guide for the Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice. However, tied into the concept of me losing things if I haven’t studied them recently, I would prefer to read them as second time as the last resource within this Challenge Step.

I feel like one thing this challenge allows me to do is be focused on one material at a time, instead of trying to jump from reference to reference. Cross training with different mediums is important, from audio lectures, to videos and practice exams. However, I believe cross training will come more into play once I have learned the essential concepts for this exam.

I will mainly be using the Clockify website to track my hours for this challenge, as it is a really easy interface for me to use. I’ve described how I used it to pass PcM here, along with other digital tools. I also plan on sharing a live webinar this month, on using Clockify to study more effectively for the ARE exam, so keep an eye out for that announcement.

Want to Participate in the #ARE100Challenge?

Download the Challenge Rules, and share your progress on social media using the #ARE100Challenge hashtag. Share your study materials, tips, diagrams, breakthroughs, frustrations, and successes on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Record your progress and study hours daily or weekly it’s up to you!

One Minute Review: Walking the ARE 5.0 PcM Practice Exam

Can the Walking the ARE 5.0 Practice Exam help you pass the ARE 5.0 Practice Management (PcM) exam? Find out in 60 seconds!

This blog post is part of my One Minute Reviews, where each study material review can be read in a minute or less.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

Walking the ARE 5.0 PcM Practice Exam Review

Can the Walking the ARE 5.0 Practice Exam help you pass the ARE 5.0 Practice Management (PcM) exam? Let’s break it down.

Question Content

Content for this practice exam comes from the AHPP, the AIA contracts, and professional codes of conduct. It has a large variety of question types, which are similar to the format you would find on the actual exam. Though it doesn’t highlight the specific exam sections, it covers all the topics required for PcM.

Difficulty of Questions

I took this exam a day before my exam, after studying for months, and I can tell you I was floored. These questions are hard! However, no other practice exam made me feel as prepared for the question style and complexity of the real ARE exam.

Ease of Use

This exam comes in a PDF format that is easily printable or visible on any device. The exam creator, Erik Walker, recommends printing out the answer sheets so you can refer to them as you take the test. This is meant to be a timed test, so be ready with your timer, too.

Price Point

For One Exam: $39. Includes questions and answer sheets with very detailed explanations.

Compared To similar Materials

Hyperfine Architecture PCM/PJM Study Questions: The Walking the ARE question difficulty is higher, however the answer section for the Hyperfine products is very comprehensive, and includes external references to articles, videos and documents that can explain the material in greater detail. Both of these packages are available as PDFs, with no timing or grading integrated into the format.

CONCLUSION

I highly recommend this exam, as I truly don’t believe I would have passed my PcM exam without it. If you use this resource not just as a practice exam, but as a tool to double down on your gaps in knowledge, you will be in great shape come exam day.


Disagree with my assessment, or have a product you want me to review, or have additional questions? Leave a comment below!

My Number One Rule for Buying ARE Study Materials

When you first decide to take the ARE, you will normally go into full research mode. You treat it like a site you are doing analysis on, combing the net for study materials, handy guides, YouTube tutorials and practice questions, exam focused blog posts (guilty!), everything you can get your hands on. You assemble a treasure trove of PDF documents and a wish list full of textbooks and online courses, and you start reading. Fast forward a few hours, and you are completely overwhelmed.

The ARE is full of SO MUCH CONTENT and the sheer amount of information that you need to not just absorb, but be able to use for problem solving, can be extremely intimidating. What can be even scarier, if you’ve been working for a while in the field, is the practice of unlearning what you thought you knew, and memorizing the way that NCARB wants you practice. This can make you second guess your own memory and possibly your own professional judgement.

I got to this same point after ordering my Ballast book. I love to read, like LOVE to read, but this seemed like taking a good thing too far. There’s a difference between sitting down with a nice thick book and reading for pleasure, and sitting down with a thick book and being expected to memorize and analyze its contents.

The study guides, contracts, online resources, and the other miscellaneous PDFs I had collected and bought as part of my search for information, were also confusing. With this much data, how is it possible to prioritize and process all that I read?

This lead me to my number one rule for ARE Study Materials:

AHPP (Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice) First! No New Study Materials Until It’s Finished!

I created this rule for myself for a few important reasons:

  1. I have a habit of collecting a lot of data for the sake of saying that I have the information, then not reading it. This will save me a lot of wasted time in gathering studying materials that I will actually not use. 
  2. The AHPP is frequently considered required reading by those who take the exam. I’ve seen many people mention just this textbook, along with the contracts and rules of conduct, as their only required materials for passing the PcM (Practice Management Exam).
  3. You have help in determining what is essential! Namour Wright collaborated with Wiley publishing to create very helpful guides regarding which elements of the AHPP were critical reading for each specific ARE exam. 
  4. If I can’t commit to finishing this book, there is no reason for me to be flushing additional money or time down the drain looking at less comprehensive content. The AHPP is a big book, but the information it contains is crucial information for all 6 ARE exams. It is the only reference listed in the ARE 5.0 Handbook which has content used in the development of all 6 of the exams. Check out this references page from NCARB which illustrates my point. 
NCARB Reference Guide for AHPP

So even though it is important to cross train with other materials, use multiple references, and understand and read through other documents, I still put the completion of this document as my number one priority, and until you finish it, I wouldn’t put another cent into buying anything else. You can buy the AHPP on Amazon, or directly from Wiley Publishing. 

There are also pre-owned copies online, and often you can already find a copy at your architecture firm, as people who have studied in your firm like to keep it around as a reference in their practice.

What text would you consider an essential item for this exam? Let me know in the comments! Happy studying!

One Minute Review: Designer Hacks ARE 5.0 Courses

This blog post is part of my One Minute ARE 5.0 Study Material reviews. Architecture professionals are busy people, and I wanted to neatly package each product review so that they could be read in a minute or less. Disagree with my assessment, have a product you want me to review, or have additional questions? Leave a comment below!

Now, without further ado:

Designer Hacks ARE 5.0 Course Review

Can Designer Hacks ARE 5.0 Courses help you pass the ARE 5.0 Practice Management (PcM) exam? Let’s break it down.

Question Content

Content for these practice exams comes from the AHPP, the AIA contracts, and professional codes of conduct. Grading for the quizzes also shows you how you performed relative to the NCARB content categories for the exam.

Difficulty of Questions

If you can’t do well on these very straightforward questions, you will definitely struggle in the exam. So if you just started studying, I would highly recommend getting these to test your knowledge of basic concepts.

Ease of Use

These practice exams come in a digital format that is easy to use in both desktop and mobile format. There are 3 exam formats, which allow you to study based on how much time you have available. Grading is automatic when you finish, but question answers may not be very detailed. The course maintains a record of your exam results over time so you can check your progress.

Price Point

For One Exam Section: $39. For All 6 Exams: $195

Compared To similar Materials

Hyperfine Architecture PCM/PJM Study Questions: These questions cover 2 exams instead of one, and are cheaper than the cost of a single exam section with Designer Hacks. Hyperfine question complexity is higher, and provides greater detail and resources for their answer sections. However, this is only available as a PDF package, with no timing or grading integrated into the format.

WEARE Practice Exams: Much closer to the exam in terms of complexity, and cheaper at both the individual exam and all-in-one bundle levels. Allows for grading and has 2 full practice exams. and 1 case study.

CONCLUSION

If you are just starting to study for this exam, I would recommend this resource to help you reinforce the concepts you are just beginning to learn. It’s very good for on-the-go studying, and allows you to check your progress over time.