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!

Practice Question: Utilization Rates

ARE 5.0 Project Management (PjM) Practice Question on firm utilization rates.

Utilization Rates are an important part of how firms track the hours spent on direct versus indirect labor, and are considered one of the 7 Key Financial Performance Indicators for architecture firms. I created this practice problem using the concept and real ways that it might change over time. Hyperfine is a great resource for practice questions and examples on both practice and project management concepts, as part of their Financial Formulas Workbook and their ARE 5.0 Courses.

Here’s a video of them going through a set of utilization rate questions.

Practice Question: Utilization Rates

The image below shows the salaries and utilization rates for the previous year for SKY Architects.

The salaries and utilization rates for this year are expected to be exactly the same, with the following changes:

  • Baboucar will be on paid paternity leave for 3 months
  • Yandeh will only be working part-time to pursue her graduate degree in historic presentation. Her utilization rate will be cut in half.

With these changes in mind, calculate the following:

  1. Estimated annual direct labor budget
  2. Yandeh R.’s estimated annual direct labor hours

Correct Answers

Question 01

In order to calculate the estimated annual budget we first need to calculate the direct labor budget for each member of staff:

  • Samuel: $170,000 * 0.5 = $85,000
  • Jeoffrey: $60,000 * 0 = $0
  • Yandeh: $90,500 salary, utilization rate = 0.8 * 0.5 = 0.4, so Yandeh’s direct salary this year will be $90,500 * 0.4 = $36,200
  • Fatou:$90,500 * 0.9 = $81,450
  • Baboucar: $70,000 salary, but he will only be working for 9 months out of 12, so we calculate 9/12 of his salary or 75%. So $70,000 * 0.75 = $52,500. With a consistent utilization rate of 0.9, his direct salary is $52,500 * 0.9 = $47,250

If we add up all of these direct salaries, we get $249,900.

Question 02

In order to calculate Yandeh’s estimated direct labor hours, we first need to determine hours per year. The number of hours in a year is 2080. Her current utilization rate is 80% but with her new graduate program, her utilization rate is reduced to 40% for this year.

So we would calculate 2080 hours * 0.4 = 832 direct labor hours this year.


Let me know how you did on this question, and make sure to follow RMSM Studios on Facebook and Instagram! Feel free to look through my blog for additional PjM Practice Questions and Mini Quizzes. You can search by tags, or by categories. If you have any questions, or you want to tell me how you did, leave a comment on the blog or on my Facebook page.

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!

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.