advice help signPreparing For Your Exam

NCARB provides free study guides for all seven sections of the ARE. They are available for download from While helpful, these free guides are not comprehensive enough for you to study alone and expect to pass the exams. Our Ultimate Whole Enchilada Packages are  designed to complement and enhance those NCARB guides and help give you the confidence to pass the test. 

We recommend the following  to ensure you walk into the testing center relaxed BUT with the maximum amount of confidence to help you pass your exam;confidence level

  1. Study for one exam at a time.
  2. Begin with the end in mind. Scheduling your test early in your studying process is the BEST way to ensure you stay motivated and committed to the process. If you only do one thing on this list, DO NUMBER 2!
  3. Set aside a fixed time each day to study, even if it is only for a half hour.
  4. Certain material will come easy to you, other parts will be harder for you to remember. Don’t dwell on the things you already know. Use the Ultimate Whole Echilada to study the stuff you don’t know well.
  5. Pull out your old notes from Architecture School. You learned this information once, and your notes in your handwriting will help you re-learn it.
  6. Study with a partner. Quiz each other and hold each other accountable to meet regularly.
  7. Finally, take advantage of our free podcasts, video tips and blog posts (which you can find right on this website) by downloading our FREE ARE Prep App from your app store. 

Taking the Examsuccess

What to Bring

You must bring your Authorization to Test letter with you to the exam site. Also bring multiple forms of photo ID. You can’t get in without it.

IMPORTANT: Bring a valid photo ID, i.e. a driver’s license that is NOT expired. If you show up at the Testing Center with an expired license, you will not be able to take the Exam.

You are not allowed to bring in any books, notes, calculators, or even pens into the testing room. Leave them at home. They will provide scratch paper and pencils for you, but you must leave it behind in the testing room. There is an on-screen calculator in the software if you need it.

Most (not all) testing centers provide lockers for your coat, keys and belongings. 

Arriving at the Test Center

Map out the location to the testing center ahead of time so you know where you’re going. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early. If you get there early, use that time to glance at some of the formulas or topics you need to review one last time. Then leave your notes and books in the car.

spaThe testing center may not be a spa, but you want to be relaxed and let go of any outside influences. All of your focus needs to be on the task at hand. Relax, take a few deep breaths and go in and take the exam. Check in with the attendant and show them your Authorization to Test. Don’t forget it as you’ll need it for each exam.

As soon as you are seating in the testing room, use the scratch paper to dump any formulas, ratios, or facts you crammed at the last minute and were worried you’d forget. This will also help you relax.

 Once the exam begins, there is a short tutorial explaining how the software works. Read through it for your first exam, and you can probably skip it in the future. 

Multiple Choice Test Tips

The ARE multiple choice exams typically include several types of questions. Although you may think otherwise, there are no trick questions! Every question counts the same toward your total score.

Many questions will ask you to respond based on a drawing or photograph. Look carefully, but don’t over think it.

Other questions will list four or five statements and you have to choose the ones that are true. Read through all of them first, then start to eliminate statements to arrive at the answer.checkmarks

Finally, there are the typical “fill in the blank” and “choose which apply” types of questions. In all cases, remember that you are not just there to parrot back information. You have to look carefully at the questions and determine the correct answer(s).

Generally speaking, you’ll have plenty of time to answer the questions. Use the time to review the questions before you answer. Don’t be afraid to skip questions that take too long. You can mark them and go back and answer them later. Once you go through the exam once, go through it again to check your answers. Random clicks, tired eyes and nerves can often have you click the wrong answer. You have the time, so use it to answer everything and to check your work.

After the Exam

Unanswered questions are marked as incorrect. So before you complete the exam, run through it again. Once you’ve gone through all of the multiple choice questions and gone back to answer the questions you’ve skipped, the software will ask you to fill out an exit survey. It will tell you when you are finished and may leave. Turn in your scratchpaper (nothing can be taken out of the testing site). Don’t forget to retrieve your Authorization to Test before you leave.

If you had any problems during the exam, you must report them to the test administrator or to NCARB as soon as possible. After ten days, NCARB will not listen to your complaint.

mailbox manAfter that is just the painfully long wait for your test results to arrive. You’ll get to know the look of the envelope and will have fluttering nerves as you rip it open. Whether you pass or fail, the envelope will be the same thickness (this is not like your college acceptance letter). Be sure to save the test results in a safe place (you may need them later when submitting the application to your state.)

Never Give Up

The most importance piece of advice we can give in this entire process is to Never Give Up. All successful people have had setbacks but it is the perseverance that has driven them to achieve success.  As Thomas Edison so poignantly puts it;

never give up

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

And we’re here to help you the whole way.