Recommended Study Materials for 5.0 and will only (1) set of bundles will suffice?



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    Kevin Griendling

    Hi John,

    This is an extremely important question and perhaps one that NCARB cannot speak to. They are currently unable to endorse any particular test prep providers, but the jury of your peers certainly can.

    The unfortunate truth is that ARE 5.0 materials have yet to be tested and where one or two may have been fantastic for 4.0, they may fall short on this one. Your best bet is going to be to go with your most tried and true study style. Do you prepare best with textbooks, audio, or video?

    The big textbook companies assuredly will produce great content with their many resources, and will certainly feel like a text book. Those would be Brightwood, Ballast, PPI, etc. If you prepare best by audio or video, you'd be best served by companies like Pluralsight or Black Spectacles. (Disclaimer: I am the author of the coursework for Pluralsight, but I am doing my best to be unbiased.)

    While I was studying for the ARE I focused my studies using rigorous note taking and review sessions with Kaplan and Ballast, then had some more dense sections translated into audio so I could listen in the car. My strength was hearing the same content from both learning styles. It worked really well.

    As far as bang for your buck, many of these resources get quite pricey. A large number of candidates will purchase them in a group and rotate them to each member, or just purchase it for all to study together.  The online resources sometimes are cheaper. I hope I don't step out of line with NCARB's policies on promotions here, but the Pluralsight platform is a subscription based library of all kinds of software courses, with an ARE library hosted together. It might be worth your time to take a look.

    Most importantly though, use discussion boards like this one to help resolve those real mind-benders. Candidates often get frustrated with subject matter they don't understand, which frequently effects their study momentum. Settle that frustration by sending it to us to address.

    Best of luck in your studies,


    Kevin Griendling, AIA

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    John Foster

    Kevin - Thanks for the quick response. I'm horrible at studying and trying to stay focused enough to be able to retain vital information. I get distracted easily. I've never attempted audio or video due to being distracted easily. However, those could be viable additions to studying with textbooks. In layman terms, I'll need all the help I can get. 

    I'll be sure do some research on which resources to gear towards and continue to use the discussion boards.

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