Strategies for passing ARE exams on the first try



  • Avatar
    Mark Baker


    to your point - I took 2 months between exams and focused all my studying on that upcoming exam. 

    I think that was a useful method to passing all of my exams the first time.  Focused studying, in depth learning and repetition

    rather then filling my head with everything possible under the sun.

    Mark, Archizam

    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Gang Chen (Edited )

    The ARE exams test a candidate’s competency to provide professional services protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Do NOT waste time on aesthetic or other design elements not required by the program.

    Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (

    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Kathryn O'Regan


    Great advice.  I just finished all exams with no fails - 2 in 2019, then I squeezed 4 tests into the last 9 weeks - and came here to post something similar.

    Background: 10yrs experience in an E/a firm; I'm one of two arch staff and mostly do assessments, studies and support for engineering jobs.

    My strategy was:

    1. Familiarize myself with the content of all AREs.

    2. Familiarize myself with the content of each specific test.

    3. Take said practice test in the Study Guide.  Understand what I got right, to makes sure I understood the concepts, and make a list of what I got wrong, and the associates references for those questions.

    4. Make a list of my weaknesses for that exam based on the study guide.

    5. Review the reference matrix and decide which references had the most content covering my weakness.

    6. Make 2 weeks schedule to study.  List out each content area (e.g. Contract doc: focus on General Conditions, or Risk Management for projects, etc).  Bookmark content areas in my resources and start reading and taking minimal notes.

    7. Three days out, make a prioritized list of the things that seemed important to know and hit those hard.

    I took the tests in this order (passed Const Docs in 4.0 but let slip in 5yr clock):  PcM, PPD, PA, PDD, CE, PjM.

    I ended up purchasing the following reference materials:

    - AHPP (Read the majority of it; I actually use this a lot at work anyway and think it is a good investment)

    -Graphic Standards 

    -Site Planning and Design Handbook (moderately helpful, skimmed it)

    -Problem Seeking (not sure if this really helped with any of the exams, but I like the book, reminds me of studio, lol)

    -Building Construction Illustrated (I reference this more than graphic standards)

    I already had old MEEB and old Fundamentals of Building Construction from school, and spent a lot of time bogged down in MEEB, which didn't feel that helpful.

    I didn't pay for any third party study programs or groups or practice tests like black spectacles, but I DID talk to other architects about building envelope details, coordinating with disciplines, hypothetical owner/contractor scenarios, etc.  I also perused this board to get a sense of the odd ball things that other people thought of, and there are some good case study questions and answers here.

    Rather than trying to memorize every single detail or formula, understand the WHY and the INTENT of the content areas.


    Comment actions Permalink
  • Avatar
    Gang Chen


    Congratulations! Thanks for sharing!

    Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (

    Comment actions Permalink

Please sign in to leave a comment.

Powered by Zendesk