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ARE Workshop

Fiona Mckay

On 15 February 2017, Desso hosted the AIA UK's ARE Workshop 2017. The coordinators,  Ben Lee and Katharine Storr, as well as president Fatos Peja,  began the evening by welcoming the group of professionals interested in learning about the path to American licensure, first for snacks and drinks in the Desso showroom and then for a presentation downstairs in the conference area. The AIA UK Chapter was pleased to see so many faces and to be able to facilitate a lively discussion about the participants’ expectations and experiences. The self-directed nature of the exams and the difficulty of completing them internationally when local firms often do not fully understand or support the undertaking means it is even more important to foster a community of candidates who can help guide each other through the process.

London, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong are the three locations outside of the United States where it is possible to take the NCARB's Architect Registration Examinations. As such the AIA UK chapter is committed to helping international members and others interested in pursuing licensure in the US to make use of the opportunity here in London.

In 2016 NCARB introduced ARE version 5.0 which will replace the 4.0 version launched in 2008. Currently, if candidates have already registered to take the 4.0 exams they can choose to continue with 4.0 or to transition to version 5.0. However, if a candidate is registering for the first time, they will be obliged to take the new 5.0 version.  

There are two primary differences between 4.0 and 5.0. The first is a difference in the division of exam categories:

Version 4.0 is comprised of 7 divisions:

Schematic Design

Programming, Planning and Practice

Site Planning & Design

Building Systems

Construction Documents & Services

Building Design & Construction Systems

Structural Systems

Version 5.0 is comprised of 6 divisions:

Practice Management

Project Management

Programming & Analysis

Project Planning & Design

Project Development & Documentation

Construction & Evaluation

(For a full comparison of the two versions see NCARB's diagram here. )


The second major change is that 5.0 will include 3 new types of questions integrated into the multiple choice format: hot spots, drag and place items and case study questions. These new types will replace the separate design vignettes used in version 4.0.

(For links to videos on the new question types

There are many printed and online study resources available (see the list below). A majority of the existing resources were written for version 4.0, but the content will still be relevant and many older practice questions and exams are still valuable resources for demonstrating understanding of the topics and guiding study.  To help candidates parse through which new division a given question will fit into, a valuable exercise is to sort questions based on topic with the help of  the NCARB study guides and 5.0 handbook available here,  As the transition from 4.0 to 5.0 continues there will be additional support, specifically for ARE versions 5.0.



- Kaplan/Brightwood ARE Study Guides for ARE 4 & 5 (

- PPI ARE Study Manual by Kent Ballast, for ARE 4 & 5 (

- ARE Mock Exams by Gang Chen (

- NALSA - for ArchiFlash flashcards and Norman Dorf's ARE 4.0 Vignette Videos (


Online Resources and Forums

- ARE Coach (

- ARE Endurance (

- Caroline's / Jenny's Notes (mainly for CDS/PPP, they are scattered in different places so please do a Google search for them)

- Youtube


NCARB Resources

- ARE 4.0 Community:

- ARE 5.0 Community:

- NCARB Blog

- NCARB's Youtube Channel

- NCARB ARE Handbooks for 4.0:

- NCARB ARE Handbooks for 5.0:


Subscription Courses (Live/Online Seminars)

- Black Spectacles ARE Prep (endorsed by the AIA):

- David Thaddeus Structures Seminars:

- Michael Ermann Building Systems Courses:

By Katharine Storr and Ben Lee


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