10 Tips for Preparing for the ExAC Exam

December 12, 2023

Embarking on the path to becoming an established architect involves navigating numerous challenges, with the Examination for Architects in Canada (ExAC) being one of the most pivotal. This nationally recognized exam is a crucial stepping stone that can launch your architectural career to new heights. The ExAC, comprehensive in its structure, meticulously assesses not just your theoretical knowledge, but also the practical application of architectural concepts, planning abilities, and design aesthetics.

The sheer volume and diversity of the exam content might seem daunting initially, but remember, every proficient architect today has maneuvered through this rigorous process. Equipped with the right resources, a strategic study plan, and unwavering dedication, you can certainly crack this exam, and etch your success story in the field of architecture.

In this article, we intend to make your journey easier by offering some proven and effective strategies for ExAC exam preparation. The aim is to not just help you pass the exam, but to ensure that you garner knowledge and skills that will remain valuable throughout your professional life. Let’s delve into these strategies and help you conquer the ExAC exam.

Join thousands of students who are acing their Architect Exams!

Get Started

How to Ace the ExAC Exam: A Comprehensive Preparation Guide

1. Leverage Key Resources: The IAP and Canadian Handbook of Practice for Architects (CHOP)

Start by familiarizing yourself with the Internship in Architecture Program (IAP) and the Canadian Handbook of Practice for Architects (Canadian Handbook of Practice for Architects (CHOP). These are the primary sources of the examination content. The IAP sets the competency standards for an intern architect, while the Canadian Handbook of Practice for Architects (CHOP) is a goldmine of information on a broad spectrum of architecture-related topics. Understanding these resources inside out will form the bedrock of your exam preparation.

2. Review the National Building Code

It’s time to pull out the National Building Code 2005 edition from your shelf. This code sets the regulations and standards for the design, construction, and maintenance of buildings in Canada. By gaining a firm grasp of its content, you’re not just preparing for the ExAC exam but also equipping yourself with knowledge that’s pivotal to your architecture career.

3. Use Canadian Handbook of Practice for Architects (CHOP) as a Study Guide

Transform your Canadian Handbook of Practice for Architects (CHOP) into a study guide. It encompasses everything from design principles and project management to legal and ethical aspects of architecture. So, dig deeper into each topic to develop a solid understanding of the material.

4. Harness the Power of Practice

The Handbook provides sample forms, checklists, and other resources to give you a real feel of the exam. Practising with these resources will familiarize you with the types of questions and tasks you’ll face on D-Day.

5. Attend Review Courses or Study Groups

Provincial or territorial associations of architects offer review courses or study groups to help you prepare for the exam. Engaging with other candidates and receiving feedback from seasoned architects can be a game-changer in your exam journey.

6. Take Advantage of Online Resources

Turn to the digital world for a plethora of resources to supplement your preparation. Practice exams, study guides, and other materials can fortify your understanding of the concepts.

Photo by shurkin_son via Freepik

7. Develop a Robust Study Plan

Craft a study plan that thoroughly covers all topics included in the ExAC exam such as programming, site and environmental analysis, cost management, coordinating engineering systems, schematic design, design development, final project, bidding and contract negotiations, construction phase – office, construction phase – site, project management, and code research. A well-structured study plan ensures you’re equally adept at all areas, maximizing your chance to score high.

8. Master Time Management

The ExAC exam is a race against time, with a vast amount of material to cover. Perfect your time management and pacing skills. This could mean practicing with timed exams, setting aside dedicated study times each day, and breaking your study sessions into manageable parts.


Don’t just passively read or watch your study materials. Engage with them by taking notes, discussing with peers, or teaching the content to someone else. Active engagement can boost comprehension and retention.

9. Seek Feedback

Don’t hesitate to seek feedback from other architects or professionals in the field. This could highlight areas requiring additional study or practice, and offer you a different perspective on your design work. Joining study groups or review courses can facilitate this exchange.

10. Stay Current

Stay updated with changes to the exam and the profession, as the Handbook and other resources are subject to constant revision and improvement. Professional development courses, industry publications, and involvement in professional organizations can help you stay ahead.

Getting the ExAC Edge

The ExAC exam may seem daunting, but with systematic preparation and diligent practice, you can navigate it successfully. Always remember that your knowledge of architecture and the skills you gain through this rigorous preparation process are not just for the exam, but for your career ahead.

When it comes to preparation, you’re not alone. PrepArchitect is here to support your journey with a range of online resources and expert advice tailored for the ExAC exam. So why wait? Start your preparation today and architect your future!

Remember, success comes to those who are well-prepared. So equip yourself with these tips and set off on your journey to acing the ExAC exam. Good luck!

Join thousands students who chose Architect for their Architect License Exam Prep!

Get Started