ARE Exam Guide: Programming, Planning and Practice

December 14, 2023

For many aspiring architects, the journey to earning their professional credentials is filled with both exciting milestones and daunting challenges. Among these, the Programming, Planning & Practice ARE® Exam stands as a significant hurdle that one must overcome. As one of the seven divisions of the comprehensive Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) , this exam represents a significant milestone on the road to professional licensure.

This division covers a broad and diverse range of topics, from site zoning and analysis to understanding building codes and regulations. It goes beyond the basics, demanding a deep understanding of critical aspects of architectural practice. While this can seem overwhelming, it’s essential to remember that with the right preparation strategy, success is well within your reach.

There’s no magic formula to passing the Programming, Planning & Practice ARE® Exam. It requires a deep understanding of the exam’s structure, a comprehensive study plan, and the right resources. In this article, we’ll explore these key aspects of preparation, providing you with a roadmap to confidently navigate the study process and achieve success in the exam.

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Familiarize Yourself with the Exam Content

Review the ARE Exam Guide

The Programming, Planning & Practice Division Exam Guide is your first step towards understanding the breadth and depth of the exam. It provides an outline of the content areas, question types, and format of the exam, making it an invaluable resource. The guide details the different domains, such as codes & regulations, environmental issues, and project & practice management, allowing you to establish a solid foundation before diving into the details.

Creating a Comprehensive Study Plan

Develop a Timeline

Every successful study plan begins with a clear timeline. Depending on your familiarity with the subject, the amount of time you need to prepare for the exam can vary. Start by mapping out a study schedule several months in advance, with time allocated for each content area.

Select Study Materials

Next, choose your study materials. These could be textbooks, online courses, or practice exams – but make sure they’re up-to-date and relevant to the ARE . Good materials will supplement your knowledge and provide in-depth understanding of the topics.

Take Practice Exams

Practice exams are critical for understanding the format of the exam and assessing your knowledge. By analyzing your results, you can identify the areas you need to focus on and track your progress over time.


Focus on Weak Areas

No one is expected to excel in every single area from the get-go. Identify the content areas you find challenging and allocate more study time to them. Reinforce your knowledge by using various study materials and practice exams.

Enriching your Study Experience

Join a Study Group

Studying doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Joining a study group can help you diversify your understanding of the exam topics, as well as keep your motivation high throughout the preparation journey. It’s an excellent opportunity to share knowledge, ask questions, and receive support from fellow exam takers. Moreover, explaining complex concepts to others can significantly improve your comprehension and recall.

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Exam Day Tactics

Manage Your Time

Time management is crucial during the exam. The Programming, Planning & Practice Division of the ARE consists of multiple-choice questions and vignettes, all to be completed within a strict time limit. Practice with timed exams to get a feel for the pace you need to maintain. Avoid spending too much time on difficult questions; it’s better to move on and return to them if time allows.

Stay Calm and Focused

Exams can be stressful, but it’s essential to stay calm and focused. Practice deep breathing techniques to keep your nerves in check. Carefully read each question and the accompanying answers before making your choice. Remember, rushing through the exam can lead to careless mistakes.

Review Your Answers

Before submitting the exam, take the time to review your answers. Ensure you haven’t left any questions unanswered and that you are confident with your responses. This extra step can potentially earn you those few crucial points towards passing the exam.

Stay Up-to-Date

The content and format of the ARE exams are periodically updated to reflect the evolving architecture practice. Stay informed about these changes by checking the NCARB’s website regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions

As we wrap up this guide, let’s address some frequently asked questions related to the Programming, Planning & Practice ARE® Exam.

What topics are covered in the Programming, Planning & Practice Division?

This division tests your knowledge of site zoning, building codes and regulations, environmental issues, materials, project budgeting, and practice management. It evaluates your understanding of how these areas influence the early phases of architectural design.

How is the exam formatted?

The exam is composed of multiple-choice questions and vignettes. Multiple-choice questions test your knowledge across different content areas, while vignettes assess your ability to apply your knowledge in practical scenarios.

What kind of questions are included in the practice exams?

Practice exams simulate the actual test, featuring both multiple-choice questions and vignettes. The questions cover all content areas to provide a comprehensive review.

What if I don’t pass the exam on my first try?

Don’t be disheartened! If you don’t pass on your first attempt, take the time to review your performance and identify areas where you need to improve. You can retake the exam after a 60-day waiting period.

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Ready to take the ARE ® Exam?

Studying for the Programming, Planning & Practice ARE® Exam might be challenging, but remember – the journey is just as important as the destination. Embrace the learning process, refine your study strategy, and stay consistent. Architectural mastery is not achieved overnight, but with diligence, commitment, and a positive attitude, you will conquer this exam and take one giant leap closer to your dream of becoming an architect. Happy studying!

Remember, PrepArchitect is here to help you on this journey with tailored study materials, practice exams, and a community of aspiring architects just like you. Start your preparation with PrepArchitect and feel the difference it makes in your approach to the Programming, Planning & Practice ARE® Exam.

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