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Architectural Registration Examination Guide

A resource guide for IPAL students and alumni pursuing licensure.

Portfolio basics

The Architectural Registration Examination (ARE)

what is design portfolio

Developed and maintained by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB), the Architectural Registration Exam, (ARE) assesses the knowledge and skills of candidates seeking to become registered architects. It is broken into six divisions, or separate exams, plus the California Supplemental Exam (CSE). The ARE is a self-guided process. Candidates set their own pace of study and schedule their own exams. Exams can be taken at an approved test center on proctored online. Once the first exam has been passed, candidates have a five-year window to complete all exams. Find Out More. 


Where should I start?

Our FAQs page may help answer some of your questions. Resources to support your study are available in The Richard P. Welsh Library.

There is also a lot of great information online. Try ArchDaily's Ten Tips for Taking ARE 5.0. 

10 Tips for Portfolio Design

10 Tips for passing the ARE

  1. Try Everything until you find what works for you. There is a mountain of resources out there to help you succeed. Do you learn best visually, through books or via flash cards? Figure out what works for you. 
  2. Mix and Match your study materials. Supplement information to reinforce ideas and concepts and keep it fresh.
  3. Study with Friends  Even though the ARE is a self-paced individual exam, studying with others provides opportunities to go over concepts and explain tricky ideas. 
  4. Understand Contract Documents  There are roughly 200 contract documents provided by the AIA. The two most important are the Owner/ Architect contract and the Owner/ Contractor contract. 
  5. Find a Licensed Mentor A Licensed Architect has been through the process and can provide invaluable advice. Schedule monthly meetings to keep you on track and provide an opportunity to review concepts together. 
  6. Commit Financially Secure your exam date and set aside funds for study materials. A financial investment will motivate you. 
  7. Sequencing is key to success. Begin with the exam division you are most confident about and think carefully about the sequence you will follow. There is some overlap. Check our FAQs for more on sequencing. 
  8. Budget Prep! Taking the ARE is a financial commitment. Make sure you have budgeted enough funds for study materials as well as paying to sit the six exams and the CSE. 

RICHARD WELSH LIBRARY at NewSchool of Architecture + Design

1249 F Street San Diego CA 92101

619 684 8783