Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education

Brightwood Architecture Frequently Asked Questions

Brightwood Architecture Education Frequently Asked Questions

Brightwood College purchased Kaplan Architecture Education in September 2015. Kaplan Architecture Education is now Brightwood Architecture Education. You will still receive the same high-quality education you’ve come to expect from Kaplan Architecture, written and led by the same industry-leading authors and instructors.

All vignettes have a 90-day access period.

If you purchased online study materials on or before April 26, 2016 your courses will include 24-months of access.

If you purchased online study materials after April 26, 2016 your courses will include 12-months of access.

ARE 4.0 product access will expire on June 30, 2018.

Brightwood College is a new school that now includes campuses that were formerly Kaplan College. The goal of Brightwood College is to prepare you with the education you need to pass your exams and excel in today’s job market. You can learn more about Brightwood College at www.brightwood.edu.

A committee of architects made up of representative members from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), Committee of Canadian Architectural Councils (CACC), consulting engineers, and code officials.

You can take the exam whenever you want. The exam is administered Monday through Saturday, year-round, at authorized test centers around the country. Hours of operation vary, so contact your test center of choice to verify business hours.

There are more than 350 standardized test centers across North America. Once your application has been processed, you will receive a list of test centers with your approval notification.

The exam is computer-based. There are seven different divisions of the exam. Six divisions (Programming, Planning & Practice; Site Planning & Design; Building Design & Construction Systems; Structural Systems; Building Systems; Construction Documents & Services) are comprised of multiple-choice and a graphic vignette portion. One division (Schematic Design) only utilizes the graphic vignettes.

Calculators are allowed into the exam only for the multiple-choice divisions. (The graphic divisions have a calculator built into the software interface.) However, calculators are not provided at the test centers, so you will have to bring your own. Only non-programmable, non-communicating, non-printing calculators are allowed, and the center administrator has to approve the calculator before you begin the exam.

The examination is closed book.  In other words, no reference material is permitted. For some exam divisions, reference material can be accessed electronically. This material may contain excerpts from sources such as the AISC Manual of Steel Construction and the UBC. Candidates should therefore obtain copies of these books prior to the exam in order to become familiar with their scope and format.

NCARB allows candidates to choose the order in which they take the exams, and the choice is an important one. While only you know what works best for you, the following are some general considerations that many have found to be beneficial:

1. The Building Design & Construction Systems and Programming, Planning & Practice divisions are perhaps the broadest of all the divisions. Although this can make them among the most intimidating, taking these divisions early in the process will give a candidate a broad base of knowledge and may prove helpful in preparing for subsequent divisions. An alternative to this approach is to take these two divisions last, because you will already be familiar with much of their content. The latter approach is likely most beneficial when you take the exam divisions in fairly rapid succession so that details learned while studying for earlier divisions will still be fresh in your mind.

2.   The Construction Documents & Services exam covers a broad range of subjects, dealing primarily with the architect’s role and responsibilities within the building design and construction team. Because these subjects serve as one of the core foundations of the ARE, it may be advisable to take this division early in the process, as knowledge gained preparing for this exam can help in subsequent divisions.

There are 11 total vignettes throughout the 7 ARE divisions that are used to measure knowledge, skills, and abilities. The following are the topics the vignettes are based on according to the program and code requirements: Programming, Planning & Practice: Site Zoning; Site Planning & Design: Site Grading and Site Design; Building Design & Construction Systems: Accessibility/Ramp, Stair Design, Roof Plan; Schematic Design: Interior Layout, Building Layout; Structural Systems: Structural Layout; Building Systems: Mechanical & Electrical Plan; Construction Documents & Services: Building Section. The single most important thing candidates can do to prepare themselves for the vignettes is to learn to proficiently navigate NCARB’s graphic software. Practice software can be downloaded free of charge from their website. Candidates should download it and become thoroughly familiar with its use.

You can go back and forth between vignettes within the same section as you work.  You do not have to complete each one before moving on.  And you do not need to save your work because the computer is set up to automatically save once a minute during the exam.  You will not lose work as you move from vignette to vignette.  However, once you leave that section of vignettes, you cannot return to them.

Tolerances are built into each scoring program to allow for slight inaccuracies. These tolerances vary between vignettes according to the importance of the feature being tested. However, it is your responsibility to be as accurate as possible with your solutions. The software has been designed to allow for as much accuracy as possible with zoom and check tools. The more accurate your information, the more accurate the scoring.

Each multiple-choice test has a fixed number of questions that must be answered within a fixed time period. A tutorial is delivered before each exam to explain how the program works for that particular division.

To pass the ARE and become a registered architect, a candidate must pass all divisions of the ARE. Scores from the individual divisions are not averaged.

Test scores are reported to candidates by their state boards as pass or fail several weeks after the exam. Actual arrival times vary between the states, but a good approximation is to allow two to four weeks to receive results from a multiple-choice division exam and four to six weeks for results from a graphic division exam.

If you fail a division, you will have to retake it. However, you will not be allowed to retake the same exam until at least 60 days has passed from the time of the first administration.

Brightwood makes every attempt to make our websites and products mobile- and tablet-friendly. However, not all features are compatible with all tablets and phones.

  • When working on regulated course material, we recommend using a Windows- or Mac-based desktop or laptop computer.
  • We recommend the use of Windows 7-10 or macOS 10.9 or later operating systems.
  • We recommend the use of current Chrome, Firefox, or Safari browsers. We also support Internet Explorer 11 and Edge.
  • For business customers, please verify the browser choice and use with your manager or IT department.
  • We recommend online learners have the latest version of Flash (until Aug 1st 2018), when it will no longer be needed.
  • We recommend online learners have at least a 2MB connection.