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

Exam Advice

Posted by Brightwood Architecture Education
Published: July 17, 2015

ARE 4.0 Exam Advice—Brightwood Architecture EducationFollowing is a short list of suggestions intended to help candidates develop their own strategies and priorities. We believe each item is important in achieving a passing score on the Architect Registration Exam (ARE). The ARE Guidelines, available from the NCARB website, also lists suggestions for examination preparedness.

Get an early start

Begin preparation early enough to develop confidence by the time you are scheduled to take the exam. Arrive at the exam site early and be ready to go when the test begins.

Pace yourself

Each division allows candidates at least one minute per question. You should be able to comfortably read and reread each question and fully understand what is being asked before answering. Each vignette allows candidates ample time to complete a solution within the time allotted.

Read carefully

Begin each question by reading it carefully and fully reviewing the choices, eliminating those that are obviously incorrect. Interpret language literally and keep an eye out for negatively worded questions. With vignettes, carefully review instructions and requirements. Quickly make a list of program and code requirements to check your work against as you proceed through the vignette.


All unanswered questions are considered incorrect, so answer every question. If you are unsure of the correct answer, select your best guess and/or mark the question for later review. If you continue to be unsure of the answer after returning to the question a second time, it is usually best to stick with your first guess.

Review difficult questions

The exam allows candidates to review and change answers within the time limit. Utilize this feature to mark troubling questions for review upon completing the rest of the exam.

Reference material

Some divisions include reference materials accessible through an on-screen icon. These materials include formulas and other reference content that may prove helpful when answering questions in these divisions. Note that candidates may not bring reference material with them to the testing center.

Complete all vignettes

Incomplete solutions risk failure. Complete every problem, even if every detail is not complete or perfect.

Don't modify the program

Never add, change, improve, or omit anything from a program statement. Never assume that there is an error in the program. Verify all requirements to ensure complete compliance with every element of the program. If ambiguities exist in the program, make a reasonable assumption and complete your solution.

Develop a reasonable solution

Because most vignettes generally have one preferred solution, solve the problem in the most direct and reasonable way. Never search for a unique or unconventional solution, because on this exam, creativity is not rewarded.

Be aware of time

The strict time constraint compels you to be a clock-watcher. Never lose sight of how much time you are spending on each vignette. When it is time to proceed to the next problem, quit and move on to the next vignette.

Style doesn’t count

Vignettes are graded on their conformance with program requirements and instructions. Don’t waste time creating aesthetically pleasing solutions and adding unnecessary design elements.

Remain calm

This may be easier said than done because this type of experience often creates stress in even the most self-assured candidate. Anxiety is generally related to fear of failure. However, if a candidate is well-prepared, this fear may be unrealistic. Furthermore, even if the worst comes to pass, and you must repeat a division, all it means is that your architectural license will be delayed for a short period of time.