study guides

These study guides are originally posted on AREndurance during my final preparation for each exam. While I can’t guarantee they cover all of the information you’ll need to know for the ARE, I hope they might serve as an additional resource to help you in your studies. A list of references and links I used is provided at the end of each guide.

Good luck!

Construction Documents & Services (only on specs, insurance, bonding, fees)
Programming, Planning, & Practice
Site Planning & Design
Structural Systems
Schematic Design
Building Design + Construction Systems
Building Systems  (revised May 2013)

277 thoughts on “study guides

  1. Thomas LaPorta says:

    Jenny, i studied ballast, kaplan, archiflash and flash cards as well as do all the multiple choice questions. I studied for 6 weeks 5 hour days and failed SPD. The MC had nothing to do with the test. Any advice how you have been passing? Thanks.

    • jennypdx says:

      Yikes, sorry to hear that SPD gave you a bad time! In addition to the sources you mentioned (except for ballast, I haven’t tried that) I use AHPP, ADA guidelines, download *everything* off the arefourm FTP site, and check out any additional sources that people recommended in their post-exam thoughts. I go through all of those sources, starting with the most general and working up to the most complex, and organize a study guide based on the NCARB exam guide. It’s basically a tedious and mind numbing fill-in-the-blank exercise. But it’s thorough, and I feel prepared walking into the test.

      During the exam and on my first pass through the questions I go with my gut instinct. I go through all of the questions and select the answer that instantly seems “most correct”. Anything I hesitate on, I mark for review. I spend the rest of the time cycling through all of the marked questions spending more time thinking about what the correct answer might be. 7 times out of 10 I usually stay with my gut choice.

      Hope that helps a bit! Good luck!

      • jyoungarch says:

        Jenny – someone on the forum just left this tip for another test. There is a website called Study Blue that has a ton of flashcards – even a mobile app for flipping through. Lots of content. Check it out:

      • jennypdx says:

        looks like a great app, I’ll give it a whirl when I start preparing for the next exam. Thanks for the tip!

    • Thomas LaPorta says:

      I hate to bother you but I cannot post on the Forumn for some reason and am testing next week for CD’s and wanted to see if you could clarify something for me in regards to the vignette.
      1. Should the grade line be continuous through the building section.nasla says it should cant tell on ncarb passing solution.
      2. Should the s.o.g. stop at interior bearing walls. nasla says so but the ncarb passing solution shows it continuous through the foundation wall. I like to follow the passing solution from ncarb however i know they must allow some variation.
      3. The duct/joist combo to figure out ceiling cavity. Every says go by the deepest combo on a floor and use that dimension. The reason I question this is because the two story space is independent of the other framing therefore I would believe that you do the deepest duct/joist combo for the framing around the two story space and the two story space has its own duct/joist combo since its independent and most likely splits the two adjacent floors in section.
      Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.
      Thanks in advance

      • jennypdx says:

        Hi Thomas, uhoh! Sure, I’ll see if I can be of some help:

        1. Yes, draw the grade line all the way through the building. Remember that the bottom of your slab sits on top of that grade line! A lot of people mess that up.

        2. I’ve seen mixed response on the forumn as to where the slab on grade should stop at internal bearing walls. I stopped it at either side of the foundation stem wall (which is only as tall as the slab!), and then the bearing wall sat on top of stem, not the slab.

        3. You’re beginning to think the right way, here. You’re supposed to be looking for the deepest joist/duct/light combo…the fact that you’re working with one story spaces and a two story space doesn’t exactly matter. What does is the fact that different areas on each level are drawn with different joist sizes (at least in the ncarb example)! Think of it this way: Ignore the heights of the rooms for a minute and look for joist “zones” on the plan. Some part of the floor area has 32″ joists, and others have 24″. Once you know which zones have which, you can figure out the largest duct in each zone, and add a few inches for the light fixtures. Here’s a handy thread on the forum that explains it with graphics/analogies/explanations.

        Does that make sense? I hope it helps, let me know if you need more clarification!

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    • Okang says:

      Thomas, I found that I placed just as much time and effort into PPP recently but my exam seemed like a completely different subject area. Have you had any success discovering any new resources?

  2. Thomas LaPorta says:

    Thanks for the input. So you don’t read and re-read Kaplan an study guides you just use Ncarb exam guide to help you see what areas to study from the study material and you make study notes for yourself like what you posted? Sorry to be annoying. Just feel helpless. I passed SD and SPD vignettes so I’m not worried about vignettes just the MC.

    • jennypdx says:

      I flip through the Kaplan guide when I’m starting an exam just to get a feel for what I’m getting myself into. Other than that, I don’t spend any time reading/rereading it. I do run through the chapter/final exam questions a few times during the study process to find out if I’m hitting all the concepts that might not come up in the NCARB sample questions though. If I get something wrong I look up the term and see if it’s in my notes. If it is, then I star it so I remember to study it a bit more, if it’s not then I add it.

      I figure it’s best to get the information straight from the source, so by addressing *everything* in the NCARB guide then I know I have my bases covered. Sometime it means getting information from official guides like the ADA or AHPP, other times I end up getting the best stuff from random construction websites that show up in a google search. That’s why I include such a long list of resources at the end of my notes…check out the links, there’s some good stuff.

      Don’t be afraid to step away from a study guide like Kaplan and design a system that works better for you! Keep asking questions here or on areforum, they’re a great set of knowledgeable folks. Glad I can be some help! 🙂

  3. says:

    Jenny, have you done Building Systems yet? I’m just starting to study it and don’t know what other sources to study for it besided Kapland and Ballast. Any thoughts?

    • jennypdx says:

      Sorry, haven’t take that one yet! The first thing I do when starting to study is check the FTP site on arefourm…maybe they’ll have something to help you out!

    • Clarissa says:

      Hi GFunk. I used MEEB. It is like the building systems bible. Warning. Don’t get too caught up in meeb, its very detailed. Use it only when you need clarification from Ballast or Kaplan. It worked for me and it was a PASS! Good start to my first exam for ARE now on to structures!

  4. Hi jenny, Thanks for posting your PPP notes, they were super helpful. I used them and finally passed PPP!!!

    Congrats on passing SPD, that would be my next test.

    Good Luck on Structures!

    • jennypdx says:

      Woohoo!!! Congratulations on passing PPP and best of luck on SPD, it’s not nearly as challenging 🙂 Glad the notes helped out! Cheers!

    • Carli says:

      Hey Mara! I’m taking PPP in a couple weeks. I have been studying Jennys notes also and they seem to cover just about EVERYTHING! Is there any other source you used besides her notes?
      Thanks and Congrats!

    • Rcoarch says:

      Hi Mara, what did you use to study for PPP , and for how long ? If you don’t mind me asking 🙂
      I’m taking PPP next week, but don’t feel super confident yet.

  5. Jonathan says:

    hey, grats on your first 3 passes! it must be a great feeling. i have yet to pass any. i’ve taken cds,ppp,spd,and bs…still no pass. my next attempt will be cds again. my 3rd time sadly, and i know many ppl say get over it and continue. i havent quit just yet…

    my question for you is, for cds, as im looking through the ncarb study guides, it seems very broad then narrows down to details, but the details seem to be everywhere and im not sure where to start. i have all the study references too. i’ve read kaplan numerous times and ballast too. read ahpp, flashcards, etc. should i ‘fill in the blanks’ as i read through everything following along with the study guides? it sounds easy but i doubt that in 5 rolling clock years 😛

    any suggestions are really appreciated. and i thank you again for this wonderful blog!

    • jennypdx says:

      Hey Jonathan, sorry to hear you’ve had a rough time, but cheers to you for not giving up! Sounds like you have the bases covered with study materials (how about the schiff hardin lectures on contracts? those were incredibly helpful with CDS) and that you’re on the right track with “filling in the blanks”. The best advice I can offer would be to start with a general study guide (I found Rich’s CD study notes on arefourm’s ftp site to be the most helpful) for an overall understanding of the information. After you get though that, fill in the details with AHPP, flashcards, SH lectures, web searches of topics you don’t understand, etc. Refer back to the NCARB exam guide frequently, making sure you’ve covered everything it mentions. You’ve got the resources and the drive to pass… if you develop your notes so the big concepts are linked to the small details, I know you will. 3rd time’s a charm, right? Good luck!! 🙂

      • Jonathan says:

        Thanks for the reply, I have listened to the lectures many times as well. I find myself having difficulty in absorbing it even when applying it in some scenarios if I can find those online or the forum. I also feel I get lost in too much detail when Coach says get over it and move on…The % on the study guides could be a factor in how I am approaching too. Should I take each category at the fullest even though it says more % in one category than another? I had improved overall from major def. to minor however when I passed on category I failed it on my 2nd try with major def…that being said, I get more confused with what my weaknesses are…I know these MCs will kill me especially when I’m a slow reader/comprehending each question. I’ve never been good at these exams. I know..less complaining and more studying right?

      • jennypdx says:

        Personally I never look at the percentages of each content area, I figure everything is fair game. It’s okay to complain (see 85% of this blog!) sometime talking through the things that trouble you helps you come up with a plan to move forward. I’m a slow reader as well, especially when it comes to structures/calculations, so I allow extra time to work through the material at my own pace. I chip away at the information slowly each night…and by the end of the week it adds up to some serious progress. Don’t let your past weaknesses get you down. You know more now than you did before. And it’s okay to fail, that’s how we learn. I’m not sure what else I can do to help you, but please know that most of us feel the same as you about the process. I’m sure there are tons of posts on the forum about study strategies, perhaps you might find comfort and ideas in one of those…or start a thread yourself! Good luck, I’m rooting for you!

      • How can I find Rich’s notes?…I am about to start…I have no idea where and how but I want to check out some of the sources …Thank you Jenny

      • jennypdx says:

        Hi Lilianna, Rich’s notes are over on areforum’s FTP site. Here’s the link to the Pre-Design notes that I used, they’re about 2/3 the way down the page.

  6. Dean Vlahos, FAIA says:

    Jenny, Very nice work. Your focus is refreshing. I am teaching PPP to interns here in LA in the morning.

  7. Tee-Tran says:

    Hi Jenny,
    In your CDs’s brief notes, just wonder what AKA stands for?


    • jennypdx says:

      AKA is “also known as”. I used that column to list other names the type of insurance, specification, bond is sometime called. So for example, Professional Liability Insurance is also known as Errors/Omissions Insurance. Hope that helps. Cheers!

      • Tee-Tran says:

        Thanks for your response. I’d like to know what is the best source to sudy for CDS exam, such as :books and vignettes? Thanks again.


      • jennypdx says:

        The best resource I used was the Schiff Hardin lectures (there’s a link at the bottom of my blog) and the AIA contracts (check areforum for links). Otherwise I used archiflash cards, flipped through Kaplan quickly (though didn’t rely on it too much) and did web searches for different terms that I didn’t understand in the NCARB Exam guide. Hope that helps get you started!

  8. archetect says:

    Love the website, I was directed over here from the ARE Forum site by someone for your CDs notes. Sounds like you have a wonderful grasp of things (for the exam). Me on the other hand, hate taking exams and it shows (since I recently failed BS).

    BTW, to GFunk….Building Systems (aka BS) is a major major exam. I place it along the lines of difficulty as Structures (although I have heard from some that it’s every tougher than structures). I think the aspect of that exam is that you are required to know so much information for the exam that it can be daunting. Def one bit of advise for any taking this exam is cover the MEEB book as much as possible. It is a difficult read at 1700+ pages, but if you get a good sense of the material and def. cover the diagrams it will pay off. I did all of that + all the other study materials, however I failed because I KNOW I screwed the vignette up (an honestly horrible and silly mistake I made that def cost me the exam).

    Anyways, just wanted to say thanks Jenny.

    btw, maybe moving up to the PacNorthWest soon…..Hope it’s as beautiful as I have always dreamed it to be.

    • jennypdx says:

      Hey, thanks for reading and for taking the time to write me! I don’t know if my grasp is wonderful, but I give it my best. Hope you don’t let the BS vignette get you down, I’m sure you’ll knock it out of the park on your next attempt.

      I appreciate your thoughts on the BS exam, I’ve been starting to debate which to take next (I have that, BDCS, and SD left) so any advice is welcomed. MEEB is a great book, I’ll be sure to dust off my copy when I study.

      It *is* beautiful up here, provided you don’t mind a bit of rain and a whole lot of gray sky from October – April. Come visit us if you get a chance, and if you have any questions about Portland, feel free to ask! Cheers!

  9. Dale Eberly II says:


    Just wanted to give you a huge thank you. I used your PPP notes in conjunction with the Ballast book, some Kaplan guides form the ARE 3.something, the Schiff-Hardin lectures and a couple other pages of history notes from a friend and I passed PPP on the first try (and it was my first ARE). Your notes were a great help, and made for a great review guide the last couple days before the test. Wanted to let you know you had another satisfied customer. I look forward to seeing what your other study guides have to offer!

    Best of luck to you on remaining exams.

    • Carli says:

      Hey Dale!

      What sections did you focus on from Ballast? 2&3? Not sure what else to read from that guide…. Thanks!!!

      • Dale Eberly II says:

        Yeah, I read 2 & 3. BUt if you don’t get a lot of exposure to code research and the joys of city ordinaces and legal teams, you may want to review the code chapters (not sure of the numbers). Same is true of contracts. I wouldn’t get too hung up on history either, I was a bit worried about that portion as I’m long out of my history classes, but it’s a small portion.

    • jennypdx says:

      Thanks for your note Dale, and congrats on passing PPP on your first exam, first shot. That’s a huge accomplishment! Hope you have continued success on the rest of the exams, keep me posted! Cheers.

      • Dale Eberly says:


        Got a quick question for you on Site planning and design. Can you have the walkway cross the driveway? I can’t seem to find anything solid on this for advice and areforum didnt’ get me much for responses.

      • jennypdx says:

        Hi Dale, sorry it took me a couple of days to get back to you. I haven’t encountered that problem, but now that I think about it I’d say it’s probably best to avoid. Remember that the solution doesn’t have to be pretty, so even if you have a really long sidewalk connecting the street to the plaza, you’ve technically met the requirement. Crossing the driveway might actually suggest that you’re connecting to it, which could be considered incorrect and count against you. Better to play it safe in my book! Hope that helps, good luck!

  10. Carli says:

    What sections did you focus on from Ballast? Only 2&3? Let me know! Thanks!!! Yeah Jenny =the best!!!! Hehe

    • jennypdx says:

      Hey Carli, hopefully you got your question answered from Dale. I haven’t referred to Ballast during my studies so can’t be much help. Good luck on your exams!! 🙂

  11. Chris says:

    Jenny- how along did you study for PPP.

  12. Lila says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I’ve been reading through your suggestions and tips and would like to thank you for your effort and for sharing… It’s really generous and giving.
    I have collected a lot of material that you and others have recommended as I prepare for CDS but one thing I am wondering about are the archiflash cards. What exactly are they and are they worth spending the big bucks to buy them?
    You also mentioned that you use the NCARB guide in order to know what to focus on? Do you use any other tactic on deciding what to study in the sea of information available?
    thanks so much for your input.

    • archetect says:

      The archiflash cards are just flash cards, by a particular publisher. Nothing special about them other than the content might be good depending on who you talk to. I have those and other flash cards from another publisher, and essentially are the same thing (content variying).
      Did you check out I’ve created a “class” on there and typed up some of my archiflash and PPI (aka Ballast) flashcards on there as well as Kaplan lesson quizzes and the final exam. You can go through the cards, flashcard style or create a quiz to quiz yourself (it’s a little glichy the quiz part of the site, but it does work for reading, deciding on the answer and then selecting – for instance, using the multiple choice format for quizzes). Def. worth a check…..I hope that it’s helped me retain the info I need for CDs coming up next week.

      Here is the link:

      I’ve had a few from the ARE forums join, so anyone that reads this from Jenny’s blog is welcome (you too Jenny – when you are ready for CDs). It’s all about sharing our collective knowledge to help each other pass these friggen exams!! Im also going to create more flash cards for my next exam PPP, so stay tuned!


      • Lila says:

        Hi archetect,
        I’ve tried to find your material on but am just not able to. I probably did something wrong but got pretty lost looking through the website…
        any help is much appreciated!

      • archetect says:

        Sorry I didnt get back to you sooner. I was out of town visiting my wife (since I work in a different state).
        Here is the link to my study group/class. Hope it works, if not, please post on here so I can get it sorted for you.

        Anyone else is also welcome to join in.

        Here it is:

        Good luck with studying. (whilst on there, if you see any issues with the material, please do let me know so I can correct it – any typos, misspellings, etc).


    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Lila:

      Thanks for the kind words. I like the archiflash cards because they touch on all the concepts and vocabulary that comes up in the exam. If you’re looking for a general resource that is an alternative to the kaplan or ballast books, they’re a good option. That being said, they don’t go into much detail like other resources (aia contracts, shiff hardin lectures, etc) that are highly recommended to study. I find them most useful when used to reiterate and review other materials. To me they were worth buying because I can use them when I have 5 minutes to kill or when I want to go through concepts rapid-fire without reading much.

      I use the NCARB guide as the primary list of topics to study. I figure if they mention it, I’d better know it. Anything else is useful, but supplementary. I refer to arefoum often to see what other people are studying, and read post-exam thoughts to get a feel for what to focus on. There’s a lot of information to cover on the exams and my general strategy is to cram in as much stuff as possible into my brain. It’s kind of basic…but it works!

      Good luck!

      • Lila says:

        Hi Jenny,
        Thanks for the explanation, advice, thoughts… I’m continually impressed with everyone’s collaboration on the forum. I was wondering if you have a source that might be good to purchase the archiflash cards from? I’m definitely going to go about this by accessing as much info as possible!
        Thanks again!

      • jennypdx says:

        Hi Lila:

        I bought mine directly from the publisher, NALSA. The cards came bundled with a digital flashcard program, but to be honest, I’ve hardly touched it. If you’re looking for a cheaper/used option, you might check ebay, craigslist, or the marketplace on arefourm. Hope that helps!

      • Lila says:

        NALSA seems like the best place but I’ll look at used options too:)
        last thing on this… did you just purchase the printed cards or did buy a package like the “First Aid Kit”..?

      • jennypdx says:

        I just bought the cards/program package as I already had a copy of the Solutions book and found areforum to be a helpful supplement for the vignettes.

      • Lila says:


  13. Lila says:

    thank you so much for that..! I’ll check out and the flashcards/quizzes you so graciously posted. I have to say I’m just so moved by everyone’s involvement and help that they provide to each other on the ARE forum… so impressed with the collective attitude!
    thanks again and best of luck!

  14. Joe Diaz says:

    Hey Jenny..just wanted to say you’re blog is awesome for us people trying to pass out exams. Very helpful.

  15. Tee-Tran says:

    Thanks, Jenny for your response for my question on CDs.


  16. chris says:

    PPP question: i’ve been able to draw the angled line at 30 degs. however the building profile won’t align to it- should i draw profile slightly above or below the 30 deg mark?

  17. ellie says:

    Would you please post the study guide materials you used for each test? I think that would be extremely helpful. Thanks!!!

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Ellie, I include a list of references and links at the end of each study guide that I referred to while studying. Check those out if you get a chance! I have the Kaplan books and archiflash cards as well, but typically don’t include that information in my notes. Hope that helps! Let me know if you’re looking for something more specific. Cheers!

      • ellie says:

        wow! that’s awesome! I apologize I didn’t see that earlier. I briefly looked at them and never got to the last few pages. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!!

      • jennypdx says:

        No worries, and my pleasure! Thanks for the kind words about the site design 🙂 good luck on your exams!

      • ellie says:

        ps. I love the design of your blog. it’s so clean and simple!

  18. Jenny, thank you so much for your study guides, they are very informative and clear. Would you please provide an approximate of daily study hours/days per week that you dedicate to studying, just so I have an understanding of what is optimal. Thank you so much.

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Inga, I’m glad to hear that you find the guides useful! The time that I spend on each exam varies, but generally I give myself about 6 weeks to prepare for each. During the first 4 weeks I spend about 2-3 hours, 4 nights a week collecting and reading information, and beginning my study guide. There’s probably about 5 hours total of vignette practice included in that, depending on how challenging it is. During weeks 5 and 6 I spend about 4 hours a night during the week and 12-16 hours on the weekend completing my study guide and doing practicing problems. I always make sure that I have everything done a few nights before the exam so I can focus on reviewing. I hope that helps, the time I spend is probably overkill, but I like being as prepared as possible! Good luck on your exams!

  19. Chris says:

    Re: SPD vignette# 3; how are you coming up with 33 cars = 105′ x 150′ with rows?

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Chris, sorry it took me a couple of days to get back to you. Check out page 41 of my study guide, there’s a graphic from Solutions by Dorf that shows how you can fit 33 cars within that area. Hope that helps!

  20. Tom says:

    Thank you Jenny for the superior notes you took on Structural Systems. They really made it all come together for me. I felt great going into the exam, but as we all know coming out can be a different situation. I took the test yesterday so it’ll be awhile before I know the results, but I’m holding on to positive thoughts. My next one is Building Design Construction Systems…is that one on your horizon anytime soon?

    • jennypdx says:

      Glad to hear you found them helpful, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you get your pass letter soon. I’m taking BDCS next month, if you find any awesome sources, let me know! Cheers!

    • Tom (2) says:

      Strange. Tom, I feel like your post could have been written by me. I took SS two days before you and am scheduled to take BDCS next month. I’ll be following this closely as you and Jenny prepare for the exam. I also thought the notes for SS were great. I’ll try to chip in as I continue my preparation.

      • jennypdx says:

        Hey Tom (2), it’s always awesome to meet the other people in the same boat! Good luck, and yes, please let us know if you find anything helpful for BDCS.

    • Tom says:

      Jenny you are amazing! Thank you for sharing your notes, they were definitely instrumental in making sense of it all for me. I got my “PASS” letter when I returned from a much needed vacation. Now I need to buckle down for BDCS. Thanks again.

      • jennypdx says:

        Awesome news, Tom! Congratulations on the PASS! Hope you enjoyed your vacation, good luck on BDCS.

      • Tom (2) says:

        Congratulations Tom. I also just received my “PASS” letter for SS. I came back to the blog to try to get some motivation for BDCS which I’m scheduled to take in a few weeks.

  21. Tom says:

    Will do. I’ll be ramping upbetween now and then since I’m scheduled for October, but I will be hitting it hard since I hate to waste money and these things are sooo expensive. I’ll keep you informed if I find a must read outside of the norms. Please let me know when you get your’s up.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Hi, just wanted to let you know that I’ve been using your notes for PPP to type up flash cards on Study Blue. They are filed under the title ARE-Programming, Practice & Planning. Hope more than one person can find it helpful!

    • jennypdx says:

      That’s awesome, thank for the heads up Elizabeth! I’ve never used Study Blue, but I’ll be sure to check it out. Cheers!

    • Alena says:

      Elizabeth, I am studying for PPP right now as well (taking it on Friday August 24), and for some reason I can’t find your flashcards on Study Blue! Could you send a link, if it’s possible?.. Thank you so much!!

      Jenny, what you are doing is amazing, and so incredibly generous. May the good karma you are sending out into this world come back to you tenfold. ) I personally wish you all the best, in your exam taking, and beyond.

  23. Alina says:

    HI Jenny,

    This blog is amazing, you are very inspiring and make these ARE exams seem easier than what they are.

    I’m reviewing your notes on SPD and CDS. I have a question regarding to the term “building official” I thought it was the project manager, but I think I am wrong. Do you know who he is and what he does?

    Thanks, Alina

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Alina, thanks for reading, sorry it took me a few days to get back to you! The Building Official is the person at the city or county (varies based on where the project is located) who oversees building code compliance and/or inspections on the project.

  24. snarkitect says:

    My not-so-inner-nerd has SUCH A GIRL CRUSH ON YOU. I mean your study guides. I humbly offer up a plate of cupcakes in gratitude.

  25. Jorge says:

    Hi Jenny!

    First of all thank you for sharing all your experience through the ARE and all the valuable info you gathered along.

    I’m taking PPP in mid Sept., just wondering Where did you find the Info on:


    5 . Fixtures, Furniture, Equipment, and Finishes


    • jennypdx says:

      Hey Jorge, thanks for the note, I’m glad you have found everything helpful! Check out this AIA link to excerpts on the Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice. There’s a great article on Furniture/Fixtures/Equipment, as well as on Programming. There are also lots of links to sources at the end of my study guide that I found helpful…check them out! Good luck on PPP!

    • rcoarch says:

      HI Jenny, this is awesome. I am taking PPP next week, and I have read every page of the PPi review manual, flashcards, kaplan study guides. I have taken a few practice exams, but do not feel confident yet. I am only about 70% score on the sample questions. Do you have any advice? Or, are there more sample exams that I can upload?
      Thanks in advance 🙂

  26. Rogelio says:

    I’m planning to start testing early 2013, how much time do you need to study (average) for any of the exams? Thanks and I will follow your blog, it is very interesting.

    • jennypdx says:

      Thanks for reading! Honestly it depends on how much time you plan on dedicating a day or week to them and how quickly you want to get them done. I give myself about 6 weeks per exam as a ballpark. Some don’t take nearly as long and others take longer based on what your strengths are. For example, Schematic Design took me 2 weeks to prepare for while Structures took me over 8 weeks. I usually study a few hours at night a few nights a week until about two weeks before an exam, then I study about 4 – 6 hours a night, plus as much as I can on the weekends.

  27. Liz says:

    Thanks so much for posting your BDCS review notes Jenny! Look forward to going thru them before my test (as much as one can – don’t know about you, but I am sick of studying!). I’m amazed that you can get this much info covered in 6 weeks… It took me that or longer just to read FBC. Thanks so much & hope you pass! See you in BS next?

  28. ArchitectsRockbyJewell says:

    Let me first say THANK YOU!!!. You amaze me. I don’t know how you do it. I swear these exams make me think I have a learning disorder. (Way too much information to fit in this brain) 🙂 Kids, work, life….too much info. They should let us take these exams before life takes over. 🙂
    Second. Is there a method to the madness? I’m just getting started with my test. Took SS and taking SPD on Monday. I was gonna become a structural engineer and take Structure next. Is it just me or does the structural exam require an awful lot? What was your method for testing order? Just curious.

    • jennypdx says:

      Hey! Thanks so much for the kind words. I’m always amazed (and humbled) by those who raise a family while taking the exams. I can barely take care of myself sometime…so the true kudos goes to you! 🙂

      Glad to hear you’ve given a few exams a shot. I hope SPD went well today and that you’ll get pass letters back on both soon! My take on exam order is to try and group comparable exams together. I think you’ll find lots of overlap between SPD and PPP. Many take SPD/CDS/PPP in sequence since content areas are similar. I would highly recommend this strategy and look at CDS next! SS does require a lot of studying in the academic sense…meaning that for most (including me) it has to be studied from guides like Kaplan, at seminars, or using old notes from school. Unlike CDS, PPP, or other exams that relate to what we do at work, we don’t typically deal with the equations and calculations that the SS exam addresses, so it must be leaned or relearned for the ARE. I’m realizing the same is true for BS, and I think it would be wise to take SS and BS before BDCS. Again, content area from the the two will creep up in the third. BDCS also has some ties to SPD/CDS/PPP and because of that many interns take it last. I think that’s a wise move. Sounds like you already took SD, so no worries there!

      Hope my 2 cents helps you out a bit. Ultimately the decision is yours and you should pick an order that works best for you and your schedule. The best thing to do is just keep plugging away at them and keep studying in your routine. A little bit everyday goes a long way!! They’ll be over in no time. Best wishes to you, your family is lucky to have such an ambitious member. Cheers!

      • ArchitectsRockbyJewell says:

        Great 2 cents if you ask me. 🙂 I’ll take it. Thank you for the kind words, insight and inspiration.

  29. You are amazing. Thanks for sharing and lending advice so openly! Now that I’ve found you, I’ll be back for my next five exams 🙂

  30. angela says:

    In your opinion, what would be a good ARE test order?

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Angela! Exam order is a really personal decision, and one that is best made based on your familiarity with the different content areas. I’d recommend that you look over all of the exam guides from NCARB and find one that you feel somewhat comfortable with. A good exercise is to try all of the practice problems in each exam guide and see which one you score best on!

      I recommend taking CDS/SPD/PPP in sequence as CDS and SPD material is also tested in PPP. SS and BS don’t draw upon other exam content much, but their content will show up in BDCS. Basically topics from every exam will be found in BDCS and a lot of people save it for last. SD doesn’t really relate to anything and is the “easy one” because it’s only vignettes. I took it after SS to give myself a bit of a break, but many take it first to get used to the software, or last in order to end on an almost guaranteed pass.

      Personally if I had to do it over again (and thank God I don’t) my order would be: CDS/SPD/PPP/SS/SD/BS/BDCS. Hope that helps get you started! Best of luck, thanks for reading, and cheers!

  31. Jenna says:

    Hi Jenny,
    You are such an angel!
    I just wanted to thank you for sharing your knowledge and notes.
    My husband is taking the PPP tonight (he is actually there as I am writing this) and your notes were absolutely essential in helping him prepare for the exam.
    You are pretty much a legend over on the ARE forum. Thank you again for all that you do and for being so incredibly generous!
    Jenna [and David]

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Jenna, Thanks so much for your sweet note and for taking the time to write me. I really do love hearing that people are able to use my notes! Glad to hear David found them useful, hope his exam went well tonight…he’s getting a big one out of the way. Best of luck to him on the rest of his exams, and kudos to you for being there with him through the process. Moral support is so important to success! Hope you both get a chance to relax and celebrate now. Cheers!

      • Jenna says:

        Jenny! Great news, my husband passed the PPP section on his first try. Your notes were an enormous help. He is taking SPD next week, thanks again!

      • jennypdx says:

        Fantastic news, Jenna!! Thanks for letting me know 🙂 Hope you guys get to celebrate a bit, that really is the best part of the process. Best of luck to him on SPD, it’s not nearly as bad. Have a great weekend!

  32. MHL says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I could not find notes for Building Systems Exam!! do you have any to share please?

  33. Callie says:

    Hi Jenny, I just discovered your site a few days ago. Really impressive skills with providing the study guides. I read through your SD a few hours before my test and it really calmed my nerves- mostly, I thought wow, this is so succinct and clear I wish I had used this to start with, it nailed it especially on IL. I think I passed it – we will see. I think I’m doing BS next and just printed your guide- very impressive so far. What Ballast and Kaplan lack is they aren’t really a study guide to me- they are reading material. Having tested off and on for years (and lost a lot of passed tests due the 4.0 transition) I want to be passing the rest the first time. The new Ballast format (versus older books) is even hard for me to organize as everything just runs together- your guides are even easy on the eyes, A wonderful starting point on organizing notes and approach. Thank you so much for all the hard work you have done on these!

    • jennypdx says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Callie! It’s so wonderful to hear that you’ve found the notes to be a useful starting point for your studies. I’m thrilled to know that your SD exam went well, hope you get your pass letter soon! Best of luck on BS, sounds like you have the drive and dedication to knock it out of the park. Cheers!

  34. kelly holman says:

    Hello Jenny. I’m another one of your fans here wanting to say thank you for sharing your study guides. I took the Structures last Friday and found them very helpful for me to reorganize and summarize information in my final days of studying. I do have a question for you since I’m trying to determine which exam to do next. I was originally planning to move on to BS next though would like to get one in before the New Year and am not sure I should try and cram that one in. I’ve completed SD but curious what other exam would require the least amount of studying that could be a good fit for the time frame. I looked on the forum but wasn’t able to find much so I’m curious what your personal thoughts are or what you’ve heard from others.

    I appreciate any feedback and thanks again!

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Kelly, thanks for your note! I’m glad to hear the SS notes were helpful to you in your studies, hope you get a pass letter soon 🙂 BS is good exam to take after SS, but it is pretty technical and involved. I found myself studying quite a bit for it, and if you read my post exam thoughts found that it was kind of a tough one. That being said, I’d say it’s doable to study for in the 7ish weeks left in the year, but you might consider if the holiday season would impact your study time. CDS wasn’t too bad of an exam, and might be a better option. I didn’t have to study quite as hard for it, and found it to be one of the more conceptual/big idea exams to prepare for…and the vignette is pretty simple. Check out the NCARB exam guide and run through the included practice problems to get a feel for it. Hope that helps, don’t be afraid to go with your intuition or gut on exam order, you know your ARE familiarity best! Best of luck!

  35. elizabeth says:


    Not sure what others would say, but I recommend CDs. I thought it was very straight-forward and all of the material you need to study is pretty much spelled out.

    Fellow-test taker,


  36. kelly says:

    Thank you Elizabeth and Jenny, I appreciate the feedback. I am worried about hoilday obligations / distractions so think I’ll study for CDS with BS directly after.

  37. RM says:

    Hi Jenny, was looking through the SS notes. Great organization! I found some edits, however, and was wondering the best way to get my comments to you! I think these should be updated for the benefit of future downloads!

  38. Plus says:

    Hi Jenny, could you pls update your notes with RM’s notes. That will be great. BTW, this is a fantastic place to find knowledge and encouragement.

    • Plus says:

      Well I meant to say – could you pls update your notes with RM’s edits and post the revised notes on here. That would be great. Thanks Jenny

  39. RM says:

    It’s my delay… I’m testing tomorrow and have not had time to stop and do this!! I’ll try to upload tomorrow afternoon/evening along with a post-test wrap up!

  40. Evelyn says:

    Jenny, thank you very much for your notes on SS, they were spot on! It’s very nice of you to share them with us! My next one is BS ( a retake) and want to use your notes too. The only question I have is how can I print them without the colored rectangle at the top of the page as it takes a lot of ink? Thank you once again and good luck on all you do.

  41. amadeusm says:

    Hi Jenny

    I have questions on vignette. I posted my question in areforum, but seems nobody could answer, so I am wondering if you have some idea about it.

    1. How should we deal with amenities on the site plan vignette, like tennis court or swimming pool? Should those elements are treated as building construction? how many feet away from them if program does not mention it clearly?

    2. How should we deal with Entry Pad? What is Entry Pad, part of building? Can service drive/plaza overlap Entry Pad? Dorf’s book does not talk about it. His solution shows overlap. However if the program says ‘Building should not overlap Pedestrian plaza, or drives should be no close than 5’ to a building”, does that means Overlap is not acceptable?

    Thanks a lot.

  42. Clarissa says:

    Jenny, thanks for your documentary on your journey. I am up to test number two SS. I Passed BS. Its a tough journey and its very easy to get deterred because of outside distractions.

  43. Thomas LaPorta says:

    Thanks for the quick response. Items 1 and 2 is how I have been doing it.
    Item 3 still I’m still a little confused. Ill try and be brief.
    I feel that if you have 3 zones :
    first zone the two story space with 36″ joists
    second zone 32″ joists
    third zone 24″ joists
    Now zone 2 and 3 are adjacent to tthe two story space therefore they are a continuous ceiling therefore you would use zone 2 with the 32″ joist as you governing joist depth
    Therefore zone 1 the two story space since it is isolated from the adjacent floor it uses the 36″ joists.
    My confusion is that even though the 36″ joist is on the plan view it is independant of the other two zones therefore its joists depth would not be the deepest for the other two zones.
    Is that right or wrong?
    Simply stated if you have the scenario I stated above does the two story space joist since its the largest used everywhere?
    Thanks again.

    • jennypdx says:

      I think you’re right about the independent zones…but just to be safe, lets look at the NCARB example and work through it.

      On the first floor you have one zone, the joists are 24″ throughout and the largest duct size (Close to the supply) is 24″. Because the program said that the ceiling is consistently 8′-4″ throughout all of the first floor (except the lab which is 15′) we know we have the greatest joist/duct combo for the floor. you’ll have 48″ + 8″ for light fixtures clear between the underside of the deck and the ceiling. Easy enough.

      The second floor is going to get tricky, but you have some clues to work with. You know the lab has a ceiling height of 15′ and the rest of the second floor has a ceiling height of 9′. That 9′ ceiling height area is stacked on top of the 8′-4″ ceiling + 48″ + 8″ joist/duct/light combo. So you know that entire area is going have joists and ducts located at height that is taller than the 15’lab area. So you’re right…the areas are independent of each other!! Because they’re independent, you’re going to have to look for two joist/duct combos on this plan: one at the lab ceiling height, and one at the rest of the floor height. Still with me so far?

      The lab has 32″ joists, and the largest duct size (again, close to the supply) is 20″. So you’ll have 52″ + 8″ for the light fixtures clear in the lab area only. The rest of joists are 24″ and the largest duct (you guessed it, close to the supply) is 20″, so the clear area in this zone is 44″ + 8″ for light fixtures.

      So, ultimately you have three joist/duct/light combos clearances in your solution! Make sense? Let me know! 🙂

  44. Toru says:

    Hi Jenny

    Just want to say thank you very much for posting the notes.
    Tehy are super helpful for me!!
    Thanks again!

  45. Thomas LaPorta says:

    Thank you for taking the time to work it out with me. You explanation is exactly how I see it also. Obviously the exam might be different but I wanted to make sure that I’m looking at it the right way and for someone who knows what they are doing agree with me.
    Thanks again, your the best.

  46. Andrew says:

    Jenny..thank you for these amazing study notes. We have 4-5 people here at the office are using them. I am terrible at studying even though I am a Senior Project Manager at my firm (go figure)..anyways…I deeply appreciate the time you have put into these and your willingness to share it others. Thank you. Andrew

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Andrew,

      My belated thanks for your kind words. I’ve been away from the ARE world for a few weeks! I’m so glad to hear that the notes have been useful to you and your office mates, hope you all have found much success with your exams. Thank you for reading, it’s been an honor to share my journey with you!

  47. Lish says:

    How about the alternative vignettes from the ARE forum. I see all these people posting their results, and I have follow the link for installation, but it just doesn’t work, can anyone point me in the right direction. I was able to make the site design vignette atlernative 1 & 2 work, but can’t make 4 or 5 work.
    Thanks a lot!= 🙂

  48. michael watts says:


    Fabulous site and study notes…..thanks from the bottom of my big heart!!
    What is your study strategy for the history area of all the exams?


    • jennypdx says:

      You’re welcome, glad to hear they’re of some use to you! History is kind of tricky to study for on the ARE. In my experience, I ran across the most when preparing for PPP/SPD, and have some extensive notes that I felt were useful. It’s impossible to know everything, but a good overview of eras of architecture and key players of urban design and architecture will serve you well. You might check out the Kaplan history study guide if you need something general…or if you’re looking for a more in depth text, I can’t recommend Spiro Kostof’s A History of Architecture enough. Just Best of luck!

  49. Marc says:

    Since you will re-take the Building System (BS) exam soon, are you planning update your BS study guide including what you seen on the last exam?


    • jennypdx says:

      Hey Marc, yes, I’m working on an updated guide. Since I royally bombed my first attempt, I’m going back and elaborating on as much as I can. It should be posted in the next couple of weeks.

  50. ajp says:

    You’re work here has benefitted my process, thank you for sharing its a rarity in the field!

    I just took SPD, would you recommend taking CD

  51. ajp says:

    You’re work here has benefitted my process, thank you for sharing its a rarity in the field!

    I just took SPD, would you recommend taking CDS or PPP next? I have to take next exam in a month, so any feedback would be great.

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi AJP, I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to use the information! PPP addresses information from both SPD and CDS so many people find taking them back to back to be a good strategy. I agree. Also, studying for CDS in a month is doable, but you may find you’ll need longer to prepare for PPP…there’s a lot more content. Hope that helps!

      • rudy36#2 says:

        Thanks for your response Jenny, great to connect with people in all this. In your opinion, if you were trying to take CDS and PPP both by 6-1, would you study for both, and then take close together? How long would you recommend studying for CDS? Any other special material for CDS, other than (Ballast, Kaplan, AIA, Schiff…)
        would you say is key? any thoughts are very appreciated.

      • jennypdx says:

        If you’re going to prepare for two exams at the same time I think CDS and PPP are the best pair out of all the options. There really is a lot of overlap. It’s kind of difficult to recommend how long to study for each exam as depends on your method of study and how much time you have to dedicate to it. That being said, I usually suggest about 4-6 weeks for each exam, with a little less for the schematic design. I think if you take PPP shortly after CDS you’ll cut down your preparation time on that one, but heads up, there’s a fair amount of additional content on PPP (eg: history), so don’t try to cram it in if you’re not ready for it. Always better to push it back a few weeks then fail and wait 6 months!

        I think you covered the basis on your study materials. Schiff Hardin lectures are *really* good, listen to them a couple times if you can. Check out my blogroll at the bottom of my page for links to a few other helpful sites, too.

  52. michael w says:

    I feel good about the MC portion…….

    I got a really shitty graphic section…..
    and I got hyper at the time, and did not use my tools properly…..
    and I have practiced this many times……

    I may have made it, though, just can’t seem to accept the firewall placement…….
    and I did not finish with all of the ducts…..
    if you have to finish all the ducts then I failed……

    • jennypdx says:

      Hey Michael – None of us really know what constitutes a “fail” so you might be okay. The fact that you’re feeling pretty good about the MC portion should make you proud of what you did accomplish. Keep your spirits up!

  53. ajp says:

    Do you recommend buying ArchiFlash? I am trying to limit my spending, and I have found Study Blue a great resource as well.

    • jennypdx says:

      I really like the physical ArchiFlash cards as they give me something to study while I’m commuting to/from work and the content is pretty detailed…never really got into their software, however. Study Blue looks like it’s a handy resource, but I haven’t used it to prepare so I can’t speak to how useful it is come exam day.

  54. michael says:

    How do I post and write to Jenny?
    my comments seem to be derailed in

  55. michael w says:

    Thanks Jenny,

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog and posts….learning much….
    and I am one that likes to share with others……


  56. michael w says:

    check out the above URL…..CDS flashcards that are free…..141 of them

  57. Ron says:

    Thank you – this is very useful!

  58. Ron says:

    One of the better study resources that I came across is Mister Exam. Mister Exam is a study portal with exam resources for LEED (both GA and AP) as well as for other professional exams. The URL is at

    Happy revising!

  59. ajp says:

    Does anyone know if there is a big difference between versions of ArchiFlash cards?
    Jenny- I used your notes a lot with SPD, and I failed, not that it was the notes for sure, my first exam , and was thrown a bit by the framing of the MC questions, it also had a lot of Leed like questions, did you study Leed specifically for this? If so what did you use? I think I need some help with study strategy, I feel all over the place with so much material? any help with that? step by step/ order would be great. – thanks!

  60. DR says:

    Hi, I’ve received pre 4.0 ARE study guides from friends who have taken the 9 tests some 5 yrs ago. My question for the group is are the test guides relevant supplements (though dated) or would you advise investing in updated guides. Updated but used ARE supplements are not inexpensive. Funds are tight and I’m hoping the older Kaplan guides will suffice. Thoughts? Much appreciated

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi DR, unfortunately I can’t speak to pre ARE 4.0 guides as I haven’t has the opportunity to look through them. Your question might be better answered over at , I’m sure it’s come up before. Also you might check out all of the exam guides on NCARB’s website to compare how the 7 exams were split from the previous 9. Sorry I can’t be of more help, good luck!

  61. Todd L. Ommen says:

    Hi – is the NCARB practice MC test (40 questions) for PPP in any way indicative of the kinds of questions on the real test?

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Todd, I don’t rely too heavily on the sample questions as I’ve found that the actual exams tend to be all over the board. Read too far into them and suddenly “well there were x% questions about contracts on the sample must mean that there will the same amount on the exam!” mindset that’s really dangerous. Rather, I suggest using them to get a feel for the style and wording that you’ll likely encounter and really using the outline of exam content to address what to study.

  62. Todd L. Ommen says:

    Jenny – Do you recall the format for the PPP multiple choice portion of the exam? Is it all multiple choice essentially? Did you take the PPP under the previous version (prior to v4)?

    • jennypdx says:

      I took the current ARE 4.0 version of the exam. Unfortunately as it was my 2nd exam (which was some time ago, now!) I don’t remember much about the specifics of the PPP exam format. You might browse the exam summary threads over at to see what those who have taken the exam recently have to report.

  63. Todd L. Ommen says:

    Thank you! I took PPP today and was surprised that some of the content was somewhat unrecognizable! I was a little worried to say the least. I used Kaplan PPP Study Guide (read the book, did the quizzes and practiced their exam at the end of the book multiple times), NALSA Archiflash as well as your notes and some documentation from Caroline Joseph (got recommendation of yours and hers from, plus listened to some Schiff-Hardin lectures…….I really thought I was ready. I did however do well (I feel) on the Vignette.

    I just need some good advise on finding dependable resources to study for upcoming MC portions.

    I did review the recommended areas of study on the NCARB PPP Exam Guide and tried to focus in on those areas WITH the resources I mentioned above.

    Any advise going forward on dependable study resources would be GREATLY appreciated!!


  64. Todd L. Ommen says:

    Hi Jenny – any suggestions for SPD MC study resources? I am hoping to narrow the scope of material down if thats possible.

    thank you!

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Todd, check the resources at the end of my study guide for all of the website that I found useful as I prepared. I also remember reading Fundamental of Building Construction chapter on sites and foundations, which was really useful, as well as the usual suspects like Kaplan and Nalsa. I also flipped back through all of my PPP notes as there was some overlap there in content (eg: site accessibility, contracts)

  65. ajp says:

    Jenny, or others… What was your study like for CDS, Im going through Ballast’s Review, and other study guides. Also, what is your overall study strategy? thanks for any help, you certainly have helped a lot of us out here.

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi AJP, CDS was my first exam so my study strategy was haphazard at best. (I didn’t start my study guides until exam 2!) I remember relying on Kaplan, Nalsa Flashcards, and the areforum FTP site for resources. You might check the forum to see what others are doing these days…I’m sure there are many more resources out there.

      I’ve made the assumption that any topic listed on the NCARB exam guide is fair game for the exam, so I’d better be prepared for it when I test. Basically my study guide is a super expanded version of that given outline, with as much information filled in as possible. For me, I learn best by reading and writing so putting notes together helps me retain the information. I’m sure others have more efficient ways of attacking it!

      Hope that helps, good luck!

  66. MikePM says:

    Jenny, coach has started a new forum due to the ongoing issues with areforum. here is a link:

  67. michael w says:

    what issues is the AREforum experiencing??

    • AJP says:

      I have tried to post for about a year now and to no avail. It is overcrowded, you can be a member, but not allowed to post also cannot download much info.

  68. AJP says:

    Getting ready for CDS, and possibly PPP. Any thoughts on whether to try and take these together, or days apart before the 1st?

    • jennypdx says:

      They’re great to take in sequence! I took CDS and PPP as my first two exams. There was lots of overlap, although PPP also included information from SPD. If you’ve taken that one, I’d say you’re a little better positioned to tackle PPP. Take a look at the NCARB guide, or my study guide, to get a feel for the content on PPP though. There’s quite a bit, especially covering AIA Contracts and history. You might find that it’s a bit much to swallow in a few weeks. That being said CDS by the 1st is totally doable. Hope that helps, good luck!

  69. Katy says:

    Hi Jenny, first of all thanks for your notes! I’m studying for PPP now (taking the exam on Friday) and I’m pretty confused about the fee breakdown/project cost in your PPP notes. You say that arch, mech, elec, civil, and struct fees = almost 50% of the construction cost. I thought all fees together were closer to 15% of construction cost (according to Kaplan)… That’s a pretty big discrepancy, can you describe the fee structure in your notes a little more???


    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Katy, glad the notes are useful to you! I guess I should have elaborated on that section a bit, I’m having a hard time remembering the exact reason myself! If I recall, these numbers were what my former office used when putting an estimate together. Architectural fees would account for 10% of the construction cost (I’ve seen it range anywhere from 8%-15%) and then within that, all of the consultants’ fees would be a given percentage of that 10%. So let’s say the project is for $1,000,000. Architectural Fees (or perhaps we should say Design Fees) would be $100,000. Mechanical would get 15% of that, Electrical would get 12.5%, and so on. Whatever is left is for architectural. Often times architects bill the client on behalf of their consultants, so from the owner’s perspective, the design fee is all going to the architect, who is then responsible to pay whomever they hired. Obviously these percentages will vary given the scope of the project, but we considered it a good place to start. Hope that helps, thanks for bringing it to my attention, sounds like I should update my notes!

      Good luck on Friday!!

  70. Patrick says:

    Thanks for all the insight and study guides! I passed the PPP exam the first time! Very exciting. On to CDS and Site Design

  71. Elizabeth Campbell says:


    I got my final pass letter last week! Your exam guides and reference lists were extremely invaluable tools. Thank you! Congratulations to you as well!


  72. […] Various specification options: via Open Proprietary (Open & Closed) Descriptive Performance […]

  73. Chris Harpstrite says:


    What are you talking about when you refer to the FTP site on the areforum? And where is this located? Sorry, I am a newbie…

    • jennypdx says:

      Hey Chris, the FTP site (located here!) is a series of links and downloads to useful information (eg: notes, alternative vignettes to install and practice) for the ARE. It’s not updated that often, and a lot of the information is formatted for the 3.1 version of the exam, but it’s still really handy. Check it out and good luck!!

  74. jeonja says:


    For SD, I have got several other IL alts(cad files). Once I open it, there was only empty room layout without anything I can put like furniture or door. I heard there is a way I can manipulate SD practice software using this cad file. Then, I can practice with the new layout on graffic software. Do you know how to do it?

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Jeonja, sorry for the delayed response, hope you’ve found a solution to your problem. I seem to recall that there are a few files/steps involved in loading your custom layout…unfortunately I can’t remember what they are! Sounds like this would be a good question for a forum…since areforum is down, you might try ARE Coach, an awesome alternate. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help, hope you find a solution.

      • Jinauh Jeon says:

        Thank you for your guide. My other source told me there are some manipulated SD graphic softwares showing different layout in the are forum. Like you said, are forum is down now, I will check out are coach.


        ps. just in case, if you have the manipulated software, please let me know shoruly. Thanks.

  75. Scott Smith says:

    Jenny, I don’t know what I would do without Jenny’s notes. Thank you, you’ve helped me so much!

    • Scott Smith says:

      Any wise words for SS? I have taken and passed SD, CDS, SPD and PPP.

      • jennypdx says:

        Hey Scott! You’re so welcome, I’m glad they’ve been useful to you. Congrats on all your success so far. SS is a big one to tackle but manageable, don’t rush it or try to cram it all in. If you have the means, get ahold of the Kaplan Q&A book, it has over 500 mc questions and is really useful to help send home all those concepts. IT was the best thing I did to prepare the few weeks leading up to the exam. Good luck, hope your passing streak continues!

  76. Hey, stumbled across your site while studying for BS. Just wanted to say thanks for posting your Study notes… the accessibility “reach” diagrams, but even more so your HVAC system types / pros/ cons you laid out was a nice centric place for me to go to study them. I know a site like this isn’t done in an hour… just wanted to say thanks for helping the rest of us out, and congratulations on passing everything. I take this exam Wed!

    • Starkitect says:

      Tim / (anyone who has taken BS already)

      I hope you’ll be receiving the good news soon if you haven’t already. I plan on taking my exam on October 14 and have mixed feelings about it. I’m retaking my MEP bc I failed my last exam PPP which marked my 5 years rolling clock. The first time I studied under the old version, I covered Kaplan, mechanical sys in Heating & Cooling book, Studio Companion, archi flash, and diagrams from MEEB, Norman Dorf’s graphics. I passed, but that doesn’t mean anything. I walked in we’ll prepared and walked out thinking I failed.

      So this time, 5 years later, with a newer version and pressure of another major test expiring, I have studied MEEB a lot more in depth…. Which still doesn’t cover all the details I’m sure. I’d appreciate your help if you can explain a bit on how to study MEEB (other than diagrams) considering that Jenny’s notes and the other sources I’ve mentioned above are well understood. I guess I’m just trying to not over study to a point it’d consume me on the test.

      Thanks in advance,


      • Tim Giguere says:

        Hey It was a Pass. Found out 8 days after exam. Finding results post ARE-blackout online at is definitely cool in my book! Starkitect… sorry you have to retake it after passing it already. Different people can easily have different strengths and weaknesses in this division I find. I believe I am pretty knowledgable in electrical, sustainable design, and acoustics somewhat just from what I do in practice everyday. For me I used MEEB primarily to go over the stuff I don’t do often or am admittently not strong in… Such as knowing different types of large building HVAC systems and pros- and cons of each. Some of the lighting terms and various types / shapes of light bulbs helped as well in MEEB, but I agree with Jenny below, make sure you don’t go to “deep” into it. I have a co-worker I went to school with back in the day, has the same experience as me as the most part, yet failed this exam twice, and I think it was just the result of him “psyching” himself out trying to remember everything in MEEB and other sources, so I’d agree with your game plan on not trying to over study. Just looking at the diagrams and knowing what part is what and what goes where should be a huge help on these new exams. Good Luck

    • jennypdx says:

      Hey Timothy, thanks for the kind words. I hope BS went well for you last week and that your results arrive soon! Glad the HVAC summary was useful to you…I had a hard time keeping it all straight myself, so happy to hear it was useful to others too. Best of luck on the rest of your ARE process. Cheers!

  77. Starkitect says:


    I wanted to thank you for this site and your effort and my friend who told me about it. I haven’t taken my test yet but I hope you notes and positivity will help me pass my last two exams.

    I have a few questions for my BS exam and was hoping I could get some feedbacks and other’s opinion considering that forum doesn’t work any longer.

    1) I posted a question about MEEB in a reply to Timothy’s comment above. Any feedback would be appreciated.

    2) NCARB shows accent lights in 2 diff ways: passing shows 4 fixtures which I assume accounts for overlapping cones of light, and failing shows 3 which is the exact spacing from the chart. Under failing they don’t note anything which makes me wonder if it’s ok or minor reduction.

    3) what does even distribution of air mean for the location of the supply and return? Try to put supply diagonal? Or is it referring to separating returns and supply. For example in a rectangular room would you put supply on one end and return on the other end?

    4) following question 3, what is a rule of thumb for min spacing between supply & supply and supply & return? NCARB goes as low as 4′, is that a safe approach if it helps reduce rigid duct length in our design? I have Norman Dorf’s guide lines, but with the version change I don’t know if people are still finding that to apply.

    Thanks a lot!


    • jennypdx says:

      Hey Star, I’m glad you found the site, welcome! Do you know about the alternate to areforum? It was put together by one of the members, coach, and has been really useful to many as the main site has gone down. Here’s the link! I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can. MEEB is really useful for diagrams, especially on the mechanical process. That being said, it’s a dense book and far too complex for the purposes of the exam. Honestly I wouldn’t spend a lot of time studying it as a primary resource. I did that on my first attempt at BS as got far too overwhelmed with the amount of information. You might check out the MEEB Chapter Quizzes as a way to glean the critical information from the text.

      It’s tricky to try and assess what makes a minor reduction on the vignettes. In the case of the NCARB example, look again at the program and the failing solution…I think you might see some additional problems. The program says there’s supposed to be direct light level of 80 fc on the wall at a height of 5 ft above the floor, that means that the light fixtures have to be 2 ft away from the wall in order to get that level. The accent light fixture in the failing example are probably 3+ ft away, not good. Your thinking about even air distribution is correct, ultimately you want to get the supply and returns as far away from each other as possible in a room. I’ve found Dorf to be useful in the current exam version, so would suggest you follow his recommendations on spacing of supply ducts and efficient length of rigid duct.

      Hope the above helps. Check out the alternate forum, I’m sure they’ll be able to help you with any specific questions you might have. Good luck next week! Cheers!

  78. troy_j says:

    Hello jenny,
    I saw your site while studying for BS and was curious to know if anyone else is having difficulty trying to access the study guides (obviously specifically BS)?
    I click on the link and takes me to a page with no content or anything……It is very likely I am just missing something obvious as well.
    Any help is appreciated.

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Troy, I haven’t heard of any trouble, and looks like it works for me. I’m not sure what to tell you! I’ll send you an email with the guide if you’re still interested in flipping through it.

  79. Maria Gonzalez says:

    Jenny, I’ve been reading your blog recently after one of my co workers recommended I read through your posts and others. I signed up to take CDS in a few weeks and the ARE has been down for weeks, just my luck. Do you have any recommendations as to sections to study together? I’ve been using Kaplan flash cards, ncarb study guides, PPI practice exams, reading contacts, and listening to lectures. Not sure if I should study other divisions along with CDS or focus on this. I have 2 1/2 more weeks before my exam and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed. Thanks!

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Maria, glad you found the blog, welcome! You have great resources and plenty of time to prepare for CDS, don’t worry, the overwhelmed feeling is totally normal…especially at 2.5 weeks to exam day. CDS was my first exam, so I didn’t study any other material (partially because I had no idea what I was doing!) and still felt prepared and passed. Personally I found that my knowledge of CDS helped in other exams, especially PPP and SPD. I think you would be wise to focus on the material you have, and not overwhelm yourself with more information, especially with two weeks to go. I didn’t see you mention the vignettes, hopefully you’ve taken some time to get comfortable with the software and practice problem NCARB supplies. If you’re looking for a forum, you might check out the alternative put together by one of the areforum gurus named Coach. Here’s the link to it, it’s very useful! Another great resource for study materials is AIA Pittsburgh’s Young Architects Forum ARE Review. They have a great summary for each exam, and plenty of links to check out. Hope that helps, and good luck! Feel free to shoot any other questions my way and I’d be glad to try and help. Cheers!

      • Maria says:

        Thank you so much! Yes I downloaded the program and practiced the vignettes. Really appreciate your response and how involved you are in this, especially with people you don’t even know!! And congrats to you!

  80. trybarcz says:

    Jenny Congrats on getting done and thank you so much for sharing your information (it’s been very helpful to me) and thoughts through this mind numbing process of taking the ARE’s. I was looking through your site and found that you had a hyper link to Alkikat’s drop box for BDCS. Since the ARE forum is down I was hoping you also have the same for the structural and mechanical portions of the exams. She creates a nice little package of info for alternate vignettes. If you can help me out in anyway of retrieving this information I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks again and again Congrats on finishing!!!

  81. Erika says:

    If a person fails a section and doesn’t take another section for six months…do you recommend starting the studying/testing process again with the failed section or move onto another section and come back to the failed section?

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Erika, I suppose it really comes down to a personal preference to be decided based on where one is in the overall ARE process. I failed my last exam, so had to wait for 6 months with only one option to study for when I picked it up again. A strategy to consider might be to look at if the failed exam content overlaps any of the others. For instance, many find that PPP is similar to CDS and SPD, so if one failed PPP, perhaps it would be wise to try the other two first before returning to it. Hopefully that helps guide you a little, unfortunately it’s not a clear black & white process. Good luck!

      • Erika says:

        Thanks for the response. It was CDS and it was my first section. I’m thinking of taking your advice and maybe moving onto PPP. The only thing I worry about is losing the information the longer I wait to retake it.

  82. Kevin M says:

    Hi Jenny –

    Thanks for your insightful blog posts and even more helpful study guides. I’ve been creating my own in a similar manner and it’s interesting and informative to see how others are organizing the large breadth of information, especially for Building Systems which is what I’m studying for now. I have a question for you. Where did you find the information about which formulas are provided by NCARB during the test. Is there a published formula sheet somewhere that I’m missing? Your help would be appreciated.

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Kevin, thanks for the kind words. Glad to hear you’re compiling your own guide as you prepare for your exams, there’s so much to keep straight! I found the list of the formulas provided on the NCARB ARE site (here’s a link to the page). Under building systems there’s a link that says, “Reference available during the test”. Download that and you should be good to go. Best of luck!!

  83. Steve says:

    Hello jenny,
    Thanks for the study guides. I have passed CD and BCS. Puff… Now I am hitting structures. I was wondering if you have a copy of your study calendars per test? One that you posted previously really helped me map out my study plan. Hope all is well.


  84. Matt says:

    Jenny, I’ve used your notes to study for a couple of the exams and I truly appreciate you taking the time to put them together and then be willing to share them with us all. If we ever cross paths, I owe you a lunch.


    • jennypdx says:

      Hey Matt, thanks for the lunch offer! So glad to hear the guides have been useful to you. Hope your AREs have been a success, best of luck on the rest. Cheers!

  85. Michelle says:

    Jenny- I received my 7th pass letter on Wednesday! I have enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you so much for the notes, testing tips, general thoughts, etc and sharing them with the ARE community. It has been a long road for me, but I finally made it and all your encouraging words have given me the strength to get thru. Thanks again and good luck with your future endeavors!
    Michelle B.

  86. […] Jenny (A fellow Portland Oregonian) wrote a wonderful blog about her experiences with the test and shared her study guides from each exam. I found these useful to find any gaps in my studying and areas that I may not have touched upon. Click HERE for Link to ARENDURANCE […]

    • mouserblue says:

      I plugged your blog on my ARE Study Materials List!
      Thanks for all your help!

      -Michael Riscica

      • jennypdx says:

        Hey Michael, thanks for the plug! Great list of resources and information, I wish there would have been something like that when I was starting out! (Portlanders make good things 🙂 )Cheers! Jenny

  87. Mei says:

    Hey Jenny
    Do you have any note for Enviromental issues. i keep failing my exams because of it!

  88. […] Jenny (A fellow Portland Oregonian) wrote a wonderful blog about her experiences with the test and shared her study guides from each exam. I found these useful to find any gaps in my studying and areas that I may not have touched upon. Click HERE for Link to ARENDURANCE […]

  89. Greg says:

    Hi Jenny –
    I’m a designer in the process of taking my exams. I was using your very helpful notes for SPD and after some confusion and lengthy attempts at deciphering I discovered that the sun path diagram you included is from Singapore and so very difficult to match with anything in New England which is what I assumed I was looking at. Might be an idea to note where it’s from to avoid similar frustration in the future!
    Thanks so much for letting the rest of us bask in the abundance of info you offer up. Helpful and appreciated.

    – Greg

  90. yao says:

    Hi Jenny,
    Thank you very much! I used your notes for a long time, and benifit a lot from them. I do have one question hope you have some idea on this…

    I continuously failed PPP session, and really don’t know what’s wrong. I passed all other 6 exams, all with one try. But for PPP, this will be my forth time to test at the end of March.

    The first time and third I took PPP, I failed the multiple choice, second time I failed graphic. I studied Ballast, Kaplan, both practice books for PPP. And I reviewed SPD and CDS every time before I take PPP. By the last time I took it, I have been done with all other sessions, and really felt I would pass, but I didn’t…. My failed content area is Environmental, Social & Economic Issues.

    Do you have any recommendation or recommended study materials / book for this exam?
    It will be really appreciated if you could share any of your experience or thought on that. Thank you very much!


    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Yao, I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such trouble with PPP. It’s not an easy exam. That being said, congratulation on all your successes so far, you should be very proud of your accomplishments! In my experience I found PPP to be a practical exam where I needed more than Kaplan to help prepare. The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice to be very useful, check out the last few pages of my study guide for PPP for the excerpts that I referenced.

      If you’re struggling with this area of the exam I’d recommend going through all of the sub-topics on the NCARB guide (regional impact, community based awareness, design principles, etc.) and find out as much information as you can about each. Feel free to use my notes as a place to start with topics to research, and do web searches to expand on what I’ve outlined. History falls under the Environmental/Social/Economic heading, and it tends to trip up a lot of people, so you might take some time looking at urban planning history, key architects and planners, and architectural eras, too.

      The trick, I think, with PPP is to have a good overall understanding of as much of the ARE content as possible. Fortunately you have the knowledge of the other 6 exams to help you. You’re wise to refer to CDS and SPD, there’s a lot of overlap. Just be rigorous in your study and aim to learn more than you’re sure you’ll need to know. I know it sounds like a lot, but in my experience over-prepration is what helped me get through the exam confidently. Good luck on your studies, hope this helped!

  91. Elizabeth says:

    Hey there! Do you have thorough notes on CDS? I thought I saw them on here awhile ago and now you just have the 5 pages of charts. Those are great but did you not do a study guide for CDS? Thanks!!!!

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Elizabeth, CDS was my first exam and I hadn’t developed my study guide strategy when I took it. The charts are all I produced, hope they help. You might breeze through the PPP notes as there is some overlap in exam content. Good luck!

  92. NATE SCOTT says:

    Do you think one (1) month is enough time to prepare for a given section?

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Nate, I assume you’re talking about SS and BS? Again, it’s a personal call you have to make. How much time can you devote during that month to studying? 4 hours a day and 8 hours on the weekends? More? Less? Again it’s a personal call you have to make based on how you study and retain information. I know some people who knocked them out in a quick 1 month time frame, so it can definitely be done. Personally, I’d say no as they were the hardest exams for me. I wanted to give myself extra time to prepare and did about 2 months for each. I know you’re up against a rolling clock deadline so that might not be an option. Again, take a look at the NCARB exam guides and get a feel for what you’re up against. You can always schedule and then push it back if you’re not ready.

  93. SMC says:

    I noticed that the Solution that Ncarb gives for the Building Systems vignette is not totally correct. On the south facing wall there are 2 windows. Ncarb suggests placing two return ducts by them. After over 11 years of practice, and a discussion with both my boss, and M.E.P. consultants, they were shocked by this approach, claim down right wrong. Even the study books tell us to place supply by windows, and return as far away as possible. So how do we go about approaching trying to solve this correctly when the answer they want might not be.

  94. […] a famous Jennifer’s and Caroline’s notes that are present around online and some discerning records that we write […]

  95. Jessi says:

    Thanks for all the helpful information, this stuff is great! I am preparing for my fist exam CDS and was wondering how much you encountered history questions for that exam.


    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Jessi, welcome to the wonderful world of the ARE! History is kind of a wild card on the exams, you never know how many you’ll get on each division. Most examinees have commented that PPP tends to have the most (you can check out what I studied for in my study guide for the PPP exam for an idea). Bottom line, don’t feel like you have to memorize
      A History of Architecture for CDS. If you’re using Kaplan or Ballast or Archiflash you should get a pretty good sense of what might come up.

      Hope that helps, good luck!

  96. Steph says:

    Hi Jenny: So reading your blog for the last few entries is like reading my own brain! I received an F for BS exam today and I just feel so discouraged. Any ideas on what else to study? Dusting off my MEEB book is one, but wondering what other resources you may have touched on?

    • jennypdx says:

      Hey Steph, so sorry to hear about the BS result. It’s ok to feel discouraged, failure happens to the best of us. That being said, you’ve been given an opportunity to learn more about building systems, which can be pretty fascinating! While you don’t have to hit the books yet, I’d encourage you to keep BS on the back of your mind for the next six months. I found spending a few extra minutes looking over consultant documents in the office and asking questions helped me get my head around things better. That real world knowledge helps boost comprehension when studying for the exam.

      MEEB is a great resource but don’t get bogged down in it, there’s a lot of information that’s too detailed. I used it primarily for hvac diagrams and acoustics. Don’t be afraid to google anything you have a question on. In my experience some of the best resources were youtube trade videos, especially on electrical and hvac. Seeing actual working systems helped me understand information better than static graphics in books. My BS study guide has a list of links to check out at the end.

      Hopefully that helps get you going when you’re ready to start studying again. Enjoy your summer and don’t dwell on the fail for long. You’ll knock it out of the park next time!

      • steph says:

        thanks for all your help Jenny. Your notes were invaluable.. finally finished up my ARE exams after waiting the 6 month rule to retake BS exam.. (As usual they have now since changed the waiting period length… ) The light at the end of the tunnel has finally been reached! 🙂

      • jennypdx says:

        Congratulations Steph!! Bask in that glow of being done 🙂

  97. […] friend JennyPDX already created a beautiful set of notes for the exam. She already did the leg work of extracting all the key information. Why spend time […]

  98. Pete Buotte says:


    You are an amazing person for setting this forum up and sharing your notes.

  99. NATE SCOTT says:

    What sequence would you suggest in taking and completing the ARE? Any advice you can give me would be helpful. Also how much time do you suggest I allocate in studying time per division?

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Nate,

      Those are tricky questions to answer! Exam order and study time for each really comes down to a personal preference. Do you plan to spread them out or take all seven in one week? How much time can you dedicate to studying every day/week/month? A bit of self reflection and strategy goes a long way before diving in.

      Once you’re ready, you can take whichever exam you want, there’s no “best” place to start. I’d recommend taking a look at all the exam guides on NCARB’s website to get a feel for content. There’s a few practice questions in each set, take all of those and see how you do. Perhaps the division you score the highest on is your first. My take on exam order is to try and group comparable exams together. Many take SPD/CDS/PPP in sequence since content areas are similar. SS does require a lot of studying in the academic sense…meaning that for most (including me) it has to be studied from guides like Kaplan, at seminars, or using old notes from school. Unlike CDS, PPP, or other exams that relate to what we do at work, we don’t typically deal with the equations and calculations that the SS exam addresses, so it must be leaned or relearned for the ARE. BDCS has some ties to SPD/CDS/PPP, it’s kind of the “catch all” exam, so many take it last. I think that’s a wise move.

      I took one exam at a time and gave myself an average of 6 weeks to prepare. Some too longer (SS) some took less (SD). It’s all up to you and your abilities. Only you know your true study pattern. The best thing to do is just start. Commit to an exam by signing up for it, you can always reschedule if you’re not ready.

      Hope that helps get you started, congratulations for getting underway. I hope you’ll find it a rewarding journey. Best of luck!

  100. Jordan says:

    Hi Jenny,

    I have a fast question on your study guides.
    On the schematic Design interior problem you state: “If two pieces of furniture are in a
    corner, the edge of one cannot encroach on the clear floor area of the
    other. It’s ok for the clear floor areas to overlap though”

    How do I know what the clear floor area of each piece of furniture is? I’m testing soon and confused by this.

    Thank you so much!

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi Jordan,

      You’ll find the clear space requirement on the NCARB Exam Guide (or practice program) under Program: “…A continuous path that meets the minimum clear distance requirement of the code shall be provided to each work table and to the seating area behind each desk”.

      Then under the Code section you’ll find: “The minimum clear distance between walls or between a wall and any other obstruction along an aisle, corridor, or passageway shall be 36 inches.”

      Basically it means that the piece of furniture itself doesn’t have a clear floor area, but that you have to have a clear path to fully access it. In the case of the NCARB example, it’s 36″. So on my study guide you’ll see that I drew a rectangle the full width of the piece of furniture and 36″ deep to make sure that it could all be accessed.

      Hope that helps, good luck with your exam!

  101. Ashley says:

    Do you (or anyone for that matter) know of study-guide audiobooks for each of the tests?? I drive over an hour (each way) to work and that is a lot of down time that would be great to use as study time!

  102. Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for putting these together and sharing them with the world. I think you help a lot of people pass with such concise info. Have you got a chance to take CDs yet or is that what what you are currently working on since its the only topic without a thorough set of notes?

    • jennypdx says:

      Hi George,

      I’ve passed all the exams and am licensed. CDS was my first exam and I hadn’t developed my note taking process yet. Hope the charts that are there are at least somewhat helpful. Good luck!

  103. Jenny Guzman says:

    Thank u for this website! The way you portray your thought and experiences throughout this journey makes me laugh….and its a very much needed laugh! This all is very stressful n your words are very helpful.

  104. KPZ says:

    hey, I found your site while studying for SD. You have a piece of mis information, at least as compared to the NCARB guide and other references. You state that you can save space by sharing clearances. You show a 3′ clearance in front of the copy machine which the NCARB guide clearly states you can not do.

  105. Sara says:

    Hello! Thank you for this wonderfufl resource! I have a question on setbacks for PPP if there is a front setback and (2) lots then doesn’t each lot need to follow those setbacks even if one is ‘behind’ the other?

  106. A F says:


    I just started my ARE’s and I passed PPP – I just wanted to thank you for your notes – I reviewed them like 6 times on my commute to work everyday.

    I am moving on to SPD next.

    Thank you once again,


  107. […] demanding a refund. Someone basically just sold me a really crappy set of ARE Notes for $50, while Jenny’s ARE notes are way better and free. I also realized that the person who sold me this product actually sells […]

  108. I used Jenny’s Notes to help prepare me for the ARE. Thanks to Jenny I passed all exams. I also used the Kaplan ARE study material. If anyone is interested in them I am posting a link to EBAY.

    • Nicole says:

      Hi Nathaniel – Did you use only Jenny’s Notes and Kaplan ARE study material to take the CDS, or did you also review Ballast, AHPP, etc.? I feel like I’m getting a good handle on the AIA contract types, vocab and Kaplan material, and just found this website and have the NCARB exam guide, but am a little overwhelmed by all of the other resources. I’m a pretty slow comprehensive reader which is part of my apprehension on taking on too much as I probably won’t be able to read it all before my exam.

      • archetect says:

        Im like you….very slow comprehensive reader. I too was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we are “suggested” to read for these exams. One bit I can offer you that was (I think) my exam conquerer was the The Project Resource Manual: CSI Manual of Practice.
        This book, albeit long at 650ish pages, was very good at focusing on issues and explain the documentation (AIA docs/legalities) very well, and then re-iterating them at the end of each chapter which helped reinforce the ideas.
        I surprisingly (with some skimming) got through it all before the exam and felt that this was ONE key piece that I chose to read which helped me pass.
        Hope perhaps you can use it too for your go at this exam. Good luck

  109. GTarch87 says:

    Architecture Registration Exam ( A.R.E. ) – ARE 2012 Kaplan Study Guide Complete Set For Sale … ID=EBAY-US

    Complete Set of ARE Study Guides & Practice Exams from Kaplan. This complete package includes …

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    The resource helped me pass all sections of the Architecture Registration Exam. I highly recommend using these book to prepare you for all sections of the ARE.

  110. GTarch87 says:

    Architecture Registration Exam ( A.R.E. ) – ARE 2012 Kaplan Study Guide Complete Set For Salel

    Complete Set of ARE Study Guides & Practice Exams from Kaplan. This complete package includes …

    – Study Guides
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    – Flashcards
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    The resource helped me pass all sections of the Architecture Registration Exam. I highly recommend using these book to prepare you for all sections of the ARE.

  111. KiedysZdam says:

    Based on the fact that you have been thru all the exams, what would recommend KAPLAN vs. BALLAST as a READING MATERIAL?
    I know that one is better for some exams and the other for other exams, but I just know I need to reduce the reading to minimum as it is not giving me much anyway.

  112. andy says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I am currently studying for PPP and was wondering if you could recommend the best resources to use. I am currently using:

    -Ballast General Review Manual
    -Ballast Sample Problems and Practice Exam
    -Archiflash Iphone Flashcards
    -Your study notes (Thanks!!) 🙂

    Let me know if you have any other recommendations. There seems to be so many different resources out there and I am getting overwhelmed on which ones are the best to use. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


  113. […] most helpful study guide that helped me with every ARE 4.0 exam are the FREE guides that Jenny from ARENDURANCE put together while studying for each of her study exams. In these guides, Jenny goes in depth […]

  114. panicky says:

    I’m about to take my first ARE exam- CDS. I’m having difficult time gauging if I’m ready for the exam or if I should push it back a few days. Am I ready with these scores? Please share you insight! Thank you!

    Kaplan practice exam- 70%
    Ballast practice exam- 68%

  115. […] in stride, but I was now determined to just get these out of the way. I got a hold of the legendary Jenny’s exam review notes and went to work. I scheduled SD again, and passed. Woot! I waited a few more months, then I passed […]

  116. Mei says:

    do you have any notes about sustainability?

  117. Mark Riemitis says:

    Hello Everyone and Jenny,
    I took my first exam PPP a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately I did not pass. I was thrown off by the wording on the exam and seemed I had to rush through most questions. I studied almost every day for about 6 months to really grasp the material. I plan on going back to the drawing board and study for a while before I re-take it. I went through many study guides, flash cards, and took a few practice exams until I got a 100% on each one. I passed the Vinette and mostly had trouble on Codes and Regulations and Programming. I am thinking about buying the practice exam book but does anyone know where to access multiple practice exams? Any advise will be appreciated!


  118. Tristan Thomas says:

    Thank you for perhaps the most level headed thing I have read today. I think it could also be useful for everyone to know how and where to fill a form online. BTW, there is an online service through which you can fill out a Score Sheet Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, the fillable blank is here

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  120. I do trust all the ideas you’ve introduced for your post. They are very convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are very quick for beginners. Could you please extend them a little from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

  121. Maria says:

    Hi I was wondering:

    If you had any good practice exams websites for the CDS exams

    Where I could get more info on the Punch List

    How do you calculate how many stairs ?

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  126. Miguel Marques says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’m about to start 5.0 and i’m finding the information online to be either insufficient (ballast and designer hacks) or too expensive (blackspectacles). Sorry if someone has posted this already, but does anyone know of another person as generous as Jenny who has posted online, personal similar study notes for the 6 specific ARE 5.0 divisions ?


  127. chenchenseo says:

    online goldraiditemcom2018.

  128. Aj Page says:

    Jenny – quick oldie 4.0 Structures question, (yes retaking before the 6.30 deadline! )
    Static vs. Dynamic live load – you gave an example on your guide, person walking across a classroom as static, person sitting in a chair as dynamic. Should this be reversed? thanks so much Jenny – you rock.

  129. Hello, is the 2012 Kaplan ARE material really out of date or can I still use it to study for the ARE? Thank you.

  130. […] Jenny’s Notebook. Jenny summarized thousand of pages into compact docs. Unfortunately it’s based on ARE 4.0 […]

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