ARE BDCS: Exam Prep, Quiz & Resources

ARE-BDCS

If you’re preparing for the Architecture Registration Exam 4.0 Building Design & Construction Systems (ARE BDCS) this is your one stop shop.  While studying for the exams, a huge hassle was finding all the right resources.  (Believe it or not, there’s a lot of crappy info out there).  This is a place you can come to find a list of resources for the exam.  If you have any additional resources, leave a comment below and I’ll add it to the list.

First?  A quiz for you to assess where you’re currently at.  The 25 question quiz below randomly selects questions from a growing library.  So every time you take the quiz, it will be different.  You can use the quiz to gauge where you’re at or use it as a study tool itself.  If you do poorly, you might want to look into the resources below. Without further adieu…  Good luck!

Find this quiz helpful? Checkout the premium BDCS practice exam bundle!

BDCS Practice Exam Bundle

ARE BDCS Books & Literature

ARE Exam Prep BDCSTo help guide you I’ve located [$] below for any links that lead to paid resources.
[$] means less than $50
[$$]  means between $50 and $100
[$$$] means over $100

General Exam Resources

Kaplan: Building Design & Construction Systems Study Guide [$$] – I like this Kaplan study guide because it comes with a lot of illustrations to help drive the points home.  Each chapter has a mini quiz review at the end which is helpful for assessing if you learned and retained the material.
Kaplan: Building Design & Construction Systems Q&A [$$] – This is designed to help with the multiple choice portion of the exam.  It’s about 60 questions.  In the back of the book it explains the answers.  It’s certainly a decent way to measure how prepared you are for the exam.
Kaplan: Building Design & Construction Systems Practice Vignettes [$] – Because there are so many vignettes it’s easy to feel like the single example ncarb gives is inadequate.  There additional practice vignettes can help you feel better prepared.
Ballast: ARE Review Manual [$$$] – This is a giant 800 page book with all of the sections of the exam. It’s pricey, but it takes a very indepth and comprehensive look into each of the sections.  It’s thorough but is sometimes hard to get through. [Also recommended for: BS, CDSPPP, SPDSD, SS]
Ballast: BDCS: ARE Sample Problems and Practice Exam [$] – I’ve heard that this is a big help in passing the multiple choice portion of the exam.
How to Pass the ARE [$] – Ebook or Audiobook – If you’re starting to go through the ARE this is a great resource for you to get in the right mindset.  It doesn’t go over exam specifics (aka it’s not a study resource), but it will help you know what to expect and give you strategies for overcoming hurdles.

NCARB Recommended References for the ARE BDCS

The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice [$$$] – An up-to-date guide on the aspects of architectural practice. [Also Recommended for: CDS, PPP, SPD]
Architectural Graphic Standards [$$$] – This book is really just amazing to have as an architect.  It has so much useful information in it and 99% of it is just architectural drawings. [Also Recommended for: PPP, SPDSD, BS, SS]
Building Construction Illustrated [$] – I’m on-board with anything from Ching.  Beautiful illustrations with solid supporting text. [Also Recommended for: SS]
Dictionary of Architecture and Construction [$$] – Sometimes the most difficult part about architecture is learning the lingo.  This dictionary is an awesome guide to everything lingo-related. [Also Recommended for: SPD]
Fundamentals of Building Construction [$$] – “An amazing book it includes all aspects of construction and explains each aspect in simple words, including pictures and videos.”
The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design [$ to $$] – “A fully comprehensive, up-to-date and well organized compendium of sustainable design and construction techniques, this book seems to keep fining its way onto my desk again and again for various projects”.  You can pickup a used version for a decent price.
Olin’s Construction Principles, Materials and Methods [$$ to $$$] – “If you are clueless about construction, this will certainly help you learn more than you ever wanted to know. If you have been in construction, the only thing this book will help you learn is that it is heavy and hard to read in a recliner…”
Time-Saver Standards for Architectural Design Data [$ to $$$] –  I’ve seen a lot of praise about this book and it’s been called an “invaluable reference”.  It’s not for structural design but it should give any (aspiring) architect a firm understanding of what they need to know. [Also Recommended for: SD]
Time-Saver Standards for Building Materials & Systems: Design Criteria and Selection Data [$ to $$] – “Excellent resource for building designers and architects. Contains guidelines and summaries of building materials that is not available elsewhere. Essential Reference.”

Video Playlist on ARE BDCS

Online Resources & Downloads for the ARE Building Design & Construction Systems Exam

ARE BDCS ExamNCARB: BDCS Exam Guide – Directly from the source.  A brief overview of the test and what to expect from the multiple choice and vignettes.
NALSA Vignette Tips – NALSA explains that even though the vignettes shown in NCARB’s exam guides are passing, they are not “ideal”.  Meaning… they may still contain errors.  This site has some really great tips I didn’t realize before reading it.
SBYRKTCT’s Help – There are a bunch of resources here.  I love the vignette tips & it’s a great place to get notes.
Jenny’s Notes – Thorough and helpful as always. 105 pages of notes.
Black Specs BDCS Video Course [$$$] – These videos are helpful at getting a general feel for the test but I wouldn’t solely rely on them to pass the exam. At ±$100/mo I’m not sure it’s worth the money, but it’s an option.
ARE Exam Prep: BDCS [$$$] – I didn’t purchase this material for the BDCS exam but I did for other exams.  If you’re feeling unsure about the exam, hate reading, or just can’t devote a lot of time to reading, it’s a good resource.  I thought the audio companion was helpful.

Post your practice vignettes to AREcoach or NCARB’s Google Plus page.

Have any additional resources for the ARE BDCS?  Leave them in the comments below!

12 Comments

  1. Aartiwalvekar November 21, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    Nice post

  2. Aartiwalvekar October 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    Great post!

  3. Tony August 30, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    In the NCARB ARE 5.0 handbook they reference Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods in both of their example questions for cost estimating. Unfortunately there isn’t a specific chapter on cost estimating, it’s woven throughout the content.

  4. Spencer August 30, 2017 at 1:15 am #

    What is the best reference for cost estimating for PDD.

  5. Amy July 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks! Great advice

  6. Tony June 29, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    Deciduous trees should only be used for shade (especially in temperate climates). Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and will have little protection against wind in the winter when it is most needed. Likewise, the leafless trees allow solar heat gain in the winter when it is desired, and shade in the summer.

    Coniferous trees are only to be used to block wind and views. Since they don’t lose their needles, they work great for these two items year-round.

  7. Shahid Logan June 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Hello. My name is Shahid. This comment is for anyone who would like to reply. On the Siteplanning test. To block the wind, can you use a Deciduous tree or must you use a Coniferous tree?

  8. Mike January 4, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Tony,

    I need to take 5.0 PPD & PDD. Do you plan on posting notes such as “Caroline’s Notes” that you had posted for the various 4.0 exams for either of those sections? I found those notes to be some of the best resources in studying for the 4.0 sections. If so any idea when? Thanks

  9. Stephen October 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Tony,
    Any updates on the SS exam ? If there’s an expected release date ? Thanks

  10. DesignerHacks October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    Paige,

    We are releasing practice exams for the SS exam later this fall.

    Best,
    Tony

  11. Paige October 4, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  12. Daniel September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    Great post, very helpful with the lists of suggested materials, I just passed CDs in July and am taking PPP in November so I definitely needed the list.

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