ARE SS: Exam Prep, Quiz & Resources

ARE SS Exam

If you’re preparing for the Architecture Registration Exam 4.0 Structural Systems (ARE SS) 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!

ARE SS Books & Literature

ARE Exam Prep SS
To 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: Structural Systems Study Guide [$$] – I like the Kaplan study guides because they come with a lot of illustrations to help drive the points home.  Each chapter has a mini quiz review at the end which is helpful for assessing if you learned and retained the material.  There’s also a final exam at the rear of the books as well.
Kaplan: Structural Systems Q&A [$] – This is designed to help with the multiple choice portion of the exam.  It’s about 60 questions.  In the back of the book it explains the answers.  It’s certainly a decent way to measure how prepared you are for the exam.
Ballast: ARE Review Manual [$$$] – 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.
Ballast: SS: ARE Sample Problems and Practice Exam [$$] – I’ve heard that this is a big help in passing the multiple choice portion of the exam.
Structural Systems Mock Exam [$$] – “The step by step vignette instructions are invaluable and the multiple choice is a great supplement to go along with your reading. I recommend this book and all of the ARE mock exams to anyone in the process of taking the exams.”

NCARB Recommended References for the ARE SS

Architectural Graphic Standards [$$$] – This book is really just amazing to have for anyone in the architecture industry.  It has so much useful information in it and 99% of it is just architectural drawings. [Also Recommended for: PPP, SPDSD, BDCS, BS]
Building Construction Illustrated [$] – I’m on-board with anything from Ching.  Beautiful illustrations with solid supporting text. [Also Recommended for: BDCS]
Building Structures [$$ to $$$] – “Illustrates concepts, relationships and basic processes of architectural design.”
Design for Earthquakes [$ to $$$] –  Includes examples and photographs to help understand what earthquakes do to buildings and “what can be done to improve building response in earthquakes.”
Manual of Steel Construction [$$$] – When I worked as a structural detailer I was flipping through this thing all the time.  When I landed a job in architecture I wished I had one by my side, but that has since subsided.  It’s been referred to as the “bible of steel”.
Seismic and Wind Loads in Architectural Design and Architects Study Guide [?] – Currently unavailable from the amazon store so see if your local library or AIA has a copy.
The Seismic Design Handbook [$$ to $$$] – Contains a wealth of information on seismic design but the section on concrete and steel design could contain more graphics and details.
Simplified Building Design for Wind and Earthquake Forces [$$] – “Contains practical, easy-to-read explanations regarding the issues and problems encountered in designing for [natural disasters related to wind and earthquakes.]”
Simplified Engineering for Architects and Builders [$$] – It seems like this book doesn’t really simplify anything. “The tables are wonderful, but equations in the book are written without units, so unless you know exactly where the author is pulling his numbers from, you will get lost and end up screwing up your own calculations.”
Structural Design: A Practical Guide for Architects [$$] – “This book explains things very well and I don’t find it near as boring as some other stuructural design books that I have.”
Structures [$ to $$$] – “The text discusses concepts from both engineering and architectural perspectives, exploring structural behavior, structural analysis, and design within a building context.”
Visual Dictionary of Architecture [$] – “Worth every penny. Having the diagrams along with definitions and examples really helps clarify architectural elements and vocabulary. Highly recommend.”

Video Playlist on ARE SS

Online Resources & Downloads for the ARE Structural Systems Exam

ARE SS ExamNCARB: SS Exam Guide – Directly from the source.  A brief overview of the test and what to expect from the multiple choice and vignette.
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.
Marty’s NotesMirror 1 – Beautiful notes taken during one of David Thaddeus’ legendary structures courses.
Jenny’s Notes – 63 pages of notes beautifully organized.
David Thaddeus’ Pocket Guide to the ARE Structures ExamMirror 1 – 4 pages of formulae, diagrams, and helpful tricks and tips.
ALS Structures Mock Exam Questions – Mirror 1 – From 1996 so it’s not the most up-to-date but structures also hasn’t fundamentally changed.
ALS Structures Mock Exam Answers – Mirror 1 – Answers to the above mock exam.
Structural System Rules of ThumbMirror 1 – Visual guide to help in selecting the right structural system.
Black Specs SS Video Course [$$$] – These videos are helpful at getting a general feel for the test but I wouldn’t solely rely on them to pass the exam. At ±$100/mo I’m not sure it’s worth the money, but it’s an option.
ARE Exam Prep: SS [$$$] – I didn’t purchase this material for the SS 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 SS?  Leave them in the comments below!

6 Comments

  1. Matt123 January 14, 2017 at 12:39 pm #

    You aced the exam because at no point in your life has your brain been deprived of oxygen for 10 plus minutes. Seriously. That’s about the only way to fail.
    I took mine last year and after all the reading online I was scared. I bought practice tests, books, did hours of reading and studying.

    All this mess about the questions have several answers is a lie. EVERY SINGLE ONE of my questions had 1 answer. I rocked through the test in less than 20 minutes. I do have building/construction experience, but I remember the quality of the questions. Anyone using basic common sense and process of elimination can figure them out. I thought myself surely I’m not the lucky one who got the easy test? Nope, that’s just how the test is. But the internet likes to scare you, because they know you will buy study material.

    LEED has gotten a bad rap, and the deeper I get into green and natural building the more the joke of LEED is seen. Don’t waste your money or time on their “Green Associate” garbage and certainly don’t waste MORE money to keep up this phony “credential”

  2. 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

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

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

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

    Paige,

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

    Best,
    Tony

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

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  6. 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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