ARE 5.0 Study Materials: A complete list

ARE 5,0 Study Materials

Here you’ll find a comprehensive list of ARE 5.0 Study Materials.  This includes everything that NCARB recommends as well as additional study guides and resources.  We’ve put together a handy key below for you so that you can easily see the price point of each of the study materials.

To help guide you I’ve located [$] below for any links that lead to paid resources.
[Free] means it’s free
[$] means less than $50
[$$]  means between $50 and $100
[$$$] means over $100

Designer Hacks ARE 5.0 Study Materials

ARE 5.0 Practice exams

The Designer Hacks ARE 5.0 practice exams are the only resources (that we’re aware of) that offer a pass guarantee.  If you receive a 93% or better on the timed practice exam and fail your exam you’re eligible to a refund or exchange (subject to terms and conditions).

PDD Practice Exam
PPD Practice Exam
PcM Practice Exam
PjM Practice Exam
PA Practice Exam
CE Practice Exam

NCARB Recommended ARE 5.0 Study Materials

NCARB ARE Handbook [Free] – An overview of what is tested on each of the ARE 5.0 divisions.
2009 ASHRAE Handbook: Fundamentals, I-P Edition
ASHRAE, 2009
2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design
U.S. Department of Justice, 2010
The American Institute of Architects Official Guide to the 2007 AIA Contract Documents
The American Institute of Architects, John Wiley & Sons, 2009
The Architect’s Guide to Small Firm Management: Making Chaos Work for Your Small Firm
Rena M. Klein, FAIA, The American Institute of Architects, John Wiley & Sons, 2010
The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice
The American Institute of Architects, John Wiley & Sons, latest edition
Architectural Acoustics
M. David Egan, J. Ross Publishing, 2007 Reprint. Original publication McGraw Hill, 1988
Architectural Graphic Standards
The American Institute of Architects, John Wiley & Sons, latest edition
Architectural Graphic Standards for Residential Construction
The American Institute of Architects, John Wiley & Sons, latest edition
BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice
Randy Deutsch, AIA, LEED-AP, The American Institute of Architects, John Wiley & Sons, 2011
Building Codes Illustrated: A Guide to Understanding the 2012 International Building Code
Francis D.K. Ching and Steven R. Winkel, FAIA, PE, John Wiley & Sons, 2012
Building Construction Illustrated
Francis D. K. Ching, John Wiley & Sons, latest edition
Building Structures
James Ambrose and Patrick Tripeny, John Wiley & Sons, 3rd edition, 2012
Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
AIA Office of General Counsel, The American Institute of Architects, latest edition
CSI MasterFormat
The Construction Specifications Institute, 2004 edition
Dictionary of Architecture and Construction
Cyril M. Harris, McGraw-Hill, 4th edition, 2006
Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods
Edward Allen and Joseph Iano, John Wiley & Sons, latest edition
Heating, Cooling, Lighting: Sustainable Design Methods for Architects
Norbert Lechner, John Wiley & Sons, 3rd edition, 2008
The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design
Sandra F. Mendler, William Odell, and Mary Ann Lazarus, John Wiley & Sons, 2nd edition, 2006
ICC A117.1-2009 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities
International Code Council, 2010
International Building Code (2012)
International Code Council, 2011
Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards
Leonard J. Hopper, Editor, John Wiley & Sons, 2007
Law for Architects: What You Need to Know
Robert F. Herrmann and the Attorneys at Menaker
& Herrmann LLP, W. W. Norton, 2012
Mechanical & Electrical Equipment for Buildings
Walter T. Grondzik, Alison G. Kwok, Benjamin Stein, and John S. Reynolds, Editors, John Wiley & Sons, latest edition
Mechanical and Electrical Systems in Buildings
Richard R. Janis and William K. Y. Tao, Prentice Hall, latest edition
Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures (7-10)
American Society of Civil Engineers, 2013
Olin’s Construction Principles, Materials, and Methods
H. Leslie Simmons, John Wiley & Sons, latest edition
Planning and Urban Design Standards
American Planning Association, John Wiley & Sons, 2006
Plumbing, Electricity, Acoustics: Sustainable Design Methods for Architecture
Norbert Lechner, John Wiley & Sons, 2012
Problem Seeking: An Architectural Programming Primer
William M. Peña and Steven A. Parshall, John Wiley & Sons, latest edition
Professional Practice: A Guide to Turning Designs into Buildings
Paul Segal, FAIA, W. W. Norton, 2006
The Professional Practice of Architectural Working Drawings
Osamu A. Wakita, Nagy R. Bakhoum, and Richard M. Linde, John Wiley & Sons, 4th edition, 2012
The Project Resource Manual: CSI Manual of Practice
The Construction Specifications Institute, McGraw-Hill, 5th edition, 2005
Rules of Conduct
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, latest edition
Simplified Engineering for Architects and Builders
James Ambrose and Patrick Tripeny, John Wiley & Sons, latest edition
Site Engineering for Landscape Architects
Steven Strom, Kurt Nathan, and Jake Woland, Editors, John Wiley & Sons, 2013
Site Planning and Design Handbook
Thomas H. Russ, McGraw-Hill, 2nd edition, 2009
Space Planning Basics
Mark Karlen and Rob Fleming, John Wiley & Sons, latest edition
Steel Construction Manual
American Institute of Steel Construction, Ingram, latest edition
Structural Design: A Practical Guide for Architects
James R. Underwood and Michele Chiuini, John Wiley & Sons, 2nd edition, 2007
Daniel Schodek and Martin Bechthold, Pearson/Prentice Hall, latest edition
Sun, Wind, and Light: Architectural Design Strategies
G.Z. Brown and Mark DeKay, John Wiley & Sons, 2nd edition, 2001
Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery
Charles J. Kibert, John Wiley & Sons, 2005
Time-Saver Standards for Architectural Design: Technical Data for Professional Practice
Donald Watson and Michael J. Crosbie, Editors, McGraw-Hill, 8th edition, 2004
A Visual Dictionary of Architecture
Francis D.K. Ching, John Wiley & Sons, latest edition
Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Contractor where the basis of payment is a Stipulated Sum
General Conditions of the Contract for Construction
Instructions to Bidders
Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect
Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect
Standard Form of Agreement Between Architect and Consultant
Contractor’s Qualification Statement
Change Order
Application and Certificate for Payment
Continuation Sheet
Certificate of Substantial Completion

General ARE 5.0 Study Materials
are 5.0 study materials

NCARB’s ARE 5.0 community [Free] – If you’re studying for a specific exam, it’s good to have your finger on the pulse and see what others are saying about it.  Checkout NCARBs ARE 5.0 community for great questions and answers from NCARB professionals.
Ballast ARE 5 Review Manual for the ARE [$$$]- Always a good resource to have, very in-depth, but many have reported lots of errors in the first edition and that the content is too broad.
Ballast ARE 5 Practice Exam [$$] – The reviews for this seem pretty negative.  There are some 5 star ratings that give no context which make me question their validity.
Black Spectacles [$$] – We love black spectacles but there’s a lot of video content to get through and some of it is very general.  That might be a strategic move as their resources are based on a monthly subscription at $80+.
Architect Exam Prep [$$$] – A lot have found that AEP simply ported over their 4.0 content for some of their ARE 5.0 study materials.  There are even cases of their 5.0 audio companions referring to 4.0 exams.  While Architecture hasn’t changed, the way the content is presented between 4.0 and 5.0 is very different.  I’d trust their PjM and PcM resources though, since they have been forced to make new content for that.

Youtube Playlists

are 5.0 youtube videos

We spent a lot of time with the AREs so when we find video content on youtube that’s relevant to a certain practice exam, we like to add it to a playlist.  Checkout each of the individual resource pages for exam specific playlists.

PcM – Practice Management
PjM – Project Management
PA – Programming & Analysis
PPD – Project Planning & Design
PDD – Project Development & Documentation
CE – Construction & Evaluation

Know of any other ARE 5.0 study materials you’d like to see added to this list?  Let us know in the comments below!


  1. allstarcarpetandtiles June 24, 2019 at 10:31 am #

    Great tips. I’m bookmarking this page. Its a great resource to keep. Thanks for sharing.

  2. hamzakhan17826 May 19, 2019 at 7:16 am #

    Ok sure, I will follow your steps before going to do exams. I hope your article will help me more.

  3. karlmistos May 14, 2019 at 10:41 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ll definitely share this with my classmates at de la salle zobel.

  4. classboat01 October 17, 2018 at 7:37 am #

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  5. mikemoreno September 5, 2018 at 3:48 am #

    thank you very much, verry helpfull…

  6. jogesh12345 August 14, 2018 at 1:55 am #

    Very effective and informative article.Thanks for sharing such an important tutorial.

  7. FLMIMA August 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm #

    Really helpful website

  8. Rumi July 15, 2018 at 7:16 am #

    I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it.

  9. RJennings April 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you for this website. The practice questions are helpful.

  10. Scott March 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    Taking this test on Saturday. Last 4.0 exam to complete for the trio, then on to 5.0. This site is my go-to place when organizing what materials I’ll be studying

  11. shozab January 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi , very good article.

    thanks for sharing, keep up the good work

  12. dyba January 27, 2018 at 1:08 am #

    Good advice. Best of luck to all!

  13. KendraShirley January 16, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

    This is my favorite site for practicing for my tests! Great advise and super helpful.

  14. reximagetrim January 16, 2018 at 10:37 am #

    Nice post to read. A complete guide that can help all of us.

  15. tylerstockholm December 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Nice one… very helpful! Thanks!!!

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

    Nice post

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

    Great post!

  18. 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.

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

    What is the best reference for cost estimating for PDD.

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

    Thanks! Great advice

  21. 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.

  22. 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?

  23. 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

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

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

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


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


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

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  27. 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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