ARE BDCS: Exam Prep, Quiz & Resources


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!

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