ARE BS: Exam Prep, Quiz & Resources


If you’re preparing for the Architecture Registration Exam 4.0 Building Systems (ARE BS) 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 BS practice exam bundle!

BS Practice Exam Bundle

ARE BS Books & Literature

ARE Exam Prep BS
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: Building Systems Study Guide [$$] – I like the Kaplan study guides because they come with a lot of illustrations to help drive the points home.  Each chapter has a mini quiz review at the end which is helpful for assessing if you learned and retained the material.  There’s also a final exam at the rear of the books as well.
Kaplan: Building Systems Q&A [$] – This is designed to help with the multiple choice portion of the exam.  It’s about 60 questions.  In the back of the book it explains the answers.  It’s certainly a decent way to measure how prepared you are for the exam.
Kaplan: Building Systems Practice Vignettes [$] – Because there are so many vignettes it’s easy to feel like the single example ncarb gives is inadequate.  There additional practice vignettes can help you feel better prepared.
Ballast: ARE Review Manual [$$$] – 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: CDSBDCSPPP, SDSPDSS]
Ballast: BS: 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 BS

Architectural Graphic Standards [$$$] – This book is really just amazing to have for anyone in the architecture industry.  It has so much useful information in it and 99% of it is just architectural drawings. [Also Recommended for: PPP, SPDSD, BDCS, SS]
2009 ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook [$] – “The ASHRAE Handbooks are the design standard for control of built environments with volumes on Systems and Equipment, HVAC Applications, Refrigeration and Fundamentals.” The lone amazon review for this product states “this the best reference book i have bought”.
Heating, Cooling, Lighting: Sustainable Design Methods for Architects [$ to $$$] – “The content of the book is perfectly fine, however DO NOT use the Kindle version. It is USELESS as a textbook. A psychrometric chart is provided in the book that is necessary for completing some of the problems presented, but the low resolution makes it completely unusable in the digital format.”
Mechanical & Electrical Equipment for Buildings [$$ to $$$] – Often refered to as MEEB. An important, well-known, and well-liked resource.
Mechanical and Electrical Systems in Buildings [$$ to $$$] – “Probably the best energy efficiency book I’ve ever bought. Clear, beautifully illustrated with great explanations of sometimes more complex topics. A great reference for not only architects, but engineers also (like me). A must have for anyone interested in sustainable design.”

Video Playlist on ARE BS

Online Resources & Downloads for the ARE Building Systems Exam

ARE BS ExamNCARB: BS 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.
ME Notes – 43 pages of notes.  Has major categories but can be hard to sift through.
Jenny’s Notes – 142 pages of notes beautifully organized (and illustrated).
MEEB practice quizzes – A free companion to accompany Mechanical & Electrical Equipment for Buildings.  The quizzes are organized by chapter
Black Specs BS 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 BS 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 BS?  Leave them in the comments below!

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