UPDATE: NCARB now has a new service, which would render this information NOT necessary, unless you want to save $10 a year.  Link to new service here: http://www.ncarb.org/ARE/Preparing-for-the-ARE.aspx


The ARE practice programs service is now available to all My NCARB account holders. At just $10 for an annual subscription, the new service offers easy, affordable, and unlimited online access to the practice programs. My NCARB account holders can subscribe to the new service by logging into My NCARB and clicking the “Add” button for this service.

In addition to the new paid service, the ARE practice programs remain available for free download

ARTICLE: For some reason the NCARB practice software is still in 32-bit operating system, and not 64-bit, which has been around for like 10 or more years.  So I am trying to run this on my new laptop, windows 7 (windows 8 coming out soon, at the time of this post).

I don’t think there is a mac version.  Why NCARB has not updated this, I have no idea.  I’m sure some coder/architect has even offered to fix it.  But that’s NCARB for you, sort of doing it.   I haven’t found any documentation, except this on NCARB’s website:

Each division also has a practice program with sample vignettes for you to solve. The practice programs can be downloaded free of charge, and will run on an IBM PC or compatible computer running Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows NT or Windows Vista 32-bit.

You can run the programs without doing this, but you can’t easily flip back and forth between the program and the drawing area or see the instructions (kind of important).  So here are some directions that I have found deep in the online forums.

Watch video to see what it looks like when its working:

First you will want to download the software, try to install and see what happens.  We all know software is constantly updating, and one day it might just work.  Here’s where you get the FREE NCARB practice software:  http://ncarb.org/ARE/Preparing-for-the-ARE.aspx

Its probably better to spend   $50-$100 on an old laptop, and have that as a dedicated work station for running the graphic vignette software, I spent $100 dollars upgrading my windows 7 to windows 7 pro.  But I don’t think this is necessary. But now I am good to go–and all the NCARB software is free.

Options for Installing a “Virtual Machine.”

VMware Player. (FREE)

  1. Installation of either VM package is no more complicated than a typical software installation.
  2. Once it is installed, fire it up and install your 32bit Version of Windows in the virutal machine.


Windows Virtual PC
Running With Window 7 :  Run in XP mode:

    1. Frankly, I am not sure how easy this is.  It looks like windows xp mode and Windows Virtual PC work together. And I think it matters if you have Windows 7 home edition or Windows 7 professional.  I have Windows 7 professional now.  Check to see if just windows virtual PC will work alone with out xp mode.
    2. I tried right clicking and running compatibility mode (run as admin) but that didn’t work…so here’s some more info:
    3. Microsoft’s webpage for XP mode and Virtual PC, download and install virtual PC :




    4.  More Documentation: WXPMode_HowToGuide  (PDF)


2 thoughts on “How to Run NCARB Software on Your New PC!

  1. Hi, NCARB’s remote desktop does work on mac’s.

    NCARB posts instructions how to download the remote desktop software for the mac.

    I’ve done all my practicing for the vignettes it on my MacBook. The remote desktop is definitely clunky and the connection ebbs and flows (my internet connection ebbs and flows too, which may be where the issue lies), but work is able to get done, which is all that matters. It’s like practicing with weights around my ankles, but I think that’s fine because the test center computers are much more responsive comparatively.

    After the free trial was over in April, they now have a $10 annual subscription for the remote desktop service.

    Thanks for all your info on the site. Great resources.

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