Creating an ARE Study Plan

Our model is based on a few basic common factors:

1. Preparation of construction documents is first because architects prepare a lot of CDs and have experience around the office.

2. SDP is second because it is considered an easy exam. Building confidence on these exams and building upon knowledge will help you gear up for some of the more difficult tests.

3. SD and SDP have the highest pass rates, but SD has the shortest estimated study time, and is a good final test to take. PPP should be grouped with SDP and CDS due to overlapping topics.

4. SS, BS, and BDCS are ordered such that there is a ‘break’ between the two hardest tests with BS.


You should factor in your personal strengths when creating your own order for taking the tests. You can decide to use our model as a base or follow it step by step, but we recommend plotting these estimated study times into a calender as soon as you select your order (see calendar below). You will then have an idea of when your prospective dates are for scheduling tests, and when you can approximate becoming a registered architect. This timeline will guide you, and give you motivation to stay on target.

Test Order and Estimated Associated Study Times

  1. CDS (5 weeks)
  2. SPD (3-4 weeks)
  3. PPP (4 weeks)
  4. SS (5 weeks)
  5. BS (3 weeks)
  6. BDCS (4 weeks)
  7. SD (1-2 weeks)

Basic Test Parameters

  • Programming, Planning & Practice (85 multiple choice questions and one site zoning vignette)
  • Site Planning & Design (65 multiple choice questions and two vignettes: site grading and site planning)
  • Building Design & Construction Systems (85 multiple choice questions and three vignettes in accessibility, roof plan and stair design)
  • Schematic Design (two vignettes in building layout and interior layout)
  • Structural Systems (125 multiple choice questions and one structural layout vignette)
  • Building Systems (95 multiple choice questions and one mechanical & electrical plan vignette)
  • Construction Documentation & Services (100 multiple choice questions and one building section vignette)


{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Dena January 21, 2016, 8:09 am

    so with the estimated durations of study for each exam, what are you considering on how many hours you considering studying a day? I mean if you are going to study for an exam fo0r 5 weeks and only study 1 hour a day, that is very different than 4 hours a day. so how many study hours per day are these durations based upon?

    • ARE BEE February 21, 2016, 11:41 am

      I think it really depends on how well you know the material. 1 hour a day for 5 weeks is about 35 hours, I would say that is minimum for most exams. I could tell you it takes x amount of hours, but it really comes down to being prepared, and your experience in the field. Hope this helps! Thank you for your comment, let us know if you have more questions.

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