ARE 5.0 Multi-Exam Bundle

Purchasing Information

Let us take you across the finish line to licensure. We can help you study for ALL of your remaining exams.

To enroll, email Let us know that you want the ARE 5.0 prep course, your mailing address (so we can send you a book), the date you want to start, and a list of the exam divisions that you have yet to take (so we can help you prioritize which videos to watch).

Tuition is $290 per month, and you can stop anytime. It’s $190 per month each if you sign up with a friend. We’ll also mail you a hard copy of our book, The Amber Book: ARE 5.0 Edition.

For most people, these courses are intended to replace studying (rather than initiate it), even if you study no other content.

I don’t believe that studying for one of these exams alone is the best path. Study for all the ones you have left, then take all within a few days of each other. I know this sounds frightening for some, but I think it offers the highest likelihood of passing in the fewest number of hours studying.

Remember that you are charged by the month, so this advice–to take all your remaining exams as quickly as possible–means that we make less money because you will no longer need to maintain your video access. We just think it is the best way to get licensed.

The video bundle you get will include systems content, construction content, site content, and professional practice content. This totals approximately 32 hours of video, which should take you about 70 hours to complete, including the assignments that come with the course. (That number is for all the exams. If you only have one exam left, there may be as little as 7 hours of content to cover, which will take you about 14 hours. We’ll let you know which videos to focus on for each exam you take) You can watch as many times as you like in that multi-month window, and if you watch it twice, it’ll take you about 100 hours to complete.

Know that you will not be able to share or copy this video. The license is only for one user on one computer. We customize each video with a watermark of your name (one frame only, in several different locations in the video, so too fast and too small to find it.) If you share the video, your credit card or Paypal account will be charged for each person you share it with, and each person they share it with, and so on. If you receive a bootlegged copy, let us know. We’ll give you half of the net legal damages we recover. We could not be more serious about this.

There is a $100 discount per person per month for all orders of two or more so if you have a friend or friends who are interested, you EACH receive $100 off for EACH month, and you don’t need to start your video access window simultaneously. You and your friend will also be billed separately so you won’t have to gather the money for everyone. Many people use an online forum like AREcoach or the NCARB Google+ Community to find a partner.

0% of this course is simply tripod video of me giving a class. I’ve hired animators, a movie maker, an audio recording studio, and a video recording studio to make this the kind of thing I’d want to watch for that many hours. This summer we had 12 people working to make our new professional practice videos. I take production quality seriously.

Our annual marketing budget is zero. Our advertising budget is zero. Our outbound sales budget is zero. We are a word-of-mouth course and we put all of our time and resources back into making our course better. I’ve been an architecture professor for 16 years, so I have a content-first approach. Please search “Amber” on one of the forums to read what people say about this course.

Because we customize each video with your name, you can typically expect the link to the video and digital copy of the book to arrive with an email within 48 hours of when you purchase it.

“I want to enroll, but don’t want to start just yet.” If you order the video now, just tell us when you want the video delivered to your inbox (it needn’t be right away). Ordering the video early is not a bad idea because it allows enough time for the mail to deliver a paper copy of the Amber Book before you start the videos. If you want to start right away, that’s fine too.

To purchase the online course, send an email to

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my partner and I want to pay separately and start at different times?
No problem. Just send the addresses of everyone interested to and we’ll work out the details and contact each of you separately.

You say that people can pass these exams with these videos, even if they don’t study other material. Can this be?
For most people, I don’t think that studying additional content will, on average, get them licensed as quickly as going through my course and taking the exams without additional studying (then retaking any exams that you don’t pass as soon as possible). It is natural to feel that failing an exam is a setback, but so is spending 50 extra unnecessary hours more than was needed to pass one of the exam divisions. In the latter case, you just never receive confirmation of the error because you got the pass from NCARB and didn’t know you over-studied.

I don’t understand the previous paragraph. Can you explain it more clearly?
I think this course allows for the highest likelihood of passing the most exams in the least amount of study time.

Which videos should I watch for my next exam?
Video priorities by ARE 5.0 exam division are
Practice Management exam division: Pro Practice videos, then take the exam
Project Management exam division: Pro Practice videos, then site videos, then take the exam
Programming & Analysis: Site videos, then Pro Practice videos, then Systems videos (then Construction videos if time allows), then take the exam
Project Planning & Design: Watch all the videos in the order they are provided to you . . . Systems videos, then Construction videos, then Site videos, then Pro Practice videos, then take the exam
Project Development & Documentation: Watch all the videos in the order they are provided to you . . . Systems videos, then Construction videos, then Site videos, then Pro Practice videos, then take the exam
Construction & Evaluation exam division: Pro Practice videos, then Site videos (then Systems videos if time allows) then take the exam

How quickly can I go through these three videos?
I think one week is the fastest you’d go through all of them, though that would be an intense week.

I’m signing up with a friend, but she not taking the exam for a while. Is it okay if I take the seminar now and she takes it later?
Sure, but she’ll need to pay for the seminar so you can each receive the $100 discount, otherwise you’ll be charged the additional $100 per month. She can start the seminar any time after she has paid.

What is the discount if there are three of us signing up together?
$100 off for each one of you.

Why don’t you have dedicated sections for structures or codes?
I do cover structures and some code content in my videos, but don’t have dedicated sections. Based on my experience, these two subjects have a low yield. That doesn’t mean that they are not important to the exam or to practice (they are!) but rather that every 10-hour block of studying structures or codes will not yield you more correct answers than the other content I’ve included. To calculate the yield, I not only consider the content of the exam, but also how much time it would take you to study that content. Codes and structures span a lot of content that would take a long time to study, and relative to that, they are less important for studying. ARE 5.0 is new, and this is only based on my experience (a sample size of one) so if, based on your exam experience, I should spend more time on these (or other) areas, please let me know and I will revise my position. If you are interested in a structures course, visit or

How old is the video?
I’m always adding content. I won’t let this series of videos become outdated.

How is ARE 5.0 different from ARE 4.0?
I spent time two summers ago at NCARB headquarters in Washington DC where the testing staff there held a two-day workshop for exam prep providers on the subject of the transition to ARE 5.0. I took all six ARE 5.0 divisions in six consecutive available Prometric time slots (including a stint of four exams in three days). I passed all six. I’ve also taken three ARE 4.0 divisions. And finally, I’ve been getting feedback from others who have taken my course and then taken the 5.0 exams. What follows are seven takeaways I’ve learned from those experiences for those curious about the transition from ARE 4.0 to ARE 5.0
1. Breathe. In some ways, the new exam is a bit better because there are fewer picky questions: the kind that asks you to recall the width of an electrical outlet. I just made that question up, but it was the kind of question that popped up the old exam and doesn’t seem to be included on the new one as much. It is a bit less about remembering trivia and a bit more about testing understanding. Plus no vignettes. Studying for ARE 5.0 will be more complicated though.
2. ARE 5.0 has a bit less structures content and a bit more business content (they call it Practice Management), but most of the content will be the same as in ARE 4.0. The change is the way that the questions are grouped into divisions.
3. You will self-transition from ARE 4.0 to 5.0 when you are ready (until 2018 when everyone will be transitioned over).
4. Most of the old ARE 4.0 11,000-question bank remains in use (NCARB calls questions “items”) and those items will be rotated into your ARE 5.0 exam. This means you can (for the most part) use the same study materials, because most of the content is the same. Those older questions (single answer multiple choice, check-all-that-apply, and numerical fill in the blank) are now supplemented with three new types of items: (a) hot spot items (i.e. over the building wall section on the right, click the cursor where flashing should be located), (b) drag-and-place items (i.e. drag the rainwater barrier, rigid insulation, and air retarder drawings on the left in the correct location to create a cavity wall section on the right), and (c) case study questions (given the searchable pdf files we’ve included with code excerpts, program description, and site plan, how many parking spaces are required for this project). I’d rather you not focus on the types of questions, and instead focus on the content. That strategy will serve you better. It’s very important that you use the search function in the case study questions; otherwise you will spend too much time on just a few questions while reading a zoning ordinance or a long code excerpt.
5. NCARB has been commendably transparent and proactive in keeping test prep providers like me in the loop on all matters of the exam transition, but I’m still unsure why separating divisions by design stage is better than separating divisions by subject matter. This is, however, the system we live under, so let’s move on from that discussion. You’ll have more studying to do before taking a cluster of exams, but I believe you’ll spend less total time studying in the new format.
6. But doesn’t that mean that I need to study a LOT of content at once and somehow fit all of that in my head? Yes. Many of you will be upset by this change. I, however, feel that in this new ARE 5.0 regime, studying for all your remaining exams at once is the fastest path toward licensure with the least number of hours studying and the fewest months devoted to this effort. I’ll revise this advice on this page if I change my mind after I get more feedback from test takers on this strategy, but as I type this, just last night someone wrote me and thanked me for this advice. She took all six exams in six weeks, against her better instincts, and just found out that she passed the last one and is now licensed. It is kind of like the old-timers who got their license with one giant exam, taken over several days in a gymnasium. I’d still rather take a test in a gym than in my local Prometric testing center. Is there anything the architecture profession has done worse than the design of these testing centers?
7. Several things remain the same in ARE 5.0 as they were in ARE 4.0. In ARE 5.0 you can still retake a failed division after a 60-day wait. The price for testing remains the same. Every question has the same weight on your score and there is no partial credit for a question (like if you correctly identify some but not all of a check-all-that-apply item). Your pass or fail is based on your overall score, so if you fail every code item, you might still be able to pass the exam. (Currently, the format of the exam report that shows up when you fail a division might make you think otherwise.) Finally, stop determining whether you are ready for an exam based on the number of exam prep questions you answered correctly. ARE 5.0, like ARE 4.0 does not have a fixed percentage of correct items you need to achieve a pass across all the divisions. In fact,  in ARE 4.0, a multiple choice score as low as 59% can be a pass in Structural Systems and a score of 76% might be a fail in Site Planning & Design. Likewise, the cut scores vary across the six divisions of ARE 5.0 from 57%-correct minimum to pass to 68%-correct minimum to pass.