How I passed ARE Exam 6, Construction and Evaluation, with no construction experience


This is a report from Clarissa Hoskison from the ARE 5.0 Community.

She studied for ARE Exam 6 for 4.5 weeks, studying 2-3 hours a day during the weekday, and 4-6 hours a day during the weekend.

She took a practice exam every weekend day.

Her preferred materials were Hammer and Hand, Building Construction Illustrated (Chapter 7), the Schiff Harden lectures, and the actual AIA contracts.

She took the Ballast exams twice.

For more information, check out my guide on how to study for the ARE Exam 6, Construction and Evaluation, or read on for the original post.

Original post

I just passed CE this week after passing PcM and PjM late in 2018! These three exams have a lot of overlap, so make sure to take these three together before moving on to other exams.

3 down, 3 to go! Gotta keep pushing forward. I have found a lot of help from the NCARB Community, so I’ll continue to post here after my exams to give any tips/tricks I have come across along my way!

Study Schedule

I studied for 4.5 weeks (starting over the holidays). I managed to study 2-3 hours a day (1 hour during lunch and 1-2 hours after work) during the week. During the weekends, I tried to study anywhere from 4-6 hours a day. I would study 2-3 hours and then take a practice exam on each day of the weekend.

I would mix up the below study materials each day to make sure I touched all my bases for this exam.

Few pointers I would recommend to those who don’t have as much construction experience (like me). I made sure to review construction photos and construction details everyday to get a better sense of what to expect. I still felt a little underprepared for this exam, given my limited construction administration experience, but I managed to use my limited knowledge to answer the exam questions.

I always take my exams on Mondays to give myself a full weekend away from work before the exam.

Study Materials

Use this website to explore construction details and construction photos. Really helpful to get a grasp on how a detail translates to real life.

Building Construction Illustrated

CH 7 – Thermal and Moisture Protection

Really helpful to understand at flashing details, weep holes, vapor retarder locations, etc.

I used google a lot as well when BCI was not as detailed as I wanted it to be. BCI is a great tool to understand basics, and then google as necessary to find more detailed descriptions.

CSI Masterformat

I didn’t buy the books recommended for this since they were so expensive. I just googled the basic format of the subgroups and divisions. Really helpful to understand basic divisions in the Facility Construction Subgroup.

The Building Construction Illustrated also has CSI Masterformat information on the pages.


I read through the Ballast review material twice. Once throughout my 4 weeks studying and the last time right before my exam. This is a helpful last reminder of the material without getting too much into the details of the material.

Ballast Practice Exam

I take this exam twice throughout my studying timeline. Once at the very beginning to understand where my weak points are and once the weekend before my exam to understand if I have any final reviews I need to do. I find these exams to be a bit long-winded, but very helpful.

Ballast Practice Problems

These practice problems test basic knowledge over the chapters in the Ballast Review guide. I went over these a few times throughout my studying.

Architect Exam Prep

I read through this once to see if there was any new material apart from Black Spectacles and the Ballast review. It gave some better examples on the AIA contracts.

Schiff Hardin Lectures

for B101 and A201 (Lectures 6-7 and 10-11)

I cannot stress this enough – these lectures are amazing! They give great examples for the contracts and he’s pretty easy to listen to. I listened to these twice before every exam I have taken so far. I would listen to them in the car during my commute to and from the office.

AIA Contracts

A201, B101, G702, G703, G701, G711, G714, G716, A305, A701

Focus on A201 and B101 (but mainly A201). The rest of the contracts are important to understand (especially the Applications for Payment, Change Orders, etc).

AHPP ch 9, ch 10

Great review over project delivery methods and construction administration tasks.

Black Spectacles

A lot of people find Black Spectacles too broad, but I really enjoy these lectures. They give me a great foundation to understand the material and then dive deeper as I feel the need to understand a topic more.

The flashcards are more detailed and you are able to make custom flashcards at any time. The exams are set up to reflect the interface of the actual ARE set up. This is really helpful to get any exam jitters out before the exam. I am normally scoring upwards of 75% on the practice exams before I take my actual exam.

Day of the Exam

The day before of the exam, I don’t study. I relax and go do something with friends. If you don’t know the material now, cramming won’t make you know it at this point.

The day of the exam, I read through Ballast once more and then go take my exam. I first go check the case studies for any helpful material that may be useful while I’m taking the exam and make note of this. Then I go through the exam as quickly as I can. I take my break after I finish answering all the questions to get some water, and stretch my legs, and each some “Brain” food, like almonds or dark chocolate to keep my energy up. Then I’ll go back through my exam and review any “marked” questions before reviewing the other questions. If I still have time on the clock, I continue to go through the marked questions until time runs out.

Hope this helps! Best of luck to everyone studying!

P.S. Here are the links to my posts on PcM and PjM.!%20Here%27s%20what%20I%20did!!%20Here%27s%20what%20I%20did!

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