How I passed the ARE Exam 6, Construction and Evaluation, in 8 steps


This is a report by Huy Nguyen in the ARE 5.0 Community.

Huy spent about 50 hours over 11 days studying for this exam. He warns that, although people with construction experience may find this exam easy, he did not.

Here are his steps to studying:

  1. Read the handbook
  2. Read contracts B101 and A201
  3. Take Designer Hacks and Black Spectacles practice exams
  4. Read Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice
  5. Study Fundamentals of Building Construction, especially sitework and drainage, as well as the ADA sections of Architectural Graphic Standards
  6. Study Building Construction Illustrated (chapter 7), and Hammer and Hand
  7. Repeat Step 3
  8. Review study materials again

For more information, read my guide to studying for the ARE Exam 6, Construction and Evaluation, or read the original post below.

Original Post



  • Ballast -> good for overview of test content
  • The Architect’s Handbook for Professional Practice (AHPP) -> Bible

  • Fundamentals of Building Construction -> great books with photos of real construction to see how the drawings would look like in real life
  • Architectural Graphic Standards (clean drawings & diagram, great for ADA)
  • Building Construction Illustration (great for waterproofing details)
  • Hammer & Hand (great source on construction detail)

AIA Documents:

A201 (read, take note and listen to Schiff Hardin Lectures)

B101 (read, take note and listen to Schiff Hardin Lectures)

A101, C401

A701, A305, G701, G702, G703, G704

Practice Exams:

Designers Hack: Questions are way easier than the real test but a good way to remember what I read.

Black Spectacles: So far the closest practice exam to the real exam but still easier.

Materials for specific CE sections (based on NCARB ARE 5.0 Handbook):

Section 1: Preconstruction Activities  (Ballast, AHPP)

Section 2: Construction Observation (Fundamentals of Building Construction, Architectural Graphic Standards, Building Construction Standard, A201, Hammer & Hand)

Section 3: Administration Procedures & Protocols (Ballast, AHPP, A201)

Section 4: Project Closeout & Evaluation (Ballast, AHPP, A201)


Step 1

Gather study tips from ARE facebook group and NCARB ARE Community -> assemble study resources + establish a strategy

Step 2

NCARB ARE 5.0 Handbook: get the general idea of the kind of questions will be  on the test.

Step 3

Read contracts (B101, A201) and take note (focus more on the A201)

Skim other related contract & forms

Step 4

Take Designer Hacks practice exam (full) & Black Spectacles practice exam -> Determine strength and weakness.

Step 5

Read AHPP sections related to the test.

Step 6

Study Fundamentals of Building Construction (sitework – excavation and drainage)

Study Architectural Graphic Standards (ADA)

Step 7

Study Building Construction Illustration (Chapter 7)

Study Hammer & Hand

Step 8

Take Designer Hacks practice exam (full) & Black Spectacles practice exam

Step 9

Review study materials based on assessment from the practice exams.


Waterproofing (flashing, weep holes, roof drain, roof vent)

Construction schedule (bar chart & critical path)

ADA (basic clearance, mounting height, ramp)

Sitework (excavation, drainage)


I have 3 years working after graduate school, very limited construction experience. 

Total study time: 50 hours in 11 days

3 – 4 hours per day during the week

8 – 10 hours per day during weekends


  • Take Designer Hacks short quiz (10 or 25 questions) during break at work
  • Listen to Schiff Hardin lectures (A201 & B101) during commute or at work
  • The real exam requires a lot of coordination, you have to put many pieces of information together in order to answer the questions (not just in the case studies)
  • Using mind map to take note while reading -> much easier when review later
  • The real exam is not about remembering but about to be able to apply the knowledge into different scenarios (eg. being able to determine how would a delay at a specific phase/task affect other tasks and the whole schedule)
  • This exam is not easy (at least for me). Many people told me this one was very easy and they studied for that “in a day.” So at the beginning of the process I was a little too confident. After reviewing the materials, I found out that I knew very little (apparently because of my construction experience). So better be over-prepared and over-study than under-prepared.

My experience on other tests:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *