What books do I actually need for the ARE?

Did you, like us, look at NCARB’s list of approximately 1,000* books and say um… no thank you? Not only is that entirely too many books to read, it would also break the bank to purchase them all. *(ok, maybe it’s 33…but still! Too many!!)

The good news is that after taking all 6 exams, we can definitively say that you do NOT need to buy all 33 of these books. Some of these books you don’t even need to know about, don’t even waste the screen time reading through NCARB's list!! We feel like by publishing this NCARB is showing us they did their homework, like when you add extra books to a paper bibliography…good for them, not helpful for you!

In Desk Crits we have a whole section dedicated to the resources you need, some of which are books you should have, others are just free online resources you should track down and have as a PDF. The whole point of Desk Crits, at least our jumping off point, was to show you EXACTLY what we studied, down to which individual pages from each book you should read for each exam. For the purpose of this post, we just wanted to outline a list of the books you should buy (borrow from friends/check out from the library/get from your office) so that you can get a jump start on finding the books you’ll need. Note that the list below excludes the free/digital resources we reference in the book, which you will also DEFINITELY NEED. These are things like the IBC or the AIA contracts, or a random free FEMA PDF (among others), and then also digital resources like Black Spectacles (not required, but we found it super helpful). 

Even this list might also seem overwhelming, it is still a lot of pages! But the good news is that a lot of these books have extra fluff, or even whole chapters that you don’t need to study. In Desk Crits we outline the exact pages you need to read for each exam, we tell you when to skim and when to memorize, so you don’t waste your time studying stuff that won’t be on the exams.

Ok so… drumroll… here is our definitive list of the 8 books to get your hands on, with some links to make it easy for you!

  1. Ballast/PPI ARE 5.0 Exam Review Amazon / Barnes&Noble
  2. Ballast/PPI Mock Exams Amazon
  3. (Optional) Ballast/PPI Practice Questions Amazon / Barnes&Noble
  4. Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice (AHPP) Amazon / Barnes&Noble
  5. Building Codes Illustrated (2015 or 2018 code version will work) Amazon Barnes&Noble
  6. Building Construction Illustrated Amazon / Barnes&Noble
  7. The Architect’s Studio Companion Amazon / Barnes&Noble
  8. Desk Crits! (I mean… we had to…)