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How to Identify the Right ARE 5.0 Study Materials for your Learning Style

Staring at multiple vocabulary words and their definitions may not work for passing the ARE 5.0. In fact, many people only remember about 10% of what they read, and you definitely deserve higher than a 10% retention rate for your exam results. Avoid the headache of cramming for the ARE 5.0 and do it the right way—by first understanding and utilizing the variety of channels for learning.

Since you’ve come so far in your architect journey, it makes sense to find the best ARE 5.0 study materials designed to support you. By choosing the right test prep materials, you’ll spend more time passing than studying, so you can reach your future career goals with less stress. Here are the steps to do just that.

First Thing’s First —Identify Your Learning Options

What Are the Different Ways to Learn?

The most commonly known learning styles are seeing (visual), hearing (auditory), reading, and writing. However, we can’t forget about “kinesthetic learning” aka “the doing.” The truth, no matter what professors may tell you, is that learning is an individual process. Even deciding what order to take the different parts of the ARE 5.0 is up to your individual situation. These learning styles come down to preference versus one being better than the other. In fact, this Yale article says, “Students benefit when instruction provides various ways to enter into learning.” 

There is no one “right” way to study or learn new information, but it’s important to reflect on your learning and adapt techniques to increase retention. Next, focus on finding materials that come in a variety of forms. Keep in mind, it’s beneficial to use more than one learning method when tackling ARE study guides. You can save time and avoid endless repetition by picking the ARE 5.0 study materials that you can learn from with fewer study sessions.

Discover the Available Resources

Now that you know how to take a multifaceted approach, you can focus on finding the study material that is as well-rounded as you are. For each different learning approach, there are resources in the corresponding format.

Visual Learning Toolkit:


  • Online videos:These can be explainer videos or even general test-taking tips. It may be a good idea to take a few practice exams and quizzes, and then find videos that cover any material that gave you trouble.
  • Slides and lectures: Slides and lectures are great for quick recaps, but you may want to take notes on them to reference later. To increase your engagement and therefore your retention, sign up for virtual workshops and lectures that include Q&A sessions.
  • Digital flashcards: Digital flashcards are great for practicing vocabulary and complex processes. However, don’t think you have to sit at your desk to review them. Try accessing your flashcards via your phone or tablet, so you can study in a more comfortable environment.

Auditory Toolkit:


  • Podcasts: Black Spectacles offers free monthly podcasts that can help you learn new tips and tricks for acing the ARE 5.0. Podcasts are an excellent way to gain insight on the latest test updates and study practices.
  • Voice recordings of your general notes from ARE study guides: Hearing what you have already read can help with recall speed. This means you won’t feel as pressured for time during the exam.

Reading and Writing Toolkit:


  • Practice exams: Specifically, use ARE 5.0 practice exams so you know you have the most updated versions.
  • Study guides: You guessed it, all ARE 5.0 study materials are up to date. You may also find guides that are organized in a way which makes sense to you. You can find study guides for all 6 divisions of the ARE test with Black Spectacles Pro and Expert plans here.
  • Podcast Descriptions: If there is specific information you need, like how to pass the case studies section, reading a detailed podcast episode description could help you find that information quickly. You can also use the descriptions to choose the right podcast to listen to during a run, in the car, or other times you are away from your study material.

Kinesthetic Toolkit:


  • Online real-life practical application videos: These are presented by practicing architects in the field to help bring the ideas home. They are a great option for reviewing overall concepts and goals of your design process.

Know That You Are NOT Alone

Finding the right materials and mapping out your study plans can be daunting. The good news is, you have a support system waiting for you. The Black Spectacle’s ARE Community is a good place to discuss what learning methods and ARE study guides others found to be successful during their journey. Within the ARE Community you’ll find posts separated into ARE exam types and dozens of useful threads covering everything from quizzes to how to take each section of the exam.

Once you have an idea of what has worked in the past, and what is working now, you can formulate your own study plan with your chosen ARE 5.0 study materials.

Start Your Plan With Confidence

There are quite a few resources out there for architects in general. However, Black Spectacles is the first and only NCARB-approved online test prep provider, including ARE 5.0 practice exams, for all six divisions of the ARE 5.0. 

The goal is to arm yourself with the resources necessary to succeed as you embark on your learning journey. You can start that journey by choosing the right prep plan for you.