What is New? Final ARE 5.0 Guidelines (PSI)

A few hours ago, NCARB released the final ARE 5.0 Guidelines for testing with PSI, and I wanted to analyze the changes for the study materials.

Let’s take a look at them together…

First of all,

Deleted Materials

  • Architectural Acoustics
  • Daylighting Handbook 
  • Framework for Design Excellence
  • The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design
  • Legislative Guidelines and Model Law/Model Regulations
  • Planning and Urban Design Standards
  • Plumbing, Electricity, Acoustics: Sustainable Design Methods for Architecture
  • The Professional Practice of Architectural Working Drawings
  • Space Planning Basics
  • A305-1986, Contractor’s Qualification Statement

NCARB removed these books from the Handbook, and I am surprised!

For example, the Architectural Acoustics book is gone… Should we expect little to no acoustics questions now..? I am not sure.

I had another favorite book on this list called Planning and Urban Design Standards because I thought it was such a valuable source for the PA exam. Besides, there are a few resources now highlighted for PA, so I believe NCARB is slightly changing its PA strategy and making it even more, closer to PPD & PDD.


Added Materials

With these additions, I see an increased focus on Building Code. And, again, for PA, now IBC is highlighted too. So, I think this proves my theory of pushing PA closer to PPD and PDD in the coming exams. 

Highlighted Resources per Exam:


This remains pretty much the same. I don’t see any big content revision for PCM exams.


The same goes for PJM, it looks like study materials remained the same, and the biggest highlight is still The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice (AHPP) and the Contracts.


As I said, I am expecting revisions for PA. I would expect more IBC questions and more technical questions because NCARB highlighting Architectural Graphic Standards (AGS) is not arbitrary. I would focus more on Site and soil-related chapters in AGS now. 



Looks like the AHPP of technical exams is now Architectural Graphic Standards (AGS). It is highlighted for PA, PPD, and PDD. I suggest closely studying it for all three technical exams now.

For PDD, since Olin’s is also highlighted now, it makes me think that NCARB will ask for even more minutia information for PDD. But, don’t be discouraged. You can definitely study that book even if it looks like a brick. Use it as your backup book like I did while studying for PDD. Meaning, review the content portion of the Olin’s book and if you are missing any of the content (like if Fundamentals or Mehta books didn’t cover it), then read it from Olin’s. So do a little bit of selective reading to avoid reading the whole book. 


I hope this helps you to analyze the reference matrix portion of the new Handbook. 

As usual, I suggest prioritizing the books that are recommended by NCARB and using 3rd party material as a supplement (not a substitute) for less frustration and more chances of passing your exams with the least amount of takes. 

Happy studying!

Elif Bayram