ARE Resources: Construction Documents & Services

Preparation is essential to passing the ARE. Understanding what content is assessed on the exam, and knowing how to use the vignette software, will make you more confident on test day. We’ve developed several resources to help you begin your preparation for Construction Documents & Services (CDS). Each resource is listed below, with a sneak peek at what you’ll find inside. Good luck!

CDS Exam Guide: The Big Picture

Download the Construction Documents & Services Exam Guide [PDF]

  • Given the name of this division, it’s no surprise that about half the multiple choice questions will cover aspects of Construction Drawings and what goes into a Project Manual. But don’t forget about Project and Practice Management, which takes up another third of the division. Even the most well-coordinated construction documents won’t be much help if the project isn’t managed well throughout the construction process.
  • Building sections on a real project are not abstract—they must describe the building accurately. The Building Section vignette is no exception. Read the program requirements, then review the floor plans carefully. The key to solving this vignette correctly is ensuring that your section is fully coordinated with the provided plans.

Practice Program: Practice, Practice, Practice

Download the Construction Documents & Services Practice Program [EXE] 

Be sure to take the time to learn how to accurately place each element in the Building Section vignette. Go into your examination ready to use every tool, place each object, and adjust placed objects to coordinate with the various floor plans. Already being comfortable with how the software functions before test day means you can focus on solving the vignette and not trying to learn the software.

AIA Documents: All About Risk Management

Standard contract language can be overwhelming, but rest assured, the test questions don’t require you to memorize the contracts. Review the most commonly used contracts first: A101, A201, B101, and C401. Although the AIA contracts are copyrighted and typically must be purchased from AIA, they are available free of charge from AIA to ARE candidates with open eligibilities for the purpose of studying. Access them under “Quick Links” after logging into your NCARB Record.

CDS Prep Videos: Pulling It All Together



  • Contracts define the roles and responsibilities of everyone on the project team. Listen to contract-related questions, with explanations as to why options are either correct or incorrect. Make sure you understand how you can apply contracts in a given situation.
  • The most critical part of your Building Section vignette solution? Draw the grade line. Everything else is measured off of it, so if you don’t draw it, your solution can’t be scored.

ARE Community: Join the Conversation

Lots of people are studying, so why not study together? Ask questions, post comments, and learn from each other on the ARE 4.0 Community. Plus, you can rest easy knowing that the accuracy of comments will be vetted by NCARB staff. We’re there to help you, so join us!