So what is a vignette for the ARE? I’m sure you’ve heard this term used a lot but you’re not quite sure what it is.
Basically, each ARE exam consists of 2 parts: the multiple choice section and the graphic vignette section.
The specific vignettes for the ARE differ for each exam type, but the general concept of each vignette relates to that specific exam topic. For example, the vignette for the construction documents and services (CDS) exam tests your knowledge of construction drawings by asking that you draw a building section from a floor plan. Similarly, the vignette for the Programming, Planning and Practice (PPP) exam will ask you to properly zone a site plan and section.
For a full list of all 7 ARE exam divisions and the corresponding graphic vignette, see here!
Depending on the exam, the vignette can range anywhere from 1 to 4 hours long and is done on the computer like the rest of the ARE is.
Unfortunately for test takers, NCARB uses their own specific program that you must use for drafting the vignettes which takes some getting used to. It’s somewhat similar to other CAD programs you may be familiar with but with such limited time to complete the graphic vignette at the testing center, it’s highly recommended to practice the software ahead of time.
In my opinion, the vignette for the ARE gets commonly overlooked by a lot of test takers and leads to many failed exam scores. Although NCARB does not release specific requirements for passing and failing an exam, it safe to say that the graphic vignettes are just as important to the ARE as the multiple choice section is.
I’ve seen many people that study for various ARE divisions stress too much about the material in the multiple choice section that they completely ignore preparing for the vignettes. It seems that one critical error in the vignette can result in a failing score for the entire exam, whether your multiple choice section is perfect or not. With so many rules and requirements for each vignette, I could make an argument that this section of the test is almost more critical than the multiple choice, where you at least have some margin for error.
Unfortunately, there are not too many resources available at the moment to help candidates prepare for the ARE vignettes. There is a lot of study material that focuses on the multiple choice materials but most books briefly touch on the vignettes.
In order to help prepare you for the vignette section of the ARE, the ARE Advisor will be releasing ebooks for each exam division. Each ebook will have a step-by-step guide through each vignette as well as practice problems to help improve your decision making.
Stay tuned for more information!
For additional questions regarding the vignette for the ARE, see the Frequently Asked Questions