Recommended study material list

- Kaplan 2009 (I used 2009, later versions are the same with new cover art) 

- Ballast practice exams
- Archiflash cards (I had the 3.1 set and used the "Pre-design" section)

(Note: eBay is also a good way to find cheaper books... and to sell them off when you're done.)

- NCARB practice program & study guide quizzes
- all "pre-design" study materials on the areforum's ftp server:
- be sure to understand the AIA contracts (2007)

- AHPP (Chapters 9 to 17)

- post your vignettes for review on

Primer on "Programming":


Link to access Caroline Joseph's PPP notes:

Link to access Schiff Hardin lectures:

Useful link for reading up on sustainability:

Useful info for reading up on Historic Preservation:
Primer on Project Delivery (published by the AIA & AGCA):


Pre Design Notes (from archives):

Solid set of study notes based on the "Pre Design" exam from ARE 3.1.

Vignette tips:

1)  Use circles for the water line setback (see options list below), but use long rectangles to establish the property line setbacks. Not sure why people use multiple circles and lines for the prop lines... draw one shape and save yourself the time.

2)  Using the whole width of the drawing area will help to obtain a 30.00 degree line, though 29.99 or closely under should be okay.

*** Note:  when moving your 30.00 degree line into place, be sure that you don't pick the end of the line, which may change the line's     angle.

3)  It is doubtful that you will be able to match the angled setback line or the grade line with your building profile lines, so if you can't... stay one click under the angled setback and draw one click under the grade line with your vertical profile lines.  That is better than leaving your building profile floating above the grade line.

4)  Do NOT trace the grade line with your building profile line (i.e. "closing" the polyline).

5)  Do NOT trace the bottom of the grid with your grade line (i.e. "closing" the polyline).

Three circle options for the waterline setback:
a) 25' diameter circles, set tangentially to the waterline, plan areas drawn tangentially to the opposite side of the circles
b) 50' diameter circles, set with centers on the waterline, plan areas drawn tangentially to the circles
c) 50' diameter circles, set tangentially to the waterline, plan areas drawn to "snap" to the centers of the circles


Site Zoning vignette FAQ (from

Q: How do I calculate a 30.00 degree angle using this software?

A: There is a readout in the lower left corner that displays the angle of your line as you move your cursor around the screen.


Q: I can't seem to draw a perfect 30.00 degree line.  Is that okay?

A: It is possible to draw a 30.00 line, though you may need to use most of the screen to do so.  You may have to draw it to the side and move the line into place.  If you still can't manage 30.00 degrees, a line angle between 29.95 degrees and 30.00 degrees should be acceptable.


Q: My building profile lines will not snap to the 30.00 degree line.  What do I do?

A: The angled setback is a maximum limit.  If you can't match that line, stay one click under it.


Q: My building profile lines will not snap to the grade line.  What do I do?

A: If you can't stop your profile line on the grade line, draw your profile to one click under the grade line.


Q: The building profile line is a polyline and I should "close" it, right?

A: No, stop your vertical profile lines when they reach the grade line.  This program is not AutoCAD, and polylines do not need to "close."


Q: I can't draw sketch circles to exactly a 12' 6" radius (or 25' radius).  What do I do?

A: You should be able to draw to 12" increments by moving your cursor directly up/down or right/left (orthogonally).  In order to get inch increments, draw out to the even foot dimension by going orthogonally, then drag your cursor 90 degrees to get the inches.


Q: The grade line does not curve in order to accurately reflect the topography on the plan.  What do I do?

A:  Do not interpolate between the topography lines (you don't have enough information given to do that accurately).  Draw the grade line point to point where the topography lines intersect with the section cut line.

Check out the ERRORS page for additional info on the vignettes: