Frequently Asked Questions

Technical questions are answered on our technical services page

Does the course come with a hardcopy book?

Yes, the course comes with a mailed copy of our 375-page illustrated book. It also comes with: 

  • Case study examples 
  • Digital flashcards
  • Amber Book practice exams for each division 
  • All Walking the ARE practice exams (free for Amber Book enrollees)
  • Our “panic” notes to look over the night before the exams (and reassure yourself that you've got this)
  • Unlimited 20-minute one-on-one meetings with course creator, Michael Ermann

What if my partners and I want to pay separately and start at different times? Will I still get the discount if my partners finish before me?

Everyone pays separately, everyone can start and stop when they want, and if you have a group discount, you retain that monthly tuition rate, even if your partner stops.

I’m signing up with a group, but some of them are not taking the exam for a while. Is it okay if I take the seminar now and they take it later?

When you sign up with a group, you will each receive a $150/month discount code that is valid for one week, so you'll need to begin within that time frame. Your subscription will begin immediately once you have paid. 

What is the discount if there are six of us signing up together?

$150 off for each of you, each month (the course will be $240/month per person).

Do you have animated videos for all of ARE 5.0?

Yes. The Amber Book course covers all of ARE 5.0. We recommend you schedule all of your remaining exams now for a block in about 2.5 - 3 months. Take the full course, take the remaining exams, and retake any you fail as soon as possible, before you forget what you learned.

You say that I can pass these exams with these videos, even if I don’t study other material. Can this be?

Yes. . . . and no. Bear with me, here.

I believe that this video series gets you the highest likelihood of passing in the least amount of time. With the ARE 5.0 for instance, if you have a 90% chance of passing each of the six exams, that means you have only about a 50% chance of passing all six exams on the first try. Most of the exams have pass rates about 55%, So the goal for most of you isn’t to pass this next exam, but rather to get licensed as quickly as possible. That may involve some division re-takes.

For most people, I don’t think that studying additional content will, on average, get them licensed as quickly as going through my course and taking the exams without additional studying (then retaking any exams that you don’t pass as soon as possible). It is natural to feel that failing an exam is a setback, but so is spending 50 extra unnecessary hours to pass one of the exam divisions. In the latter case, you just never receive confirmation of the error because you got the pass from NCARB and didn’t know you over-studied.

I don’t understand the previous paragraph. Can you explain it more clearly?

I think this course allows for the highest likelihood of passing the most exams in the least amount of study time.

Do you really think I should schedule the exam for right after I’m finished with the videos?

Yes! This suggestion isn’t based on a deep-held conviction, but rather sprouted organically from the emails I’ve received from folks who took the test right away–and from sad emails from those who waited.

What are the pass rates for these divisions?

NCARB reports pass rates online; search "ARE 5.0 pass rates.” Most of the divisions have pass rates between 50% and 60%. That means that failing an exam is more of a feature than a bug. If you fail an exam, reschedule it right away, for as soon as possible (unless you fail it miserably).

Do you offer firm licenses?

Yes! Click here for firm license information. Have your company call with questions: 540.203.4499.

How quickly can I go through these videos?

I think one week is the fastest you’d go through all of them, though that would be an intense week. A month is a difficult, but achievable, goal if you are in a hurry; our average enrollment lasts about 3 months in duration.

How do you decide what to cover in your videos?

I prioritize content based on “yield.” To calculate the yield, I not only consider the content of the exam, but also how much time it would take you to study that content, how familiar practicing architects are likely to be with that content already, and how many questions related to that content are actually on the exam (every question in a division is worth one point).

How old are the videos?

We're always adding content. We won’t let this series of videos become outdated.

Do you have content on case studies?

Yes, lots of case studies.

Do you have practice exams?

Yes, we have practice exams for each division.

How do I join your free weekly Amber Book : 40 Minutes of Competence Zoom meetups?

40 Minutes of Competence Zoom will take place at 6pm ET Thursdays. Sign up for weekly invitations or join this week's session.

We posted the first forty Amber Book: 40 Minutes of Competence videos on our unlisted YouTube channel 

You can join the study session live for free without a subscription. Each week’s call will be available afterward with an Amber Book course enrollment, (It’ll be found inside the Amber Book course at the relevant point in the content). 

What is the difference between the book and the videos?

Our ARE 5.0 workbook includes a small portion of the overall content in the course. The hard copy book is intended to act as a companion to the animated videos, and I recommend watching the videos with the book (the book, which is almost 400 pages and is heavily illustrated, comes free with the videos), If you are interested in purchasing the book alone, without the videos, email us at [email protected] The cost is $90 (free shipping).

But I only have two exams left. Why do I need to purchase access to all the videos?

Each of the exam divisions, with the exception of Project Management and Practice Management, requires access to all, or almost all, of the videos, so having fewer exams doesn’t typically mean that you need access to less content. That is the nature of the extreme content overlap between divisions in ARE 5.0. Of course if you have fewer exams, you may require access to the course for fewer months.

Can I watch the videos when I am not connected to the internet?

No, these videos can only be streamed with an internet connection.

Is the animated video course close-captioned?


Can I purchase a portion of a month?

No, everything comes in one-month chunks.

How can I pause my account?

Amber Book is a monthly subscription and not offered for partial months.

Having said this, you are able to cancel your active subscription and then re-enroll whenever you’re ready to resume.

To make changes to your account, simply go to your Amber Book profile. You can access this at the top right corner of our website. Then go to the “Billing” tab to cancel your subscription.

When you cancel, you will still have access to the course until the date your subscription would have renewed.  In addition, your course progress is saved to your account and will allow you to return right where you left off – no matter the duration of your “pause”.

How long will I have access to the course after I cancel?

Your access to the course will expire at 00:00 UTC on the date that your subscription would normally renew or on the date it will expire.

For example, if you see that your subscription will renew/expire on November 1st, this means you would have access to the course up until 00:00 UTC November 1st.*

*Given how UTC works- Universal Time Coordinated - in this example, renewal would occur or access would end on October 31st at 8pm ET.

When does subscription renew? When will I be charged?

Turns out the answer to these questions is the same!

Your subscription will renew &/or you will be charged exactly when you enrolled each month.  If you enrolled at 5:38 PM on the 18th, that's exactly when your renewal will post each month.