Alert! Candidates must complete all divisions of the ARE before eligibility for the CSE.

California Supplemental Examination (CSE)

Preparing for the Examination

To prepare for the CSE, the Board recommends the following:

  • Thoroughly Read the CSE Handbook. In addition to the CSE Test Plan, the CSE Handbook contains valuable information on: examination procedures, administrative processes, etc. Candidates should take time to read all available material and contact the Board well in advance of the examination appointment if they have questions.
  • Study the CSE Test Plan. The CSE Test Plan is made up of four areas of task and knowledge statements and was used by the Board to develop the examination questions. No questions will be asked that are not based upon the material found in the CSE Test Plan. Candidates may find it helpful to compare their experience and knowledge with each area of the CSE Test Plan.
  • Use the CSE Reference Material. The Board provides a list of Reference Material. It is strongly recommended that candidates thoroughly review these materials and check the list regularly, as it is updated when necessary. The list details the resources with which to be familiar and knowledgeable, and how they may be obtained. Some of the materials are available for a nominal cost, and others are free. Candidates should check with the source agency of each publication for availability and current pricing.
  • Engage in Self-Directed Study. For areas of the CSE Test Plan for which candidates may have limited knowledge or experience, they should engage in self-directed study (e.g., Architectural Experience Program training areas, continuing education, The American Institute of Architects Handbook of Professional Practice, etc.).
  • Examination Seminars or Study Guides. The CSE Handbook is the only official examination preparation publication for the CSE. The Board does not contribute to nor endorse any examination seminars or study guides for the CSE. The Board’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) may not contribute to or participate in any examination seminars or study guides. In addition, individuals and organizations that offer examination seminars or study guides are not given any information beyond what is available or referenced on the Board’s website or in the CSE Handbook.

Per Civil Code section 1798.61(b), individuals and organizations that provide educational information regarding examinations are provided with a list of the Board’s candidates’ names and addresses upon request (unless a candidate indicates on the examination application that he or she wishes to not have this information shared).