California Supplemental Examination (CSE)

A competent entry-level architect must understand the integration of architectural practice and his/her responsibilities as they relate to architectural practice in California. The Board has developed a supplemental examination to ensure that architects here have the necessary knowledge and skills to respond to the unique conditions present in California.


The CSE consists of individually timed sections that may include general multiple-choice items and project scenario related items pertaining to the content within the CSE Test Plan and applicable knowledge and ability statements. Each section of the exam will have a designated time limit displayed on the computer monitor. If a section is completed before the designated time has expired, the remaining time may not be carried over to another section. Once a section is complete, a candidate must proceed forward to the next section of the examination and may not go back or review answers from a prior completed section.

The project scenario related questions pertain to hypothetical project(s) (i.e., small- or moderate- scale or a portion of a larger project) and related documents. The exam proctor will provide the candidate with a handout at check-in, which may include: a) written information, such as the project program, site description, and architect and client profiles; b) graphics, such as a site plan, floor plan, elevations, sections, and/or details; and c) other project-related information, such as a letter from the client, a transmittal from the contractor, a memo from the planning department, etc. for each project. The project name(s) on the cover of the handout should match the project name on the computer screen for the Project Scenario items. The handout must be returned to the proctor upon completion of the project scenario items of the exam.


To be eligible to take the CSE you must:

  • Provide verification of five years of education equivalents and three years of architectural practice experience for a total of eight years of experience as evaluated by the Board;
  • This includes a minimum of one year of work experience must be under the direct supervision of an architect licensed in a USjurisdiction or two years of experience under the direct supervision of an architect registered in a Canadian province;
  • If applicable, complete the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ (NCARB) Architectural Experience Program (AXP) or the Canadian Architectural Certification Board’s (CACB) Internship in Architecture Program (IAP); and
  • Successfully complete all divisions of the ARE.

A CSE application is mailed to the candidate by the Board once these requirements have been met. The application is not available on the website and is only provided to eligible candidates directly by the Board.


The Board’s website has links to additional information about the exam and reference materials under candidate’s tab.