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Here’s how to run NCARBs software on Windows 10 using Windows XP Mode using virtual box VM.

[Completely free downloads, easy to install and set up. Run NCARB software without being forced to use their vpn for $10. Plus you can run version 3.1 and run different problem variations by swapping out two files in the NCARB folder]

Steps for setting up windows XP mode

1. Download windows xp mode here:
Download the file named WindowsXPMode_en-us.exe. It’s 470 mb.
[Download and install 7-Zip at] You’ll need it to unzip the windows XP mode. Download the exe for your operating system, for me and most likely you it’ll be the one that says it’s for 64-bit Windows x64.

2. Create a folder to unzip to on your C drive (ex. C:\Windows XP Mode)

3. Run 7zip, search/navigate to where you downloaded the WindowsXPMode_en-us.exe file (most likely in your downloads folder). Right click the WindowsXPMode_en-us.exe. Go up to “open inside.” Click on ‘sources’, then xpm. You should now be inside the following C:\Users\your pc name\Downloads\WindowsXPMode_en-us.exe\sources\xpm\ . Once inside the xpm file copy everything in that file to the folder you created in step 2 (C:\Windows XP Mode)

4. Rename one of the files you just copied in C:\Windows XP Mode. The file is VirtualXPVHD. Rename it to VirtualXP.VHD (add the period between XP and VHD. (if you already installed virtual box the icon should change to a box. If not it’ll change to a disk drive)

5. Run virtual box and click “new”. Name the operating system whatever you’d like ie Windows XP. Under Version select Windows XP (32bit).

6. In the next step set the Memory size to either the recommended or more if you have a lot of RAM in your pc (probably 512mb min though).

7. Next step select “Use an existing virtual hard disk” and navigate to C:\Windows XP Mode\VirtualXP.VHD. You should now have Windows XP Mode in the left panel of virtual box. Right click. Start.

8. It’ll look like windows is booting up/setting up for the first time because it is. You’re basically running a second pc on your machine. NOTE: most of the time your mouse may not work for the first few minutes of the install because the drivers haven’t been installed. Just use the TAB, Arrows, and Enter keys to set up the first few steps (like naming your pc, selecting your language etc).

9. The first time after you “install” windows xp in virtual box it’ll most likely go to a black screen or at least it did for me. Not to worry. Simply click Machine at the top and reset or ‘host+r’ (the host key is the ctrl button on the right side of the keyboard by default. Also to get mouse control click the little green or yellow mouse icon in the bottom right corner of the screen (right click for the various options).

Once you have everything set up you may think the resolution is so bad and the screen is so small… this is useless… and the mouse control is so annoying why do I have to hit the little mouse icon all the time and why do I have to hit the right control key to get back to my real desktop (ie get out of the virtual windows xp desktop). The answer is super simple. Just go to ‘Devices’ at the top of the virtual machine, navigate to ‘Insert Guest Additions CD image’ and install the guest add-ons which give you full screen resolution and much much better mouse control. Also, if you want to easily copy files for your desktop to the VM windows XP desktop simply go to Devices, shared clipboard, and change the setting to bidirectional. Also do this for ‘drag and drop’ (below shared clipboard). In my experience these setting only worked after I installed the guest additions as well.

You may have trouble getting your VM onto the internet without the guest additions too. However, windows XP sucks at doing most things, including internet explorer, etc. So just download whatever you need on your regular desktop and drag and drop or copy/paste to the VM desktop (including and most importantly what you’re reading these really long, boring instructions for: the NCARB exe for 4.0 and 3.1!)

Hopefully this works well for you!

Special note: when I change the dwg file out in either the 4.0 or 3.1 versions even though I changed the aut file too sometimes the program still wouldn’t load (the program instructions not the NCARB program itself). It’s not a huge deal since NCARB gives you the program for the 3.1 and 4.0 versions and they worked fine. For any other variations you can find online, just write down the requirements or alt tab to them. Also, if you do download dwg practice vignettes from the internet do not open them in autocad or they won’t work (at least if you save).

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AIA Toledo offers study material rental.
$20 / 4 weeks of use (free for AIA members)
Contact for availability

We have the following publishers:

Kaplan Study Guides 2011 & 2014
Kaplan Flashcards 2014
Ballast (PPI) Study Guides 2011
Nalsa (Archiflash cards)
Edwards ( Building Systems specific)
Structure for Architects:A Primer

ENGAGE Studio Webinars available for purchase!
$40 / 4 weeks of viewing
9+ hours of video (content and vignette)
Additional audio files (division varies)
Resource documents
**80% of candidates who have attended the seminar and/or viewed videos passed that division

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Seminar #6 in progress - Thank you Ryan Smith from SmithGroup JJR for sharing your insight and knowledge

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Michael Ermann is a professor who has passed V4.0 Building Systems Exam and has taught building systems to students and ARE candidates for the approximately 8 years. His seminars are also a bit costly, but well worth the money spent.

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Nalsa is a publishing website with study material for sale

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David Thaddeus is a structural engineer and architect who has been creating seminars and webinars with a focus on Structural Systems since the early 90's. I have been told it is costly but extremely informative and helpful.

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AREndurance is a website/blog created by a past ARE candidate who has since passed her exams.  She created her own cliffs notes version of study guides.  The information is quite helpful.
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