California Supplemental Examination (CSE)


In addition to the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), the California Architects Board (Board) requires the California Supplemental Examination (CSE) for licensure. The CSE ensures that candidates are able to demonstrate minimum standards of competency and necessary architectural knowledge and skills to respond to the unique requirements and conditions in California.

The setting for architectural practice in California is distinct from that of other states in terms of the breadth, magnitude, and complexity of the individual circumstances that create its context. California’s large physical size, large and diverse population, varied landscape and climate, high seismicity, regulations and entitlements, and massive economy create an unusually demanding context for architectural practice. Additionally, the varying interplay of these conditions for specific projects gives rise to even more complicated settings for the conduct of architectural practice in the state.

The CSE is a computer-delivered, multiple-choice examination. Candidates are required to demonstrate entry-level competence in the areas outlined in the CSE Test Plan. A competent entry-level architect is able to perform the responsibilities incumbent upon themselves in providing professional architectural services to the public. Additionally, a competent entry-level architect must understand the integration of architectural practice and the architect’s responsibilities as they relate to practice in California.

Candidates do not need any computer experience or typing skills in order to take the CSE. All response keys on the computer keyboard are colored and have prominent characters. Before a candidate starts their examination, an introductory tutorial to the computer and keyboard is provided on the computer screen. The time the candidate spends on this tutorial, up to 15 minutes, DOES NOT count as part of the examination time. Sample questions are included as part of the tutorial so that the candidate may practice using the keys, answering questions, and reviewing answers. One question appears on the screen at a time. During the examination, minutes remaining will be displayed at the top of the screen and updated as the candidate records their answers.

The Board’s regulations allow one test attempt per application. Candidates must submit a new application and payment to the Board in order to retake the CSE. As of December 1, 2018, candidates may reschedule an examination 90 or more days after an unsuccessful attempt.