LARE: grading and drainage

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    Denise Woolery

    does anyone out there know how to study for the new grading and drainage section of the LARE?

    Matt Mathes PLA

    Here’s a suggestion in the Chicago area:


    Fall LARE Session in Chicago – Illinois Chapter ASLA

    Saturday October 26, 2013
    8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

    IIT College of Architecture
    3360 S. State Street
    Chicago, IL 60616

    Illinois Chapter ASLA Education Committee is pleased to announce two tracks for the Fall LARE sessions for Great Lakes region emerging professional needs. The Fall LARE session schedule includes an innovative format:

    Sections 1 & 2 is a roundtable discussion 1PM to 3PM among candidates and emerging professionals who have been successful with LARE.

    Section 3 is 8AM to Noon and Section 4 is 1PM to 5PM including mid session breaks.

    The format includes vignette scenarios for drilling from slides, books and handouts for problem solving practice by candidates during the session. Content includes exam specifications covering site analysis and site planning for Section 3 and construction methods and materials, details as well as grading, drainage and storm water management in Section 4. Matt Mathes, ASLA, PLA will lead Section 3 & 4 sessions as a LARE subject matter author, a volunteer instructor since 1995, currently serving on the ASLA LARE Subcommittee and as the Water Conservation PPN Chair. Books used at the session by Professional Publications, Inc. include:  

    • LARE Review, Section C Vignettes: Site Design (LACV2), 2nd Edition 
    • LARE Review, Section E Vignettes: Grading, Drainage, and Stormwater Management (LAEV2), 2nd Edition

    For more information, pricing options and registration, go to:


    Tosh K

    The content or the format?  The content should basically be the same (life/safety/welfare of the public hasn’t changed much) as the old – the Strom ‘Site Engineering for Landscape Architects’ was a good resource for me when I took the written version.  

    As for the format – I’d take a look at the ASLA video (available somewhere online) and find some recent test takers.  Many local ASLA chapters tend to offer some type of prep class such as the one in Chicago.  It’s worth looking into.  They’re very helpful.



    You may wish to contact CHERYL CORSON here on LAND8.  She’s a member.  Cheryl has a Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University…..and has taken the LARE twice…passed the final portion the 2nd time.  So, she’s VERY familiar with the entire exam.

    She also has on-line STUDY SESSIONS for the LARE…..including the GRADING DESIGN.

    Another thing I would suggest.  Go to….there you will find several books on HOW TO STUDY FOR THE LARE….including a couple that are specifically for the GRADING portion.

    I can tell you there are a LOT of “study sessions” out there available for LARE candidates….and you can get caught up in spending a TON of $$$$$…..because, for some of them, you have to travel to get to the city where the study sessions are being held…..hotel, rental car, food….and the costs for the study sessions are EXPENSIVE.

    Also… sure (if you haven’t ever taken the NEW version of the LARE….which is now 100% computerized…..that you look for the YOU TUBE CLARB tutorial video that explains HOW to take the LARE exam.  This is VERY important….because, if you don’t follow the instructions very carefully when taking the computerized LARE exam… will really delay your getting through the process.  

    I would start with Cheryl & books……and go from there.


    Best Regards,


    Jason T. Radice

    Back in the day when you used to have to do this part of the exam by hand in a hot room with shaky tables, I used the PPI books to prepare and found them most helpful in that they not only help you with content, but tell you WHAT the reviewer is actually looking for, and it is really nit-pickey like ensuring your contours blend into existing properly. I’m not sure how well they made the transition to the digital exam, but it is pretty cheap (relative to having to take it again), and you can resell it when you passed (which is what I did with mine).

    I give these books a great deal of the credit for getting me through the LARE.   


    Matt Mathes PLA

    LARE Prep Session in Chicago – Illinois Chapter ASLA 

    Friday Feb 28, 2014

    Saturday March 1, 2014


    Section 1 is 1PM to 3PM and Section 2 is 3PM to 5PM on Friday.

    Section 3 is 8AM to Noon and Section 4 is 1PM to 5PM including mid session breaks on Saturday.

    The successful format is a fast moving session including drilling from slides, best use of books plus selected handouts for problem solving practice by candidates during each session. Content is based on the overview of exam specifications for each section. Site analysis and site planning included in Section 3. Construction methods and materials, details as well as grading, drainage and storm water management included in Section 4. Instructors are Erik Sweet, PLA, ASLA and Matt Mathes, ASLA, PLA who will lead sessions as subject matter experts and authors of Professional Publications, Inc. books.

    Hosted by Bartlett Trees, ILASLA Chapter Education Series Sponsor. 

    For event information, pricing, sign-up incentives and registration, go to:



    Go to the UCLA Extension website and look at the LARE Review classes.  Here’s the Section 4 link

    I spent the money for the review classes and it was worth every penny.  The review classes clear up a lot of confusion that persists around each test, and helps you focus on what is important.  At $530 for last year’s 2 day class, it seems expensive, but it’s less crazy than using the actual LARE as a practice the first time through.

    I passed A through E the first time I sat for them over a 5-6 month period.  I took and passed both C and E on the consecutive test days back in Dec 2010 after studying my ass off every day for 3-5 hours.


    Toby…………….Seriously, $530.00?  Well, I am happy for you…that you did pass all sections of the LARE exam….Congratulations!!!

    (Please see my comment on this subject above).  Denise, before you run out and spend hundreds of dollars for a LARE Grading Seminar – pick up a LARE book on Grading @

    I have other suggestions in my comment above also.  OR, just contact me, I’d be more than happy to help you any way I can.  I have mentored other young LA’s on the GRADING portion of the LARE…..and they PASSED the exam.

    I admit, I have never taken the LARE exam or taken the computer version that is now required.  But, I KNOW grading – with over 30 yrs. of grading design experience.

    It just really bothers me to see so many people (and organizations) taking advantage of young LAs or recent LA grads who are studying to pass the LARE….by charging outrages amounts of money.

    Also, CLARB has a LARE YouTube video on-line….that walks you through the LARE test, even the Grading Section – it would be good for every candidate to watch the video.

    Let me know if I can be of assistance to you, OK.

    Best Regards,


    J. Mark White

    Contact Cheryl Corson she has a webinar series. She is the only one that is teaching that has actually taken the new format. http://www.cherylcorson.


    And I too knew how to do grading before the test.  What I lacked was knowing what was going to be tested.  

    I did not want to use a test for practice and have no feedback about where I went wrong, only to have to do it again six months later.  The cost of the test was close to the cost of the review, so why not.

    What it did was teach to the test, which does not reflect real life in any way.

    Dave McCorquodale

    I agree.  My biggest concern was understanding the context of the test.  I took prep classes for the old-version C & E through UT @ Arlington and bought books to study the multiple choice sections.  With a lot of hard work I passed all sections first time around.  The two prep classes no doubt were a huge help and worth the cost (though they were close enough to drive to and stay with family while I was there, so costs were limited).

    Prep classes didn’t teach me site design or grading, but they taught me how to apply these skills in the context of applying them exam.  The stories of people who were great in these areas but bombed the exam seem to exceed those who aced the exam without proper exam-specific preparation despite strong backgrounds in the material.

    Shavawn Coleman

    Does anyone know of any LARE Grading and Drainage or Site Design prep courses anywhere near Las Vegas?? I am hoping to take the exam in August/September pending I pass Exam 2 in April. 

    Ray Freeman

    My Grading, Drainage and Construction Documentation (section 4) Bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay area is a 3-day, 25 hour class that costs $450. Unlike just about everyone else, I am constantly upgrading my material to keep it as current as is possible. The text is now at 400 pages of material including over 180 questions and Advanced Items Types.

    For example, the PPI books have not been updated since 2007-08, when they were written under the previous exam format. BTW, the two Section C PPI vignette books are terrible, and were when they were written. IMO they will help you to FAIL the design section, because they give solutions that violate all kinds of CLARB maxims. Jerry Hastings section E PPI book is good, but it’s 8-9 years out of date.



    I do “understand” what you’ve stated…..that you learned HOW to take the exam.

    Pretty SAD state of affairs when it’s not enough to know HOW to Grade a Site, but, you have to learn how to get through a “computerized” version of testing you.

    I have worked with and mentored a couple of young LA’s who took the LARE Grading Exam….and I have seen the CLARB example Youtube video on HOW the LARE Grading exam is given.  Though, I’ve never used autoCAD in my LA career, I have a good understanding of computers.  But, even with over 30 yrs. of site grading experience…graded over 500 projects during my LA career, I’m not so sure I could pass the “computerized” version of the LARE Grading exam.  The National Exam I took was the U.N.E. (Uniform National Exam)…and the Grading Exam was on paper.

    I really feel for young LA’s who are trying to get past the LARE exam, so they can become a License LA these days……CLARB sure doesn’t make it easy!!!


    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner


    CLARB doesn’t make it very affordable either.

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