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    Ugh, so sorry — Section 4 really bites. I would agree with Stephanie. Even though the cost of a prep course AND the test is enough to make anyone choke, since you’re this far in,. you might as well go all in.

    If you don’t do a prep course, and you fail, you’ll always wonder “What if I had taken a prep course..?”

    I think prep courses are helpful and well worth the money.

    The LARE is no picnic…. wishing you lots of luck. 🙂

    Btw, when did they start giving detailed reviews of test results? You know you only missed by one question? They didn’t do that when I took it, which was only  a short while ago.


    VERY hot topic.

    My 2 cents is that it definitely depends on what kind of job you will take as to whether or not it’s worth your time and money to become licensed.

    I work for a small-ish boutique design (commercial work) firm, where personal licensure is neither encouraged nor celebrated; which, as the years have gone on, has been quite to my dismay.

    It took me many years, several tries and TONS of money to pass this test. It was monumental to me to finally pass. It’s hard for me to overstate how happy and relieved I was (the road is paved with bumps to say the least). Yet it is not a big deal at all to my employer, my co-workers, and for 15 years, I don’t think I can ever remember a client or architect asking me if I was licensed.

    I know that in many sects of the profession (government/ municipality work for example), licensure is a big deal, and raises an d promotions are contingent up on your being licensed.  But understand that it is not the same situation in others sects/ jobs. Strange, but true.

    For me it became mostly a personal goal. I didn’t want to have the degree and not the license. It would feel incomplete. But it is definitely not a true “requirement” across the board in the profession.

    I hope that helps. 🙂



    The test transition was  beyond frustrating and there are tons of people with your exact same gripe, including me. I was pretty outspoken directly to CLARB about my issues with the way they handled the test transition. I could bore you for hours with the details of my bad history with CLARB, lol.

    When the test transitioned from the old to the new, I only had Section E, Grading left to pass. passed all the other sections years earlier. But I just had a baby, and had no intention, time or money to pass Section E before the new test version took effect.

    So eventually when I did take the new version, it was called Section 4, and it combined the old Sections D and E. Well, I had already passed Section D years before. So essentially I partly was re-taking –AND PAYING FOR— a test that I had already previously passed. To say I was pissed is an understatement.

    Many people were in this “bridge” dilemma. They had taken one older version, but had to re-take it again because it was now bundled with a different test section in the new version. There was so much outcry over this, but CLARB answers to NO ONE. They are an independent entity, and they can do what ever they want.

    And don’t forget, the bottom line of all this is about the money. I don’t care what anybody says,  this is not a non-profit organization, and it IS ALL about the money.  The tests cost more now then they did previously, even though they are all computerized. CLARB still fails to answer questions as to how  higher test fees are possible and/ or necessary.

    And what motivation would CLARB have to make the test easier for people to pass the 1st time around? NONE!  It’s a BUSINESS, plain and simple. More test taking=more money. Economics 101. Once you recognize this, and you consider yourself a customer, who has to watch his back, you might be a tiny bit less frustrated. Hopefully, 😉

    Sorry for the extremely long response, but I feel your pain, I have been there, and there is no end to the irritating and unjust things CLARB is capable of. I just finally passed everything and if I told you all the details of how it went down you wouldn’t believe it.

    If are still a test candidate, please heed my advice and document EVERYTHING during the exam process. Keep track of every single correspondence you have with CLARB during all of this B/C you might need it. I kept a notebook of every email, letter, receipts, etc… .

    Feel free to ask me any questions. Good luck to you. 🙂


    Hi Andrea,

    I’m in the same boat as you: Section 4 is my very last one; I’m taking it Aug 30th.  (I took it as Section E in June 2011 and failed).

    When I heard that this section would now be more about “construction documentation”, I was little excited because I thought, hey I do that all the time at work! But I bought the practice test and then got pretty deflated. It’s still much more technical and the material so much more broad than I expected. I think some of it really almost overlaps into Section 1- Project Management.

    But anyway to answer your question, it sounds like you are doing all the right things, except I think you may be missing out on the Google groups; do you know about those?!forum/lare-exam

    There is discussion about the tests and sometimes even study material (pdfs) posted, so it’s definitely worth reading on a regular basis. I’ve gained a lot from them. (In a quick glance I just saw a lot of people say that the CLARB practice test was totally worth it)

    Also, I just saw this yesterday, and will probably be taking her webinar tomorrow,on august 8th. It sounds useful and worth the money.

    I hope this is helpful to you! Good luck!


    LOL – Yes, thank-you CLARB for that very clear diagram of a ruler; it’s really helpful!   Wtf????!!!   So, 650 is the passing score. OK.  Um, hey CLARB.. here’s a little math 101: a person doesn’t know where 650 falls on a scale, unless ya tell us what the entire scale IS. .

    That is so very typical of CLARB’S M.O though. They don’t want you to have enough information to study and pass the test. It’s not in their financial interest. Anybody who doesn’t believe that is verrryyyy naive.


    LOL – Will do!

    feeling more and more confident with everyone’s support !


    Thank-you Henry – your words help; that does makes me feel better. And wish me luck!



    Dear J. Robert,


    First of all, I’m from Plano! Grew up there, and graduated from PSHS in ’88. (Now I live and work in Houston).

    Secondly, your message is so wonderful and sweet, I already feel hopeful!!  This is such a generous and great offer.. absolutely I would love for you to mentor me, I would be so grateful.

    So logistically, how did you do with the east coast guy? Did you just do it long distance/ email / phone/ etc?

    It’s especially generous for you to offer because in my post I sound like a miserable, bitter person, and I’m not! I’m a happy 43 year old, have a great job, married and two beautiful young  kids. 🙂 I just get full of anxiety when I realize that I’ve got 2 more shots to fully pass and become licensed, and so if I don’t, what will I do long term? Will my LA degree be a waste.? Will my career be a waste, etc…. It’s very unnerving. And then when you factor in the costs.. well… it just becomes overwhelming, and you can see why someone would lose it. So, thanks for already talking me of the ledge, lol.

    So…… how shall we do this? Would you rather chat thru  email/ phone? I look forward to talking with you

    Thanks again Bob! 🙂


    Dear Temp Impact,

    Where do I begin?

    When notification of the exam transition came out last summer , I was a little taken aback at

    1) The short notice and

    2) how Section D was assimilated into the new Sections 3 and 4.

    And then as I looked into it closer and realized that I could potentially lose credit for tests I have already PAID for and PASSED. I was outraged. CLARB expertly dodged all of my questions and aggravations  as well, on Facebook, and from my direct emails. I, as well as some other colleagues contacted our local ASLA president, who basically saw nothing wrong with this (which tells me he must be associated with CLARB somehow; what the hell?). I also contacted my state board (Texas) who said they could do nothing, as CLARB is its own entity. Scary.

    Long story short, I got nowhere. Due to my state’s rolling clock deadline, I now have only 2 more chances to take and pass Section 4 (Grading / Drainage), and it also includes the old section D (Construction Materials & Methods), which I took and passed in 2008. But of course, now I will basically be taking –AND PAYING FOR– that section again. I can’t overstate how angry that makes me. When I signed up for that test, NOWHERE did it ever say that I could potentially lose credit for it, because CLARB could change things at their own whim. You have basically summed it up perfectly: there is zero accountability here.

    To Anthony – I know it’s “hard to believe”.. but trust me, and others on here.. CLARB has and IS taking credit away from people. I’m about to spend $500 in the next couple of days to take Section 4 ( I took it as Section E two years ago and failed). I just have to muster up the courage and balls to pay CLARB  this huge amount of money without throwing up. If I could help it, I would never give CLARB another dime. But guess WHAT?? They’ve got me by the balls. B/c I need to be licensed. Or the last 15 years of my working life are a waste, and I’ll need to find another career. Thanks CLARB.  Oh and not to mention the $150 I have to pay to reinstate my CLARB record. Don’t even get me started on the ridiculousness and meaninglessness of a “CLARB Record”  What a joke.

    I could on and on. I will be a part of any petition, protest.. anything to make this madness end.


    In reading others’ comments, I very much agree with Jordan; I think he is right on. Stephen’s situation sounds pretty wonderful, and unfortunately, free lunches, golf games, and 40 hr max work weeks are definitely NOT the norm in our field. Hahaha. If only.

    Anyway It sounds like you’d like a view into a typical work day for an LA. Here is what I do on any given day (some days it’s very technical, other days it’s creative. BTW I have 13 yrs experience, small firm, I’m 1 test away from being licensed):

    -work on cad details

    -work on cad plans

    -make a presentation book in InDesign, including photos of inspiration projects, hardscape, site furnishings, plantings, colored renderings of the plan and / or details and sections

    -write specifications

    -coordinate items with sub-consultants (arch, civil, structural, MEP, irrigation, lighting, graphic design) and/ or fix things they have done wrong. (i.e lighting designer selected lights that you dislike; structural engineer misunderstood your walls and detailed the footings wrong; irrigation consultant not connecting to water main in the right location, etc…)

    -write a descriptive narration of a completed project (for the marketing department of the owner, or for our own marketing materials)

    -do a cost estimate for all items in the landscape scope; for example would include all hardscape elements (paving, deck, walls, arbors, water features, site furnishings), planting (soil, filter fabric), grading and drainage (drain inlets, piping), irrigation, tree protection, demolition.

    -make a plant book with specific information photos about plants selected for the project

    -go to a nursery to select and tag trees

    -visit a job site while under construction; take photos and notes, and issue the information in a formal report to the project team as a progress report

    I arrive at work @ 8:30, and leave somewhere between 6:30 and 8. (used to be even later, all the time,  but I have kids now). Sometime I can take an hour lunch, sometimes I have to work straight through lunch.

    It’s a fun field for sure, but don’t get fooled by the thought that all we do is design great iconic parks like HighLine. Underlings typically don’t get to do actual design work, and high-profile, iconic jobs like HighLine are few and far between. They aren’t the meat-and-potatoes of the typical landscape architecture firm.

    Also, don’t forget (and someone may have already mentioned this) is that you can work for a private firm, or public agency, i.e be the landscape architect for a city or municipality.

    I hope this is helpful to you!


    true…but honestly I’m really only curious about general format, etc.. the kind of stuff CLARB OUGHT  to be making available to us anyway. 🙂


    Jennifer I’m in the same boat you are; I have to take Section 4  and that’s it ( have passed all the other sections). I was really hoping there would be some activity on here from the people who took it in December so we can get a feel for what’s it’s like. Thanks to Leslie for your feedback.

    Maybe I need to post an open call to them, to provide us feedback… or maybe they don’t want to spill the beans, since they had the misfortune of being the guinea pigs. Of course, it was their choice to take it though!

    I’ll post the question, and see if we can get some responses. I just saw the pass rate on the CLARB website for Section 4 was 45%. Better than it used to be. but still a pretty dismal pass rate.

    🙂 Good luck to us all


    Thanks so much for the head’s up Bri. I had been meaning to check the ASLA website and just keep forgetting. I just downloaded and printed all the updated info. Thanks again for taking the initiative to do this and help out your fellow LAs-in-waiting.

    I’m hoping to take the new Grading test maybe in June, (my last one then I’m done) after all the guinea pigs took the first one in December. We need to figure out a way to ask them how it went! I haven’t heard anything.  Maybe there’s a board on here about that already? I don’t know, guess I should check.

    Anyway, thanks again!!


    What an awesome idea, Bri. thank you so much for doing this!!!!


    That is a really great suggestion Sherry. It doesn’t surprise me in the LEAST that CLARB refuses. It’s funny how they will not “change their methods” for the redlines procedure yet they had no problem changing their method for the test, which jerks candidates around and charges them higher fees. Very funny, that is.

    BTW, I went to the CLARB facebook page to see what other questions/ discussions have been posted recently, and the site has been removed. I wonder why…..?

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