How to Prepare For The California Supplemental Exam for Landscape Architects

The CSE is a Serious Exam

You need to prepare for it like you did for the LARE.

If you have recently passed the LARE, you pretty familiar with the general design questions on the exam. However, you’re probably unfamiliar with a lot of the California-specific exam topics.

How to Prepare for the CSE

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you prepare for the CSE.

  1. Apply to take the CSE on the Landscape Architect Technical Committee’s (LATC) website. Check out this step-by-step tutorial.
  2. Download the free candidate guide from LATC’s website. The candidate guide discusses the exam format, exam test center locations, and explains how to schedule an exam appointment. The candidate guide also includes a brief outline of the job tasks, knowledge, skills and abilities that candidates are expected to know for the exam.
  3. Seek out good reference material for the exam. Check out the resources section in the LATC candidate guide. It lists several reference books that you may find helpful. The CSE Landscape Architect also has useful information for preparing to take the CSE exam.
  4. Read up on California codes and regulations that affect landscape architects in the state. First, study topic areas where you know you are your weakest. Then cover other topics to refresh your memory and fill any gaps.
  5.  Study California native plants and know which plants perform best under tough growing conditions. The Sunset Western Garden Book, Plants For California Landscapes, or one of the other great plant books can help you study.
  6. Purchase a study guide if you need additional help preparing for the CSE. Pass the California Supplemental Exam for Landscape Architects has over 200 pages of focused material to assist you to pass the CSE.
  7. Find a study buddy. Many people prefer to study with a partner to help focus their efforts and to bounce ideas off another person. Perhaps another person is taking the exam in your office and the two of you can work together. Otherwise, post a study partner request on Land8 to see if anyone else is looking for the same.

Passing the California Supplemental Exam for landscape architects is the final step before you get your license. While the CSE is challenging, you can improve your chances of passing the first time by reading the recommended reference books, knowing your plants, and studying with a colleague. With a little effort, you can pass the CSE and get licensed in the Golden State.

Pass the California Supplemental Exam (CSE) for Landscape Architects e-book study guideIf you are looking for a study guide for the CSE, please consider Pass the California Supplemental Exam for Landscape Architects. This is the only third-party study guide that can lower your stress level and increase your confidence on test day.


John is a landscape architect who is currently preparing to take the California Supplemental Exam to become licensed in California. He is currently a licensed professional landscape architect in Georgia and Florida. John graduated from California State University, Pomona with a BSLA degree in landscape architecture in 1997 and has extensive practice experience in residential and commercial landscape design.

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You are in the right place. Learn what you need to pass the California Supplemental Exam for landscape architects the first time. This site is dedicated to aspiring landscape architects who want to get a California landscape architect license. I'll share my research for the CSE as I prepare for the exam.

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