What the ARE 4.0 to 5.0 Transition Means for You

NCARB’s Director of Examination, Jared Zurn, AIA, NCARB, discusses ARE 5.0

Orientation for our new ARE study program took place at the District Architecture Center on Tuesday. Many test takers are skeptical about what ARE 5.0 will look like, and how it will affect their path to licensure. The majority of the evening featured an exclusive presentation by NCARB’s Director of Examination, Jared Zurn, AIA, NCARB, who touched on what the ARE 4.0 is now, how ARE 5.0 will improve the test, and the advantages current test takers will get by working on completing all of the exams during the transition period. Attendees then heard more about how AIA|DC’s ARE: Take 5 study program will work and started to make Success Teams (small study groups) that will meet on an individual basis along side our large group study and review sessions.

How does this transition process affect you? Should you be worried? Let’s take a look at how NCARB is approaching this transition.

First, what is NCARB and why do you need the ARE?

National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) is the organization that facilitates licensure for architects through experience, education, and examination. Licensing requirements are different depending on the state you plan on practicing in, but all states require the ARE. DC requires a professional degree from a NAAB-accredited program, the IDP (did you know that the IDP is becoming the Architectural Experience Program or AXP in June?), and, of course, the ARE. Learn more about DC’s registration board licensing requirements or search by other jurisdiction.

ARE 4.0 Transition + Resources

Currently there are 7 ARE 4.0 divisions. There will be 6 divisions in ARE 5.0. But during this transition period, you only need to complete 5 total exams. 3 in ARE 4.0 (Construction Documents & Services, Programming Planning & Practice, and Site Planning & Design) and 2 in ARE 5.0. If you really want to take all 7 ARE 4.0 exams, you can until June 30, 2018 when the exam will officially retire.

No matter what sections you will be taking, Zurn recommends taking advantage of each ARE 4.0 Resource, including reading the Exam Guide for each division. It will tell you the important things you need to know about taking the exam. ARE 4.0 resources also include YouTube videos, which can be a great thing to watch with a study group. And software to practice the vignette portion of the 4.0 exam.

The part of the exam that trips people up the most, according to Zurn, is the vignette portion. Why? Because the software that is used is 20 years old! The exciting part? There will be no vignettes on ARE 5.0! The catch? They still exist on the sections of the 4.0 that you must take in order to take 5 exams. Zurn recommend practicing this portion since the software is not familiar, example questions are available as a resource to you as well. Downloading the software, however, is not the best option since it will not run on new operating systems.

Another resource that is available to test takers is the NCARB Google+ community. Questions can be answered by users as well as official NCARB moderators that can get answers from the source.

Receiving your Score

Passed the exam? Congratulations! Didn’t pass the exam? Don’t put away your score report that fast! On the second page of a failed exam’s score report you will find a chart that shows you how you did on each section of the exam so you know what sections you should focus your study on. This is the only place you can find that information, it is not available anywhere else. Do not throw that score report away!


ARE 4.0 Policies + Guidelines

Testing Accommodations

NCARB provides accommodations according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Requests for accommodations should go directly to your board of architecture.

Biometric Security

It is standard to go through biometric security procedures at the test center that include a photo ID scan and fingertip swipes.

Rolling Clock

ARE candidates must pass all divisions within 5 years

Test Activity Status

Exam Fee

Currently each ARE 4.0 exam is $210 per division. The cost will not change immediately for ARE 5.0.

So what’s 5.0 going to be like?

Zurn believes that “candidates will appreciate the 5.0 version of this exam” for many reasons. First, there will be no vignettes, so no need to worry about learning how to use outdated software! Second, there are 6 new divisions (instead of the previous 7 on 4.0) and you do not need to take them in any prescribed order.

If you are working on 4.0, you can decide yourself when to transition to 5.0 or keep testing in 4.0. This is a big one. There is no turning back once you flip that switch, so make sure you’re ready to fully transition. How do you know when to switch? First, in your NCARB portal you can find a transition calculator that will be able to show you what the most strategic path will be for you if you have already started testing or plan to start testing in 4.0 before the switch comes. It is up to you how you decide to make that change.

When will ARE 5.0 come out?

There is no set date, yet. It is expected to come out in 2016 with September being the earliest possible release date.

Will I have time to prepare for the 5.0 before it comes out?

YES! Just this week NCARB has begun meetings with study material providers to introduce them to the ARE 5.0 exams way before the exam actually gets released. Typically candidates study for each division for either 1 or 2 months, there will be plenty of time for you to prepare since the material will be available well within that range.

How long will I have to wait for my ARE 5.0 score?

Candidates may have to wait longer for scores until they are able to figure out how to score the exam. This should not be that long of a period and once the scoring system is in place, it will not be any longer than it is now.

The best part of having to wait longer for your score? During this time, there will be a discount on taking the ARE 5.0 exams. Yes, you will be able to pay less to take fewer exams to get licensed.

Pay less to take fewer exams to get licensed!

During the transition period, you will not only get a discount on the first release 5.0 exams, but you can pay even less money since you’ll need to take only 5 exams, not 6 like in the 5.0, not 7 like in the 4.0, but only 5 exams. Each division is currently $210. The prices may be raised once the 5.0 is established, but that will not happen immediately.

Inspired to take just 5 ARE exams during the transition period?

Join our ARE: Take 5 program! AIA|DC has partnered with Black Spectacles for our own special discounted license that provides 40 hours of study material per exam for you to work on online (at your own pace, and the ability to repeat information as many times as you’d like). We will also have group review sessions that are available to those who are participating in our program that will have information on all tests, no matter which section you are studying for. We are also organizing groups of Success Teams, smaller groups that are working on the same path, that will meet on a weekly/bi-weekly basis to study and work together on the exams.

Once the ARE 5.0 material is released, you will have access to that online in Black Spectacles and in our review sessions. Our program works with Darren Fraser, AIA and many other licensed architects who will be available to participants during their path taking the ARE.

Our program is open for registration and we are accepting additional participants. Black Spectacles licenses are available for a 3 or 6 month subscription. Since our review sessions will be able to cover all of the exams, participants can join the ARE: Take 5 program at any time and will not have missed any crucial information.