October 24, 2016 by 2019-2020 Equity & Diversity Task Force, 2019-2020 Sustainability & Resiliency Task Force, 2020-2021 Council of Global Representatives, 2020-2021 Learning & Teaching Culture Advisory Group, 2021-2022 Professional Development Advisory Group

By: Jared Zurn, AIA, NCARB – Director, Examination

There’s a lot of buzz around the November 1 launch of the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) 5.0. It is the biggest change to the architect licensing exam since it became computer-based 20 years ago. To help you prepare, we figured it was a great time to give you five tips to exam success. Remember, with both the current version (4.0) and the next version (5.0), the purpose of the exam is exactly same—to measure a candidate’s knowledge and skill to practice architecture independently. Similar to your architectural education, the ARE is going to cover a broad range of topics related to the built environment. And, just like your education, you can succeed at the ARE by taking it one step at a time.

All that being said, here are the tips you’ll need to have a successful exam experience.

  1. Don’t worry about ARE 4.0 and the 4.0 vignette software. If you are currently a student, you are most likely going to be an ARE 5.0 candidate. Don’t waste your time thinking about what the exam used to be. Use your time and energy to understand the exam in front of you: ARE 5.0.
  2. Know the policies and procedures around taking the ARE. Just like taking classes at the university, you’ll need to understand the rules involved with the ARE. It is an exam that will allow you to earn a professional license. For that reason, there is high security and expectations put on you as the candidate. Check out the ARE 5.0 Guidelines to see the policies and procedures of the ARE.
  3. Realize the six divisions of ARE 5.0 are the same as the six experience areas of the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®). Several of you have already started to navigate the AXP and are reporting experience. That knowledge about AXP is setting you up to be successful on ARE 5.0. As you take your knowledge from the classroom and apply it to real-life work experiences, you are also preparing for the ARE.
  4. Don’t over study for the ARE. Just like any exam, if you feel like you’re working too hard studying for the test, you probably are. The key to success is studying for the parts of the exam where you feel you need it. To help you determine what to study, NCARB has released the ARE 5.0 Handbook—think of it as the syllabus for each of the six divisions. The handbook breaks down each division into sections and objectives, provides example test questions, a list of references for each division, and more. Review the handbook to determine areas where you can improve and focus your studying on those areas.
  5. Embrace the challenge of taking the ARE and earning your architectural license. It’s not going to be a walk in the park—it’s not supposed to be. But it’s certainly not impossible, as thousands of people do it every year. Just like you’ve committed to making a difference and completing your education, carry that determination into completing AXP and the ARE.

To learn more about getting started with ARE 5.0 and earning an architecture license, visit www.ncarb.org.