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About ARE 5.0 (Architect Registration Examination®)

April 19, 2021
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Are you looking to become an official architect? If so, you will need to pass the ARE exam. Here is an overview of the ARE exam to help you prepare for this important career step.

What is ARE 5.0?

The ARE (Architect Registration Examination) is a multi-division exam designed to test your knowledge of the practice of architecture. Once you pass the ARE, you are officially an architect. The ARE is developed and administered by NCARB, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, a nonprofit organization. The exam consists of six divisions focusing on the knowledge areas needed to complete a typical architecture project. Before you can take the ARE, you'll need to check your eligibility, as each state has different requirements. Once you've decided to take the ARE, check with your jurisdiction to make sure you have a correct list of requirements for eligibility in your state so that you can make a plan for tackling them.

What are the benefits of taking ARE 5.0?

After passing the ARE, you are officially an architect. There are many benefits of becoming an architect, including opportunities for career advancement and pay increases, the ability to sign off on blueprints, and the chance to design public health buildings. Passing the ARE means your skills as an architect have been thoroughly vetted and deemed trustworthy. Prospective employers and the public can trust that you have adequate architecture preparation, including the necessary skills and aptitude to protect their health, safety, and welfare.

What are the current ARE 5.0 pass rates?

Division                                                                      2019 Pass Rates
Practice Management                                              49%
Project Management                                                63%
Programming & Analysis                                         52%
Project Planning & Design                                       42%
Project Development & Documentation               50%

Construction & Evaluation                                      70%

How much does it cost to take the ARE? 

Each division of the ARE requires a non-refundable fee of $235. The total cost of all divisions is $1,410.

Preparing for ARE 5.0? Test your knowledge with a free ARE 5.0 Sample Quiz.

How is ARE 5.0 organized?

ARE 5.0 is a computer-based test and has content divided into six divisions that may be taken in any order. They are:
  • Practice Management (80 items, two hours and 45 minutes test duration)
  • Project Management (90 items, three hours and 15 minutes test duration
  • Programming & Analysis (95 items, three hours and 15 minutes test duration)
  • Project Planning & Design (120 items, four hours and 15 minutes test duration)
  • Project Development & Documentation (120 items, four hours and 15 minutes test duration)
  • Construction & Evaluation (95 items, three hours and 15 minutes test duration)

The structure reflects a project’s stages from the idea to the construction, which represents the actual work of a licensed architect. These divisions also align with the Architectural Experience Program.

How do I register for ARE 5.0?

Your jurisdiction’s board of architecture must approve your eligibility to test before you’re able to schedule an ARE division. Each jurisdiction has its own ARE 5.0 eligibility rules. Check and fulfill your jurisdiction’s requirements, found here, before requesting eligibility.

To take ARE 5.0, you’ll need an active NCARB Record. Within your NCARB Record, click on the “Exams” tab and go to “My Examination” to schedule exam appointments and more. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible to test, you can view your eligibility information in your NCARB Record.

How should I study for ARE 5.0?

Check out PPI author David Kent Ballast’s advice for studying for ARE 5.0 here. If you’re wondering which division to prepare for first, take a look at this map for taking each division. See all your options for review materials here when you’re ready to start preparing. 

How is ARE 5.0 different from ARE 4.0?

NCARB introduced two new questions types with ARE 5.0: hot spots and drag-and-place. Case studies are also a new feature on the exams, and the exams no longer feature vignettes.

What are Alternative Item Types (AIT)?

AIT questions provide opportunities to assess the technical knowledge of examinees using methods not available through paper-based testing. AIT questions have approximately the same degree of difficulty as multiple-choice questions. Please note there is also no predetermined or fixed number of AIT exam questions nor of the percentage of any one type of AIT question on an exam.

Multiple Choice
  • Select one correct answer from four given options
  • If you are unsure of what the correct answer is you should make an educated assumption. You will not be penalized for a wrong answer
Multiple Choice (Check-All-That-Apply)
  • Select all the correct choices from the list by clicking on each one
  • All of the correct answers (and only all of the correct answers) must be selected; there is no partial credit
  • If you change your mind, click on a choice to de-select it
Point-and-Click (Hot Spot, or Mark Location)
  • Click on a single target, or hot spot icon, to place on the base image in the correct location or general area
  • If you change your mind, click again on your choice to unselect, or click on the new preferred answer
  • These questions may ask you to sort, rank, place, or label items. Confirm whether all items need to be chosen or moved, then be sure to sort, rank, place, or label each one
  • After you have decided the proper sorting, ranking, placing, or labeling, click and drag an object to the target spot
  • If you change your answer, you can move an object to a different open spot in the target area, or you can move it back to the starting area
  • Read the answer specification carefully; it should state the number of decimal places for your numeric answer
  • Compute your answer, then round if needed to the required number of decimal places (0-4, round down; 5-9, round up)
  • Do not enter the units for your answer
  • Do not spell out a number, like “four”
  • If you change your mind, blank out the entire field before you enter another answer
Case Study
  • May be multiple-choice, check-all-that-apply, hot spot, drag-and-place, or fill-in-the-blank
  • You are able to click on browser-like tabs on top of the computer screen to go back and forth between the case study scenario and resource documents provided

Can I use my own calculator during the exam?

No. You may not bring a calculator into the testing room. An on-screen calculator is available in every division. A demonstration version of the calculator is available at the NCARB website. Plan to acquaint yourself with it before you take the exam.

Wondering where to start?

The requirements for taking ARE 5.0 differ by state.  Most states require exam candidates to have completed AXP hours (Architectural Experience Program) before registering. If you want to become an architect, check your jurisdiction’s requirements for ARE 5.0 qualification. You will likely start by participating in AXP. You’ll need to document your completion of 96 tasks in at least 3,740 hours across six experience areas, so it’s better to start the process as early as you can. If you’ve completed your jurisdiction’s requirements and you’re ready to start preparing for ARE 5.0, PPI Learning Hub is the best place to begin your review.

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