With the calendar’s turn to November comes a fresh opportunity for future architects, and the chance to take stock of their progress forward. On the first of this month, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) launched ARE 5.0, a new version of the exam that will offer candidates a refined path to obtain their licenses.
Most prominently, ARE 5.0 will include six divisions, one fewer than ARE 4.0. Since ARE 4.0 launched in 2008, NCARB has been working with volunteer architects at all levels to adjust the exam structure to better reflect the way architects do their jobs.
“With ARE 5.0 we are going from a vertical alignment of content areas to a horizontal alignment of phases of practice,” says Jared Zurn, AIA, director of examination at NCARB. “With divisions like Project Planning & Design and Programming & Analysis, the exams will mirror architecture practice in a much better way.”
Emerging architects who have already started in ARE 4.0 will not lose their progress; those candidates will have until June 30, 2018, to finish in the old version. They can also start testing in ARE 5.0 right now and complete all six divisions there, or choose a combination offering: Pass three divisions in ARE 4.0 followed by two divisions in ARE 5.0. Either way, NCARB has made a point to provide numerous self-transition options for candidates who crave flexibility.
As for experienced practitioners who are well beyond all-nighter study sessions, it’s important for them to realize that—despite the ARE’s need to constantly evolve—these changes aren’t meant to undercut the licensure process or lessen the standards that have elevated the profession for so many years.
“I have conversations with architects who ask, ‘Is the exam getting easier?’ ” Zurn says. “Not at all; it assesses an individual’s ability to practice architecture. The exam of the past and the exam of the future may have a different structure, but the ultimate goal is always to ensure that people who pass can practice competently.”