Budding architects waiting for the update to the Architect Registration Exam can mark their calendars. Version 5.0 of the licensing examination will be available beginning Nov. 1, 2016, the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB) announced today. The current test version, ARE 4.0, will be offered through June 30, 2018. Come November, both versions of the exam will be available at Prometric testing centers throughout the United States and Canada, and in London, Hong Kong, and Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.

The updated test comprises six divisions that mirror the experience areas of the Architectural Experience Program (AXP)—formerly known as the Intern Development Program (IDP)—while reducing the total test-taking time from 33.5 hours to 25.5 hours. The programmatic change reflects a shift in NCARB’s priorities for the exam and internship experience to have a holistic, practice-based focus while streamlining the path to licensure through programs like the Integrated Path Initiative, which brings the IPD and ARE into the academic curriculum.

Additional changes include the replacement of the existing design vignettes with new “hot spot” and “drag-and-place” question types for graphics-based problems, and the addition of case studies to assess a candidate's ability to synthesize information. Each of the six test divisions will contain 80 to 120 questions including the new question formats as well as the existing multiple choice, check-all-that-apply, and fill-in-the-blank questions.

In a press release, NCARB said it plans to announce more guidelines for ARE 5.0 later this summer in addition to issuing preparation materials to accommodate the format changes from ARE 4.0. Last October, NCARB rolled out a Transition Calculator to help prospective test-takers plan their timeline for completing all sections of the exam.

The costs associated with licensure still remain a burden for many. Last month, NCARB announced lower fees for its certificate, the AXP, and the ARE. Other organizations, like the AIA Students (AIAS), have offered scholarships to emerging practitioners to help offset the cost of taking the exam. Charlie Klecha, an AIAS past president, recently spoke with ARCHITECT about one such initiative, in addition to providing test-taking advice based on his experience of taking all seven sections of ARE 4.0 in a single week. (Listen to Klecha's interview with ARCHITECT below.)