NCARB is shaking things up. The next update to the Architect Registration Examination (ARE)—the final stop for many architects on the some-would-argue-too-long path to licensure—adds new question types, cuts down the exam duration from 33.5 hours to 25.5 hours, and swaps the longstanding design vignettes for case studies, NCARB announced today.

The new test will be divided into six sections, with 80 to 120 questions each. Candidates will have between 3.5 and 5 hours to complete each section. The current version, ARE 4.0, has six sections with 65 to 125 questions each, along with a seventh section requiring the completion of two design vignettes; time allotments for ARE 4.0 range from four to six hours.

ARE 5.0 will add two new question types called “hot spots” and “drag-and-place” for graphics-based questions, and will incorporate case studies while dropping the vignettes. The test will keep the multiple choice, check-all-that-apply, and quantitative fill-in-the-blank testing methods already in use.

In October, NCARB debuted its Transition Calculator tool to help candidates map a strategy for taking ARE 5.0, which will launch in late 2016 and run concurrently with version 4.0 through June 2018. Candidates can use the calculator to develop a custom testing plan and track their status and expiration dates in order to complete the entire test within the mandated five-year period.


The announcement comes less than a month after NCARB renamed its Intern Development Program to the Architectural Experience Program (AXP), a semantic shift that addresses a recent push to stop use of the word “intern” in describing unlicensed professionals, particularly those who are working toward licensure. This follows a revision to the now-AXP, then-IDP announced in November that cuts the original 17 core experience areas required in the program down to six, which correspond to ARE 5.0’s test sections (shown above): practice management, project management, programming and analysis, project planning and design, project development and documentation, and construction and evaluation. NCARB also eliminated candidates’ need to earn 1,860 elective hours, bringing the total experience time down to 3,740 hours.

The streamlining could further shorten the path to licensure when adapted by 13 college and university architecture programs participating in NCARB’s Integrated Path Initiative (IPI), which folds licensure into the academic curriculum. NCARB plans to bring additional schools into the IPI each year.