ARE 4.0 - The Basics

The Architect Registration Examination (ARE) is continuing to change for the better. In July 2008, NCARB will launch ARE 4.0. This latest version of the exam updates and improves the current format by combining graphic and multiple-choice content. ARE 4.0 integrates the exam format while emphasizing the problem-solving skills architects regularly use in day-to-day practice.

One of NCARB’s missions is to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The ARE is one way in which NCARB fulfills this mission. The evolution of the ARE responds to the needs of the profession and the public to provide a tool that best assesses a candidates’ knowledge, skill, and ability. The planned changes to the ARE have been subject to intense thought, discussion, and planning to ensure they are in the best interest of the profession and the public-at-large. The ARE will continue to evolve with the profession in order to maintain the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.

ARE 4.0 basics:

  1. ARE 4.0 will launch in July 2008.
  2. There will be a one year transition period between July 2008 and June 2009 for candidates currently testing to complete ARE 3.1.
  3. Candidates who do not pass all of ARE 3.1 by the end of June 2009 will be transitioned to ARE 4.0. Depending on their specific progress, a candidate may have to repeat content already passed under ARE 3.1. Candidates should refer to the NCARB web site’s “transition candidate” page in the ARE 4.0 section for a chart explaining what divisions candidates will need to take if they do not complete the corresponding division in ARE 3.1.
  4. ARE 4.0 will integrate multiple-choice questions with graphic vignettes, but the overall exam content will remain the same.
  5. ARE. 4.0 will have seven divisions instead of nine.
  6. ARE 4.0 will also introduce enhancements to the Site Grading and Mechanical & Electrical Plan vignettes.
  7. This evolution of the ARE has been guided by the 2001 Practice Analysis survey conducted by NCARB that provided a comprehensive analysis of the architecture profession.

Benefits of the new exam for candidates:

  • Seven divisions instead of nine
  • Reduced number of trips to the test center
  • Integration of multiple choice and graphic content
  • Condensed subject matter—study for a subject all at once
  • Slightly less testing time
  • Better assessment of your knowledge, skills, and abilities

The seven divisions of ARE 4.0 are as follows:

Programming, Planning, & Practice (85 multiple choice + 1 vignette)
Site Planning & Design (65 multiple choice + 2 vignettes)
Building Design & Construction Systems (85 multiple choice + 3 vignettes)
Schematic Design (2 vignettes)
Structural Systems (125 multiple choice + 1 vignette)
Building Systems (95 multiple choice + 1 vignette)
Construction Documents & Services (100 multiple choice + 1 vignette)

NCARB has launched an interactive section of the web site to help explain the new exam structure and ease the transition for candidates. Two charts on its web site explain how ARE 3.1 will transition to ARE 4.0. For example, the vignettes currently administered in ARE 3.1’s Building Technology division have been integrated into four ARE 4.0 divisions and the vignettes in ARE 3.1 Site Planning have been incorporated into two divisions. Candidates should also note that ARE 3.1’s General Structures and Lateral Forces divisions will combine with the Structural Layout vignette from Building Technology to form one division in ARE 4.0.

Candidates currently testing should use the next year and the extra transition year – a total of more than two years– to prepare and complete all remaining divisions of ARE 3.1.

The information currently posted on the Council’s web site is just the beginning. The section will continue to be updated over the next two years to address candidate concerns and to better explain the changes ahead. Candidates are encouraged to use these resources to prepare for the transition to ARE 4.0. With proper planning, the transition to ARE 4.0 can be smooth for everyone.