2012 NCARB Annual Meeting: Culture of R&D Drives NCARB’s Architect Registration Examination (ARE)

22 June 2012

Minneapolis, MN—“Research and development is part of our culture,” said Erica J. Brown, AIA, NCARB, Director ARE for the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), stressing that the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) is in a constant state of evolution.

During NCARB’s 93rd Annual Meeting, Brown and Stephen Nutt, AIA, NCARB, CAE, Vice President, Programs, provided an overview of the Council’s approach to R&D for the ARE and shared examples of research efforts over the years, from the switch to computer-based testing to the development of new vignettes. These projects often resulted in implementation, but Nutt noted that a few never made it to production. “It’s the nature of R&D,” he explained, “sometimes the result of an R&D process is to illuminate the path not to take.” He also shared that NCARB spends $750,000-1,000,000 annually on research and development for the ARE.

Last fall, the Council selected a new team of vendors to guide the exam: Prometric will remain the site management consultant, and Alpine Testing Solutions will handle candidate/content management. “We are excited about the new relationships and opportunities they offer,” said Nutt. NCARB plans to launch several enhancements next summer that will provide greater data transparency and access to individual candidate data—ultimately, offering benefits to candidates, registration boards, and the volunteers who help develop the exam. This will mean new services and transparency for candidates and Members Boards as well as a re-evaluation of the best path forward in developing and administering the exam.

Current R&D efforts for the ARE include evaluating a range of research inputs, including data from the 2012 Practice Analysis of Architecture, and considering possibilities for the future, such as new item types, different scoring models, and new delivery models, to name a few. NCARB is also researching options that will allow candidates to better use the current vignette software practice program on 64-bit computers. “Stay tuned, change is in the air,” said Nutt, indicating a bright future ahead for the ARE as the Council, its Board, and the ARE volunteer committees seek the best path forward.