ARE 5.0 Begins to Take Form


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30 September 2013

Portland, OR—Over 40 architects from across the country gathered in July and September to begin shaping the next version of the Architect Registration Examination®—ARE® 5.0. As volunteers on the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Test Specification Task Force, the architects recommended content areas and assessment objectives for the proposed divisions; aligned assessment objectives to the knowledge, skills, and tasks identified in the 2012 NCARB Practice Analysis of Architecture; and weighted the importance of each content area and assessment objective.

Chaired by New Mexico Board Member Robert M. Calvani, AIA, NCARB, the task force was charged with the important task of determining the Test Specification for ARE 5.0, which determines the knowledge and skills that will be measured in each division and will direct all further development of the exam.

“The task force is providing the necessary framework for the Council to begin incorporating the innovative new item types,” said NCARB CEO Michael J. Armstrong. “It will also allow us to see how the next version of the exam compares to the current one, in order to develop a transition plan that will fairly address candidates in the process of taking the ARE.”

ARE 5.0, first announced in June at the 2013 NCARB Annual Meeting, will include a revamped division structure and item types that test licensure candidates’ competence on the health, safety, and welfare components of practice. “By realigning the test divisions, we are continuing to prepare the next generation to be more well-rounded individuals regarding the practice of architecture,” said task force member Shannon Carpenter, AIA, NCARB, of Dallas, TX.

Task force recommendations will be presented to the Council’s Examination Committee in October before officially being considered by the NCARB Board of Directors this winter. Once the content areas are approved, work will begin on mapping the current exam to the new divisions and developing a transition plan in the spring. ARE 5.0 is expected to launch in test centers in late 2016. “Getting things right at this stage will make the following steps go much smoother,” said task force member Ryan T. McEnroe, AIA, Assoc. ASLA, LEED AP of Washington, DC.

Developing a Defensible, Valid Licensure Examination

With the assistance of Alpine Testing Solutions, Inc., ARE 5.0 is being developed with guidance from the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, AP, & NCME, 1999). These industry expectations help NCARB demonstrate that the exam measures the intended knowledge and skills (validity), in a consistent manner (reliability) that is appropriate for all examinees (fairness). NCARB follows industry standards, as the ARE is required by all 54 U.S. jurisdictions and helps ensure that both NCARB’s Member Boards and licensed practitioners can meet their obligation to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.

“These meetings have allowed the attendees to ‘test’ and validate the information assimilated to provide the highest quality of material content for the new ARE 5.0 Test Specification,” said Kentucky Board and task force member Jack H. Ballard II, AIA, NCARB, KYCID.

A major guide for developing the new Test Specification is the 2012 Practice Analysis of Architecture, which gathered data from the profession to ensure the knowledge, skills, and tasks being measured by the exam are relevant to current practice. “We are shaping the future of the profession by analyzing what thousands of architects indicated are the important factors defining the practice of architecture, and then shaping them into the structure of the architectural licensing exam,” said New York Board and task force member Susan B. McClymonds, AIA, CSI.

The Test Specification Task Force

Forty-two volunteers from across the United States and its territories serve on the ARE 5.0 Test Specification Task Force. The task force is the Council’s most diverse committee and represents an accurate cross-section of the profession.

Volunteers range from recently licensed to experienced architects from large and small firms. Members represent those who have their "fingers on the pulse" of the profession and are familiar with its trends and current practices. NCARB and its volunteer committees are committed to using and implementing innovative testing methodologies to ensure all sections of the exam remain relevant to practice and technology, as well as valid, reliable, and fair.

“As a group of subject-matter experts, the task force brings up-to-date knowledge to developing the Test Specification,” said task force member and Drury University Professor Michael J. Buono, AIA, LEED AP. “Including university educators on the task force, as well as both young and seasoned architects, brought diverse ideas to the process.”

For more information about the development of ARE 5.0, visit



The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards' membership is made up of the architectural registration boards of all 50 states as well as those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB assists its member registration boards in carrying out their duties and provides a certification program for individual architects.

NCARB protects the public health, safety, and welfare by leading the regulation of the practice of architecture through the development and application of standards for licensure and credentialing of architects. In order to achieve these goals, the Council develops and recommends standards to be required of an applicant for architectural registration; develops and recommends standards regulating the practice of architecture; provides to Member Boards a process for certifying the qualifications of an architect for registration; and represents the interests of Member Boards before public and private agencies. NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in the United States and Canada.


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