A Deep Dive Into ARE 5.0 Item Types (Plus Tips)

When we talk about the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) 5.0, we often discuss the amount of questions you’ll encounter, how many of those questions are a part of case studies, and how long you’ll have to test. But did you know there are five different types of questions within the exam? In the testing world, questions are called items. And on ARE 5.0, you should be prepared for these item types: multiple choice, check-all-that-apply, quantitative fill in the blank, hotspots, and drag-and-place. Each of these item types are used in both the stand-alone (or discrete) and case study portions of the exam.

Let’s take a closer look at why these item types are used, plus some tips to keep in mind while testing.

Multiple-choice (MC)

Multiple-choice is probably the most familiar type of question seen on any exam, ARE or not. A multiple-choice item is composed of a question followed by four response options and is used when there is only one correct response for the question being asked.

Tip: While taking the exam, you can use the strikethrough tool to cross out incorrect responses. The highlight tool can also help easily identify key elements in the question and/or options.

Check-all-that-apply (CATA)

A check-all-that-apply item is similar to a multiple-choice item, except it allows you to select multiple responses out of six response options. CATA items are used when a question can be answered in more than one way or when multiple pieces of information are used together to answer a question.

Tip: Keep in mind, all correct response options must be selected in order to answer the item correctly, so pay close attention to cues that indicate the number of correct responses, such as “check the three that apply.”

Quantitative-fill-in-the-blank (QFIB)

A quantitative-fill-in-the-blank item contains a question followed by an input box where you’ll need to provide a numerical response to the question being asked. Rather than selecting the correct response from a list of options, you must arrive at the correct answer through your own calculations or by analyzing information provided in the question.

Tip: The appropriate units for the correct answer will be provided before or after the input box. Responses for this type of item can be a whole number or include a decimal. Also, be sure to look for cues in some questions regarding rounding, such as “round the answer to the nearest tenth” or “round the answer to the nearest whole number.”

Hotspot (HS)

A hotspot contains a question followed by a drawing, photograph, diagram, or other image. This item type is used for the same reason architects produce drawings—sometimes it’s easier to present information graphically! To answer the question, click on the appropriate location in the image provided. If your response is within the acceptable scoring area, it will be scored as correct.

Tip: The acceptable scoring area always has built-in tolerance, so you don’t need to worry about lining up the hotspot marker to an exact pixel. There is also no limit to the number of clicks you can make when attempting to identify the correct location in an image. You’ll be able to change your response by simply clicking on a different location in the image. The item will save your last click when you move on to the next question.

Drag-and-place (DnP)

A drag-and-place item, like a hotspot, contains a question followed by a background drawing, photograph, diagram, or other image. But unlike a hotspot, a drag-and-place item also includes a series of design elements along the left side or top of the background image. This item type is used when you need to create a visual solution to a question. To respond, you will need to select one or more of the design elements and place them onto the background image. If all required elements are placed within the acceptable scoring areas, the item will be scored as correct.

Tip: Did you know design elements may be rotated by right-clicking on them? Also, depending on the item, not all design elements will need to be used to create the correct response. Look for cues in questions, such as “not all elements will be used.”

Putting It All Together

Now that you know the item types you can expect to see on ARE 5.0 and why they’re used on the exam, we recommend reviewing the ARE 5.0 Handbook for sample questions. Also, check out the ARE 5.0 Demonstration Exam in your NCARB Record to try some of the tips we’ve shared.