With the November 1 launch of the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) 5.0 approaching, now’s the time to start planning your exam strategy. We've been listening to your questions and have compiled this list of techniques to help you prepare for your first ARE 5.0 division.

ARE 5.0 Demo Exam

Want to know what you’ll find at the test center? Use the ARE 5.0 Demonstration Exam to explore the new interface. The Demo Exam—which can be accessed through your NCARB Record—will help you become familiar with the new item types, as well as the introduction and conclusion screens you’ll see at the test center. Be sure to practice using the following ARE 5.0 tools:

  • Highlight
  • Strikethrough
  • Calculator
  • References
  • Taking a Break

You’ll also want to become familiar with the Exam Summary tool, which lets you review flagged or incomplete items. Keep in mind that unlike previous versions of the ARE, there is no mandatory break time; instead, you’ll have one 15-minute break you can take at any point. Practice using the Break tool to get familiar with pausing the exam when it best suits you.

Exam Strategies

All six divisions of ARE 5.0 are organized the same way, varying only in the number of items and testing time. Here are a few test-taking tips from our experts:

  1. Focus on understanding the content you are being tested on, not the item types. You’ll see all five ARE 5.0 item types throughout the exam, including new hot spots and drag-and-place items. While the type of item used for a particular question will depend on what is being assessed, keep in mind that each item type was designed to be user-friendly.
  2. Answer every item as if it will count. Every division contains some pretest items. These pretest items are included so NCARB can collect statistics and determine if they should be used in the future. They’re distributed randomly throughout the exam content portion, but are unscored and have no impact on your overall results. Since there is no way of knowing which questions might be a pretest item, it’s best to answer all items as if they will count.
  3. Don’t get caught up on any one question. You should always answer every item, because if you chose to leave an item unanswered, it will be marked as incomplete and scored as an incorrect answer. Remember, all scored items are worth one point each, so while it’s important to answer every item. It’s also important not spend too long on any one item. You can always mark an item for review and return to it later.
  4. Complete the items in the order that suits you best. While you should answer all of the items on a division, you don’t need to answer them in a specific order. You are in control of what order you answer each question. Individual items are located at the beginning of the content portion of each exam and case studies are located at the end. Using the Exam Summary button, you can navigate directly to a case study whenever you feel most comfortable—whether that’s at the beginning of the exam, the end, or sometime in the middle.

Case Studies

The use of case studies is new in ARE 5.0, so we recommend spending a little time planning how to approach these items.

Each case study will introduce an architectural scenario and include a set of related resource documents. The number and specific types of resources will vary, but additional time has been built into the test so you can familiarize yourself with each case study before you begin answering the related items. All items that are associated with a case study will refer back to these resources. Each division of the exam will include at least one case study, but no more than two. It is important to remember that the provided resources will need to be analyzed and evaluated in order to determine a correct response.

Within the case study portion of the exam, all of the resources are displayed as PDFs. In the Demo Exam, practice using these resource tools:

  • Key Word Search
  • Bookmarks/Table of Contents
  • Zoom and Pan Functions

NCARB recommends two different approaches to becoming familiar with the resources in a case study:

  1. Spend some time going through each of the resources before looking at any of the related items, so you know what types of information are contained in each one. At the test center, you will be provided scratch paper and pencils so you can also jot down notes.
  2. Quickly familiarize yourself with each resource tab and then jump into the items, referring back to the resources as each item requires.

Whichever approach you use, remember that you are not required to read every single word of every resource. If you attempt to do this, you will not complete the exam in the allotted time.

We hope these techniques and approaches are helpful as you prepare to take your first division of ARE 5.0. And don’t forget to visit the ARE 5.0 Community for real-time help from our exam experts, plus access to all our study resources.