ARE 5.0: What Score Do You Need to Pass?

Last fall, we explained how the passing score, or cut score, would be set for each Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) 5.0 division. Now that all the cut scores have been determined, let’s look at the results of the process and answer the question everyone’s asking: how many correct responses do you need to pass an ARE 5.0 division?

The short answer is: it depends.

When you sit down at the test center to take an ARE 5.0 division, you’ll see one of several versions, or forms, of that division. Because each form—and each division—has a different level of difficulty, the exact passing score varies. Based on the hardest form of ARE 5.0 (with the lowest cut score) and the easiest form of ARE 5.0 (with the highest cut score), the percentage of items you must have correct to pass ranges between 57 percent and 68 percent.

Here’s more information on cut scores and forms.

How Does NCARB Decide Cut Scores?

As a professional licensure examination, it’s critical that the ARE is valid, reliable, and fair—from how the content is developed to how candidate results are assessed.

The ARE 5.0 cut score process established a performance standard based on the work and skills of an independently practicing architect. Throughout this process, NCARB worked with multiple groups and our testing consultants to ensure the cut scores are a reflection of the profession and not unfairly influenced by one person or group. Learn more about the cut score process.

Fixed Cut Score

A cut score is a minimum standard against which everyone is measured independently, which means the ARE is not graded on a curve. Simply put, if you perform at or above the cut score in a division, you’ll pass that division, regardless of how other candidates perform.

Why Forms?

Creating multiple forms of each division ensures that candidates can retest in a division several times without being over-exposed to specific test questions. This safeguards the security and validity of the exam.

Having several sets of questions also means that one form may be slightly harder or easier than another form. To ensure fairness across all forms, NCARB’s testing consultants use candidate data to assemble forms to similar levels of difficulty—so a form that’s slightly easier than another form has a cut score that’s slightly higher.

As new forms are assembled in the future, NCARB’s testing consultants will continue to evaluate each form’s level of difficulty compared to the established performance standard set during the cut score process. As a candidate, you can be confident that you’re being assessed to the same level of performance as all other candidates.

Thank you to everyone who was part of the cut score process, whether as a tester or a volunteer. And for everyone testing, we wish you success as you continue through the ARE!

About the Author

I joined NCARB in 2014 as a manager in examination development. My work focuses on the development of ARE 5.0 and continued support of ARE 4.0, as well as outreach events. Prior to joining NCARB, I worked as a project architect and project manager in several architecture firms in Washington, DC. My work spanned multiple project types, including institutional, mixed-use, residential, and affordable housing across all phases of design and construction. Originally from the DC area, I left town temporarily to get my architecture degree at Tulane University—Roll Wave Roll!