The Architect Registration Examination ® (ARE®) is a multi-part exam designed to test your architectural skills, knowledge, and competency to practice. Each of the 55 U.S. licensing boards require that you pass each part of the ARE before you can become an architect.

What is ARE 5.0?

The ARE 5.0 features six parts, called divisions, that are modeled around the progression of a typical architecture project and current industry practices. The divisions align with the six experience areas outlined in the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®).

The divisions can be taken in any order—NCARB’s data suggests that candidates are more likely to pass if they test soon after completing the related AXP experience area.

Each division includes a combination of question types (or items), including multiple-choice, check-all-that-apply, hot spot, drag-and-place questions. In addition to standalone questions, each division includes 1-2 case studies, which are project-based scenarios where you will be asked a series of questions about a set of project documents. Full details about the exam’s format are available in the ARE 5.0 Guidelines—a comprehensive guide to the ARE.

How do I start testing?

To start the exam, you’ll need to identify the jurisdiction in which you are seeking licensure and have an active NCARB Record. In most cases, you can begin testing after completing your jurisdiction’s education requirement (typically, this means graduating from an accredited architecture program).

Before you can schedule an appointment to take an ARE division, the jurisdiction where you are seeking licensure will need to grant you eligibility to test—you can request eligibility via your NCARB Record. Explore jurisdiction requirements with the licensing requirements tool and determine how to request exam eligibility.

If you’re unsure if you're eligible to test, you can view eligibility information in your NCARB Record. Once eligible, you can schedule an exam appointment using your NCARB Record.

If you are planning to or already have applied for an ADA or ESL accommodation for the exam, do not schedule an appointment until after you have received written approval from NCARB.

How do I schedule an ARE appointment?

The ARE is administered securely by PSI (a third-party test delivery service) to protect the exam’s content and ensure a consistent experience for all candidates. Regardless of where you are seeking registration, you can test online, at a test center, or through a combination of both options. You are not required to test in the jurisdiction where you seek licensure.

  • In-person appointments: The ARE is offered at secure test centers throughout the U.S. and Canada as well as several international locations. 
  • Online appointments: Online proctoring allows you the flexibility to test 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in most places around the world—as long as your test environment meets the physical and technical requirements outlined in the ARE 5.0 Guidelines.

How does NCARB protect ARE security?

Whether you take your exams in a test center or via online proctoring, all exam administrations will be delivered using a secure test administration process. This includes securing your testing location and immediate testing environment by prohibiting such items as cell phones, reference materials, and unapproved technology. The ARE 5.0 is a high-stakes exam licensing boards depend on to ensure new architects are equipped with the competencies to properly protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public—making it crucial for NCARB to maintain strict exam security. Learn more about how we work with PSI and our psychometricians to maintain the exam’s security before, during, and after delivery.

Does NCARB offer free practice exams?

NCARB offers all candidates free, full-length practice exams for each ARE division to ensure you are successfully prepared for test day. The practice exams feature the same exam format and tools as an actual ARE division, and data shows that candidates who use NCARB’s practice exams perform 10-15 percentage points better on the exam. To access the practice exams, follow these instructions:

  • ARE candidates with active eligibilities: ARE candidates with active exam eligibilities can access the ARE 5.0 Practice Exams through the Practice Exam Dashboard. For access to the dashboard, log into your NCARB Record, click the “Exams” tab, and navigate to the “Additional Resources” section of the page.
  • Licensure candidates without active eligibilities: Licensure candidates without active exam eligibilities can access the ARE 5.0 Practice Exam through their NCARB Record. Navigate to the “Overview” tab and select “Practice the ARE.”

There are also PDF forms of the ARE 5.0 Practice Exams, developed for AXP supervisors and mentors guiding licensure candidates. The PDF includes every item, the correct response, and item explanations that appear on each practice exam.

For more detailed information about the ARE 5.0 and how you can prepare successfully, check out the ARE 5.0 Guidelines, our YouTube channel for tutorials and insider advice, and our blog for latest information!