Check Out the New ARE 5.0 Pass Rates

Since the launch of ARE 5.0 in November 2016, NCARB has collected data from nearly 9,000 administered exams, including the initial pass rates for each division. Let’s take a look at how candidates are performing on the newest version of the exam, plus how these trends compare to previous versions.

Pass Rates by Division

The pass rates below are organized by division, and include both first time and repeat attempts between November 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, across the 54 U.S. licensing boards. To determine these pass rates, over 4,000 candidates tested in ARE 5.0.

Exam Division Pass Rate
Practice Management 47%
Project Management 56%
Programming & Analysis 53%
Project Planning & Design 50%
Project Development & Documentation 56%
Construction & Evaluation 53%

During the eight-month data collection period, the average pass rate across all ARE 5.0 divisions was approximately 53 percent. Both Project Management and Project Development & Documentation had the highest pass rates of 56 percent, and Practice Management had the lowest pass rate at 47 percent.

So, why is Practice Management so low compared to the other divisions? For the first time, the ARE includes an entire division that focuses solely on content related to the management and operation of an architectural practice. This is a significant change from previous versions of the exam, which included similar, yet more limited, content that was organized differently. The pass rate for the Practice Management division likely reflects this change, as candidates are still becoming familiar with the division and its content.

Historical Trends

In 2008, NCARB launched the seven-division ARE 4.0, closing the door on the nine-division ARE 3.1 exam. Historical trends show that ARE success rates typically drop around the launch of a new exam, as candidates hurry to finish testing in the current version. For example, the average pass rate across ARE 4.0 divisions following the launch was approximately 56 percent, with divisional pass rates ranging from 46 to 65 percent.

The initial ARE 5.0 data is similar to what NCARB collected following the launch of ARE 4.0. Although the pass rate for ARE 4.0 divisions was broader (46 to 65 percent) than what we’re seeing with ARE 5.0 (47 to 56 percent), the average divisional pass rate for the two versions is similar.

Now let’s fast forward and analyze how ARE 4.0 pass rates have changed over time. By 2016, the average pass rate for an ARE 4.0 division increased by approximately 8 percent. The Building Design & Construction Systems (BDCS) division saw the largest pass rate increase of almost 18 percent, while Construction Documents & Services (CDS) was the only division to see a slight decrease, approximately 2 percent.

Average Divisional Pass Rate
Exam Version Following Launch Current Difference
ARE 4.0 56% 64% +8%
ARE 5.0 53%    

What does this mean for future ARE 5.0 pass rates?

Divisional pass rates are not static and will continually fluctuate over time. Based on historical data, we expect the average divisional pass rate to increase as more candidates test in ARE 5.0 and they become familiar with the new exam structure, content, and item types. But just because pass rates will likely increase over time, doesn’t mean you should wait to test. If you are prepared to take a division, then schedule the exam and take it!

Pass Rates Don’t Impact the Cut Score

Do these new pass rates impact the cut score, or passing score, for each division of the ARE? The simple answer is, no, they do not. Pass rates are independent and have absolutely no influence on each division’s cut score. NCARB does not establish “quotas” or set cut scores to achieve specific pass rates. Pass rates vary by division and change over time; as more candidates pass the exam, the pass rates may improve.

Would you like to know how other candidates have performed on the exam? Check out our ARE 5.0 Pass Rates by School.

Ready to Switch to ARE 5.0?

Remember, ARE 4.0 retires June 30, 2018. So whether you’re planning to finish the exam in 4.0, switch to 5.0, or take a combination of both versions, NCARB is here to help! And if you haven’t already, be sure to join the ARE 4.0 Community or ARE 5.0 Community for real-time advice from NCARB experts.

About the Author

Prior to joining NCARB as a manger of examination development, Nick worked as an architect and designer for several firms in the Washington, DC, area. He has experience in all phases of design and construction, primarily on large-scale university, sports, healthcare, and cultural projects. Nick holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Architecture degree from Ball State University. He is licensed to practice architecture in the District of Columbia, is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and holds the NCARB Certificate for national reciprocity.