Every architect can recount their stories of hours spent studying for the exam, their nervousness on test day, and the long wait for their final score. And although the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) changes, all of that stays the same … or does it? The wait for the score report used to take months, then it became weeks, then days, and now it’s just minutes. But regardless of the time, all candidates still want to know the same thing: how is the ARE scored?

Item Scoring

Each item—regardless of item type—is worth one point and is scored as either correct or incorrect. There is no partial credit for completing just part of an item correctly. You’ll earn a point if you answer correctly, but you won’t lose a point if you answer incorrectly, so we recommend always taking your best guess at every item and not leaving any items blank.

As we discussed in a previous post on how the ARE is developed, every division includes some pretest items, which do not count toward your score. The number of pretest items per division ranges from 6-9, depending on the size of the division, and they’re randomly scattered throughout each exam. Since there is no way to know which item might be a pretest item, it’s best to answer all items as if they will count.

Case Studies

Case study items are worth one point each, the same as discrete items—learn more about case studies. Use this information to manage your time on the exam. Case study items take longer, because you’ll need to reference additional materials in order to answer them. But since you won’t get “extra” credit for them, you don’t want to use too much time on case studies at the expense of the discrete items.

Minimum Score

Each division has a minimum score that must be met in order to pass, as discussed in a previous blog post. Your total score is determined by adding up the points earned for all correctly answered items.

If your score is equal to or greater than the minimum necessary, you’ll receive a passing score. If your score is less than the minimum required, you’ll receive a failing score. Your score is based on your performance across the entire division, not section by section. If you do poorly in one section, it’s possible to still pass by doing really well in other areas. But your best strategy is to attempt every item throughout the entire division.  

After you finish your exam, you can receive provisional feedback. You’ll still receive your official score report in your NCARB Record, usually within one or two days. Learn more about provisional feedback.

Score Reports

If you fail your division, you’ll receive percentage-based feedback about your performance on the exam. For each content area, you can see the percentage of items you answered correctly, as well as the average percentage of items answered correctly by candidates who passed the division. You'll also see a scaled score at the top of your score report, which provides a consistent metric for interpreting scores across administrations. Learn more about reading your ARE 5.0 score report.