The Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) is a high-stakes exam that licensing boards depend on to ensure that newly licensed architects meet the standards needed to protect the public. So, it’s crucial that NCARB maintains strict exam security—including confirming your identity, monitoring and recording your behavior while testing, and using data forensics to analyze all exam results for candidate misconduct. Here’s how we work with PSI and our psychometricians to maintain the exam’s security before, during, and after delivery:
Before Your Appointment
Not just anyone can take the ARE. Before you test, we partner with our member licensing boards to ensure that you are eligible to take the exam. We gather information about your licensure progress and identity so we can confirm you are who you say you are, and that you’re taking the exam because you’re pursuing a license.
NCARB also places restrictions around the material you can use to study for the exam through the ARE Candidate Agreement, which you’ll need to read and agree to every time you schedule an exam appointment. Licensure candidates aren’t allowed to use, see, share, or even discuss real exam content through any means before or after their exam, which ensures you’re being accurately assessed on your knowledge and skills.
During Your Appointment
During your appointment, you’ll go through an extensive security check in, whether you’re testing in person or online.
For in-person appointments, you’ll test in a secure test center, where you only have approved items in your immediate vicinity and approved software on the computer you’re using. For online appointments, PSI will conduct a 360-degree environmental scan, ensuring that the room you’re using only has the items allowed in the ARE 5.0 Guidelines. PSI’s Bridge software will also ensure you aren’t using any prohibited software, such as screen recorders.
Whether you’re testing online or in person, PSI will confirm that your identity matches the information used to schedule your exam. And, you’ll be monitored by a PSI proctor and recorded throughout your appointment to ensure you’re following both PSI’s and NCARB’s requirements for candidate conduct.
The exam delivery itself is also designed to protect the ARE’s security: you’ll receive one of several versions, or “forms,” of the exam, ensuring that candidates who retake a division aren’t exposed to the same content. In addition, if you choose to take a break during your exam, all items that you have already viewed will be locked, and you will not be able to view or edit them again. This ensures candidates can’t research the correct answer for an item during an exam break.
After Your Appointment
If you’ve ever wondered why your exam results aren’t official as soon as you’re done testing, one of the chief reasons for the delay is exam security. After your exam administration, NCARB will use advanced psychometric data forensics to analyze your exam results for unusual testing behavior, performance irregularities, or other abnormalities that may raise questions about the validity of your exam score.
Through these analyses, NCARB can detect candidate misconduct, including attempts to cheat on the exam. This technology has advanced significantly over the last several years, and while we can’t share the details of what we capture and evaluate for proprietary reasons, you might be surprised at how much NCARB knows about your exam appointment, including information on how you navigated the exam and your efforts on each exam question.
Reporting Security Concerns
You work hard to earn your license—so please help NCARB protect the integrity and security of the ARE by reporting any security concerns or suspected misconduct that you may observe within your firms, study groups, online forums, social media, or third-party study materials like practice exams.
This includes candidate behavior before, during, or after an exam administration. Possession, reproduction, or sharing of NCARB’s confidential and copyrighted ARE questions is prohibited and a violation of the ARE Candidate Agreement. Keep in mind, the ARE Candidate Agreement remains in effect throughout your career—even after you earn your license!—and requires you to report any sharing or suspicion of sharing exam content.
If you see or hear anything that you reasonably believe to be a security violation, please let us know by contacting us at ARESecurity@ncarb.org.
All emails and calls will remain confidential, and NCARB will not disclose your identity unless required by law.