This blog was updated on January 26, 2024, to reflect the latest information.

After careful review and consideration, NCARB’s Board of Directors unanimously decided at their January meeting to retire the rolling clock policy, which placed a five-year expiration date on passed divisions of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE®). On April 30, 2023, the policy was replaced with a new score validity policy, which bases the validity of passed ARE divisions on exam versions (such as ARE 4.0 or ARE 5.0) rather than a set time frame. NCARB has reinstated previously expired divisions of ARE 4.0 for candidates who are seeking licensure in jurisdictions that do not have a rolling clock-type requirement.

Understanding the New Score Validity Policy

Under the score validity policy, a passed exam division remains valid throughout the delivery of the exam version under which it was taken, as well as the next exam version. This means that passed exam divisions:

  • Are valid throughout the delivery of the version of the exam under which they were taken (i.e., ARE 5.0), AND
  • Will be used to establish appropriate credits under the next version of the exam (likely ARE 6.0) that would remain valid until this version ends.

For example: Passed ARE 5.0 divisions will remain valid throughout the delivery of ARE 5.0, and future credits based on passed ARE 5.0 divisions will remain valid throughout the delivery of ARE 6.0. If a candidate is not ARE-complete before the end of ARE 6.0 delivery, at the time of launching ARE 7.0, their ARE 5.0 passed divisions and any ARE 6.0 credits based on those scores will be retired.

Due to the nature of the new score validity policy, which is not time-bound but instead version-bound based on psychometric and volunteer review, NCARB will not offer extensions to the new score validity policy.

Why NCARB Retired the Rolling Clock

NCARB is committed to removing unnecessary impediments on the path to licensure. Through several focus groups and surveys, including NCARB and NOMA’s joint Baseline on Belonging study, the rolling clock policy was raised as a potential source of unconscious bias. A review of exam candidate data confirmed that the rolling clock policy was far more likely to impact the validity of exam scores for women and people of color—groups that already encounter lower exam success rates.

Additionally, analysis of exam item banks showed that the existing rolling clock policy was unnecessarily restrictive, given that many current exam items were originally developed under ARE 4.0 and were simply restructured under ARE 5.0 content areas. Given the evolution of exam questions, the NCARB Board concluded that this information along with professional advice from its psychometricians supports a finding that the new score validity policy is more fairly addresses exam validity and is appropriately based on the substance of the exam content rather than an arbitrary number of years.

How This Impacts Licensure Candidates

NCARB has reached out to candidates based on their personal testing circumstances with details and next steps. Here is an overview of how the new policy will impact candidates:

  • Previously expired ARE 4.0 divisions were reinstated on May 1, 2023.
    ARE 4.0 divisions were used to establish credit toward the appropriate ARE 5.0 divisions. Candidates with reinstated ARE 4.0 divisions can use the ARE 5.0 Transition Calculator to better understand how divisions transferred from ARE 4.0 to ARE 5.0.
  • Exam divisions no longer expire in a set period of time.
    Exam validity is based on versions of the exam rather than on a set time frame. Credit from ARE 4.0 divisions will remain valid until ARE 5.0 retires, and credit from ARE 5.0 divisions will remain valid throughout the delivery of ARE 5.0 and the next version of the exam (likely ARE 6.0).
  • Exam divisions taken in ARE 3.1 or previous versions of the exam will remain expired.
    Because the practice of architecture and the content covered by the exam does evolve over time, the score validity policy is necessary to ensure that candidates becoming licensed are competent in the current practice of architecture.
  • NCARB will provide at least 18 months’ notice prior to retiring a version of the exam.
    NCARB does not have an anticipated timeline for launching the next version of the exam, but will provide candidates with sufficient notice to complete testing before any passed divisions expire.
  • NCARB is monitoring jurisdictional changes and contacting candidates as necessary. If you are in a jurisdiction that still has a rolling clock policy, we'll contact you as soon as they make any updates. 

How Jurisdiction Requirements Impact the New Policy

While NCARB is retiring the rolling clock policy, some jurisdictions have a similar policy written into their statutes and/or rules. Since the launch of the score validity policy, most jurisdictions have aligned their requirements with NCARB's, but a few are working through legislative changes in order to adopt the score validity policy. If you are seeking licensure in a jurisdiction that has a rolling clock requirement, you will still be subject to your jurisdiction’s rolling clock unless that jurisdiction amends its policy, with any previously expired ARE 4.0 divisions not subject to reinstatement. If you are considering switching jurisdictional eligibility, be sure to review your new jurisdiction’s requirements.