It’s been a year since NCARB retired the Architect Registration Examination®’s (ARE®) five-year rolling clock policy. In that time, NCARB has reinstated more than 6,000 ARE 5.0 credits, bringing over 3,000 candidates closer to their goal of earning a license. Now, we’re looking back at the impact this important policy change had on the licensure candidate community and exploring what’s next for licensure accessibility.

Why did NCARB retire the rolling clock?

The rolling clock was a policy that placed a five-year expiration date on passed exam divisions. This meant that if a candidate had not finished testing within five years of the date they passed their first exam division, they would need to retake that division.

As NCARB’s focus on improving diversity and equity on the path to licensure has grown, the rolling clock was raised as a potential source of unconscious bias through NCARB and the National Organization of Minority Architect’s joint Baseline on Belonging study. Volunteers conducted a detailed internal review in 2022 and confirmed that the rolling clock disproportionately impacted women and people of color. NCARB’s Board of Directors took action in January 2023 to retire the policy, effective May 1, 2023.

When NCARB replaced the rolling clock with our new score validity policy, we reinstated all previously expired divisions of ARE 4.0. While not all ARE 4.0 credits qualified for direct ARE 5.0 credits, the policy change resulted in 6,658 ARE 5.0 credits being reinstated. In total, 3,163 candidates received at least one ARE 5.0 credit—and hundreds received three or four credits. Women and Black candidates were more likely than their white, male peers to receive ARE 5.0 credits from the policy change.

Many candidates who had exam credits reinstated had since stopped pursuing licensure, with thousands of impacted candidates having been inactive for 7-8 years. Of the inactive candidates, more than 20% have since resumed their licensure journey and started testing again, and 69 impacted candidates have completed the exam.

Jurisdictional requirements have added complexity to the policy change: when NCARB first updated the policy, 14 of the 55 U.S. licensing boards had adopted NCARB’s rolling clock into their local laws or rules. Over the past 12 months, we’ve worked with those boards to make the legislative and regulatory changes necessary. Now, nine of those boards have fully removed their retirement, with an additional two (Idaho and Washington) set to update their requirement on July 1, 2024, and the remaining three (Illinois, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia) in progress.

What’s next for licensure accessibility?

The rolling clock is not the only piece of the licensure process that NCARB is re-evaluating. Over the next several years, we hope to continue expanding access to licensure for individuals of all backgrounds—including by expanding education pathways into the profession through our Pathways to Practice effort.

As we make progress, we’ll be sharing regular updates through our newsletters and social media. Stay in touch by subscribing to our email lists to hear more about how you can get involved.