Top ARE Questions Answered: Part I

Editor's note: The information in this blog may be outdated. Read our latest posts about ARE 5.0

Completing the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) is a crucial step on the path to licensure, and we understand it’s frustrating to delay your progress. NCARB continues to navigate the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 to plan out next steps, and we want to ensure you have all the information you need for a comprehensive understanding of our most up-to-date policies and efforts.

It is important to understand that Prometric and their network of test centers are a separate organization from NCARB. NCARB determines the structure of the ARE and develops the content for the exam. Prometric is the largest provider of secure test centers in North America and is contracted by NCARB to securely deliver the ARE. Prometric is independently responsible for providing first-come, first-served access to scheduling and for setting the policies that ensure a safe environment for candidates and manages the operation of their test centers.

Below, you’ll find in-depth responses to our most popular questions related to the ARE and the pandemic—including ones we didn’t get to during our last NCARB Live webinar. And as mentioned during the webinar, if you are experiencing specific hardship as a result of COVID-19 please reach out to our Customer Relations team to see how we can help at 202-879-0520.

Please note, this is the first half of a two-part Q&A series, featuring questions about the rolling clock, seat credits, your NCARB Record, fees, and NCARB support. Learn more about appointment scheduling, test center protocols, remote proctoring, and low pass rates by reading through Part II.

Rolling Clock

What has NCARB done to provide testing flexibility to candidates during these uncertain times?
NCARB has waived all rescheduling fees to provide candidates flexibility in adjusting existing division appointments. To ensure that no valid passed division scores are negatively impacted by NCARB’s rolling clock policy due to test center closures, we’ve granted a total of a nine-month extension to all passing division scores that were valid as of March 1, 2020.

Assuming testing access continues to be limited into the fall, will NCARB increase its rolling clock extensions to more than the nine months already implemented?
Yes. If ongoing social distancing requirements and limited seat availability at test centers create access issues that go past this summer, NCARB will re-evaluate our implemented nine-month extension in early September and add additional rolling clock extensions as appropriate.

Seat Credits

Why do I have to buy a seat credit before I can see when a division appointment may be available? I used to be able to do this in ARE 4.0.
Prometric’s current scheduling software available to NCARB does not allow candidates to view appointment availability if candidates have not yet paid for their division. NCARB’s solution to provide flexibility for candidates is to support the purchasing of seat credits—at the current price—and apply those seat credits to any future scheduled appointments within the next year.

Why are seat credits only valid for one year?
Most candidates commit to the purchase of a seat credit when they are ready to take a division of the ARE, and intend to take that division in the relatively near future. Historically a one-year window has been ample for candidates wanting to test. The unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19 has changed that reality, so NCARB is looking at how best to assist candidates with existing seat credits—see answer below.

Due to limited appointment availability at Prometric, will NCARB be replacing my existing seat credit if it expires before I’m able to use it to schedule a future appointment?
Yes. If you have a seat credit that is about to expire and can’t find an appointment time, please call our customer service team at 202-879-0520. NCARB will continue to monitor your seat credit, and if it goes unused and expires, we will issue you a replacement seat credit. Please note, for us to issue a new seat credit, we will need to wait until after the original seat credit has expired.

Will all seat credits be receiving extensions?
Technically no. Seat credits, do not get extended. However, NCARB will replace seat credits that expire due to the COVID-19 disruption at no charge to candidates, as noted in the previous answer.

Please note: While you must schedule your appointment within the one-year period, the actual appointment can be scheduled for a date beyond the one-year period, and you can always reschedule that appointment time at a future date if desired.

With so many professionals in the field beginning to lose their jobs, is NCARB considering refunding scheduled exam appointments instead of providing seat credits?
At this time, NCARB policy is to provide a seat credit for canceled or rescheduled exam appointments, which candidates can use to reschedule an appointment at a future date. If you are experiencing extenuating circumstances due to the current world health crisis, please contact our customer service team to discuss how we can help.

NCARB Record

What happens if I have to let my Record lapse because I am not working?
If you have to let your Record lapse, it will go into an inactive status and you will no longer be able to report experience or access exam services. Your progress to date will be maintained on file and will be there for you whenever you re-establish your record.


Are there any plans in place for NCARB to lower exam fees considering the current climate?
No. At this time, NCARB is not planning to lower the cost of the exam. ARE division fees are set in place to support the maintenance and delivery cost of the current exam, as well as the development of a future version of the exam. This includes assistance from industry experts involved with the science, development, and delivery of exams; costs associated with architect volunteers who write exam questions; future research and development; test center fees; and ongoing customer service support. Historically, NCARB makes no profit on services for candidates and instead covers its costs by augmenting AXP and ARE fees with fees collected from NCARB Certificate holders. 

Is NCARB waiving Record renewal fees?
No. NCARB continues to support and provide licensure candidates with services that extend past scheduling ARE appointments, such as reporting experience, requesting transmittal services, and having access to NCARB’s continuing education courses.


Why haven’t I been receiving any updates about testing policies—including cancellations, rescheduling options, and test center closures—from NCARB?
If you haven’t been receiving our ARE/COVID-19 updates, you may want to confirm that the email included in your NCARB Record is up to date. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve subscribed and opted into receiving emails from NCARB, like ARE Update emails, to ensure you’re always informed about any exam-related news.


How is NCARB helping me progress toward my licensure goal?
NCARB continues to support our licensure candidates’ journey to licensure through our programs, services, and free resources. We developed several guides and tools that will assist candidates as they continue to navigate the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®) and prepare for the ARE—two important components in obtaining licensure—during these uncertain times.

Our customer service team remains open to answer any questions our candidates may have and provide all the necessary transmittal services needed for jurisdictional licensing boards to be able to process applications for licensure.

Read Part II