What is an ARE 5.0 Cut Score?

When ARE 5.0 launches on November 1, NCARB will need to establish a cut score for each new division. A cut score is the defined threshold at which a candidate has achieved the passing standard. Establishing a new cut score for each division of ARE 5.0 ensures a fair assessment of all candidates taking the exam and maintains the validity of the results.

For ARE 5.0, NCARB will use the Modified Angoff method based on the professional recommendations from our testing consultant. Modified Angoff is the most commonly used method of establishing cut scores in licensure and certification testing.

Here’s how the Modified Angoff method applies to the ARE:

  • We will establish the cut score for each division using data from candidates who test early following the launch of ARE 5.0. Candidates who test early influence the cut score decision; candidates who test later will be evaluated against the established standard.
  • A separate cut score will be established for each of the six ARE 5.0 divisions.
  • Architects from across the country will review the candidate data and exam questions as part of the cut score process. The task force that reviews the data will be comprised of recently licensed architects, members of licensing boards, architectural educators, and experienced architects.
  • The cut score process involves the above task force, NCARB’s Examination Committee, and the NCARB Board of Directors to ensure comprehensive and inclusive decisions.
  • Each cut score is criterion-based, establishing a minimum standard against which each individual is measured independently. Any candidate who performs at or above the cut score will receive a passing score, regardless of the performance of other candidates.

What the Cut Score Process Means for Candidates

The cut score process needs test data from real ARE 5.0 candidate administrations to ensure a fair standard. We won’t use pretest data, set a curve, or use data from ARE 4.0 to establish the cut score. Until the cut score of each division is determined, NCARB will need to temporarily hold the release of ARE 5.0 score reports. Delays are expected to be six to 10 weeks; however, NCARB will do everything we can to complete the process as quickly as possible, and we will provide you with regular updates along the way.

NCARB will need candidate data from approximately 600 administrations per division to finalize and release that division’s score reports. The cut score process for each division will begin as soon as there are enough administrations for that division. This process is a one-time effort per division, so only early testers on each division will be impacted by a delay in score reports. As we mentioned, these early testers also have the opportunity to influence the cut score.

Once the cut score is established for a division, normal score reporting will resume.

Earn Gift Cards for Testing Early

Testing early in ARE 5.0 gives you the opportunity to have your test data influence the cut score process and experience the new exam format. NCARB understands that testing early and having to wait for your score report can be difficult. As a thank you, the first 600 candidates who test early on each ARE 5.0 division will receive a $100 gift card. Best of all, testing early on multiple divisions means you can receive multiple gift cards.

So prepare for an ARE 5.0 division (or divisions), get in there, and test!

About the Author

I joined NCARB in 2010 as an assistant director in exam development. I now work primarily on the development of ARE 5.0 and other new research initiatives within our Directorate, as well as on various outreach events reinforcing the importance of licensure. Previously, my work focused on the development of the ARE’s 11 graphic vignettes. Before joining NCARB, I worked as a project architect in Washington, DC, and have over 10 years of experience in all phases of design and construction management. I have been fortunate enough to work on a variety of project types, including: base buildings, commercial interiors, hotel/hospitality, urban planning, and branded environments. Originally from Indiana, I am a graduate of Ball State University—the Cardinals, which according to fellow alumn David Letterman, are the “fiercest of the robin-sized birds.”