A Letter to ARE Candidates

Editor's note: This page was updated on October 19 to reflect the new launch timeline for online proctoring. The new expected launch date for both online proctoring and the anticipated changes to the exam is December 14, 2020

The NCARB Board of Directors, during its scheduled quarterly meeting last weekend, approved recommendations from the Examination Committee regarding the format of the adjusted ARE 5.0 to be launched later this fall as part of adding an online proctored delivery option. As part of our deliberations, we also took into consideration the communication from candidates regarding the ability to utilize scratch paper while taking the ARE at a Prometric testing site.

First, we thank you for sharing your concerns. We understand that any changes to the ARE can cause stress for those on the path to licensure.

Second, please review this explanation of some of the important aspects regarding the upcoming changes, which are designed to assure a consistent and equivalent experience for you whether you take the ARE online or at a Prometric center. Pursuing a consistent approach to exam delivery and exam security assures a scientifically and ethically sound basis for providing both the traditional and the online proctored option for the ARE. Compliance with testing standards is analogous to architects following code requirements.

Third, while the current pandemic has moved up NCARB’s timeline to release the online proctored version of the exam, this is not a decision we have come to lightly. Today, candidates with health concerns are not being served on their path to licensure as they stay out of test centers. With a prediction from health experts of a possible COVID-19 resurgence this fall and winter, such a spike could lead to a new round of test center closures. NCARB’s Board of Directors, architect volunteers, and psychometricians have been working for many months to determine the necessary adjustments needed to successfully launch an online-proctored exam. We can assure you that the totality of changes improves the effectiveness of the ARE, maintains security, and ensures the rigor of the ARE does not change.

Fourth, let us address specific key changes.

  • The ability to take notes and sketch out concepts will continue to be supported using an integrated whiteboard. NCARB will provide a demonstration of this new tool in mid-November. The new tool will be accessed like the existing calculator and references available today. The whiteboard is designed to work at both onsite and online testing locations with a standard mouse and keyboard. With the evolution to providing an online proctored option, this change was necessitated to ensure a fair, consistent, and equal test experience for all candidates regardless of where they test. Disparate treatment of candidates is unethical and indefensible.
  • The adjusted exam will now provide more flexibility for more frequent breaks, based on the NCARB Board’s approval of a recommendation from the Examination Committee.
  • The total questions in each division will be reduced and more time provided to answer each question, which will result in fewer questions involving a calculation and more time to utilize all the given tools.  More details on these changes will be issued in early-October.
  • The demonstration exam will be updated in mid-November to allow all candidates the ability to familiarize themselves with the updated navigation, the new whiteboard functionality, and all available tools while testing.

Please note that NCARB’s approach meets its obligation to provide a secure, rigorous, and defensible examination to the licensing boards that, in turn, protects the public. NCARB will continue to consider candidate concerns including delivering the ARE in a manner that is fair and accessible for all.

Sincerely,

The NCARB Board of Directors