ARE Update: NCARB Announces Changes to Exam Navigation and Timing

Editor's note: This page was updated on October 19, 2020 and March 23, 2021, to reflect the new launch timeline for online proctoring and migration to PSI. The new expected launch date for both online proctoring and the anticipated changes to the exam is December 14, 2020. Once implemented, all exam changes will apply to both in-person and online exam appointments—including those scheduled to take place on December 14, 2020. 

The expected launch of online proctoring is Monday, December 14, 2020, alongside several changes to ARE 5.0’s navigation, timing, and policies. These changes will impact both in-person and online exams, including in-person exams already scheduled on or after the launch date.

To help candidates prepare for these changes, NCARB has published an updated ARE 5.0 Guidelines and ARE 5.0 Handbook, which are available now.

Note: The following  contains a significant amount of new information; please read thoroughly.

Guide to Online Proctoring and ARE 5.0

To help you better understand online proctoring and the related changes to the exam, NCARB has put together a Guide to Online Proctoring and ARE 5.0.

The following are core changes to ARE 5.0 that all candidates should understand. For more information on each of these changes—as well as additional changes—please download the guide.

Items per division will be reduced. Each ARE 5.0 division will feature 15-20 fewer items compared to the current exam. This change continues NCARB’s efforts to make the licensure process more efficient while ensuring the rigor of the exam is maintained.

Test duration per division adjusted slightly. Changes in the number of items per division will not have a significant impact on exam timing as candidates are being given more time per item on each division and more break time per division.

Optional break time expanded. Candidates’ optional break time will be expanded to 30 or 45 minutes, depending on the division. In addition, candidates will be able to use this time as they see fit, taking multiple short breaks or one long break during their appointment.

Previously viewed items locked when a break is taken. Candidates will be able to review any previously viewed items before they take a break. Candidates should complete all previously viewed items prior to going on a break. Upon returning from a break, candidates will be unable to review items seen prior to a break. Those items will be locked for the duration of the test appointment.

NCARB will set new cut scores. Because the number of scored items is changing, NCARB will have to set a new cut score for each ARE division. This is expected to take approximately four weeks, and candidate score reports will not be released until after the cut score is set. This process allows NCARB to ensure that the new cut score is appropriately equal in nature to the current passing standard.

Digital whiteboard will replace physical scratch paper. Candidates will still be able to take notes, outline potential solutions, and more using an online whiteboard option.

We understand changes to the exam can be stressful for licensure candidates, and are listening to feedback received from candidates regarding these changes. Read the statement from our Board of Directors.

Updated ARE 5.0 Guidelines Available Now

The ARE 5.0 Guidelines provides details on receiving exam eligibility, scheduling an exam appointment, applying for exam accommodations, and what to expect during your appointment—all updated to reflect online proctoring as well as in-person testing. It also includes information on lower rescheduling fees for ARE divisions.

In addition, the Guidelines offers a detailed list of requirements for taking an online proctored division, including technical and environmental requirements from Prometric and NCARB. You must be familiar with all requirements before scheduling an online proctored appointment.

Updated ARE 5.0 Handbook Available Now

The updated ARE 5.0 Handbook provides details on each exam division, including objectives, division details, and suggested resources. Aside from changes to the number of items and time per division, this round of Handbook edits includes minor stylistic updates to reflect current item formatting and updates to the most recent version of several exam resources. NCARB has also added the relative percentage of the exam each objective represents, to help you understand the weighting within each existing content area.

Both the Guidelines and Handbook have been reformatted to be more accessible and mobile-friendly.

Online Proctoring Setup Requirements

The updated ARE 5.0 Guidelines include a detailed list of requirements for online proctored testing, including both technical and environmental setup. These requirements help ensure that all ARE divisions are administered under comparable conditions, and that the results represent a fair and accurate measurement.

We recommend that candidates use at least a 19” monitor, internet with a speed of at least 3 mbps, and a webcam that has the flexibility to provide a 360-degree view of their testing environment, among other requirements. In addition, candidates will be unable to use a dual-monitor or docking station setup. Please review the full requirements in the ARE 5.0 Guidelines.

Join Us for a Live Webinar

Get answers from our experts on October 7, from 5-6 p.m. ET, for a live webinar exploring online proctoring and other upcoming exam changes. Our panel will provide an overview of upcoming changes and respond to questions from candidates. Please register before the webinar.

What to Expect Next

NCARB will continue to roll out additional information in the weeks ahead. In mid-November, the updated demo exam will be available in My NCARB, and NCARB will release updated ARE test prep videos.

In addition, NCARB will provide further information about the expected early 2022 transition from Prometric to PSI in mid-to-late 2021.