NCARB Approves First Third-Party Test Prep Materials for ARE 5.0

Washington, DC—As part of its continued effort to help candidates prepare for the architectural licensing exam, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has launched a new Approved Test Prep Provider Program. Through this initiative, companies that create study materials for the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) 5.0 can submit them to NCARB for review and approval.

In April 2018, Black Spectacles® became the first NCARB-approved provider of study materials for two divisions of ARE 5.0: Project Planning & Design and Project Development & Documentation. This designation confirms Black Spectacles’ content appropriately covers the key elements of each division.

“Our goal is to help candidates better navigate the path to licensure,” said NCARB CEO Michael Armstrong. “By appropriately working with test prep providers, we can give candidates confidence that the materials they’re using are accurate and dependable.”

In addition to ensuring ARE candidates have access to quality study materials, NCARB’s Approved Test Prep Provider Program also benefits companies: approved providers will receive detailed feedback on submitted resources and be recognized on NCARB’s website.

Developed by NCARB, the ARE assesses the knowledge and skills of all candidates seeking a license to practice architecture in the United States. NCARB periodically updates the exam to ensure it continues to reflect the demands of professional practice. The newest version of the exam, ARE 5.0, launched on November 1, 2016. It incorporates modern testing technologies and features six divisions that align with current practice and the progression of an architecture project.

"NCARB and Black Spectacles are both committed to getting candidates licensed, so we’re excited to be their first approved test prep provider,” said Marc Teer, Founder and CEO of Black Spectacles. “Licensure candidates can now feel even more confident that our content is delivering the information they’ll need to successfully take the ARE.”

To be considered for NCARB’s Approved Test Prep Provider Program, companies must submit an application for a specific ARE 5.0 division, along with copies of the study materials. Each submission is reviewed by an NCARB committee of volunteer architects, who evaluate whether or not the materials meet NCARB’s criteria in each area. If approved, these materials can use NCARB’s Test Prep Provider logo to designate their status.

If you would like to apply for the Test Prep Provider Program, please contact For more information about ARE 5.0 visit



The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural registration boards of all 50 states as well as those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB assists its member registration boards in carrying out their duties and provides a certification program for individual architects.

NCARB protects the public health, safety, and welfare by leading the regulation of the practice of architecture through the development and application of standards for licensure and credentialing of architects. In order to achieve these goals, the Council develops and recommends standards to be required of an applicant for architectural registration; develops and recommends standards regulating the practice of architecture; provides to Member Boards a process for certifying the qualifications of an architect for registration; and represents the interests of Member Boards before public and private agencies. NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in foreign countries.