Washington, DC—The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards is pleased to begin offering testing accommodations for Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) candidates who speak or read English as a second language (ESL). This decision is a result of NCARB’s data-led exploration of how its programs and services may disproportionally impact candidates from under-represented groups.  

Candidates who are non-native English speakers can now apply for two ESL accommodations: 

  • Additional testing time: Twenty percent (20%) of the original testing time for each division added as an extension to the original testing time.   
  • Word-to-word translation dictionary: For candidates testing at a PSI test center, use of a personally supplied, printed word-to-word translation dictionary of the candidate’s choosing that has no additional notes or markings added to the text.   

NCARB already offers accommodations for disabilities and temporary medical conditions, guided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The new ESL accommodations join the organization’s existing accommodations process to ensure that the national licensing exam—which is required by all 55 U.S. jurisdictions—is accessible for all candidates. These accommodations represent an important step toward encouraging greater diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) along the path to architectural licensure.  

“By ensuring that candidates who speak English as a second language have access to the resources they need to succeed on the exam, we hope to lessen unnecessary barriers on the path to licensure—while still confirming that the individuals who become licensed architects possess all the necessary knowledge and skills to protect the public,” said NCARB President Bayliss Ward, NCARB, AIA.  

The organization designed these ESL accommodations following extensive research and analysis on the performance of candidates who are non-native English speakers. Based on the findings regarding exam completion rates, pass rates, and more, NCARB worked with its psychometrician consultants to develop these industry-standard ESL accommodations.  

Application Process

Candidates can apply for either or both ESL accommodations if English is not their native language. To apply, candidates can submit the ESL accommodation application form via My NCARB


The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural licensing boards of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB, in collaboration with these boards, facilitates the licensure and credentialing of architects to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

To achieve these goals, NCARB works with its Member Boards and volunteers to develop and facilitate standards for licensure, including the national examination and experience program. NCARB also recommends regulatory guidelines for licensing boards and helps architects expand their professional reach through the NCARB Certificate. Connect with NCARB on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.