Washington, DC—The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has issued sanctions for six candidates who violated the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) Candidate Agreement ranging from copying and sharing exam questions to, in some cases, attempting to sell exam questions online. Further, all of the sanctioned parties utilized the exposed questions in advance of taking at least one division of the ARE. 

The ARE plays a crucial role in ensuring the public’s health, safety, and welfare by affirming that candidates have the required knowledge and skills to competently practice architecture. To ensure the validity of exam results, NCARB takes several steps to protect the security of ARE—including requiring that all candidates abide by the ARE Candidate Agreement. The agreement prohibits candidates from attempting to access or distribute exam content before or after taking any ARE division and outlines other responsibilities of each candidate for licensure.  

In late 2022, a whistleblower alerted NCARB of the potential disclosure of ARE questions on an online platform. An in-depth investigation revealed multiple candidates copied and shared exam questions, a violation of Category 4 of the Policy for the ARE: Exam Candidate Conduct. In addition, some candidates were involved in attempting to sell ARE exam questions through an online platform. All of the candidates being sanctioned accessed copied ARE questions prior to taking at least one ARE division, a violation of Category 1 of the Policy for the ARE: Exam Candidate Conduct.  

Following the investigation, and after providing each candidate the opportunity to refute the charges against them, each case was reviewed independently by NCARB’s Professional Conduct Committee. Final disciplinary decisions were made by NCARB’s Board of Directors at their June 2023 meeting.  

The candidates receiving sanctions are:  

  • Hao Wu was found to have violated Category 1 and Category 4 
  • Yan Chen was found to have violated Category 1 and Category 4 
  • Yixin Liu was found to have violated Category 1 and Category 4 
  • Ou Liu was found to have violated Category 1 and Category 4 
  • Jiani Zhu was found to have violated Category 1 and Category 4 
  • Meng Di Zhao was found to have violated Category 1 

In addition to each candidate receiving this public reprimand, their exam scores have been invalidated for any division taken that was found to have violated Category 1 and/or Category 4. Each candidate has had their testing authorization suspended for a period ranging from 5 years to 12 years from their last testing event. Each candidate is required to complete ethics education ranging from 6 to 10 hours within the next 12 months. Candidates found to have violated Category 4 are also not eligible for the NCARB Certificate for a period of no less than 5 years beginning after they receive a valid license.  

NCARB is dedicated to reviewing and strengthening the role of ethics in the regulation of architecture, and released updated Model Rules of Conduct in June 2018. The candidates’ misconduct has been reported to the appropriate licensing boards. Additional sanctions may be taken at the discretion of individual jurisdictions. 

Individuals who wish to learn more about ARE security can learn more on the NCARB Blog or visit the ARE 5.0 Community to discuss the topic with NCARB’s examination experts. 


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. 

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