Here are answers to frequently asked questions we receive on the ARE and other areas of concern. Contact us directly for questions not answered below.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Architecture Registration Exam
Who Writes the ARE?
A committee of architects made up of representative members from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), Committee of Canadian Arcthitectural Councils (CACC), consulting engineers and code officials.
How do I register for the exam?
You register for the exam with your state. Contact your state board for application requirements.
Is the exam the same in every state?
Yes. Every state gives the same examination.
When is the exam given?
You can take the exam whenever you want. The exam is administered year-round six days a week Monday - Saturday at authorized test centers around the country. Hours of operation vary so contact your test center of choice to verify business hours.
Where are the test centers located?
There are more than 350 standardized test centers across North America. Once your application has been processed, you will receive a list of test centers with your approval notification.
Do I have to take the exam at a test center located within the state/province where I am seeking my registration?
No. The computer based format of the exam allows candidates to take any portion of the test at any test center. However if you do relocate to another area before completing the exam, you will need to make sure that your scores are forwarded to the initial state jurisdiction where you initially began registration.
When should I start to prepare?
Candidates should start preparing as early as possible, at least four to six months before taking any division of the exam.
How much time should I spend studying?
Most candidates study 10 to 15 hours a week. It is important to study at a steady pace, rather than cramming just before the test.
What is the exam format?
The exam is given on computer. There are nine different divisions of the exam. Site Planning, Building Planning, and Building Technology are graphic tests. The remaining six divisions Pre-Design, General Structures, Lateral Forces, Building Design/Materials & Methods, Mechanical & Electrical Systems and Construction Documents & Services are muliple-choice tests. See exam information for complete details on ARE format.
Are calculators allowed in the test center? Calculators are allowed into the exam only for the multiple choice divisions. (The graphic divisions have a calculator built into the software interface.) However, calculators are not provided at the test centers so you will have to bring their own. Only non-programmable, non-communicating, non-printing calculators are allowed and the center administrator has to approve the calculator before you begin the exam.
Is the exam open or closed book?
The examination is closed book, that is, no reference material is permitted. For some exam divisions, reference material can be accessed electronically. This material may contain excerpts from sources such as the AISC Manual of Steel Construction and the UBC. Candidates should therefore obtain copies of these books prior to the exam in order to become familiar with their scope and format.
Which part of the exam should I take first?
Since candidates must pass all divisions of the ARE to become registered, you may start with any of the nine divisions. It is generally beneficial to take the three graphic divisions successively, since all use similar graphic tools. It may also be beneficial to take Pre-Design last, since this division includes material covered by other divisions, such as Building Design / Materials & Methods and Construction Documents and Services.
What is the format of the graphic tests?
Site Planning consists of six vignette graphic problems. The Building Planning division contains three vignettes, while Building Technology consists of six vignettes. Candidates use a mouse to solve these graphic problems. The computer screen has clickable icons that allow you to draw, move, erase, etc.
During the graphic divisions of the exam, am I allowed to go back and forth between vignettes as I work or do I have to complete each vignette entirely before going onto the next?
You can go back and forth between vignettes within the same section as you work. You don't have to complete each one before moving on. And you do not need to save your work as the computer is set up to automatically save once a minute during the exam. So you will not loose work as you move from vignette to vignette. However, once you leave that section of vignettes, you cannot return to them.
How accurate do I need to be on the graphic divisions?
Tolerances are built into each scoring program to allow for slight inaccuracies. These tolerances vary between vignettes according to to the importance of the feature being tested. However it is your responsibility to be as accurate as possible with your solutions. The software has been designed to allow for as much accuracy as possible with zoom and check tools. The more accurate your information, the more accurate the scoring.
Can I print out my solutions to the graphic vignettes as I work to check them?
No. Printing the vignettes compromises the security of the exam so printouts are not allowed.
How are the vignettes scored?
The entire exam, graphic and multiple choice divisions, are scored by computer.
How can I find out what I did wrong on the graphic tests?
There is no way to determine what mistakes were made on any graphic vignette. The NCARB reports on only which vignettes passed or failed.
How does the multiple choice work on a computer?
Each multiple choice test has a fixed number of questions that must be answered within a fixed time period. A tutorial is delivered before each exam to explain how the program works for that particular division.
Will I allowed to go back and forth between questions on the multiple choice exams? What happens if I skip/don't answer a question?What is required to pass the exam?
As you go through the exam, you will only see one question at a time. However you have tools to mark a question for review so that you will be able to go back to it later. Any unaswered questions will be counted as wrong answers so it is in your best interest to attempt to answer every question even if you aren't sure of it.
To pass the ARE and become a registered architect, a candidate must pass each division. Scores from the individual divisions are not averaged.
When will I get my results?
Test scores are reported to candidates by their state boards as pass or fail several weeks after the exam. Actual arrival times vary between the states but a good approximation is to allow two to four weeks to receive results from a multiple choice division exam and four to six weeks for results from a graphic division exam.
What if I fail a division of the exam?
If you fail a division, you will have to retake it. However you will not be allowed to retake the same exam until at least six months has passed from the time of the first administration.
Where can I get more information about the exam?
Call your state board or NCARB at (202) 783-6500.
How long after I purchase an online course will I be able to access it?
A student’s access to any single online course enrollment begins immediately after purchase. Architecture online exam prep products will be accessible for 2 years from the date of purchase. A new enrollment must be created at an additional charge to the customer if more time is required in the course.
My organization is tax exempt. What do I need to do to order products online?
Sales tax is only applied to online purchases in the following states: CA, FL, IL and NY. To make a tax exempt purchase from one of these states, please call customer service directly to place your order at 800-420 -1429. A copy of your tax exempt certificate is needed and can be faxed in advance of your order to 608-779-5877.