ARE Prep: NCARB Roundtable presented by AIA Northern Virginia

Each year the AIA Northern Virginia Young Architects Forum organizes seminars for those preparing to take the Architect Registration Exam® (ARE®).


Join AIA Northern Virginia for their 2022 ARE® Prep season kickoff event – NCARB Roundtable. Hear from NCARB’s Manager of Examination Nicholas Respecki, AIA, NCARB, along with members of AIA Northern Virginia’s Young Architects Forum committee. Register now!

The award-winning seminars offer the opportunity to learn from a professional in each discipline and use that knowledge in preparation for the ARE®.

All 2022 seminars are being held virtually and offer AIA Continuing Education credit. View the schedule and register online. The registration fee for the entire 6-session series is $250 for members; $400 for non-members. Individual sessions are $50 each for AIA members; $75 each for non-members. Fees include study materials.

Advance registration is required.

AIA Large Firm Roundtable ARE Scholarship

The Architects Foundation’s Large Firm Roundtable (LFRT) ARE Scholarship helps fulfill the LFRT’s goal to double the number of licensed Black architects by 2030. The scholarship defrays the costs associated with the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), provides a one-year subscription to ArchiPrep and covers one year of Associate AIA or NOMA member dues.


Applicants must:

  • identify as Black or African American,
  • be a current Associate AIA member or NOMA member,
  • hold an active National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) record,
  • and be eligible to sit for the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).


Deadline: Friday, Jan. 14, 2022
Review period: January–April 2022
Scholarship recipient selection meeting: April 2022
Scholarship recipients notified: Immediately following the meeting

Learn more and apply>>

Taking the ARE: It’s Not as Scary as You Think.

Coming out of school and entering the profession of architecture, the thought of spending any more time studying or taking another test was the last thing I wanted to do. Becoming licensed, while a career goal, was not high on the priority list. This changed this past spring when my wife and I learned we would be expecting our first child. I knew that free time would become even more of a limited commodity and if I wanted to become licensed starting the testing process would become harder the longer I put it off. Looking for study materials, I wanted to be efficient with my time and not let the ARE control my life. With the motto of “the highest likelihood of passing in the least amount of time studying” the Amber Book study material seemed to be the best fit.  Here are some takeaways that I learned through the process and using the Amber Book material.

Taylor Terrill

Have self-discipline.

There is no way of getting around taking the exams without putting in the effort. I kept hearing terrible stories from colleagues about being chained to their study materials, saying goodbye to their social life for months, and taking and retaking tests. Following the Amber Book curriculum guidelines, you can expect to study about twenty one hours a week for six to seven weeks. Yes, you do have to have the self-discipline to study. No, you don’t have to say goodbye to your friends and family. The content is concise and self-paced. If you get behind one week because life was crazy, you can catch up the following week.

Take all your exams at once, as fast as you can.

I scheduled all six divisions for a marathon six-day adventure at my local testing center.  This can seem intimidating at first, but now being on the other side of it, I wouldn’t recommend you do it any other way. You just spent all this time studying in-depth; take all the divisions while the content is still fresh. There is so much overlap in content between sections that it feels like one giant test rather than six individual sections. It was also a nice feeling to be done with the process in a week rather than dragging it out over a year.

You don’t have to know everything.

Set aside the mindset that you have to completely master every subject before testing. You don’t get a letter grade at the end of your test, you just have to pass.   The test content can become daunting if you feel like you have to know the finite details of the practice of architecture. Potentially failing an exam can feel like a setback, but so can spending fifty unnecessary hours studying to pass a single section of the exam. The Amber Book curriculum does a good job of giving you enough confidence to say you understand the concept, but not overwhelm you with too many details that are less likely to be on the test.

You know more than you think.

If you have had any experience in the profession of architecture, the course does an excellent job of acknowledging what you most likely already know and spends more time in areas that you may be less familiar with. You quickly will be able to relate content in the teaching modules to what you recently saw on a job site or an interaction with a client. The course prioritizes content based on “yield” meaning you’ll spend more time on areas that are heavily tested and less time on areas that have fewer questions on the exam.

You’ll become a better architect.

This isn’t like studying for the SAT where you memorize unnecessary vocabulary words and learn testing strategies. By the end of the Amber Book curriculum, you will ask better questions. Your field reports will become better.  You will have a better understanding of what your MEP consultants are talking about during a conference call. Your email correspondence between contractors will become clearer. Overall, the course not only prepared me for the ARE, it made me a better architect.

My experience lived up to the study material’s motto and in the end, I passed all six divisions within a week on my first attempt. All that’s left is the easy part,  to complete my last few remaining APX hours. Taking the ARE is a huge undertaking and should not be taken lightly. But using the Amber Book material equipped me with the best process for studying and fast-tracked my journey in becoming licensed. Plus, I didn’t have to say goodbye to my friends and family.

AIA Virginia still has discounted Amber Book subscriptions available! Click here for more info.

ARE® Q&A and Virtual Happy Hour with NCARB

Bring your favorite drink and join us for a virtual ARE® happy hour. Hear the latest updates and engage in an open question and answer session with NCARB leaders.

Harry M. Falconer, Jr., FAIA, NCARB, HonD, Hon. FCARM | Vice President, Experience + Education

Jared N. Zurn, AIA, NCARB, CAE | Vice President, Examination

Sign up and save your spot at the table

ARE Prep Series Begins January 17

AIA Northern Virginia’s award-winning ARE Prep Series will begin on January 17, 2018. Our Young Architects Forum is busy planning for our transition to ARE 5.0 and AECOM has graciously invited us to once again hold our sessions in their Arlington office. In addition, our complete ARE series will be available via webcast in Roanoke and Hampton Roads.

A preview of the schedule is available on the AIA Northern Virginia ARE Prep page.

The January 17 session will feature a roundtable discussion with staff from NCARB covering the overall process of licensure through the AXP and ARE and will include non-content specific aspects of testing under 5.0. There will be time for questions, so this is an excellent opportunity to get all the information you need to plan for testing.

This session is offered free of charge, but advance registration is required.


Newly Licensed Architects

We understand the dedication and effort required to study for and pass the ARE. Congratulations to the following members for passing their exams and gaining licensure. This is great news that thrills all of us and we are so proud to call you architects!

Mr. Adam D. Bricker, AIA
Mrs. Caitlin E. Fedor, AIA
Mr. Eric L. Rolaf Jr., AIA

Have you recently passed the ARE? Please send an email to your Membership Manager at to upgrade your membership and be featured in the next newsletter.

ARE Prep

ARE 5.0’s launch date has been confirmed as November 1st, 2016. To prepare for this upcoming change, below are some tools for those pursuing licensure.

  • ARE 5.0 Guidelines – For general guidelines as to the changes in 5.0 and tips on how to prepare for your exams the Guide Booklet is an excellent resource. A pdf version of the guidebook can be found here.
  • ARE 5.0 Handbook – Developed to help you prepare for the ARE this handbook provides information on what content will be assessed on the exam. Find a pdf version of the Handbook here.
  • 5.0 Test Specifications – The test specification identifies the division structure of the exam and additionally defines: the major content areas, called Sections; the measurement Objectives; and the percentage of content coverage, called Weightings. A pdf version of the Test Specifications can be found here.
  • 5.0 FAQs – Have a question about the upcoming transition, check out ARE’s FAQ’s for 5.0 here.

More information will continue to be released on the NCARB website. Additional news will follow in future AIA Virginia newsletters.

NoVa ARE Prep Program Recognized for Excellence

The Northern Virginia ARE Prep Series was awarded the Council of Architectural Component Executives (CACE) ARE Excellence Award at the recent CACE Annual Meeting in Detroit.

Selected from among chapters nationwide, AIA Northern Virginia was recognized “for designing a comprehensive ARE Prep Program that prepares emerging professionals for the ARE exam and at the same time offers AIA CE credits.”

Congratulations to the Young Architects Forum co-chairs Anna Barbour, AIA and Spencer Lepler, AIA and their committee for planning such an outstanding ARE program. Thank you to all the instructors and volunteers, and to the host locations – Jacobs for Structures, Dewberry for Building Systems, and especially to AECOM for hosting all of the Wednesday and Saturday sessions. The exceptional letters of support from both Rachael Johnson, AIA and Spencer Lepler, AIA were a fundamental piece of the submittal, demonstrating the impact of the program on their path to licensure.

article courtesy of AIA Northern Virginia Sept/Oct 2015 Newsletter

Virginia Ranks Among the Top Ten

Virginia’s Young Architects lead over most States according to NCARB

NCARB has announced their national statistics for 2015, and Virginia is a leader in multiple significant metrics. Virginia ranks among the top ten states for highest number people in the Intern Development Program (IDP). Virginians complete the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) tests in a shorter time period than the national average. Of the 327 people in Virginia currently taking the ARE, not only are candidates completing the testing 8 months faster but they also have a higher pass rate (75% compared to the national average of 65%). Some of this success may be attributed to the licensing board adopting rules allowing candidates to start the ARE before completing IDP.

National statistics also include good news. Last year the number of architects in the United States increased 2%, and this represents a sharp gain compared to 2014. It also is the third consecutive year of growth in the number of architects. Read the full report>>

AIA Virginia congratulates all the recently licensed architects for their superior progress.

ARE Rolling Clock Ticking

Sorg AIA 2003362The rolling clock is ticking down to zero for candidates who began passing sections of the Architect Registration Exam prior to 2006.  Those who passed a section before January 2006 but have not completed the full exam need to do so before July 1, 2014.  If they do not, their hard work will be discarded.

The rolling clock idea was initiated by the National Council of Architectural Review Boards (NCARB) in 2006 and revised in 2009.  To allow those who had passed earlier versions of the ARE — including those who had successfully completed some tests on the paper versions — NCARB established a grace period.  This ends on July 1, 2014.

If a candidate passed one or more sections prior to January 2006 but does not successfully complete the remaining parts of the exam before July 2014, the pre-2006 results will be erased.  Candidates then must retake those deleted portions again.

This deadline does not affect those parts successfully completed after January 1, 2006.  Those have always been controlled by the rolling clock.  The clock starts with the successful completion of an exam segment.  From that date, candidates have five years to complete the entire exam successfully.  At the five-year mark, the candidate either has passed all portions, or the first exam is deleted and must be retaken and the five-year start date moves to the second successfully completed portion.

Questions may be directed toward NCARB at (202) 879-0520 or