A Review of the Recent Changes to the ARE 5.0

If you’re a current licensure candidate or AXP supervisor, you’ve probably heard about recent changes to the ARE 5.0. If this is news to you, fear not – NCARB is only making some small changes based on industry updates and data they’ve gathered – it’s not a complete overhaul of the exam. The changes include:

International Code Council Version Update

All ARE 5.0 exams will now reference the 2021 ICC family of codes and include all codes that the current version of the International Building Code references. The intent of this change is to keep the exam items consistent with current professional practice, as many jurisdictions have adopted the 2021 code. Keep in mind that the exams do not require (or even expect) candidates to memorize the building code, but you do need to understand the content and be able to interpret and apply any references provided within the exam.

Quantitative Fill in the Blank (QFIB) Item Retirement

No more transcribing numbers into a blank answer box! ARE Candidates will still be required to complete calculations in order to answer exam items, but you will no longer have to type a number from the calculator into a box in order to answer the item. All of the other item types will still be included in each of the exams, including multiple-choice, check all that apply, hotspot, and drag and place. This change comes directly from NCARB’s industry research which has found that the other item formats are more consistent and effective. Everything else about the exam format will stay the same.

Exam Security Enhancements

If you have taken a division of the ARE, you know that NCARB and the testing centers they work with are serious about exam security. It might seem a little over the top to sign the ARE Candidate Agreement and roll up your pant legs for inspection, but all the implemented security measures are intended to ensure the validity of the ARE. The content of each exam division is confidential (and copyrighted) and sharing or discussion of specific ARE items is prohibited by the Candidate Agreement. You may have seen that just last month, three ARE Candidates were reprimanded by NCARB for Seeking or Failing to Report Disclosed ARE Content, and their names were shared publicly. An official reprimand is often accompanied by invalidated test results, suspended testing authorization, or denial of an NCARB Certificate. Reprimands are also shared with licensing boards, who may revoke the candidate’s license. The updated Exam Security and Candidate Misconduct section of the ARE 5.0 Guidelines has more information. These tests are tough for a reason, so don’t risk delaying or losing your opportunity to get licensed by looking for a loophole.

These three changes went into effect just a few weeks ago on February 27, 2024. If you’re an ARE candidate who has exams scheduled and has started studying, don’t let these changes discourage you. The content of the items and overall format of the exam is not fundamentally changing, and you do not need to re-study information if you’re already comfortable with it. NCARB has also updated its free practice exams to reflect the 2021 ICC and QFIB changes.

If you’d like to learn more about these updates, NCARB has a recorded webinar on their YouTube page which includes a deep dive into the exam security updates and a Q&A with Candidates. There’s also a post on their press page with links to the resources you’ll need.

As always, your questions about AXP, the AREs, or NCARB in general are always welcome and encouraged. Happy studying and good luck with your exams,

Gina Robinson, AIA
Architect Licensing Advisor – Virginia

Virginia Licensing Advisor

The Architect Licensing Advisors Community is a group of individuals committed to assisting licensure candidates and architects as they navigate the path to licensure and reciprocity. Architect licensing advisors provide guidance throughout the licensure process by facilitating the flow of information to architecture students, licensure candidates, and architects.

The program is led by NCARB and jointly supported by the American Institute of Architects. AIA Virginia members are fortunate to have been guided by Michael Hammon, AIA the last 4 years (2 terms). As Michael finished his term this summer, we are looking for a new State Licensing Advisor. Are you interested in helping young professionals through the licensure process? Do you like to help your colleagues with issues of reciprocity and licensure? If you are interested in being considered for this appointment, please email pbattaglia@aiava.org.

Here’s some more info from NCARB on the Licensing Advisor appointment>>

If you are on the path to licensure and have any questions, you can still reach out to Michael at mhammon@glaveandholmes.com before the end of June or Cathy Guske at cguske@aiava.org.