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Architectural Registration Examination Guide

A resource guide for IPAL students and alumni pursuing licensure.


Frequently Asked Questions

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What's my first step?

before you can schedule exams, you must set up an NCARB Record and begin your AXP (Architectural Experience) Portfolio. 

How much does it cost?

Initial registration with NCARB is $100/ year. The cost to take each test is $235, or $1,410 for all divisions. You should also budget to purchase some supplementary study materials. See our list of Paid Stuff Online

How should I schedule the exams?

We recommend taking no more than one every two months. Most people need more time as they have other commitments, but remember the rolling clock and try to keep on track with a study schedule. Don't let exams spread out too far as you will lose momentum. Having a clear plan will allow you to schedule in buffer time. Pro Tip: Check out the Pareto Principle for maximizing productivity. 

How are the exams organized?

ARE 5.0 is divided into six divisions:

  • Practice Management (80 items, two hours and 45 minutes)
  • Project Management (90 items, three hours and 15 minutes)
  • Programming & Analysis (95 items, three hours and 15 minutes)
  • Project Planning & Design (120 items, four hours and 15 minutes)
  • Project Development & Documentation (120 items, four hours and 15 minutes)
  • Construction & Evaluation (95 items, three hours and 15 minutes)

Which division should I take first?

There is a lot of overlap between the six divisions in 5.0. However, they are roughly divided into two baskets: a "technical competence" series and a "professional competence" series. We recommend studying for the technical competence skills (building systems, materials and methods, structures, site design) then taking the three exams in a row. Then study for the professional competence skills and take those exams in a row. 

What is the pass rate?

NCARB publishes pass rates for all divisions here

What if I fail an exam?

You can retake a division after a 60-day wait. The price for testing remains the same. 

Where do I find practice tests?

  • Ballast and Brightwood study guides also include practice tests. You can purchase copies or check them out from the library collection. 
  • NCARB offers a free 20 question practice exam for registered candidates. 

What are all the steps to architectural licensure?

NCARBs licensing requirements tool can help you calculate requirements for your situation. Generally, it goes like this:

  1. Eight years of experience or equivalent
  2. Complete the AXP requirements
  3. Pass the ARE
  4. Pass the CSE

I have already completed some exams from ARE 4.0. What should I do?

ARE 4.0 was retired on June 30, 2018. Therefore you must complete ARE 5.0. 


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