UPDATED 2021

The Architect Registration Exam Guide

The Architect Registration Exam Summary
What: The Architect Registration Exam (ARE) is offered by NCARB to insure that candidates have sufficient knowledge in architectural skills and practices prior to obtaining licensure in order to protect the safety, health and welfare of the public.
Who: Individuals with a degree in architecture that wish to become licensed in order to practice must take the ARE in order to obtain licensure.
Where: Prometric, a third party testing company, offers the exams at over 350 centers nationwide.
When: ARE exams can be scheduled in a candidate's local area.
How: All portions of the Architect Registration Exam are computerized.
Type: There are 9 portions of the ARE.
Why: In order to be licensed as an architect, all portions of the ARE must be passed. This helps to enforce minimum knowledge and skill requirements to protect the safety, health and welfare of the public. Other licensing requirements are determined by each in
Time: Time limits for various portions differ but are between 2 and 5 hours.
Language: ARE exams are offered in English.
Preparation: There are numerous study guides, practice exams, reference materials and test prep courses to help prepare for the exam.
Cost: Each portion of the Architect Registration Exam costs $170.

The Architect Registration Exam (ARE) is the exam used by all U.S. state member architecture licensing boards, as well as the Canadian provincial architectural associations, to determine eligibility for architectural registration and licensing. The exam is offered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). This exam sets minimum standards for skills, knowledge and ability of architects in order to protect the public safety, health and welfare. Passing the ARE does not guarantee certification, but is usually the last step in obtaining a license to practice by individual boards of architecture. After the exam has been passed, candidates can then apply for NCARB certification, if desired.

ARE Format
There are nine sections of the computerized ARE exam. Six sections are in a multiple-choice format and include: Pre-Design, General Structures, Lateral Forces, Mechanical & Electrical Systems, Building Design/Materials & Methods and Construction Documents and Services. Within the multiple choice sections there are a few fill in the blank and check all that apply questions, too. The other three sections are graphic vignettes and test knowledge in Site Planning, Building Planning and Building Technology. The graphic sections of the test utilize CAD-type programs and allow candidates to use a mouse to draw, erase and perform other necessary functions. Candidates will have the ability to go back to review previously skipped questions or move between graphic vignettes, but once a section is completed they cannot go back. Test sections are not all taken at once and can be completed in any order, but must all be completed within the eligibility period. The eligibility period may vary by state.

ARE Registration
Candidates must register with the member architectural licensing board in the state in which they wish to be licensed in order to take the ARE. Once the member board approves eligibility, they will send information to ARE Operations, which will then send out an Authorization to Test (ATT) form. Once the ATT is received, candidates can contact Prometric, a third-party testing center, to schedule an exam time and location. There are over 350 test centers available to take the exams, and candidates can schedule a time at your convenience. Different states may have different criteria to determine eligibility but most base it on minimal educational requirements (i.e., receiving a B. Arch or M. Arch degree or other educational criteria), having established a Council Record with NCARB and completing a specified number of IDP training units.

Each section of the Architect Registration Exam costs $170.

Test candidates must bring one form of valid current identification that includes a photo and signature and exactly matches the name on the registration and ATT and their Authorization to Test letter.

ARE Scores
All sections of the exam are scored by computer. Graphic sections are scored by computer using objective criteria but allow for minor errors and discrepancies, as long as the overall programmatic and technical aspects have been adhered to correctly. Scores take approximately two to four weeks for multiple-choice sections and four to six weeks for graphic sections. All scores are forwarded to member boards of architecture, and they will then forward scores on to test candidates. If a candidate fails any portion of the ARE, they must wait a minimum of six months before retaking that section.

Interested in becoming a licensed and registered architect? Check out our Architect Test Directory for information about ARE Exams and test preparation services.