[Update: NCARB has pushed the launch of the online ARE back to December 14, as they explain here. The organization has also announced that the upcoming practice test will consist of 75 questions over a three hour period. More importantly, because test-takers need to purchase a webcam so that a proctor can monitor them, NCARB will be refunding $50 to those who sign up to take the test online.]
Starting November 16, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) announced that aspiring architects will have the option to take their Architecture Licensing Exam (ARE) online. It’s a change that makes sense given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but in-person proctored testing at a licensed Prometric center will remain an option.
According to NCARB, 30,000 prospective test takers have already had to defer taking their ARE exams due to coronavirus-related testing center closures. That’s no small deterrent, considering licensure requires passing all six ARE divisions.
There are several important caveats, however. While the content and structure of the exams themselves won’t change, online test takers will still need to schedule their exam ahead of time since they’ll still be proctored by a human, who will need to conduct a 360-degree “room check”. The physical scratch paper provided with each ARE will be replaced with a digital whiteboard (prompting questions about how accessibility for visually or motor-impaired users will work). Although NCARB wrote that it’s prepared to offer longer testing times and breaks for those who need them, some accommodations, such as sign language interpreters, will still only be provided at real-world testing centers.
Although slightly longer breaks will be permitted—from 25 minutes to 30 or 45, depending on the division—test-takers won’t be able to check previously answered questions after taking them.
NCARB will begin providing updated ARE 5.0 materials for potential applicants in the next few weeks, as well as a dummy practice exam for candidates to familiarize themselves with the format and digital whiteboard system.