Designers chasing an architecture license on a deadline now have extra time to complete their exams thanks to new changes to the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).
On February 23 the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) announced that as of May 1, it will retire the current ARE rolling clock policy that prevented future architects from using prior versions of the exam towards a license. Previously, there was a five-year limit on passed divisions of the ARE.
The revised policy was informed by a review that found the rolling clock rules disproportionately impact women and BIPOC designers’ ability to pass the exams. Right now, fewer than 17 percent of U.S. architects are women and fewer than 15 percent of architects are people of color or members of an ethnic minority group. NCARB anticipates that the changes will make it easier for underrepresented groups in architecture to secure licensure.
“This research-backed decision to eliminate the rolling clock policy was unanimously supported by the Board of Directors and the new score validity policy will maintain the integrity of the exam while making the ARE more equitable,” said NCARB President Bayliss Ward in a press release.
The changes will reinstate the validity of all previously expired ARE 4.0 divisions taken between 2008 and 2018. These will now be used to calculate ARE 5.0 credit until the end of ARE 5.0. For those taking the exams now, ARE 5.0 divisions will be extended through the next exam cycle (likely ARE 6.0), a move that keeps scores valid for at least a decade.
NCARB said it will be working with state licensing boards to implement the changes.
Amid these changes, the number of would-be architects taking NCARB exams and completing the path to licensure is still down compared to pre-pandemic levels. In 2021, NCARB administered more than 40,000 exams, which was about 20 percent lower than the number of exams issued pre-pandemic. Around 7,500 would-be architects started a new NCARB record, a drop of about ten percent from the average three years before the start of the pandemic. In 2021, more than 3,500 candidates successfully finished the licensure process, a figure that’s now approaching pre-pandemic completions.