Visualizing ARE 5.0 [Part 1] [Part 2]
NCARB launched ARE 5.0 on November 1 last year, and it would eventually phase out ARE 4.0. Everyone is wondering what the best thing to do is, and the discussion on how the transition would happen continues. Given how much time, effort and money it takes to complete the exam, this concern is of course understandable. But poor ARE 5.0 has been living under the shadow of ARE 4.0 ever since it was announced. Let’s give it a fair chance shall we? Forget ARE 4.0. Pretend we were born yesterday and decided to go for the Architect Registration Exam, and can afford up to five years to do so. What does the exam look like?
Content and Overlaps
ARE 5.0 has six divisions: Practice Management (PcM), Project Management (PjM), Programming & Analysis (PA), Project Planning & Design (PPD), Project Development & Documentation (PDD), and Construction & Evaluation (CE). Don’t let these terminologies confuse you. The first one, PcM, is about how to set up and run an office, and the second one, PjM, is about how to manage time and resources over the course of a project. The other four tests (PA > PPD > PDD > CE) basically follow the standard phases that most of us are familiar with: Conceptual Design, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Bidding and Negotiation, and finally Construction Administration.
The graphic above summarizes the content of all six divisions and illustrates where they overlap. Very much like project phases, the objectives of the divisions might be defined in a clear-cut manner, but in reality they most often merge, blur and slide from one to another. The left half of the diagram (PcM, PjM, CE) is more on the administrative side, while the right half (PA, PPD, PDD) is more on the technical side, but again, things you studied for one division will most probably appear in another. The diagram is meant to provide a big picture rather than accurate details, so refer to NCARB’s ARE 5.0 Handbook for the official syllabus.
Since the divisions more or less follow an architect’s duties in a project’s timeline, it seems logical to take them in that “chronological” order: PcM > PjM > PA > PPD > PDD > CE. In fact, that’s how they are ordered in all NCARB publications. Another approach would be to take all the administrative ones first, then move on to the technical ones: [PcM + PjM + CE] in any order > [PA + PPD + PPD] in any order.
Worth noting is that PPD and PDD have 120 questions each, so they are significantly (30-50%) more intense than the other four. They do have a lot in common so it is advisable to take them back to back, but depending on your schedule and stamina, you might want to consider sandwiching at least one exam in between.
Each test will have 80 to 120 questions. These questions are either Multiple Choice, Check All that Apply, Fill in the Blanks, or the three new question types that are more interactive: Case Studies, which requires you to cross reference multiple pieces of information; Hot Spots, which you answer by clicking a region in an exhibit; and Drag-in-Place, exercises in which you drag design elements or their labels into a drawing.
Since NCARB had made a conscious effort in making the test software user-friendly, learning how to navigate through the information given and input your answer shouldn’t be that big of a hurdle. That said, be sure to familiarize yourself with the format and interface by checking out the “ARE 5.0 Demo Exam”.
Reference and Study Materials
In the following months a few third party publishers will publish textbooks on the exams, which will organize and condense the content in NCARB’s long list of suggested reference for each division. These books will definitely be helpful and become the go-to study materials, but since NCARB has no control over these third party publishers, make sure you always start with NCARB’s official ARE 5.0 Guidelines and ARE 5.0 Handbook, as well as the video series on youtube.
Visualizing ARE 5.0 [Part 1] [Part 2]