After attending the NCARB ARE Test Prep Provider Conference in March 2016, we have a lot to share. We did our best to consolidate the top takeaways of our 2-day experience into one exciting blog post. We'll all embrace ARE 5.0 eventually, but first...


1 - Test in ARE 4.0.

  • If you are currently testing in ARE 4.0, continue, no additional action is necessary.
  • If you haven't started testing, become eligible to test in 4.0 before 5.0 launches on November 1, 2016. You don't have to take a 4.0 exam before 5.0 launches, you just need your eligibility to test prior to the launch of 5.0. Then you have the choice of self-transitioning at any time until June 2018.
  • Only candidates who gain eligibility to test after 5.0 launches are required to test in 5.0.


2 - NCARB has stated that candidates will like ARE 5.0 because there are no vignettes and only 6 divisions, but we're not convinced that the difference is so cut and dry.

  • In the world of ARE 4.0, candidates are familiar with the two distinct sections. First, multiple choice questions that test what you remember about a specific topic at varying degrees of difficulty. Second, graphic vignettes which are well understood, and the only part of ARE 4.0 that can be practiced and completed successfully with a high degree of certainty (provided that you have the proper study tools). ARE 5.0 introduces a new style of questioning. NCARB is expecting candidates to have an assumed base level of knowledge in order to answer questions at a higher level of cognitive complexity.


Here is a simplified example.

ARE 4.0: On a standard traffic light, what three colors are represented?

A. Red, blue, orange

B. Red, yellow, blue

C. Red, yellow, green           ANSWER

D. Red, blue, green 

Rationale: Only knowledge of the facts is required to answer correctly. No understanding of traffic light functionality is necessary.


ARE 5.0: On a standard traffic light at a four-way intersection, the red lights are flashing in all directions. Two drivers meet at the intersection. Which of the following is the correct scenario?

A. The driver on the left must yield right-of-way to the driver on the right.

B. The driver second to arrive at the intersection must yield to the first driver.

C. If the drivers arrive at the intersection simultaneously, the driver on the left must yield.

D. If the drivers arrive simultaneously from opposite directions, the driver turning left must yield.           ANSWER

Rationale: A judgment or determination regarding a set of criteria must be made to answer correctly. Answer D is true in all cases.

A. The driver on the left must yield right-of-way to the driver on the right. This is true, but is required only if they arrive simultaneously, are perpendicular to one another, they will cross paths, or they want to go the same direction.
B. The driver second to arrive at the intersection must yield to the first driver. This is true, but is required only if they are perpendicular to one another, will cross paths or if they both want to go the same direction.
C. If the drivers arrive at the intersection simultaneously, the driver on the left must yield. This is true unless the drivers arrive from opposite directions.


  • Because of the associated resource material required to answer the questions, Case Studies have the potential to eat up a significant amount of your testing time, but all questions on the exam are weighted equally. You don't get more points for answering one of the Case Study questions correctly vs. answering a Hot Spot question correctly. Take a look at NCARB's Case Study Question Type Video, if you haven't already. Additionally, any of the ARE 5.0 questions types, including Hot Spots and Drag and Place, may be used in Case Studies.
  • Two of the new ARE 5.0 divisions, Practice Management and Project Management, cover topics that are barely touched on in 4.0. For example, Practice Management will require knowledge about topics such as Profit & Loss, Revenue/Expenses, Payroll, Employment Laws, Business Planning, and Negotiating Contracts.
  • For those candidates planning to Finish in Five by taking PPP, CDS and SPD in 4.0, the two ARE 5.0 transition divisions are the biggest and potentially the most difficult. Project Planning & Design and Project Development & Documentation are each composed of 120 items and cover information from all but one 4.0 division. Please consider this if you're planning to transition.


3 - If you insist on taking ARE 5.0, wait 6 months.

  • For the first few months, it will take longer for candidates to receive results. NCARB needs a certain number of candidates to test before they can say with certainty what score constitutes a PASS. Why be a guinea pig?
  • Until ARE 5.0 is finalized and vetted, study material availability will not be comprehensive.
  • Give yourself time to fail. The 60-day retake rule still applies, and your rolling clock remains in effect throughout this transition.



We've fielded a number of ARE 5.0 questions from confused candidates. If this blog post hasn't cleared things up for you, PLEASE This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We have a pretty good grasp of the new exam.

Stay tuned. As we learn more, we'll share ASAP.

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