NALSA Publishing

Architect Registration Exam - ARE 4.0

According to NCARB, “This examination attempts to determine the candidate's qualifications not only to perform measurable tasks, but also to exercise the skills and judgment of a generalist working with numerous specialists.” Also, “The ARE assesses a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide various services required in the practice of architecture.”


ARE 4.0 consists of the following seven divisions, which can be taken in any order. More information on strategy, here. With the exception of Schematic Design, each division includes a combination of multiple-choice (check-all-that-apply and fill-in-the-blank) questions and graphic vignette(s).


  • Programming, Planning & Practice
  • Site Planning & Design
  • Building Design & Construction Systems
  • Schematic Design
  • Structural Systems
  • Building Systems
  • Construction Documents & Services


The ARE Format

Prior to the administration of the multiple-choice section in each division of the ARE exam there is a brief tutorial that explains how to move through the test questions. Each division consists of a fixed number of questions given within a maximum time limit. Most multiple-choice sections will also include the "fill in the blank" and "check all that apply" question types. Below is a table which outlines the format of each division.



Multiple Choice


Actual Testing Time

Programming, Planning & Practice



3 hrs

Site Planning & Design



3.5 hrs

Building Design & Construction Systems



4.5 hrs

Schematic Design



5 hrs

Structural Systems



4.5 hrs

Building Systems



3 hrs

Construction Documents & Services



3 hrs


ARE Administration

You may schedule any division of the ARE exam at any time and in any order. NCARB revised their retake policy, effective October 1, 2014. You may now retake an exam you did not pass after 60 days from the test date. You may take any division up to three times within a one year time period from the date of the first exam attempt. After three attempts, you must wait 12 months from the date of your first fail before you may retake that exam. The test centers are open six days each week, fifty weeks each year.


In December, 2004, NCARB approved a five year "rolling clock" for ARE candidates. Your five-year clock begins with the first division passed. This means that all divisions of the ARE exam must be passed within the five-year period. NCARB feels that the implementation of the "rolling clock" will strengthen the validity of the exam and reassure the public that the competency requirements for independent practice have been met. For more specifics on these issues visit


If you transition to ARE 5.0 after its launch, your rolling clock dates for any 4.0 divisions credited to 5.0 will remain in effect. For more information visit


For the most accurate information about registration and ARE exam requirements, it is recommended that you contact the registration board or architectural association within the state or province you are seeking your initial license. To download the NCARB 4.0 Practice Software, or the ARE 4.0 Study Guides, go to or call them at 202-783-6500. You may also want to check our links page for other helpful sites.

© NALSA, LLC. 1993-2018