Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education Kaplan University School of Professional and Continuing Education



A committee of architects made up of representative members from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), Committee of Canadian Arcthitectural Councils (CACC), consulting engineers and code officials.

You can take the exam whenever you want. The exam is administered Monday through Saturday, year-round, at authorized test centers around the country. Hours of operation vary, so contact your test center of choice to verify business hours.

There are more than 350 standardized test centers across North America.  Once your application has been processed, you will receive a list of test centers with your approval notification.

The exam is given on a computer. There are nine different divisions of the exam. Site Planning, Building Planning, and Building Technology are graphic tests. The remaining six divisions (Pre-Design, General Structures, Lateral Forces, Building Design/Materials & Methods, Mechanical & Electrical Systems, Construction Documents & Services) are muliple-choice tests. See exam information for complete details on ARE format.

Calculators are allowed into the exam only for the multiple-choice divisions. (The graphic divisions have a calculator built into the software interface.) However, calculators are not provided at the test centers, so you will have to bring your own. Only non-programmable, non-communicating, non-printing calculators are allowed, and the center administrator has to approve the calculator before you begin the exam.

The examination is closed book.  In other words, no reference material is permitted. For some exam divisions, reference material can be accessed electronically. This material may contain excerpts from sources such as the AISC Manual of Steel Construction and the UBC. Candidates should therefore obtain copies of these books prior to the exam in order to become familiar with their scope and format.

Since candidates must pass all divisions of the ARE to become registered, you may start with any of the nine divisions. It is generally beneficial to take the three graphic divisions successively, since all use similar graphic tools. It may also be beneficial to take Pre-Design last, since this division includes material covered by other divisions, such as Building Design / Materials & Methods and Construction Documents and Services.

Site Planning consists of six vignette graphic problems. The Building Planning division contains three vignettes, while Building Technology consists of six vignettes. Candidates use a mouse to solve these graphic problems.  The computer screen has clickable icons that allow you to draw, move, erase, etc.

You can go back and forth between vignettes within the same section as you work.  You don't have to complete each one before moving on.  And you do not need to save your work because the computer is set up to automatically save once a minute during the exam.  You will not lose work as you move from vignette to vignette.  However, once you leave that section of vignettes, you cannot return to them.

Tolerances are built into each scoring program to allow for slight inaccuracies.  These tolerances vary between vignettes according to to the importance of the feature being tested.  However it is your responsibility to be as accurate as possible with your solutions.  The software has been designed to allow for as much accuracy as possible with zoom and check tools.  The more accurate your information, the more accurate the scoring.

Test scores are reported to candidates by their state boards as pass or fail several weeks after the exam.  Actual arrival times vary between the states, but a good approximation is to allow two to four weeks to receive results from a multiple-choice division exam and four to six weeks for results from a graphic division exam.

If you fail a division, you will have to retake it.  However you will not be allowed to retake the same exam until at least six months has passed from the time of the first administration.


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