A Time For Change

NCARB announced today that the clock is ticking on ARE 4.0, which will soon give way to version 5.0. It’s not all that surprising — the current version has been in effect for several years now, since 2009, with the graphic vignettes essentially unchanged since the implementation of ARE 3.1. (With the benefit of hindsight, this makes the cloud solution for the practice software make much more sense, eh?)

Transition information won’t be available until at least this time next year, but it sounds like this will be an even more radical shift than the last upgrade, from 3.1 to 4.0. Based on feedback from the recently-released 2012 Practice Analysis of Architecture, the revamped exam will incorporate possibly six divisions, with content focusing on integrated skills like project management.

The biggest change? No more graphic vignettes. NCARB has apparently taken all of the negative feedback about the testing software to heart, and in a bold move, decided to eliminate the vignettes entirely. (I couldn’t help but think of Cuba Gooding Jr’s line from Jerry Maguire: “Well, that’s another way to go…!”). Interns can now kiss that antiquated software goodbye, but at something of a price — the new format, with its “hot spots” and mini graphic items sprinkled throughout, sounds like it might be a much more difficult exam. (Be careful what you wish for!)

Not much more information is available beyond the initial press release, but I’m hoping that this is a topic of discussion at the annual Coordinators Conference. I’ll be sure to report on anything that I find out, so be sure to keep checking back for updates.

In the meantime, current candidates should continue to prepare for 4.0. If you’ve been on the fence about starting the exam, it might be a good idea to take advantage of the Blackout and get prepared to test this fall. The transition from 3.1 to 4.0 was cumbersome, with many candidates losing credit for passed exams due to compatibility; it stands to reason that the transition to 5.0 could bring the same sorts of issues, which are best avoided if possible. ARE 5.0 won’t take effect until late 2016 at the earliest, which is plenty of time to get registered under the current system. Particularly if you have a fondness for those graphic vignettes.