Behind the Scenes of The ARE with Jared Zurn

On today’s episode of the Young Architect Podcast, Michael spoke with fellow Architect and the NCARB Examination Director, Jared Zurn, about the transition from the ARE 4.0 to the ARE 5.0, what to expect when you take the ARE 5.0, and how to volunteer with NCARB to help them create the best exams.

Jared Zurn NCARB Young Architect Podcast Behind the Scenes of The ARE with Jared Zurn Architect Exam

Architect and NCARB Examination Director Jared Zurn

Jared Zurn’s journey to becoming an architect began when he realized that a career in engineering wasn’t for him. Feeling discouraged at the end of the school day, he’d return to his dorm room and be fascinated by what his college roommate was learning in his architecture and design classes.

Being the youngest out of 11 children, Jared learned very on how to become good at adapting to different situations and handling different people. In addition, with his combined skills and experience as working as a project manager and teaching at a community college, Jared decided to apply for the job opening for the NCARB Examination Director.

Since taking on this role, Jared spearheaded upgrading the exam from ARE 4.0 to the ARE 5.0 with his team at NCARB. Each day, Jared works closely with his fellow NCARB Staff and Volunteers from around the country to make sure that future candidates have the best experience possible when taking the new exams.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode

  • Jared’s journey to finishing architecture school by getting married and having a child during his final education years. 
  • Jared’s work experience prior to working for NCARB including project management and teaching at a community college.
  • The role of Examination Director and what changes Jared has helped make so far at NCARB. 
  • Why Jared and NCARB decided to start from scratch to create ARE 5.0 with a fresh look.
  • How NCARB is trying to make a smooth transition from ARE 4.0 to ARE 5.0 for exam candidates. 
  • New NCARB information that candidates should be aware of to stay on track and one step ahead of themselves.
  • How ARE 5.0 candidates are helping NCARB by sharing their feedback. 
  • What NCARB is doing to make sure the ARE 5.0 software works well when a candidate takes an exam.
  • How NCARB practice and exam questions are created or items are written by licensed architects. 
  • How questions are given a certain number of points in the ARE 5.0 compared to the ARE 4.0
  • Why there are fewer history questions on the AREs today than there was in the past. 
  • How you can get involved with volunteering for NCARB.
  • Jared’s advice for aspiring architects including his best time-saving trick.

Top 3 Takeaways from This Episode

  • How the ARE 5.0 compares to the ARE 4.0 and what you can expect for the latest version of the exam.
  • What NCARB is doing to ensure that there is a smooth transition for candidates to go from ARE 4.0 to the ARE 5.0
  • How current candidates are helping with the examination process by giving NCARB feedback on the ARE 5.0 via email or calling their customer service at 202-879-0520.

Jared Zurn’s Advice for Aspiring Architects

“Be true to yourself. The architecture profession allows for so many opportunities for who you want to become. For example, I’m an architect, but I’m an architect the way I want to be one. When I was a practicing architect, I did things my way and I really loved my clients. I really wanted to get to know everything about them so that I could give them the best project and that was me as an architect. For you to be successful as an architect, you need to be you.”

Favorite Quotes

“When we assemble our ARE committees, we’re really looking for a balance in different professions. So, when you walk into an ARE committee, what you’re going to see are people from all over the country from varying sizes of firms with different years of experience. Why? Because what we don’t want are 5 different people sitting in a room who all practice in the North East and all have 15 years of experience writing questions for the incoming architects.” – Jared Zurn on how NCARB embraces diversity when it comes to creating volunteer groups to write exam questions.


A great candidate for our ARE volunteer committees includes anyone and everyone from someone who is recently licensed, to someone who has 15 years of experience, and to people from either large or small firms. We really strive to try to create diversity in our ARE writing committees because that’s what represents the profession and that’s what makes the best exam.” – Jared Zurn on how the NCARB ensures their volunteer writing committees are all mixed to ensure the best exam questions for the AREs.


“Prioritize the work that you’re doing and focus on what you need to focus on. I’d much rather focus on something for 10 minutes and solve it so that I can move on to the next thing. I don’t multitask and I don’t think it’s a good process for me. I like to do one thing at a time and do it well, get it done, celebrate the fact that it is done, and then move on to the next thing” – Jared Zurn on why getting each task done one at a time can be so much more satisfactory than multitasking.

Resources Mentioned in the Show

If you enjoyed this podcast, you should also check out: 


Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect, Founder and Head Coach of the ARE Boot Camp Coaching Program & Online Study Group.

Hi I’m Michael Riscica.

My goal is to help as many people as I can PASS their exams and succeed in their architecture careers.

This is accomplished with the following offerings:

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