How to Read ARE Test Scores

Reading ARE Test Scores

This post is part of a series on NCARB’s Architecture Registration Exam. Having recently completed this long process, the series examines my journey and the various things I learned along the way. Click here to see all the posts of my Architecture Registration Exam Series.

ARE Test Scores

Let’s be honest… The only reason you care about your Architecture Registration Exam test scores is because you failed the exam.

If you passed, who cares about your ARE test scores? There is no score; it’s called Pass.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about Failing the Architecture Registration Exam, and since I wrote that post several people have come back to me and said:

What are you talking about, Mike? What do you mean study more on the sections I failed?! How do I know what I failed?

After NCARB tells you that you failed, they also issue a document stating what areas of the exam you didn’t do so hot in.

NCARB used to send all ARE test results in the mail, and around the end of 2013 they started doing it online. This is one of the big changes to the process that I applaud NCARB for.


It has come to my attention that some of my readers are not actually getting this information.


The Wait….

NCARB used to say it took 2-4 weeks to get test results, and I think it only arrived in 2 weeks once. It usually took 3-6 weeks.

One of the worst parts of taking the ARE was the weeks after taking the test worrying if you passed or not. I wouldn’t think about the ARE all day long, but every day when I got home from work, I got a rush of anxiety as I walked into my apartment building and checked the mailbox while I was waiting on my test results.

I often didn’t have my test results until at least 60 days after the exam, which is now the time you have to wait to retake an exam if you happen to fail. Kudos to NCARB for making this change.


Finding Your Test Scores.

Here is the process for downloading your score reports.

  1. Log into NCARB
  2. Click NCARB Record
  3. Click ARE tab
  4. Click My Examination blue button
  5. Download Score Report.

I also believe the test scores are posted on the website several hours before an email is sent out saying, “Go get your results.”


OK, Let’s Take a Look…

The test results that I am using for this example were shared with me by one of my awesome readers.  I wiped out all their personal information. I put my notes are in red.

Page 1 is pretty standard—test date info with that big ugly blue fail at the top.





Page 2 is where all the juice is.


I apologize this graphic isn’t larger and easier to read.

On the left hand side of the chart are the ARE content areas that you were tested on, and above the chart is a description of what falls under those content areas.

On the right side of the chart it grades you on each content area.

So this candidate failed the Site Zoning vignette and Content Area 4: Project & Practice Management.

As far as the vignettes go, NCARB doesn’t elaborate on why you failed the vignettes. There is plenty of information available regarding how to pass the vignettes. I listed many of them on The Ultimate list of ARE Study Materials Part 3 – The Vignettes.

The Content Area 4 is a little trickier, but luckily the description above states that content as:


Develop scope of services and project delivery method.  Assess project budget and financing.  Identify project team members including consultants. Document project meetings.  Manage project schedule and design process. Assist with construction procurement.  Manage legal issues relating to practice including fees, insurance, and professional services contracts.

Next time around, they should make sure they study more on those topics. Good luck studying for retaking your exam.

Have a great day! Smell ya later….


Nooooo, Wait!  I Was Just Kidding, There’s More…

I don’t know if you noticed, but those descriptions of the content areas on the ARE results page were awfully short. They are actually the abbrecviated version of the content areas.

You really need to go back to the source of where the content areas of the exam are originally listed, and that is in the NCARB Study Guide.

If you pull up the same category, you get more thorough description of what content falls underneath content area #4.


Develop scope of services and project delivery method.
Assess project budget and financing. Identify project team members including consultants. Document project meetings. Manage project schedule and design process. Assist with construction procurement. Manage legal issues relating to practice including fees, insurance, and professional services contracts.

1. Project Delivery & Procurement Methods
Determine the delivery and construction procurement method based on client requirements.

2. Project Budget Management
Determine fiscal requirements and apply appropriate methodology and techniques to manage project budgets.

3. Project Schedule Management
Establish and manage the professional service schedules for the project.

4. Contracts for Professional Services and Contract Negotiation
Determine, negotiate, execute, and manage the professional services agreements for the project.

5. Risk Management and Legal Issues Pertaining to Practice and Contracts
Assess and manage risk and legal issues related to the business and practice of architecture.

That’s a little easier to understand than the short paragraph on the test results page. Some content areas have a significant amount of more info in the ARE Study Guides.

Here’re links to all the ARE study guides:

And just for fun, you should look at the information from ARE 3.1, which was retired a long time ago, but can be very valuable when studying for ARE 4.0 exams.


NCARB’s Content Areas

Spending time to understand what each content area is and how much it is worth is certainly not a waste of time, especially after you have failed an exam.

When I wrote the review of the Architect Exam Preps CDS product, I was very pleased that that they actually use the NCARB’s Content Areas for how they organize their study materials. This just seems to make sense. I’m not sure why other ARE study material publishers do not embrace this method or spend more time acknowledging the content areas.


Retaking an Exam

My advice for studying for a retake is to use all new study material and then revisit the old material on the final push before the exam. When you go back to that old material, it will be much more clearer and valuable then it did the first time. Mainly because you now are a lot smarter the subject.


Does This Help?

Does this shed some light on what the next step are if you are preparing to retake an exam?  If you didn’t know this information was available, please leave me a comment below.


Read the full series
This post is part of a series on NCARB’s Architect Registration Exam. Having recently completed this long process, the series examines my journey and the various things I learned along the way. Click here to see all the posts of my Architect Registration Exam Series.

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Michael Riscica

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

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