The Pros and Cons of Taking the ARE Exam Online vs. In-Person

December 14, 2023

The architectural licensing process involves successfully completing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), a comprehensive test that assesses candidates’ knowledge and competency in the field of architecture. As technology continues to advance, aspiring architects now have the option to take the ARE exam either online or in-person. This article aims to explore the pros and cons of each mode of examination, helping candidates make an informed decision about which option suits them best.

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Pros of Taking the ARE Exam Online


One of the significant advantages of taking the ARE exam online is the convenience it offers. Candidates can take the exam from the comfort of their own homes or offices, eliminating the need to travel to a testing center. This flexibility allows individuals to create a comfortable and familiar environment, potentially reducing stress and enhancing focus during the examination.


Online exams provide candidates with the flexibility to schedule their tests at a time that suits their personal preferences and commitments. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for those with busy schedules, as it allows them to find a time slot that aligns with their availability and optimizes their concentration and preparedness for the exam.


Financial considerations play a significant role in many candidates’ decision-making process. Online exams may present a cost advantage over in-person exams. With reduced overhead costs associated with testing centers, online exams are often priced more competitively. This affordability can be appealing to candidates who are conscious of their budgetary constraints.

Immediate Results

Another advantage of taking the ARE exam online is the potential for receiving immediate results. Unlike in-person exams where candidates typically have to wait for the results to be processed and delivered, online exams can provide instant feedback. This immediate feedback can offer a sense of closure and allow candidates to plan their next steps more efficiently.

Cons of Taking the ARE Exam Online

Technical Difficulties

One of the primary concerns with online exams is the potential for technical difficulties. Candidates may encounter issues such as internet connectivity problems or computer malfunctions during the examination. These technical challenges can be frustrating and disruptive, potentially affecting the candidate’s performance and concentration.


Taking the ARE exam at home or in an office environment can expose candidates to more distractions compared to a controlled testing center. Potential interruptions from family members, pets, or work-related matters can compromise the candidate’s focus and impede their performance. It requires discipline and effective time management to minimize distractions and maintain a conducive test-taking environment.

Limited Resources

When taking the ARE exam online, candidates may not have access to the same resources as they would in an in-person exam. Physical resources such as scratch paper, a calculator, or other materials that candidates find useful may not be available or allowed in the online format. This limitation can potentially impact the candidate’s ability to solve complex problems or perform calculations effectively.


Don’t just passively read or watch your study materials. Engage with them by taking notes, discussing with peers, or teaching the content to someone else. Active engagement can boost comprehension and retention.

Security Concerns

While online exams offer convenience, concerns regarding exam security and cheating may arise. Ensuring the integrity of the exam and preventing cheating can be more challenging in an online setting. This raises questions about the reliability and fairness of online exams and necessitates stringent measures to maintain the credibility of the certification process.

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Pros of Taking the ARE Exam In-Person

Professional Environment

Taking the ARE exam in-person provides candidates with a professional and distraction-free environment. Testing centers are specifically designed to create an atmosphere conducive to focused examination. This controlled setting minimizes potential disturbances, allowing candidates to concentrate fully on the test and perform to the best of their abilities.


In-person exams often offer candidates access to more resources than online exams. This may include scratch paper, calculators, and other tools that are permitted during the examination. The availability of these resources can be advantageous for candidates who rely on physical aids to enhance their problem-solving capabilities or calculations.


Exam security is a critical factor in maintaining the credibility and integrity of the certification process. In-person exams typically employ robust security measures, including monitoring systems and protocols to deter cheating. The controlled environment reduces the risk of unauthorized assistance, ensuring a fair and reliable assessment of candidates’ architectural knowledge and skills.


For candidates who have previously taken exams in-person, this format may offer a sense of familiarity and comfort. Being accustomed to the test center environment and the procedures involved can help alleviate test anxiety and enhance overall performance. The familiarity factor can provide a psychological advantage and contribute to greater confidence during the examination.

Cons of Taking the ARE Exam In-Person

Limited Scheduling Options

One of the downsides of in-person exams is the limited scheduling options. Candidates may need to adhere to specific test dates and locations set by the testing centers, which may not align with their preferred schedule. This lack of flexibility can pose challenges for individuals with busy personal or professional commitments, making it harder to find an ideal time to sit for the exam.


Compared to online exams, in-person exams are often associated with higher costs. The expenses may include registration fees, travel costs to the testing center, and accommodation if the center is located far from the candidate’s residence. Candidates should consider the financial implications before deciding to pursue the in-person exam option.


Taking the ARE exam in-person requires candidates to travel to the designated testing center. This can be time-consuming, especially if the center is located far from the candidate’s residence. Traveling can also involve additional expenses, such as transportation and lodging, further adding to the logistical and financial considerations.

Waiting for Results

While online exams offer immediate feedback, in-person exams usually involve a waiting period for the results. This waiting time can vary depending on the examination board’s processing procedures and the volume of exams to be assessed. Candidates should be prepared for potential delays in receiving their exam results and plan accordingly.

Image by Steven Weirather from Pixabay

Ready to make your choice?

The decision to take the ARE exam online or in-person is a personal one that depends on individual preferences and circumstances. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and candidates must carefully consider these factors to make an informed choice.

Online exams offer convenience, flexibility, potential cost savings, and the possibility of immediate results. However, technical difficulties, distractions, limited resources, and security concerns can pose challenges for some candidates.

In-person exams provide a professional environment, access to resources, enhanced security, and familiarity for those who prefer a traditional test center setting. However, limited scheduling options, higher costs, travel requirements, and waiting for results can be potential drawbacks.

PrepArchitect understands the unique needs and challenges of aspiring architects preparing for the ARE exam. We invite you to prepare and succeed in your exam with our comprehensive study materials, practice exams, and expert guidance. By partnering with PrepArchitect , you can enhance your knowledge, improve your exam readiness, and confidently pursue your architectural licensing goals.

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