How the NCARB ARE Exam is Scored and How to Pass

December 14, 2023

Imagine standing at the threshold of your dream career in architecture, just one step away from a world of creativity, innovation, and success. That crucial step? Passing the national council of architectural registration boards (NCARB) exam. With stakes so high, the pressure can be overwhelming, but fear not! This guide is your blueprint to success, crafted to help you navigate the complex maze of the architectural registration boards and maximize your score.

Known for shaping the careers of emerging architects, the NCARB is a nonprofit organization that sets the standards for licensing, credentialing, and reciprocal licensing in the architecture profession. With the help of this guide, you will learn the intricacies of the architectural registration process and develop strategies to excel in the exam.

Join thousands of students who are acing their Architect Exams!

Get Started

What Does NCARB Certified Mean?

The NCARB certification is more than just a credential; it’s a golden ticket to professional mobility within the field of architecture. Being NCARB certified symbolizes that you have met the stringent education, experience, and examination requirements set by the national council of architectural registration boards. Here’s what it entails:

Understanding NCARB Certification


NCARB certification begins with fulfilling specific general education standards. The architectural education process includes accredited programs recognized by the national architectural accrediting board. These are meticulously designed to nurture creativity, critical thinking, and essential skills required in architectural practice.


The next phase is the architectural experience program. Candidates must accumulate practical experience under the guidance of licensed architects. This hands-on experience ensures that aspiring architects understand real-world challenges and the nuances of architectural practice.


Lastly, the architect registration examination assesses a candidate’s competence in safeguarding public health, safety, and welfare within the built environment. It’s a rigorous test that requires intensive preparation and an in-depth understanding of various licensing requirements.

What Is the Difference Between NCARB and AIA?

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) are two significant entities in the world of architecture, yet they serve different purposes:


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.


NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards)

Mission: NCARB’s mission is to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare through regulating architects and setting national standards.Function: NCARB develops policies and guidelines for the licensure process, including education, experience, and examination requirements. They work closely with licensing boards across various states and territories, including the Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and others.

AIA (American Institute of Architects)

  • Mission: AIA focuses on advancing the architecture profession through advocacy, community, and education.
  • Function: Unlike NCARB, AIA offers professional development, networking opportunities, and resources for architects. They provide support for practice growth but are not involved in the licensure or architectural regulation process.
  • What is the Mission of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards?
  • The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) plays a pivotal role in the architectural community. Its mission is manifold:

NCARB’s Mission

Protecting Public Health, Safety, and Welfare

NCARB’s primary focus is on safeguarding public welfare. By setting stringent standards for architectural practice, it ensures that buildings and environments are designed with optimal safety and functionality in mind. The health, safety, and welfare of the public are paramount.

Setting National Standards

Through collaboration with its member boards, NCARB sets national standards for architectural licensure. It helps in harmonizing the licensure requirements across the 55 member jurisdictions, including states like Rhode Island, South Dakota, North Dakota, New Mexico, and New Hampshire, and territories like the Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands.

Facilitating Professional Mobility

NCARB promotes reciprocal licensure, allowing licensed architects to practice across different jurisdictions. By creating uniform licensing requirements and facilitating an NCARB record, it simplifies the process of professional mobility, letting architects expand their professional reach.

Photo by Pixabay

What Is the Purpose of the NCARB?

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards serves various purposes, fostering growth, and integrity in the field of architecture.

Regulating Architects

NCARB ensures that architects adhere to strict guidelines and standards. Through its architectural licensure process, it assesses and certifies that professionals are competent to practice architecture independently.

Developing Examinations

NCARB is responsible for creating and administering the architect registration examination. It ensures that the exam is aligned with modern architectural practices and reflects the real-world challenges that architects face.

Supporting Emerging Professionals

NCARB’s focus is not only on licensed architects but also on emerging professionals. Through programs like the architectural experience program, NCARB nurtures young talents, aiding them in fulfilling the experience requirements for licensure.

Enhancing Reciprocal Licensure

The organization fosters reciprocal licensure, allowing architects to extend their practice across different jurisdictions without the need for multiple state-specific licenses. This is essential for expanding business opportunities and collaboration in the architectural community.

How Can I Improve My Score on the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards Exam?

If the NCARB exam is your next big challenge, these strategies will help you improve your score:

Understand the Exam Structure

The architectural registration boards NCARB exam is comprehensive, covering various subjects related to architecture. Familiarize yourself with the examination’s layout, question types, and timing. This understanding will aid in better preparation.

Follow a Structured Study Plan

  • Identify Key Areas: Focus on subjects that are your weak points and dedicate more time to mastering them.
  • Set a Timetable: Create a realistic and achievable study schedule, allocating specific time for different topics.
  • Utilize Resources: Make use of guides, online courses, and other educational materials designed for NCARB exam preparation.

Practice with Mock Tests

Simulate the exam experience with mock tests. Practice will help you identify areas for improvement and boost your confidence for the actual exam.

Seek Professional Guidance

Consider enrolling in specialized courses or seeking mentorship from experienced architects who have successfully navigated the NCARB exam. Guidance from experts can be invaluable.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Ready to take the NCARB Exam?

The path to becoming a licensed architect is filled with challenges, but with the right approach and determination, you can overcome them. Understanding the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, its mission, purpose, and the intricacies of NCARB certification is crucial for your success. From the education and experience stages to the final examination, every phase requires meticulous planning and execution.

Embarking on a career in architecture is not just about fulfilling licensure requirements; it’s about nurturing creativity, innovation, and contributing to a safer and aesthetically pleasing built environment. As a nonprofit organization, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards plays a vital role in shaping the architecture profession, and with the strategies outlined in this guide, you are well on your way to becoming a part of it.

Unlock your potential with PrepArchitect and take a confident step towards your architectural dream. It’s not just about preparing for an exam; it’s about building a future.

Join thousands students who chose Architect for their Architect License Exam Prep!

Get Started