What Topics Are Covered in the ARE Exam?

December 14, 2023

Architecture is not just about creating captivating structures that defy gravity and time. It’s about the intricate interplay between design, engineering, legality, cost, environment, and management. To prove their competence in these fields, architects must pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), an exhaustive six-part assessment of their professional knowledge and skills. This article aims to give you an in-depth understanding of what to expect in each division of the ARE. So, let’s break down the six separate divisions, their importance, and the areas they cover.

Remember, with preparation, determination, and resources from PrepArchitect, you can successfully navigate these divisions and become a fully registered architect.

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How Do I Become A Licensed Architect?

Embarking on the journey to become a licensed architect involves three critical steps: education, experience, and examination.


The journey to becoming an architect typically begins with obtaining a professional degree in architecture from a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited school. An undergraduate degree from such an institution is the initial step, often followed by a Master of Architecture (MArch) for added proficiency.


Acquiring practical experience under the guidance of a professional architect is crucial beyond a university degree. The Architectural Experience Program (AXP) offers this hands-on exposure, aiding in professional development and portfolio enhancement. To qualify for licensure, candidates need to accumulate 3,740 hours of practical experience via the AXP with NCARB.


The final step towards architectural licensure is passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE 5.0) by NCARB, which evaluates your ability to practice architecture independently. This marks the culmination of your education and experience. The specific requirements may vary by jurisdiction, but completing these milestones can lead to a fulfilling architectural career. In 2021, 16,173 candidates took this path. The question is, will you be next?

The 6 Divisions of the ARE 5.0

The Architect Registration Examination (ARE) requires passing six distinct divisions, each highlighting unique areas of focus:

  1. Practice Management
  2. Project Management
  3. Programming & Analysis
  4. Project Planning & Design
  5. Project Development & Documentation
  6. Construction & Evaluation

While the optimal sequence for tackling these divisions can vary, they can be studied and examined in any order according to one’s preference.

Practice Management

At the heart of every successful architecture practice is sound business acumen. The Practice Management (PcM) division tests your understanding of the operational aspects of running an architectural practice. This segment includes assessing business operations, finances, risk and practice development, and delivery of services. PcM is your stepping stone to a successful architectural practice, setting the foundation for managing a business in this competitive field.

Project Management

Project management is central to the successful execution of architectural projects. The Project Management (PjM) division is dedicated to assessing your ability to handle project-related tasks efficiently, from resource management and project work planning to quality control. This segment ensures you have the skills needed to deliver projects on time, within budget, and to the satisfaction of your clients.


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.

Programming & Analysis

Every architectural project begins with requirements, constraints, and opportunities. The Programming & Analysis (PA) division evaluates your proficiency in analyzing and interpreting these factors. Key areas covered include environmental & contextual conditions, codes & regulations, and building and site analysis. It’s a crucial part of ensuring an architect’s designs are grounded in practical realities and are in line with local regulations and constraints.

Project Planning & Design

Moving from analysis to action, the Project Planning & Design (PPD) division examines your ability to translate the initial requirements and analysis into a viable design. You will need to understand and apply knowledge of environmental conditions, building systems, project integration, and costs & budgeting. Your creative abilities will be tested here, along with your grasp of practicalities like codes, regulations, and cost considerations.

Project Development & Documentation

The Project Development & Documentation (PDD) division focuses on how well you integrate and document building systems, materials, and assemblies. This includes understanding civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and specialty systems. The section ensures that your designs can be properly executed by construction teams and are safe, efficient, and effective in meeting the project’s goals.

Construction & Evaluation

The final segment, Construction & Evaluation (CE), covers the actual construction phase, ensuring your understanding of preconstruction activities, construction observation, administrative procedures, and project closeout. This is the culmination of the entire design and construction process, and it checks your capacity to oversee a project from start to finish, ensuring that it aligns with the approved plans and designs.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov via Pexels

Enhance Your Knowledge And Pass The Architect Registration Examination

The Architect Registration Examination can seem like a daunting hurdle, but it is ultimately a comprehensive overview of the many facets of architecture. Each division offers a chance to showcase your knowledge, understanding, and aptitude in the different areas that architecture encompasses. It is a stepping stone to a fulfilling career that blends creativity, technical knowledge, and management skills.

As you prepare to pass your exam, remember that you’re not alone. At PrepArchitect, we are committed to preparing you to succeed on your journey to becoming a registered architect. Through this journey, you’ll grow both personally and professionally, developing the competence to design and execute incredible structures while creating safe and meaningful spaces for people. As a future architect, you have the opportunity to shape the built environment and leave a lasting impact on communities. Let PrepArchitect be your trusted guide on this exciting journey. Together, we can turn your architectural dreams into reality.

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