Hi Holly; you are not alone! Congrats on getting back on the path to licensure.
The tests have definitely gone through some iterations since the late 90s. I can’t speak to tests before my time, but here’s some basic information about the current version of the Architecture Registration Exams:
- The AREs are comprised of 6 exams, correlating with the 6 practice areas of the AXP (formerly, IDP): Practice Management, Project Management, Programming and Analysis, Project Planning and Design, Project Documentation and Development, and Construction and Evaluation.
- All testing is done electronically at a prometric center (this means results can be seen immediately after the exam. This also means no more hand drawn or digitally drawn vignettes!)
- Depending on your state, you may have additional state exams, interviews or letters of reference to submit in addition to your NCARB transcript
In my opinion, the tests have gotten easier throughout the iterations. Having everything done electronically allows for quicker testing and less human error, which means a quicker licensing process as well. Because it sounds like you’ve kept up with the industry, I would doubt you’ll come across many knowledge areas that you’ve never seen or heard of. I think the biggest challenge will be learning the testing format, the ‘ideal’ AIA/NCARB work environment and how to pace yourself through the exam. (Let me know if you have further questions on the differences between the exam series. I have a few documents I could pass along if you’re interested.)
I know the overall licensing process can feel daunting, but if you’ve raised four kids, you’ve already got the patience and drive to conquer the AREs. You’ve got this, and we’re here to answer questions, commiserate and celebrate along the way!