Question for NCARB Reps: Understanding A/E Level Items

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    Ryan NCARB

    Hi Adelina,

    Great questions.  Let me see if I can answer them and explain cognitive complexity just a little more.  Cognitive complexity at it's most basic definition is the mental processing it requires to do or solve something.  Questions on the ARE that are Analyze/Evaluate (A/E) require a little more mental processing than Understand/Apply (U/A) items.  All of the assessment objectives on the exam have been identified as one of these two cognitive complexities.  They are listed after the objective in the ARE 5.0 Handbook.

    Now to answer your first question, prioritizing information on some items may be about applying the more stringent requirements, but it may also be about just identifying the information in an item that is needed to solve the items correctly.  This doesn't mean that it prioritizes HSW above something else, it just means you have to apply a little more mental processing to answer the item.  You have to really ANALYZE the information and EVALUATE what is the correct answer.

    On your second question, one way to determine if you are really able to answer an A/E level item is to ask it with an aspect that is not typical.  Answering a bunch of very typical questions provide good assessment, but being able to answer items slightly unique better determines if you are really able to analyze and evaluate.  It is important in evaluation because in architecture not everything is a typical situation and some of the assessment objectives require you to be able to do them in an a-typical situation.

    Does this help? 

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    Adelina Koleva

    Ryan,

    Thank you for your response. Yes, this helps to paint a picture of how to think about the exam questions during the test.

    One more follow-up question: Did something change between 4.0 and 5.0 in terms of question types? Did 4.0 have any "A/E level" items that were specifically multiple-choice, or were the MC items in 4.0 more "U/A" in nature?

    Thanks again,

    Adelina

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    Ryan NCARB

    Some things did change between ARE 4.0 and ARE 5.0, but it wasn't as much the question types as the assessment objectives.  As I mentioned above, in ARE 5.0 each assessment objective is identified with a cognitive complexity that goes with it.  ARE 4.0 wasn't designed that way.  There are/were many A/E level questions in ARE 4.0, they just weren't designated as such.  And remember, the cognitive complexity level is not specific to an item type.  Any of the item types (MC, CATA, QFIB, HS or DnP) can be either U/A or A/E.

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