Pass Score Range

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    Mitchel Schulzetenberg (Edited )

    I had the same thing. I did the Amber book approach and took all 6 practices exams before taking all 6 real exams. I only “passed“ 2 practice exams which seamed like you needed a 70% or better so don’t think the practice exams accounted for the “pass range” as that depends on the real exam you receive. All my practice exams were between 58%-72% and I passed 5 of 6 of the real exams. Highly suggest using the practice exam to study the night before the exam.

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    Darryl Jackson

    My experience taking the exams has taught me not to care about the pass % listed by NCARB nor the %  you get on the practice exams.  If you pass an ARE, you will NOT be told the % you achieved to pass.  You will also not receive any information on the % you achieved in the individual sections of that exam.  

    To make it worse, if you fail an exam, you WILL receive % info, but the next time you take the exam, you will NOT see those same questions nor the same types of questions. So, if you had an exam with a lot of math and you fail, expect the retake to have less math but some other way for you to calc something..

    Speaking from my own experience, having taken all the exams and failed them all at least twice.

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    NCARB

    Hi all,

    We recommend reading the following blog on ARE scoring. When taking a division of the ARE, you'll see one of several versions, or forms, of that division. As an example, if a candidate was to take PDD three different times, they will see a different form for that division each time they test. Each form within a division contains a different set of questions for the sake of exam security, which can lead to slight variations in the difficulty of each form. Because of these variations in the level of difficulty, different forms have different cut scores. If a form has statistically more difficult items, it will have a lower cut score than a form that contains statistically easier items. That is why NCARB provides a passing range for each division.  Finally, the ARE is not graded on a curve. As long as a candidate meets the cut score for the form they saw in test centers, they will receive a pass regardless of how other candidates perform. 

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    Rebekka O'Melia

    I have seen several of the new score reports and I have crunched the #s, using the average or the median for each category.  The passing scores for some of the exams are above the range given on that website.

    Rebekka O'Melia, Registered Architect, NCARB, B. Arch, M. Ed, Step UP,  Step UP ARE 5.0 Courses

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    NCARB

    Hi Rebekka,

    Thank you for your comment. We can assure you that those ranges are correct. Sections on the score report are listed as ranges, for example, Section 2 of Construction & Evaluation makes up between 32-38% of scored items. The exact percentage of items from this section is not provided on the score report. Without this number, you can't accurately calculate the total number of items answered correctly as a percentage.

    If you are working with a candidate who believes they passed their exam based on their score report, feel free to encourage them to reach out to us so we can investigate their score report. 

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    Rebekka O'Melia

    I used the median value for each category.  I made sure that all the categories added up to 100 points too.  For PDD and one other exam, using this method, the passing scores indicated by these new reports were above the published range.  You are now indicating that the pass score for some of the major categories of the exam (area 2 on PDD for example which is over 30% of the exam, your new reports indicate that candidates 73% correct to pass).  Based on this info that you provided, the passing score needed now is higher.  #s don't lie.  One or the other needs to be adjusted.  Using median values to estimate the score should yield a result that's within your published range.  It's the median!  

    And yes, I have seen folks fail by 3-4 points.

    Rebekka O'Melia, Registered Architect, NCARB, B. Arch, M. Ed, Step UP,  Step UP ARE 5.0 Courses

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    NCARB (Edited )

    Hi Rebekka,

    The "Passing Candidates % Correct" column has no impact on the passing percentage for a division and is not a Content Area cut score. The ARE IS NOT graded at the Content Area level. As an example, Content Area 5 for PDD is 2-8% of the scored items. A candidate could miss every item in this Content Area and still pass the exam (assuming they answer enough questions correctly in the other Content Areas to meet or exceed the cut score). The ARE is scored by adding up all the scored questions a candidate answers correctly across all Content Areas and comparing that number to the cut score. No grading occurs at the Content Area level.

    The intent of "Passing Candidates % Correct" column is to provide candidates that fail an exam with some information on how passing candidates perform.

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    Keith Hayes (Edited )

    NCARB's policy is VERY confusing.  In a PASS/FAIL exam, NCARB states you that you pass if you receive a score between ____ and _____. This is exceptionally misleading.  I also received a score within the range.  If I had known you need to plan to to achieve no less than the highest score to guarantee an exam, I would have postponed the exam to ensure I had cleared the bar, so to speak. That said, I went forward with my origianlly scheduled exam because I was regularly scoring within range in my practice exams - I fell short by just a couple questions because I had to guess through several of the case study questions due a technical error where I could not view the drawings in the case studies.  As a result of NCARB not being able to administer an exam, I am required to wait 60 days to retest. 

    In reading through forums, NCARB has demonstrated for years that its candidates should "not pass go, nor collect $200" as they continue to charge you $235 as their beta test takers while they evolve the exam, which is astounding. In reporting to NCARB that I had experienced technical errors on 4 out of the 7 exams (even on exams I have passed) in the last 12 months, I have heard excuse after excuse from its representatives. 

    Examples are "we apologize for the technical difficulties...we rolled out a new exam in June of 2022....we are still looking for more testing centers but we don't have any timeline on when they will be open....the delay is the unpredicability of the wifi.....we added five minutes to the exam....we understand your frustration.....for the integrity of the exam you have to wait 60 day to retake...we will extend your rolling clock for 6 months if you upload your birth certificate or adoption papers"

    Here's the truth: the video cards on at these testing centers cannot load the drawings, and NCARB refuses to do anything about it.  Drawings in case study resources shouldn't be huge files to load, but when the computer you are on is over 14 years old (manufactured in 2008) and runs Windows XP, you cannot view material and lose significant time and focus. EACH time you need to reference a resource, you are stuck watching valuable time run off the clock while the spinning wheel is loading the drawings, and this happens EVERY time you use the zoom function.

    I am absoultely bewildered/baffled by how an authority on architectural licensure gets away with being so negligent and unethical in its own administration of exams, particularly given these are the two primary tenets of our profession that we are all to uphold. 

    What does NCARB recommend?  Nothing as of yet.  My advice to others in my office also pursuing licensure, is to cross their fingers. I now understand why so many of my peers and other aspiring professionals who have had to take PPD and PDD have had to retest numerous times to pass the exam. It has occurred to me that failures on these exams may have had much less to do with their preparedness, and more to do with whether or not their machine was able to load the information needed to answer the questions in the time allotted for the exam. I imagine those who passed on their first exam were no less prepared, but perhaps managed to be  fortunate enough to find a test center that could actually administer NCARB's exam!

    For the record, I experienced this same issue with drawings not loading in the case studies 2 times in a row at a PSI testing center in Beachwood, OH, which just opened within the last 6 months and is now closing.  Because there are hardly any testing centers to re-take these exams in Cleveland OH, it will be a minimum of 2 weeks since my last test to reschedule it.  On account of my experience, rather than applying for licensure this week, or focusing on my job, I am searching to locate where I can re-test and awaiting NCARB to propose a resolution. As of now, my next attempt is over 2 weeks from the previous attempt and will require driving nearly 4 hours (one way) to re-take an exam at another center.  Thanks, NCARB!

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