Prior to sitting for ARE, a candidate (United States) is required to complete both a professional degree (not in California, but work equivalents of min. 5 years is required see this link ) in Architecture (5-year B.Arch or 1-5-year M.Arch) accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and the Intern Development Program (IDP) with an established "Council Record" on permanent file which has been studied and verified by the NCARB in advance. Please note there are one or two exceptions to this law as eligibility to take the exam is also governed by the prospective architect's state or Canadian provincial licensure board (the same test format is used in Canada).
Nine divisions comprise the examination. The six multiple-choice divisions are the following: Pre-Design, General Structures, Lateral Forces, Mechanical & Electrical Systems, Building Design / Materials & Methods, and Construction Documents & Services. The three graphic divisions are the following: Site Planning, Building Planning, and Building Technology.
ARE 3.1 is the current version until April 2008. On February 27, 2006, ARE 3.1 was updated to include (Site Zoning vignette which combines site analysis & site zoning), and (Site Design vignette which combines site parking & site design). In its entirety, ARE 3.1 consists of 590 multiple-choice questions and 11 vignettes.
During the 2004 Annual NCARB Meeting, the Council passed a resolution officially creating a “rolling clock” requirement for the ARE. Under the terms of the Rolling Clock, which was officially implemented on January 1, 2006, candidates for the ARE are required to pass all nine divisions within five years.
note: you DO NOT need to have an accredited degree in Architecture to take the ARE in California! Go to www.cab.ca.gov/pdf/current_toe.pdf