At their January board meeting, the NCARB Board of Directors decided unanimously to retire their rolling clock policy, which placed a five year expiration date on all passed divisions.
A new score validity policy will be implemented on Apr 30, 2023. This new policy will be based solely on the exam versions (like the ARE 4.0 or 5.0), and won’t be subject to any kind of time requirement.
So what does this mean for you if you’re actively studying for and taking the ARE right now? We’re going to break it all down for you here.
Why Did NCARB Change Their Policy?
According to NCARB’s announcement, they implemented this change because they’re “committed to removing unnecessary impediments on the path to licensure.” As part of the 2020 Baseline on Belonging study that NCARB and NOMA conducted together, the rolling clock policy had been flagged as a potential source of unconscious bias.
It was argued that the time limitations were more likely to affect women and people of color, who already experience lower success rates than their white male counterparts. The hope in removing this somewhat arbitrary time limit is that it’ll make it easier for people who already struggle to get their license to achieve that goal.
Another reason for the policy change is that a lot of the actual content on the ARE is consistent from the 4.0 to the 5.0 version; that content is simply restructured. So, it actually makes sense for ARE 4.0 to still be considered valid.
NCARB and their psychometricians both agree that the new score validity policy more fairly assess score validity based on the actual content, rather than on a time limit. This is an encouraging change for people who took and passed divisions of the ARE 4.0, or even the 5.0 who just ran out of time. However, it does also mean that if and when NCARB releases a new version of the exam with new content, then older versions may no longer be accepted.
In their announcement, NCARB confirmed that they have no plans at the moment to move away from the ARE 5.0, and if they do they’ll give candidates at least 18 months’ notice before retiring it. So for now, there’s no reason to think that 4.0 or 5.0 divisions won’t still be valid for the foreseeable future. But, it’s something worth keeping an eye on if and when a new version is announced.
How This Change Impacts You
So what does all this mean for you if you’re in the middle of studying for the ARE? Here’s the highlights:
Previously expired ARE 4.0 divisions will be reinstated by May 1, 2023
If you took and passed any divisions of the ARE 4.0 that expired because of the rolling clock policy, those divisions will be used to establish credit toward the corresponding ARE 5.0 division. You can use NCARB’s ARE 5.0 Transition Calculator to see how the 4.0 divisions translate to the current ARE and if you need to adjust your study schedule because of it.
No more time restrictions going forward
Under the new policy, time restrictions will no longer have any impact on your score validity (unless your license is from a jurisdiction that still has some kind of time requirement; more on that in a moment).
This means that ARE 4.0 divisions will be valid for as long as the ARE 5.0 is the current version of the exam, and ARE 5.0 divisions will be valid for the duration of the next version, likely the ARE 6.0. If you have expired divisions from the ARE 3.1 or anything prior, those divisions are still expired.
NCARB will issue refunds for certain candidates
If you have an exam scheduled or have purchased a seat credit that you no longer need because of the policy change, NCARB will issue you a refund for that cost. But, NCARB won’t be issuing refunds if you already retook a division that had previously expired because of the rolling clock policy.
If you have an exam scheduled before May 1, 2023 that's replacing an expired 4.0 division, it may be worth checking the Transition Calculator to see if you still need to take that exam, or if that credit may be reinstated for you. If the credit is applicable to the ARE 5.0, you can cancel your exam and get a refund—but only before you actually take the test.
Contact NCARB as soon as possible if you qualify for a refund, or if you have any questions about your specific refund eligibility or test schedule.
Remember to check your jurisdiction
If you’re licensed in a jurisdiction that still has a rolling clock-type requirement, you’re still subject to those requirements. At the time of this writing, Arizona, New York, Ohio, and Virginia have time-related requirements for their candidates. Make sure you check NCARB’s licensing requirement tool if you have questions about what your specific jurisdiction requires.